I Choose the Possibilities in Life, the Beautiful and the Good

The title for this blog post comes from the latest podcast published today. I love creating the blog, Main Street Rocky Mount, and the podcast, Talking Main Street with Stepheny. These platforms allow me to talk about the preservation, restoration and repurposing of the commercial architecture downtown and the breadth of residential architecture throughout the Wards. The Facebook page with the same name as the blog is fun too. Each platform has its own opportunity to learn the language of Main Street. The theme, Honoring the Past, Building a Future, continues to guide the content of my efforts.

The #14th Episode of the podcast has now been published. The story-telling I weave through an episode comes from my reading life that began with the books of my childhood up to and including the last two books I’ve just read about James Baker during the Reagan, Bush years.

I have finished writing a 3rd novel that I can’t seem to release into the reading life of others just yet. Research, reading and the writing that follows brings me great joy. Along the way, it stills surprises me when someone tells me, “I read your blog.” There are times when I dare to hope that cheerleading for Main Street has reawakened an interest, even pride in the place we call home. We all have a part in the chorus, and my part includes stamping my foot from time to time, using my voice to encourage people to take a stand when it comes to the dodgy business that lines the pockets of those who work the system, and believing as I do, in the reimagining of Rocky Mount.

There are countless people in Rocky Mount that are the best kind of people anywhere. God-fearing, generous, talented, tireless, smart, and hopeful. Those brothers and sisters living in unacceptable housing, unsafe neighborhoods, are the focal point and the reason I write about Main Street. If you can take 5-minutes to listen to my point of view in this latest podcast, I hope you will agree about living peacefully side by side and the dignity of improved housing, pride in ownership, living the American dream.

Ward #1

Podcast Link: anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin

Podcast: Talking Baseball With Stepheny – Stith Talbert Park in Ward #1

http://anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin CLICK HERE FOR 5-MINUTE PODCAST

I have a grandson, William Robert, named for his two grandfathers, playing baseball up in Glenview, IL. He was foremost on my mind when I got ready to create Episode 7 for today’s podcast. I wanted to talk about Stith Talbert Park in Ward #1, which I saw for the first time last September in a drive-around adventure with Terrick Pittman and Sam Battle. The podcast mentions this experience.Terrick and Sam are busy making huge contributions in Rocky Mount.

I first met Terrick when he was running for City Councilman against Andre Knight in Ward #1. We had breakfast at Chew and Chat to get acquainted. When we hugged goodbye, I’d made a new friend that I’m still cheering on. With Terrick we have a young, articulate, bright leader who is important to the future of Rocky Mount. Sam Battle is a trip. He is a fierce, loyal friend, involved with black youth and many other aspects in the community. He knows everyone and unafraid, he speaks his piece at Council meetings and as he goes. I didn’t mention this in the podcast, but I learned a new expression from Sam. I can’t think of a more satisfying expression when you run across a ‘Raggedy Ass’ from time to time.

At age 10, William is the bomb in Grammy’s eyes. Playing the American Game, he and the boys of summer across America, are the future. I can’t think of a better place to learn life long skills.

Celebrating the Successful Restaurant-Barley and Burger


The restaurant, Barley and Burger, always puts their social media to good use. They posted this photograph on their Facebook Page a few days before Memorial Day Weekend. On the menu, it’s called a Burger Bowl, which never appealed because I hadn’t noticed I could choose chicken. My Thursday “date” varies with Denise Watkins, who you know from  Skyvue Skating, her family-owned business. It could be a late breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Lured by this photograph, I asked if Barley and Burger were possible. We arrived at 5:00 when the door opened.

Just now, they have some hard-working, pleasant teenagers on staff that make you proud. The young man who waited on us handled my request to serve the salad on a plate and the chicken breast cut up with a smile, and a ‘can do’ attitude, which I appreciated. The presentation on an attractive white plate was fabulous, and the salad DELICIOUS.

At 5:20, all but four tables were filled. At 6:40, every seat was taken, and people were at the door. I’d say Barley and Burger is a roaring success. All the food is excellent, the atmosphere friendly. For some, it is date night and grinning, young love. It is always family night, a working lunch, grandchildren with grandparents, and just plain friends like Denise and me. My grandson(in-law) brings my five-year-old great-granddaughter, Annaclaire, to Barley and Burger on their date nights. They have good sweet tea, which is important to me! The restaurant is located at 2921 Zebulon Road. The next time I’m there, I hope I see you.

