A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. My grandmother walked everywhere. She walked to neighbors’ houses, bringing flowers from her garden. She walked to the library and to the

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. My grandmother walked everywhere. She walked to neighbors’ houses, bringing flowers from her garden. She walked to the library and to the

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


My grandmother walked everywhere. She walked to neighbors’ houses, bringing flowers from her garden. She walked to the library and to the feed-and-seed store. She walked to her job in downtown Asheboro at Buddy’s Dress Shop in the ’50s, and then years later to the courthouse for a new job at the tax department.

As a child, I walked with her whenever I could, clinging to her hand as we made our wide loop around town. We walked to Central Bakery for cream-filled oatmeal cookies and to First National Bank so I could deposit money — dollars saved from birthday and Christmas gifts, earnings from helping with chores — into my very first passbook savings account.

As we walked, she pointed out landmarks and told me stories about the structures: This was the homesite of Jonathan Worth, North Carolina’s 39th governor; that oak tree in the front yard was planted by Gov. Worth 200 years ago. Next door, there’s the McCrary home, named for the founder of the Acme-McCrary Hosiery Mill. Once, while playing dress-up in my grandmother’s closet, I discovered the slim boxes of stockings from Acme-McCrary stored away, the packaging printed with instructions to “center the arrows for straight seams.”

My grandmother took me to unexpected spots, too, like the lobby of People’s Savings and Loan to see the huge black-and-white aerial photograph of Asheboro displayed on the wall. The picture stretched all the way to the ceiling, a bird’s-eye view of our beloved town, and we stood there scanning it, identifying buildings we knew and streets we’d just walked on. I could tell by the cars that the photo had been taken a long time ago, and I was mesmerized by how the streetscape looked so different, yet somehow still the same.

Now, all these years later, as I walk through town, I miss my grandmother’s guiding voice, nudging me to see what I might’ve missed. Here was the sandwich shop where we ate hot dogs at the counter; it’s been transformed into a modern coffeehouse. Here were the jewelry stores with their glass cases full of watches, the camera shop where I got my first Kodak, the clothing store where we bought my fall corduroy jumpers — all evolved into other shops. In their places, there’s the Black Lantern Tea Room with its grilled Reuben on the menu; there’s Harper Jewel Boutique with its doors swung open and music streaming out. Across the street, there’s Nannie Mae’s, a bakery lovingly named for — how about this? — the grandmother of the owner.

I notice this, too: that my memories aren’t lost to the march of time; they’ve merely merged with the pulse of the present.

That centuries-old oak tree on the Worth homesite was felled years ago, but now I see someone’s restoring the McCrary house to its former splendor. The long-vacant mill buildings — Acme-McCrary and Cranford Hosiery — have been converted, too, into apartments, a recreation center, and a stunning, light-filled restaurant called The Table.

Central Bakery, with its oatmeal cookies, is still here. And now, there’s also a farmers market and Bicentennial Park — an oasis of green space — that backs up to Four Saints Brewing Co., a place that kept its original floors since it had been a Western Auto, where — how about this? — my grandfather bought new tires for the 1930s Buick that he drove to pick up my grandmother for their very first date. This town she adored so much; its essence endures.

How I wish she could see it all now — the changes, but the constancy, too. How I wish I could be the one to walk with her, hand in hand, and show her around.

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Hudson
Editor in Chief

 

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This story was published on Aug 28, 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.