Inviting you to listen to the latest Podcast (under five minutes.) It has been an up-hill learning curve but I’m determined. Looking at the audio track after recording, the blue up and down lines with spaces reminds me of life in general… Sailing along, singing a happy tune, and then that pause when you have forgotten that your glasses are on your head, or standing in front of the open refrigerator forgetting what you needed. You get my point. Each podcast is about Main Street with some storytelling, reflection, and enthusiasm thrown in for good measure. Enjoy!
Rocky Mount has a relatively new notch on its belt when it comes to a fun restaurant, good food, great staff. I took myself off to a late lunch not too long ago. I’d been told about Dodge City at 1457 Benvenue Rd. in Cobb Corners. I’ve been back! Dodge City Steakhouse isn’t on Main Street but it is a welcomed addition to the food scene that people are seeking out as locals and ‘come to town’ folks.
Reese Clay started in the food business in 2009 and is now Dodge City’s ambassador. She may be their greatest asset who has a mission. She loves to see her customers smile, she loves her staff, she loves the food, of course, Rib Eyes and a New York Strip. (I tried a hamburger on my first visit and there is plenty more to choose from.)
The restaurant is now in-dining at 75% capacity. The interior is spacious, the staff reflects Reese Clay’s determination that customers feel welcomed, are provided good service, and leave with a smile. Of course, children and families fit right in. They are in the process of implementing curbside service, but you’ll have to check on that. 252-442-3824
Reese Clay has her cheer-leading outfit on when it comes to Rocky Mount and the Dodge City customers. It is a lot to say grace over but she and the staff have things running like “a well-oiled machine.” Have fun, eat well, and think of me over a glass of Sweet Tea.
Hi Everyone: Stepheny here with a new podcast – Talking Main Street.
Published Every Week on Wednesdays
Below is a brief blurb about the series.
Enjoy 5-minute episodes with Stepheny Houghtlin who brings her storytelling style to Main Street. The backdrop for this podcast series is preservation that saves commercial and residential architecture. It is about honoring the history, people, and sense of place that is singularly unique to every Main Street. With a bit of straight talk, nostalgia, and reminiscing, Stepheny is waiting for you on her bench in downtown Rocky Mount, NC
“If you know the art of finding some things in a quiet empty street, then you know the art of happiness!” Mehmet Murat ildan
On the last day of March, late afternoon, after more rain, I headed for Main Street with my new I-phone camera. At this time of day, the 100 block on both sides of Main Street, was a time of quiet and happiness. The reason: The commercial architecture! Below you see a photo of Main Street, Pella, Iowa. Settled by Dutch immigrants in 1847, it is a top 10 Main Street in Iowa. How can you not love these facades? The commercial architecture shown here is a 1st cousin to our own Main Street architecture. Take a few quiet moments and walk with me to find some things you have not noticed. Preserved, restored, repurposed, there will be no better Main Street in Eastern Carolina.
The commercial facades on the Nash side of Main Street starting with Virginia’s on the corner of Sunset and Main in the Kress building. Pull that metal off the front to restore it to its original facade. I love this red brick, great windows. Stroll with me and admire these buildings.
Crossing to the Edgecombe side of Main Street there is more to admire. Let’s look up at the Davis Furniture building and keep walking. Your eye will begin to recognize the original building, what has been added that detracts. In the 100 block of Main on both sides of the street we have a treasure of commercial buildings to save, restore, and repurpose in the on-going revitalization of Main Street. With eyes to see, you will renew your admiration and become a preservationist at heart, feeling protective, energized, and determined to be a voice that sees that no further deterioration is allowed. If you are looking for a group of like-mined people, join Preservation Rocky Mount for a single membership-$20.00. With new leadership, focus and a plan, preservation now needs you; your creativity, energy and ideas. Rocky Mount needs a preservation organization that is respected, counted on, and everyone wants to join. Take a walk downtown and these buildings will speak to you as they do to me. It takes all of us to listen and act.
The end of this lovely afternoon gave us a full moon. I stood looking up and could hear Tony Bennett and KJ Lang singing a duet: It Must Have Been Moon-Glow. (Click on link) With small screens propped below partially opened windows, I could hear the birds in full chorus. I didn’t venture out until 2:30 this afternoon to find Redbuds wandering through the tree line. Even the Dogwoods will be in time for Easter. Without a haircut appointment, I would have missed the roadside along Highway 64, which confirmed Spring has arrived.
