A writer of fiction, I know how essential a setting is to a novel, how important the opening lines of a story are. I have written a mini scene for you that takes place at the Prime Smokehouse on Thomas Street in Rocky Mount. Quiet jazz plays in the background. A man and woman are seated at a table, one having ordered from the menu food the other character, the athlete gone vegetarian, would never consider. Vann Joines drinks water, Stepheny, sips sweet tea, The opening dialogue is spoken by Joines. “Tennessee Williams once said, ‘There Are Only Three Great Cities in the U.S. – New York, San Francisco, and Washington. All the Rest Are Cleveland.’”
The purpose of writing the Prime Smokehouse scene is so you, my reader, can begin to share in the conversation Vann Joines and I had. (More posts will follow in order to do that.) We began our visit with a key question. “What drives people to pick the places where they live?” One answer is that the cities that are thriving throughout the country are the ones that are promoting their unique history and story. Civic pride contributes to a strong sense of place which is what people are looking for. Entrepreneurs, like Vann, the Koi Pond Brewery folks, many others, have picked Rocky Mount to live and work. Why? Because they are drawn to the cultural content of the Mill, Railway and Tobacco stories, to name but a few. The redevelopment of Rocky Mount is well under way; the architecture, the beautiful old Mill buildings, our downtown scene, the refurbished Train & Bus Stations, the Imperial Center, are significant renovations that set us apart from anywhere else.
Rocky Mount is a perfect place to pick when considering where to live. We are a diverse, God fearing community, (an old fashion term, but a concept understood in this place.) People here learned from their parents what hard work is, responsibility to care for others, to persevere. We are a community that cares about historic preservation, community redevelopment and social interaction. We have a unique story that will save us from being just another ‘Cleveland!’ While preserving the character of this place, we are creating a new future that meets the needs of the day. Do you doubt? Catch up with Vann Joines, one of the prophets that has come to town to show us the way.
This Main Street Rocky Mount blog honors the narrative of this place. Join me everyday in saying YES to Rocky Mount. Be proud of our historic and cultural context that makes us special. Let’s join Vann Joines, John Jesso, and others, who are on a mission to enhance and insure are uniqueness.
“This is the place of places and it is here.”