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Son’s promise leads to historical marker for ‘5’ Royales

December 17, 2018

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Darryl Pauling never considered the question before. Not for a minute.

Ever thought about becoming a lobbyist?

After Pauling’s recent smashing success as a gang of one petitioning one small corner of local government for one very important change, it seemed as good a way as any to open a congratulatory phone call.

“That . . . ain’t . . . gonna . . . happen,” Pauling said, each syllable punctuated by laughter.

Still, he has every right to be proud.

All by his lonesome, more than a year after his first attempt to have the county approve a historical marker to commemorate the “5″ Royales R&B group, Pauling succeeded in a big way.

“It was for my dad,” he said.

Just over a week ago, before the Biggest Blizzard Ever ended civilization as we know it, Pauling drew in a couple deep breathes and plunged into a familiar but uncomfortable role as public speaker.

He knew well the drill. Last autumn, he went before the Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission’s Historic Marker Committee to make his case.

Then, as now, Pauling wanted the commission to approve putting a sign in the yard of Lowman Pauling, the Royales’ leader and Darryl’s father.

He knew by heart all the supporting facts about the Royales. The group put several hits on the R&B charts throughout the 1940s and 1950s and wielded outsized influence on other musicians.

Lowman Pauling’s best known song, “Dedicated to the One I Love,” was a hit for both the Shirelles and the Mamas and the Poppas. The “5″ Royales were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

To outsiders — and the members of the Historic Resources Commission who ultimately decide on the placement of markers — those are just two-dimensional facts to start a conversation.

It was up to Darryl Pauling to seal the deal.

Last fall, and again last week, Pauling stood before the committee to make a pitch that could last no more than 5 minutes. Both times he was competing with groups making appeals of their own complete with backing from political players and PowerPoint presentations.

In 2017, Pauling was up against such prominent names as Reynolds and Hanes. It’s not unusual to hear more than dozen pitches; only two or three are chosen each year. The committee weighed 13 applications this year. The competition is fierce.

Pauling came alone.

“I just went and spoke from my heart,” he said. “I just said what I knew and what I’d been told and the history.”

Members of the committee strictly follow a complicated system to evaluate the applications. One measure in particular seemed to help Pauling’s case.

“It has to be a significant piece of Winston-Salem history,” said Heather Bratland, a historic-resources officer for the county.

“Part of the scoring is that it’s lesser known. For example, everybody knows Old Salem. But they might not know about the “5″ Royales,” Bratland said.

Though it’s sometimes lost amid the sound and fury of debate over seemingly larger issues on noisier stages in Raleigh and Washington, the right to petition the government is just as important as rights to free speech and assembly.

And on a much smaller stage with no fanfare — or big money at stake — that’s exactly what Darryl Pauling was doing even though he didn’t think about it in those terms.

“I was just doing it because when my mom died (in 2013) she made me promise to do everything I could tell people about my dad’s music,” he said. “I was scared. It was all from the heart.”

A maker for the “5″ Royales was approved easily. An historical slam dunk.

“His was far and above the leader in the scoring,” Bratland said. “He is such a compelling person.”

The marker will go up outside the Pauling home near old Atkins High School sometime in the spring. It will, of course, tell a worthy story about a piece of local history to anyone who cares to learn it.

It will provide another unspoken lesson, too. The marker will stand as testament to a son’s love and determination to get something done.

After being denied once, Darryl Pauling refused to take no for an answer. A committee of one, he successfully petitioned his government and got something done.

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Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com

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