I’m not sure why Moon-glow and flowering trees on March 26th, has me writing this piece rather than a post on saving our housing, the neighborhoods, believing! There is another Main Street Facebook page to create, and a third novel I can’t seem to write, ‘The End.’ Not today.
This is what I found when getting out of the car before my haircut. I had to take this photo even if it made me late. What a sight. A day that started with birdsong, the flowering under-story woodland trees along the roadside, the sight of these pear trees, and Moon-Glow; quite a day. I hope to recall today when the news of the day makes me crazy, when I swear while watching a City Council meeting streaming live, when I forget what is important and what isn’t. I wish for you a Spring you do not miss.
The Houghtlin Garden is in some state of disrepair, like the shotgun and bungalow houses spread across Wards 1-4. My garden needs the same attention, passion, and investment. There is a similarity in my mind between the love I feel when I get out of my car to take photographs and the look of my garden this Spring. Regardless of the state of a shotgun house, I always see the significance of this American architecture, what it once was, and can be again. There are the bungalows filled with stories and architectural details. I see the garden in the same way. Spring flowering has taken over and ignores the fact that there is work to be done. I’m not good lifting 40-pounds bags of mulch anymore, but I can drag it on a tarp; a reality check that I can’t work as long or as hard as I once did. All I can say further about that is – damn!
“The old woman paid no attention to the camellia until that morning, when a fleck of pink caught her eye. The single saucer-size blossom was more magnificent than she could ever have imagined. More beautiful than any rose she’d ever seen, it swayed in the morning breeze with such an air of royalty, the old woman felt the urge to curtsey in its presence.” ― Sarah Jio, The Last Camellia
Camellias prefer a position that is in dappled or full shade. An area that gets morning shade is best as direct sun in the morning can dry out too quickly the developing flower buds. Camellias are woodland plants and do not cope well in a sunny, south facing spot. The neglected housing situation has nothing to do with where they are, but who the head gardener is or has been on the City Council. It isn’t fair to say, nothing has been done, just not enough. New leadership with the will to see it through, who welcome investment, who cares about the quality of life available to the people in their Wards, that’s what is needed. This housing saved, and restored will be filled with work force, retired, senior citizens, first time home buyers, singles, young professionals, fireman, nurses, policeman, and kids on their bikes.
Seeing the pear trees a blaze, driving through the historical districts of Rocky Mount, I am filled with nostalgic for home, for my youth, for the remembrance of things. Wherever you are, take my hand and think about what you would write this spring about gardens, riding your bike through a safe neighborhood and each home along your way that you still remember. Rocky Mount neighborhoods must become places to grow up in, or grow old in, that will be rememberd with love.
“Memory in these incomparable streets, in mosaics of pain and sweetness, was clear to me now, a unity at last. I remembered small and unimportant things from the past: the whispers of roommates during thunderstorms, the smell of brass polish on my fingertips, the first swim at Folly Beach in April, lightning over the Atlantic, shelling oysters at Bowen’s Island during a rare Carolina snowstorm, pigeons strutting across the graveyard at St. Philip’s, lawyers moving out of their offices to lunch on Broad Street, the darkness of reveille on cold winter mornings, regattas, the flash of bagpipers’ tartans passing in review, blue herons on the marshes, the pressure of the chinstrap on my shako, brotherhood, shad roe at Henry’s, camellias floating above water in a porcelain bowl.” Author: Pat Conroy
The backstory to this post is The Robert E. Lee Monument; the historic statue dedicated to Confederate General Robert E. Lee by noted American sculptor Alexander Doyle. It was removed (intact) by official order and moved to an unknown location on May 19, 2017. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. In my outrage over the editing of our American history and the taking down or destroying of these works of art, it hit me that in actuality, I knew little of substance about General Lee. Thus a new direction in my reading life; a form of an archeological dig into the famous people who have shaped my world. I loved what I was reading so much, it led me to a different time period and another public figure I had no in-depth knowledge about. I began reading about Franklin Roosevelt and the litany of names connected with this period. These fascinating books have kept me up at night. It isn’t a statue this time, but Dr. Suess who has me on another reading binge.
The people who have escaped the insane asylum have declared that the Dr. Seuss books must be eliminated. The keepers of the asylum have yet to put a foot down to stop this insanity telling us what we can read. I have put aside my English mysteries and am once again reading children’s books. Kindle Prime gave a free download of The Borrowers, a children’s fantasy novel by the English author Mary Norton, published by Dent in 1952. It features a family of tiny people who live secretly in the walls and floors of an English house and “borrow” from the big people upstairs in order to survive.
