A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. Every Friday, my mom orders a seafood plate — fried flounder, baked potato, slaw, hush puppies — somewhere, at Olympic Family Restaurant

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. Every Friday, my mom orders a seafood plate — fried flounder, baked potato, slaw, hush puppies — somewhere, at Olympic Family Restaurant

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com.


Every Friday, my mom orders a seafood plate — fried flounder, baked potato, slaw, hush puppies — somewhere, at Olympic Family Restaurant in Colfax, Sanibel’s in High Point, or Walkertown Seafood Shack. She and a few of the women in our neighborhood — all of them widowed — get together for supper; my mom joined the group several years ago, after my dad died. I’m grateful that she’s included, that she has a group of friends to share a meal with, and I love how excited she gets every week, in her morning text to me. “Fish day today!” she always writes, and by late afternoon, my phone dings with a photo of her plate of golden-brown fish. It’s her way of sharing the moment with me, too.

In 1960, when my mom was 10 years old, she took her first trip to the coast. Together with her mom, dad, and brothers, she headed to Carolina Beach. My mom couldn’t swim, so she waited anxiously at the water’s edge as her dad — young, strong, and fearless — waded into the ocean. He ventured out so far that she could barely see him, submerged to his shoulders, bobbing with the waves crashing around him. My mom stood motionless, wide-eyed, until the ocean safely delivered him back to shore.

The family stayed out on the beach all day, gathering shells and digging for sand crabs, and by late afternoon, salt water drying on their lips, their shoulders rosy, her dad told them, “OK, if y’all young’uns will be good, we’ll go for fish.”

They piled into his turquoise Ventura (he’d been a Fireball Roberts fan in the Pontiac years) and stopped somewhere — Mrs. High’s Dining Room, maybe, or Faircloth’s Seafood — for scallops and shrimp and steamed oysters, and, yes, for fried flounder, before making the long drive home.

Every year now, she and I take a weekend beach trip, just the two of us, somewhere. Wrightsville Beach. Oak Island. Emerald Isle. After that first trip 60 years ago with her family, my mom didn’t travel much, and it’s been a joy for me to explore coastal towns with her.

We’ve gone shelling for sand dollars at Hammocks Beach State Park, eaten our weight in chocolate from The Fudgeboat in Carolina Beach, and cruised along Federal Road in a golf cart on Bald Head Island. And while we’ve chosen a different town to visit every year, the one thing that never changes is our last night’s supper at a seafood restaurant — somewhere — before we make the trip back home.

This year, we spent a weekend in Calabash. We shopped in Callahan’s and ate butter pecan ice cream from the rocking chairs at Calabash Creamery, and in the evening, we slid into a booth at Ella’s, a place that opened the year my mom was born, taking a seat just beneath a photo of Ella High herself and a framed menu from 1960.

I don’t remember my grandfather on my mom’s side — he died when I was 2 — but seeing that menu on the wall triggered childhood memories for my mom, and as we shared our basket of hush puppies, she recalled the stories of her family. Of growing up. Of hardships and happiness. I could picture it all.

When we left, my mom took a photo of the Ella’s sign out front so she’d remember coming here. And I took a photo of the two of us so I’ll remember too.

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Hudson
Editor in Chief

 

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This story was published on May 29, 2023

Elizabeth Hudson

Hudson is a native of North Carolina who grew up in the small community of Farmer, near Asheboro. She holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and began her publishing career in 1997 at Our State magazine. She held various editorial titles for 10 years before becoming Editor in Chief of the 88-year-old publication in 2009. For her work with the magazine, Hudson is also the 2014 recipient of the Ethel Fortner Writer and Community Award, an award that celebrates contributions to the literary arts of North Carolina.