“There ain’t a lot that you can do in this town,

You drive down to the lake, and then you turn back around.”

“Someday” – Steve Earle

 We spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend in my hometown of Concord, where all the men are Republican and all the ladies can make at least one casserole that freezes well. 

 Concord has changed a lot since I was a little girl and since its residents voted to drink in the local restaurants rather than drive to Charlotte and back.  Also, there’s Concord Mills and The Grand Wolf Lodge-something-or-other.  And the newscasters will tell you now that the Speedway is located in Concord, not Charlotte, which gives the rednecks one less thing to yell at the TV.

 I like Concord.  It was a safe, happy place in which to grow up.  But I wouldn’t want to live there now, mainly ‘cause all my stuff is in Garner.

 Garner.  Oh, Garner.  Sigh.  Just outside of Raleigh and yet sooo far away.  And home to those who don a faded pair of hotpants, some thigh-high boots and a “His Princess” sweatshirt to do their weekly shopping at Walmart.  The Anointed Comb beauty parlor and Toot N Tell restaurant are located in Garner, as well as White Oak Grill, the only bar I’ve ever, ever come across that serves breakfast.

 And you can walk anywhere in Garner.  Anywhere.  On the sidewalks, through others’ yards and across the grassy median of busy Highway 70 during rush hour.  Or you can just shun the sidewalks, medians and yards all together and walk straight down the middle of the road.  Whatever.  Those in cars will just have to get over it.

 Garner is Evie’s hometown.  Did I mention that it’s just outside of Raleigh?  That’s Raleigh: home to the Natural History Museum and Blue Ridge Art Museum and NC State University and Meredith College and the Rialto theater and countless restaurants and shops and things to do and see.  Raleigh.  Oh, Raleigh.  Sigh. 

 Garner’s not so bad, really.  We have two Targets and a cute little library and a really nice park.  It’s inexpensive to live in Garner, most of the schools are very good, and the policemen don’t seem to have much to do, which I assume means there’s not much crime.  Well, except for the aforementioned rogue walking wherever the hell you please. 

 I wonder what Evie’s memories will be of her hometown.  Little kids don’t see things the same as their parents do, and most people carry a certain degree of fondness for the place where they grew up.  I will say this: Garner’s charm lies in its authenticity.  For all of Raleigh’s intellectual and cultural luxury, there exists an artificialness in parts of it.  Garner may be what it is, but that is real, baby.  I’d like for Evie to grow up around that. 

 Because down here in Garner folks are just trying to earn a living, raise their families and maybe splurge a little now and then on the good beer.  And, brother, that’s all right by me.   

 (By the way, Evie wants you to know that her Pop had surgery yesterday and is recovering very well.  Pop had to have his knee replaced due to injuries he sustained while over in ‘Nam and NOT because of too many pickup basketball games played when he was a lad or because of arthritis.)

How you gonna keep her in the city once she’s been down on the farm?


5 thoughts on “Hometown

  1. I went to the cleaners on Sat. and Zelda, the owners wife, remembered I was to have surgery. She told me she would say a prayer for me and told me to tell Sally to call if there was anything they could do while I was recouperating. I love our small town!

  2. I, too, grew up in a small town…everyone knew the good/bad/ugly of our lives, and we knew theirs. I loved being a small town girl and have to find other ways to be in that kind of community, given I live in big ole’ Raleigh!

    Pop, hope your recovery is swift and sure!!

  3. Concord is a great place but not as good as when I was little. Or maybe my memories are foggy due to time and distance. It is a beautiful town, with the Southern Main Street lined with big trees and gorgeous homes. The fact that it is called Union Street is of no consequence. In Concord/Cabarrus county, liquor was voted in first and then beer. How does that make sense. Anyway, liquor by the drink came much later. We had to go to Kannapolis just over the county line to Rowan County to buy beer during my misspent youth, yet there was a liquor store on Market Street in downtown Concord.
    The Christmas Parade was the first Wednesday in December and officially opened the shopping season. There was an old little building that the Salvation Army carted to downtown and parked just across the street from Neta’s Clothing Store. That is where the kettles were and a couple of people were always closed up inside the building to guard the money. We had an exclusive men’s store called Hoover’s and two nice women’s dress shops–one named the Lynne Shoppe and the other’s name escapes me. Those stores carried a complete line of women’s wear. There was a store called the Smart Shop that carried junior women’s wear. I really thought I had grown up when I could wear the clothes from there.
    And this fact is really true. On Confederate Memorial Day, all the school children marched down to the Confederate Memorial, stood around and sang songs venerating the old South, listened to speeches about the sacrifice of the Confederate Soldiers, then marched back to school. But if you were a member of the Children of the Confederacy–like myself–you were priviledged to go to Mrs. Cannon’s home for a “tea” in her backyard. She was there and greeted all of us. That is THE Mrs Cannon, wife of Charlie Cannon. You became a member of the Children of the Confederacy if you could prove you had a family member that fought in the war the Southern Independence and my great great uncle Billy — on my mother’s side–was a drummer boy.
    Garner sounds much like Concord when I was small.

  4. That other women’s store was called Robinson’s and when Neta first started out, her little store was upstairs at Robinson’s.

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