April 29, 2013
If you watched “The Plea,” the concluding 1997 installment of “Innocence Lost,” you might not expect that Nancy Smith Barrow, Betsy’s sister, would choose to remain in the midst of those townspeople who caused her family such brutal and unjustified pain.
But stay she has, raising a family and participating in community affairs. I talked to her recently about her life then and now.
Why she has continued to live in Edenton:
“I never considered leaving. My parents were here. This is my home. For a long time, I imagined my dad, mom, sister and I would be back here together, after it all unraveled, after people looked behind the curtain and saw the Wizard….”
What Edenton was like for her during the Little Rascals panic:
“I’d walk into a public place and scan the room to see if I would be comfortable there. I never felt any physical threat – that’s not the kind of people they are here…. But I didn’t want my children exposed to such obvious and outward hatred….”
What Edenton is like for her today:
“Once Bob’s verdict was overturned, that was the end of it. Now I go where I want and do what I want….
“Things went very badly for the indicting parents. But they still believe – because they have to believe….
“Some of them I will talk to in the grocery store or at school, but we are not welcome in each others’ homes….
“Our children went to school together, and they finished growing up together (without conflict). It was like when the adults went away, when the adults got tired of playing, the children were left to clean up the game….”
How she looks back at the case:
“My sister (who now lives in Raleigh) has a life we could never have imagined, a wonderfully normal life. Everyone I loved at Little Rascals is free. My children (now 32 and 28) are fine and healthy…. The Little Rascals case was a phenomenon of epic proportions, and we weathered it….”