I have a beautiful Danish pine wardrobe that has been converted to hold a TV behind its simple doors. I wonder from time to time whose clothes it held before turning up in an antique shop in Chicago. “Do you know the C.S. Lewis’ book, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe?” The story is about four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy sent away from London during the war. They live in a large house of an old Professor with a housekeeper and three servants in the heart of the country. One day, Lucy discovers that one of the wardrobes in the house contains a portal to another world, a land covered in snow. Lucy steps in among long fur coats inside the wardrobe and finds herself in the Land of Narnia with snow beneath her feet. Narnia is controlled by the evil white queen who placed a spell on the land so that it is winter and never Christmas. The Dwarf is one of the Witch’s evil henchmen and right-hand man. Maugrim is a wolf and the chief of the Witch’s Secret Police. But there is Mr. Beaver who aids the Pevensie children and Mrs. Beaver who is kind, motherly, and a good cook.
With this story in mind, follow me inside my wardrobe. Through the portal, we find a place called the Town of Possibilities. It has a railroad track running through the Main Street. There are smiling and nodding people along the sidewalks, and historic commercial buildings on both sides of the track. This architecture has been carefully preserved and repurposed. Don’t be afraid, because good people like the Beavers outnumber the doggy in the Town of Possibilities. There are stakeholders building a future, honoring the past, preserving its sense of place, and priceless stories. Investors have triumphed over the obstacles put before then by the evil henchmen who consider the buildings are theirs and they decide who shall be welcomed or not.
Watching a train go by, and like magic, The Town of Possibilities is filled with energy and good will. People are living above the store in beautiful loft apartments. The town no longer rolls up the streets at 5:00PM but there is a vibrant downtown community supporting the restaurants and wine bar, coffee venues, even a new Cigar business where people are gathering. Look how the windows of The Secret Garden flower shop draws you into its creativity and beauty. There are wonderful young people with their dreams and spirit of entrepreneurship who are determined to help build a future for themselves, for new business owners, and The Town of Possibilities. They are the Moe Deloach generation that respect the past, but know it is today that matters. We have time to see the Hall of Fame portraits exhibited at The Event Center that honor the leadership, and accomplishments of amazing people who are or were the wind under the wings of this special place. Notice that there is no snow. This is because the skullduggery and those who participated did not prevail. People voted, leadership changed, neighborhoods became safe, the boards came off the shotgun and bungalow houses and given a new life. The Town named Possibilities became known as Rocky Mount NC because they drew a circle large enough to include everyone.
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Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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4 thoughts on “Rocky Mount, NC: A Version of C.S. Lewis – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”
What a lovely piece of pine.
I was born and raised in Rocky Mount, but have not lived there since 1969. Still, it will always be “home.” I am so pleased to hear positive things are happening in Rocky Mount as there have been times when all I have heard were negative comments. Thank you for all you do to promote Rocky Mount, Stepheny. I’m hoping to take a look myself within the next 12 months.
Awesome read. It caught my attention when you mentioned C.S. Lewis so I followed the path to see what this had to do with our city. This gives me hope that the outcome will be just as you have so eloquently written. Thank you for this inspirational post this morning.