Stepheny’s Salad Presenttion

A New Podcast Today – Type Anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin

“The medium of podcasting and the personal nature of it, the relationship you build with your listeners and the relationship they have with you—they could be just sitting there, …

Hi Everyone: Stepheny here talking Main Street.…and the recording rolls on from there. This new endeavor has kept me busy learning as I go along. I am having trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time. I’m convinced that in order to keep a job at WordPress, the platform I use for my blogging, you must dream up “improvements.” These improvements make everything more difficult, take more time, and make me swear, and, feel cranky! There are enough crazy things happening in the world, that I’m already cranky with a capital, C.

When it comes to social media these days, I am torn because of the obvious political bias that is involved. Yet, I’ve lost count of the number of free courses I have taken through the Community Colleges across North Carolina that have Small Business Departments. This is an amazing opportunity I take advantage . I’m determined not to be left behind, Senior, though I may be. I select the classes that have to do with social media: Innagram, Facebook, Blogging, podcasting, videoing, the use Canva.com and more. I love it. It is addictive if you are a student at heart as I am. I’ll admit when no one’s around, I dance a little jig and say, “Stepheny, you did it!” My mentor and dear friend, Denise Watkins, has mastered it all. Look at her social media for Skyvue Skating. She will straighten me out if I hit a brick wall. When I begin to smile again, she says, “You go, girl!”

I understand your reluctance to learn new technology, but I encourage you nonetheless. When it comes to this decision to use social media, I think Hamlet sums up the dilemma nicely.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

I invite you to subscribe to the 5-minute podcast where I weave storytelling and my point of view through another episode of Talking Main Street with Stepheny.

Podcast – Episode #4 What Do You Do With a Problem?

Announcing the latest podcast. You know, the one that is published on Wednesdays but appears on Tuesday. I’m enjoying the learning curve, preparing for the episode, and recording it. I feel grown up now because the microphone I borrowed from my grandson-in law, is mine now. The best Mother’s Day gift! My “studio” is the kitchen table where my computer and mic sit. There are papers around me, maybe a book I plan to read from. It turns out you can say a lot in five minutes or less. Podcasting allows me to bring my style of storytelling to Main Street, which I hope adds to the on-going revitalization subject.

The goal is to attract followers who have an interest in the various subjects I include: preservation, restoration, and repurposing the architectural assets of Main Street and beyond. Politics, as it relates to Main Street, is discussed. In my determination, I talk about saving the boarded up shotgun and bungalow houses that continue to deteriorate. What about the houses people are living in that are in deplorable condition? You find these ignored assests in Wards 1-4. They are significant in Rocky Mount’s story, an answer to our housing needs.

Please share this blog post with friends to let them know I’m waiting for everyone on my downtown Bench talking Main Street. Enjoy!

https://Anchor,fm/Stepheny-Houghtlin

New Podcast Today: Talking Main Street With Stepheny #3

JOIN ME

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!

Episode #14: Listening to Armand Gamache and the Choices We All Must Make Talking Main Street With Stepheny

Once again Stepheny's reading life influences her approach to the 5-minute podcast, Talking Main Street with Stepheny. She suggests an independent watch dog committee over the $1.4 million Hud grant coming Rocky Mount's way. She begins with a  conversation in a mystery novel about making choices. President Reagan makes an appearance as does Shelby Steele, Sr. Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute. Implicit in Stepheny's view is living together in peace and harmony and love with our brother's and sister's who deserve safe housing and safe neighborhoods. 
  1. Episode #14: Listening to Armand Gamache and the Choices We All Must Make
  2. Episode 13: If only Planting a Tree Were Enough
  3. Episode 12: The Bungalows of Rocky Mount – Another Architectural Asset That Needs Advocates
  4. Episode 11: Celebrating the 4th of July With Patriotic Hearts
  5. Episode 10 – $1.4 million – Grant Money From HUD

Dodge City Steakhouse In Rocky Mount

Reese Clay, Mgr. of Dodge City Steakhouse (Stepheny Making a New Friend)

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.

Annoucing Stepheny’s New 5 Minute Audio Podcasts – Talking Main Street

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

Click Here For Episode 1:https://anchor.fm/stepheny-houghtlin/episodes/Talking-Main-Street-With-Stepheny—Episode-1-ev7s79

Rocky Mount’s Neighborhoods Should Be Places Remembered with love

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