The Harpsichords lived in the drawing-room, they moved there in 1837, to a hole in the wainscot just behind where the harpsichord used to stand. They lived on Afternoon tea. In the old days, it was better — muffins and crumpets and such, and good rice cake and jams and jellies. They had to do their borrowing in such a rush, poor things. On wet days, when the human beings sat all afternoon in the drawing-room, the tea would be brought in and taken away again without a chance of the Harpsichords getting near it — and on fine days it might be taken out into the garden. There were days when they lived on crumbs and on the water out of the flower vases.
If you regularly read this Main Street Rocky Mount blog, you know that I write about the Preservation, Restoration, and Repurposing of Rocky Mount’s commercial architecture. I write about saving our at-risk neighborhoods, saving the shotgun and bungalow homes in Wards 1-4. While reading The Borrowers, I have a new reason to champion this cause. You will join me, I’m sure. I didn’t know about the little people who live under floorboards. If a house sits empty, the Borrowers have to emigrate.
When I check on things downtown and in the neighborhoods, I now guess the houses where the Borrowers have lived. Learning about them has increased the urgency to restore our housing assets that are boarded-up and left to further deteriorate. Go and find a house in Ward 1-4 to care about, to think about, have ideas on how to save it. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
If you see my newest bumper sticker, you will understand what it is about.
Main Street Rocky Mount and the surrounding streets (Tarboro, Washington, Thomas, Church to name a few) is the place to go for delicious food or a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, great Southern cooking. You can even have the ‘Best Sandwiches Ever’ on the Douglas Block. They all have their unique atmosphere and are welcoming. The restaurant choices continue to grow from the Rocky Mount Mill to the old standbys…Chew & Chat, The Central Cafe, The Shiny Diner, the area around Harris Tetter on Sunset Avenue. Covid knocked these businesses upside the head, but they survive to tell that story. Beyond ‘pick-up’ you can safely, park your car, and come on in.
With eyes to see and a heart for change, I hope you will acknowledge, that in spite of other things, SO MANY good things are happening each day. The preservation, restoration, and repurposing of the commercial buildings in the historic downtown area are becoming supercalafractiousexpalodous; a word we all learned from Mary Poppins.
Come downtown and enjoy the evolving scene. My dream has come true! Saturday, March 20, first come, first served at The Prime Smokehouse or Tap 1918 at the Mill. I can’t wait to have trouble finding a parking place during the week so I can say to the naysayers…..”See I told you so.”
Below: Lou Reda’s on Sunset, Blanches Bistro on Tarboro, Larema Coffee on Tarboro, Moe & D’s on Church, Traxs at Station Square and MORE.
“Iron-Eye Cody was the ‘Crying Indian’ in the “Keep America Beautiful” public service announcements in the early 1970s. The environmental commercial showed Cody in costume, shedding a tear after trash is thrown from the window of a car and it lands at his feet. The announcer, William Conrad, says: “People start pollution; people can stop it.” The ad won two Clio awards, incited a frenzy of community involvement, and “helped reduce litter by 88% across 38 states”, according to one reliable source. – Wikipedia”
Will Rocky Mount’s tears produce the same results?
From a Keep America Beautiful webpage, here are some facts.
Along roadways, motorists (52%) and pedestrians (23%) are the biggest contributors to litter. Research also shows that individuals under 30 are more likely to litter than those who are older. In fact, age, and not gender, is a significant predictor of littering behavior.
Why do people litter? Personal choice, individual behavior – Nearly one in five or 17% of all disposals observed in public spaces were littering, while 83% disposed of litter properly. 81% of littering was intentional, e.g., flicking, flinging, or dropping. On the other hand, individuals who hold the belief that littering is wrong, and consequently feel a personal obligation not to litter, are less likely to do so.
Litter begets litter. Individuals are much more likely to litter into a littered environment. And once there, it attracts more litter. By contrast, a clean community discourages littering and improves overall community quality of life.
Like most of you, I don’t throw things onto the roadsides. It isn’t done…we know better! The prevailing attitude that takes no responsibility for one’s actions is evident on the roads in Rocky Mount. It is good citizens that are picking up after those who are trashing and irresponsible. We have a litter crisis on our borders. Imagine those who are following new jobs here and see this disregard for what everyone knows with ‘walking-around sense’ not to do. What can be done about it? Leave a comment below with your advice. Thanks.
THIS HAS GOT TO STOP – THE ONLY CURE IS YOU, AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE