A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. On those sweltering July days, my grandmother and I ate tomato sandwiches and chilled cucumber slices soaked in vinegar for lunch to

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. On those sweltering July days, my grandmother and I ate tomato sandwiches and chilled cucumber slices soaked in vinegar for lunch to

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


On those sweltering July days, my grandmother and I ate tomato sandwiches and chilled cucumber slices soaked in vinegar for lunch to keep from heating up the stove. She tied a thin scarf around her hair to fend off the relentless sun and set up the sprinkler so I could play in the yard in my bathing suit. In the afternoons, drained from the summer heat, we sat on the front porch, waiting for my grandfather to come home from the golf course, his neck slightly sunburned, his shirt damp and clinging to his back.

He’d join us on the porch, letting the afternoon breeze cool him off, and after a few minutes, he’d rise from his chair, catch my eye, and give me a wink.

I’d jump up and follow him inside to the kitchen, where he’d pull out a half-gallon of Sealtest vanilla ice cream from the freezer and expertly scoop perfect rounds of ice cream into two tall glasses.

I knew exactly what was coming next: From the refrigerator, he’d loop two fingers around a couple of glass-bottle Coca-Colas and pop the caps — a satisfying tssk — with a metal opener. Then he’d pour the fizzy soda over the ice cream, creating a froth that bubbled up to the rim. He’d hand me a spoon and I’d stir gently, the way he taught me, blending the creamy swirls into the dark soda, that icy first sip sending a shiver of delight through me.

I only knew my grandfather in the twilight of his years, but drinking those Coke floats with him, noticing how he playfully slid the glass to me, how he’d slurp the last drops with a boyish grin, I saw that he’d been a child once, too, the son of a Franklinville postmaster, a kid who’d skipped rocks in the Deep River and thrown baseballs with his seven brothers and sisters. In those moments with my grandfather, I glimpsed his youth.

Could it be that something so simple as ice cream holds a secret, that the fountain of youth may actually have been a soda fountain?

I only need to pull on the door handle of Yum Yum Better Ice Cream on the campus of UNCG to be whisked back 35 years, when I’d duck in after exams, when there were still card catalogs in the library and pay phones in the dorms.

I can drink a chocolate milkshake from John’s Drive-In in Kitty Hawk and immediately think of my dad, who loved nothing more than a well-made shake and kept an egg-shaped Hamilton Beach DrinkMaster on our kitchen counter, always at the ready.

In high school, before the bypass rerouted Asheboro traffic, my friends and I would cruise down old U.S. 220 to the beach, stopping at Seagrove Dairy Breeze for a dipped soft-serve cone, the day stretching out as long as that open road. Time was endless then.

Throughout North Carolina, I see families making their way to places like Yum Yum, settling into the rocking chairs on the porch at Calabash Creamery, at Maple View Farm in Hillsborough. They climb into the wooden booths at Yarborough’s in Sanford and S&T’s in Pittsboro. They place their orders, and then the cones, the sundaes, the milkshakes, the banana splits, arrive and melt away the years. With ice cream in hand, we are all children of summer, forever young.

 

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Hudson
Editor in Chief

 

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This story was published on Jun 24, 2024

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.