A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. We were dogs chasing our tails, aimlessly cruising in our cars on warm summer nights, driving a three-mile strip of road in

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. We were dogs chasing our tails, aimlessly cruising in our cars on warm summer nights, driving a three-mile strip of road in

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


We were dogs chasing our tails, aimlessly cruising in our cars on warm summer nights, driving a three-mile strip of road in a path laid out by the generation before us, making one continuous loop up and down Fayetteville Street, like goldfish circling in a bowl, like satellites orbiting stars.

Ten bucks filled the tank for the night, and we drove from Hardee’s on the south end of Asheboro to Northgate Plaza, a shopping center anchored by a movie theater, an Eckerd Drug, a Roses Discount Store, and a huge parking lot with 300 spaces, temporary landing pads that let us idle and chat with friends through our rolled-down windows, music booming from car speakers, before we peeled away to join the procession again, someone making the inevitable burnout, shredding rubber, engine revving, wheels spinning, a thunderous and rumbling anthem of summer.

When we weren’t in motion, we came to rest at Sonic Drive-In, slinging open our doors and hopping out to roost on bumpers, to lounge on hoods, slurping our lime slushies and taking a front-row seat to the parade of cars rolling through, their horns amplified under the flat-top roof. We added our own accompaniments to this rhythm of the night — our hoots and hollers, our unrestrained, carefree laughter.

We listened, mostly, to the soundtrack of a small town, playing in the places we knew best. We heard reverent renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” sung from the infield at McCrary Park, for which we all stood with our hands over our hearts, then cheered for home runs during Legion baseball games. We listened for the clink of tokens dropping and the electronic pings and tings from the video games in the arcade at the mall. We heard the soft thwock of pink and yellow and orange golf balls dropping into their cups on the Putt-Putt course, greens illuminated by spotlights that shine brighter than the moon.

In our cars, we stored shoeboxes full of cassette tapes in our back seats, pressing play and rewind, play and rewind, on the same songs in the tape player all summer long so that we could learn the lyrics to music that’s now considered “classic” — when in the world did that happen? — and in between, we twirled the radio dial, fine-tuning a signal when static overtook a station.

Sometimes, we turned the music off entirely and listened to the wind rushing past on the way back home, welcoming the silence of the night, soothed by the haunting hoo-hoo of owls we couldn’t see, calmed by the staticky pitch of cicadas, their undulating song rising and falling, rising and falling, a refrain reminding us that the music keeps going, that all the songs we know by heart play on.

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Hudson
Editor in Chief

 

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This story was published on Jun 27, 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.