PC @ L Part Two: NC

Having had a wonderful birthday weekend with the wife and kids, it was time to catch up to the rest of my family back home in the Old North State. With Kelly, Ian, and Dixon all working, I thus spent part of my spring break visiting the people I grew up with.

DSC00594.JPGOn my first night in time, Mom had made me an old favorite: my grandmother's meatloaf. Mama Lou used to use a mix of beef, pork, and veal, but Mom has long left the veal out, replacing it with ground turkey. It was a delicious blast from the past. After we were done, we were greeted by the fourth member of my original household, my brother Dave, who brought with him a bottle of Tito's Handmade Vodka as a present for me. As he explained, "I've heard it's good stuff, and I know Tito was your favorite Jackson brother." Immediately, he produced a lemon and we prepared a treat that he taught me about: the Vodka Nick. Cut a lemon wedge; dredge one side in sugar and the other in ground coffee; toss back a shot of vodka and bite down on the coated lemon wedge. Mmmm. It's a moment of pure glee in your mouth.

DSC00595.JPGI spent the next morning traveling around my old hometown, visiting a few friends like Miss Mary Jane, and passing by some of the places I used to hang out. This is the first: my folks' original Chapel Hill home at 621 Tinkerbell Road. Three bedrooms, a bath and a half, kitchen, dining room, living room, fenced back yard, carport. They bought it when I was a year old for $17,000. Of course, Dad had only made $4000 the year before--he was a geography teacher at Leroy Martin Junior High in Raleigh that year--but as a newly minted assistant to the Admissions Director at UNC, he must have felt the purchase was a reasonable one. The house was painted pale green during my childhood, but the door you can see just to the left of the big tree was painted orange. We've always liked having brightly colored doors on our houses; we must be descended from hobbits.

DSC00602.JPGBut not every place I visited was an old haunt. This sign stands outside a new place, a narrow strip of parkland that the town has created between the 15-501 bypass and the bed of Morgan Creek. Running down it is a strip of pavement for walking, running, or cycling, and if you follow the stream, you'll end up in one of my favorite places in Chapel Hill, the carefully preserved "rural buffer" known as Merritt's Meadow. (Apparently it's officially been renamed Merritt's Pasture, but it'll always be his meadow to me.) I've often said that Merritt's Meadow is a place I'd like to have my ashes scattered, but until this day, I'd never actually set foot in it.

DSC00613.JPGTwo panoramic views of Merritt's Meadow at the end of the trail. It was an odd thrill to be there.

DSC00640.JPGWhile I was in town, I said the magic words that get my dad out of his armchair: "I need to buy some clothes." The next morning, we were in the car heading for the Brooks Brothers outlet in Garland, NC, one of the small towns near the Old Place, the farmhouse where his father and most of his aunts and uncles were born. As we approached, this water tower loomed up and proudly displayed the name of NC's largest county, I figured it deserved a tip of the hat for producing that many Cashwells.

DSC00642.JPG...and here, in the tiny town of Ingold, is the house where my great-grandparents later lived; I just barely recall the layout of its interior, and the only thing I can definitely recall happening inside was my Uncle Guy producing quarters from my ears from time to time, but it's a beautiful old farmhouse and I wanted a picture, so I got Dad to open the sun roof for a minute.

DSC00643.JPG And finally, loaded with cut-price menswear, we piled back into the car for the return to Chapel Hill. Given our location, the odds of our stopping for lunch at any establishment that did NOT serve barbecue were pretty slim, but we found this one outside Clinton and enjoyed some of Eastern NC's finest. Rooster and Doris did not disappoint us.

NEXT: some old friends and a few more scenes from the Southern Part of Heaven

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on March 21, 2013 10:52 PM.

PC @ L Part One: RVA was the previous entry in this blog.

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