Waiting For Justice To Arrive While Riding The Rocky Mount Bus

I have reached the last stages of editing my third novel.  As background information, the main character, Sarah Collins, is accepted into the highly competitive  Architectural History Program at The University of Texas in Austin. Sarah’s career is the touchstone for the story. 

Sarah adopts a Teddy Roosevelt quote for her own purposes when she talks about the first time she stood before a Double Gallery home in the Garden District of New Orleans which was to be her new home. She says, “This is where the romance of my life began.” Would you be surprised to find in the novel that I mention shotgun houses or the mismanagement of local government?  You will find mentioned the significance of historic buildings. The backdrop for the story has these elements, allowing me to create a world for one of my unlived lives. Through a shocking revelation, the second half of the book returns the reader to the Cotswold village of Burford, where #1 is set in Greening of a Heart.

In writing the Main Street Rocky Mount blog and Facebook page, I wish I had the credentials Sarah Collins acquires. If it didn’t require robbing a bank, I would apply to The Savanah School of Art and Design (SCAD), including architecture, urban design, architectural history, and historic preservation. The school is housed in historic buildings that have been repurposed. Image that! What you get is a Stepheny that grew up on the marvels of Chicago architecture. I have become a perpetual happy student who is self-taught. I love the research, the books, both fiction and non-fiction, that relate to the subjects on the blog. Last Spring, because I was researching a post I wanted to write about black architects in America, I reread Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, set in the world of architects. My new novel is partially set in New Orleans when Katrina makes landfall. I read Chris Rose’s book containing his Post-Katrina columns for the Times-Picayune. It was well written and helpful to me as I tried to fictionalize what was real.  I used a Rose quotation in the novel and need it now. 

‘As bad as it is here, it’s better than being somewhere else.’ 

Between the anxiety over the upcoming election and endlessly waiting for justice to descend upon the City Council and government, it hasn’t been easy being “green,” as Kermit says. Even the virus, a patience maker or derangement instigator, has pushed us towards the limits of “being cute.” Here in Rocky Mount, the names of the same people who have done us wrong are repeatedly spoken. We are still standing on one foot or the other while self-serving decisions are made. To say I’m impatient is an understatement, but I continue to believe the net is going to drop!

Standing on Main Street, taking in all the positive work that happens, despite ourselves, the fine people revitalizing the commercial buildings, will prevail. It has been fifteen years since Katrina (August 2005), and the work to preserve their city and culture continues. New Orleans has a Preservation Group that sets the highest bar possible.  In the novel, I tell you about the bus on Magazine Street that starts service again in October of 2005. The empty bus continues to run its route each day.  Stay on the Rocky Mount bus until the destination is reached, regardless of a bumpy ride.

This building on Sunset downtown looks across at Howard Street – Such Possibilities

An architectural gem sits deteriorating that could become the jewel it once was      Rocky Mount, NC – Ward 1

3 thoughts on “Waiting For Justice To Arrive While Riding The Rocky Mount Bus

  1. Hello Stephany. Just one quick comment. The “Green house” portrayed in this article belongs to a long time acquaintance, Rose. She lost her husband and recently I noticed work being done on her house. She is a woman of a certain age and maintains everything on her own. This home is a real gem and she is as well. I am sure it will, or is, being restored to it’s original beauty. Sometimes when we don’t know the back story, our thoughts and intentions get lost in the reasoning for why things are they way they are. During this pandemic and time of crisis, a lot of things, homes and businesses, will fall short of their glory. They may take a little more time to get back to where they once were but the silver lining is that those concerned citizens can always help those in need. We can also share our prayers with those in need.


    1. Hoping we are talking about two different houses. This one is known as the S S Toler house at 251 Rose St. The public records show the house was purchased in 1986 by David A Cole and Susan M Cole. This beauty is 4400 sqft. I took myself off to Sherwin Williams Paint on Independence Dr. and a nice lady behind the counter figured roughly, based on sq footage, that 40 gallons of paint would be needed costing $2,700. Depending on a sale that might be going on, a painter that gets the paint at a better price, we still need accurate measurements for the red trim around the windows, etc. The exact color can be matched with only a small piece of wood from the house. This reality check when saving a house like this is sobering. This cost is only the exterior fix. How do we make these significant at-risk houses a priority?


  2. Stepheny;

    You are such a unique, and talented person! Your take on our current circumstances is remarkably accurate; and your courage is unparalleled.

    We are so fortunate to have your voice. By the way, where May I purchase a copy of your new book?

    My best,


    One more thing, please select a day other than a Monday that we can have lunch.

    Sent from my iPhone



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