Another Reason To Save Rocky Mount’s Boarded Homes

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.

Save The Borrowers’ Homes

The Artist’s Eye Upon The Emerging Main Street Scene

Carrboro, N.C.

I’m always interested in watercolor sketches of architecture. I want you to see these prints of several familiar North Carolina cities that are available on Etsy. Soon enough Rocky Mount will warrant a poster. This is a call to our local artists to envision a future exhibit featuring our architecture. We could link the exhibit with a Main Street celebration of the Arts. I’m thinking a ticketed opening night fund raiser to pay for a wall mural or ?? and then we could have a ticketed lecture on the exhibit/preservation angle, and, and, and…..The exhibit itself would be free and available to the public, perhaps hung in several places. We have a robust and under appreciated art community that deserves to be recognized and have an opportunity to show off.

I have already written that Rocky Mount and entrepreneurs go together like Pooh Bear and honey. Here is a business we can appreciate: Papermill Creative is a Triangle NC-based creative startup owned by Lori (Durhamite) and Ashley (Carrboro-ite). “We’re two librarians who love the places we live in, and create art and gifts that celebrate the architecture and culture of North Carolina towns and beyond. Our watercolor designs are full of details, inviting the viewer in to explore the places we’re inspired by.”

In reading Main Street you know that I write about preserving, restoring and repurposing our architectural inventory. I’m interested in honoring the past while stressing the integral part our architecture plays in building a future. Wouldn’t you agree that our tendency is to stop ‘seeing’ or valuing the things we pass by everyday like a commercial building or an old house? These watercolor posters remind us of the beauty, history and uniqueness that each city needs to preserve, restore and save. I hope this art work will prompt you to think about the wonderful possibilities of a Rocky Mount Poster and a future exhibit.

Check the Etsy site to purchase these prints. Link is above in the article

Durham, N.C. marrying traditional brick warehouses with stylish art deco buildings.

Downtown Durham, NC

 

Downtown Raleigh, NC

Old West Durham

 

Chapel Hill, NC

Saxapahaw, NC

 

Hillsbourgh, N.C.

Following Up-The Rocky Mount Telegram Leads to A Great Book

The other day I posted a two part series on The Rocky Mount Telegram which led me to a new author and book because I used a quotation from The Imperfectionists. If you have an interest in journalism you will LOVE this novel. I write another blog, Stephenyhoughtlin.com with reviews of books, about writing, gardening, travel, and more…passions of mine. I decided to reprint a part of the review for my Main Street readers in case it calls to them. And thanks for the feedback on the Telegram posts. To read the entire review click here.

I am never without a book, I read every day, though more often than not propped up in bed after 11:00 PM. A great book can last until two in the morning. Recently, I needed a quote for the other blog I write, Mainstreetrockymount.com – a two part series about The Rocky Mount Telegram newspaper. Some research led me to a quote I liked, but who was Tom Rachman and what was this novel, The Imperfectionists? I certainly didn’t want to quote someone who turned out to be an embarrassment to my literary sensibilities. The blurb was intriguing, so much so that I bought the book…free shipping Amazon Prime!

…Tom Rachman graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism and has been a foreign correspondent for the AP, stationed in Rome and worked as an editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He lives in Rome. And can he write…..

The Imperfectionists (2010) is Rachman’s debut novel that follows the private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English-language newspaper in Rome as they struggle to keep it and themselves going. Each chapter reads like a short story as the characters are brought forward. Fifty years and many changes later, the paper founded by a millionaire from Atlanta resides in a dingy office with stains on the carpet. Nothing about the editor, the lazy obituary writer, the financial officer, a freelance writer that makes up news in order to get noticed, disappoint for they are but a few of the compelling, interesting, funny, pathetic, brilliant people I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I can’t say enough positive things about this story, this writer, this experience of entering Rachman’s world of journalism fictionalized by an author with credentials that make this a delightful, authentic read. I’ll leave you with a quote that particularly amused me.
“Nigel, an attorney-at-rest since they left D.C. more than two years earlier, thrives on this life: reading nonsense on the Internet, buying high-end groceries, decrying the Bush administration at dinner, wearing his role of househusband as a badge of progressive politics. By this hour, he’s normally fulminating: that the CIA invented crack cocaine; that Cheney is a war criminal; that the September 11 attacks were conceived by agents of Big Oil. (He talks a lot of shit about politics. She has to smack him down intellectually once a week or he becomes unbearable.) This evening, however, Nigel is restrained, “Good day?” he asks.”                         I can’t resist adding one more quote…

“For many, especially those in remote locales, the paper is their only link to the greater world, to the big cities they left, or the big cities they have never seen, only built in their minds. The readers constitute a sort of fellowship that never meets, united by loved and loathed bylines, by screwed-up photo captions, by the glorious corrections box.”

Hope you don’t mind this departure from the usual Main Street posts, but I keep telling you, one thing leads to another and the Telegram posts led me to a great read I wanted to share with you.