[audio mp3="https://www.ourstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/SEP21-EH-Editors-Column-Back-to-Basics.mp3"][/audio] In the early morning hours, before school, I could hear the low thunder of the logging trucks, the 18-wheelers, the tractor trailers, hauling their loads of tree-length
In the early morning hours, before school, I could hear the low thunder of the logging trucks, the 18-wheelers, the tractor trailers, hauling their loads of tree-length timber to McDowell Lumber, the sawmill just down the road from my house on Old Highway 49 in Asheboro. The trucks carried poplar, red oak, and white oak, bare-limbed and cut into 50-foot lengths, perfectly stacked onto the beds like toothpicks.
Those logs were on their way to becoming cabinets and doors, furniture and floors. In fact, the floors in the house where I grew up were cut from white oak trees, hewn right on our property when the house was built and then milled for us at McDowell’s. Every morning, I’d pad down the stairs and across those floors, sleepyheaded and barefooted, to the breakfast table, a solid oak piece like the floors, that my parents found in a High Point antiques shop in 1973. I’d slide out my chair — solid ash, made for us by Boling Furniture in Siler City — my dad already at the table with his coffee, my mom in the kitchen, slicing bananas for her bowl of Special K. I ate Pop-Tarts or chocolate Carnation breakfast bars and drank Tang, choices that are unthinkable to me now. My adult tastes evolved to pastured eggs and whole-wheat toast and real fruit rather than my beloved Fruity Pebbles and Apple Jacks, which, to my knowledge, contained no actual apples.
It’s funny how things — tastes, styles — change over time, and there was plenty of artificiality in the world I knew back then: We replaced my metal lunch box with plastic Tupperware; my friends and I filled our mouths with Pop Rocks and sucked colored syrup made from Lord-knows-what out of wax bottles. By the eighth grade, I was learning to shadow my eyes with unnatural shades of powder blues and neon purples. My grandmother put aside her cotton dresses in favor of polyester pantsuits. My dad built a gazebo inside my mom’s crafts shop in the Randolph Mall so she could stock faux flowers — silk and nylon — for wreaths and floral arrangements.
Such were the times.
Eventually, as they always do, the classics returned. Farmers markets have popped up everywhere in North Carolina. People have embraced gardening, canning, pickling, and preserving once again. Back to basics. The old ways made new. Our Tupperware got packed away, and it’s been a long time since I peeled back the foil on a TV dinner. These days, when I have supper with my mom — meatloaf made from scratch; a homemade banana pudding — I slide a chair back from the table, one of those same Boling Furniture chairs that I’ve always known. Now, though, I sit in the one that was my dad’s, not quite filling the space he left, but comfortable in knowing that the wood is still as solid and strong as the day it was built.
Editor in Chief