Categories
Wealth of Our Community

Stephen Clarkson Cox

Stephen Clarkson Cox, son of Calvin and Sarah (Sally) Cox, was born on August 12, 1862. He was named for Thomas Clarkson, a famous English Quaker who led a movement in 1790 against the use of sugar produced by slave labor. He attended Buffalo Ford School and the Liberty Academy during the 1880’s.

Clark married Mary Frances (France) York on February 23, 1890. Mary Frances was the daughter of Enos and Lucinda Kivett York. She had grown up in the Kildee area. Clark and France moved in with Clark’s grandmother Sarah, widow of Nathan. Nathan had died thirteen years earlier. Sarah had remarried, but she and Washington Parks chose to live in their separate homes, so she was alone. Sarah died two years later on July 26, 1872. Clark bought Nathan’s home and land from his father, Calvin. They continued living in the old home until 1898 when they moved into a new home they built further from the river.

Clark farmed and ran the grist mill. He also operated a sawmill located beside the grist mill. Mary Frances was a frail woman who cooked, cleaned and ran a household filled with boys of all ages.

Although Clark was a birthright Quaker, he and France joined Parks Cross Roads Christian Church. Clark led the singing at his church. During this period, music (singing) schools were held in rural churches and the family attended these. Singing was an activity the family enjoyed. Clark and the boys frequently gathered around the family organ for hymn singing. The organist would be Michia, the only daughter, or Cecil, one of the sons. The family love for music continues today in the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Clark believed in education and enjoyed reading. The children were sent to Parks Cross Roads School and to high school in Ramseur. Before school buses and cars were available, the children boarded with relatives and friends. James, the youngest son, drove one of the first school buses in Randolph County.

Clark and France had eleven children, ten boys, and one girl. Their first-born son died when he was ten days old. The boys were Walter, Ivan, Arthur, Hubert, Milton (Bill), Cecil, Rufus, Talton (Tally), and James (Jim). The daughter was Michia.

The boys grew during the time when baseball was a favorite recreation. The Clark Cox boys had their own baseball team during the 1920’s and 1930’s. They played other local teams in and around the county. Their coach was their father who settled any disputes that might arise.

Sources: Files of Evelyn W. Cox.
Johnson, Emily C. “Stephen Clarkson Cox.” The Heritage of Randolph County, North Carolina, by Cheryl Lynn. Martin, Randolph County Heritage Book Committee, in Cooperation with the Heritage Book Collection and Delmar Print., 1993, pp. 213–213.

All the Clark Cox children remained residents of Randolph County. Several remained on farms in the community that was originally known as Coxborough. Clark died on July 26, 1938. Mary Frances died on December 29, 1945. Both are buried at Parks Cross Roads Cemetery.

Categories
Wealth of Our Community

Claudette Reeder – Piano Lessons

By Karen Woody

Whether we realize it or not, our lives impact those around us. Whether we see someone every week or only spend a moment of our time with them, we will leave an impression. I only truly learned this when I thought of the time that I spent with my piano teacher Mrs. Claudette Reeder.

The first time I saw Mrs. Reeder was on a cold, gray January day in 2007. She lived in a small house in Coleridge, which was a short drive for us. My mom and I walked up the steps of her quaint house to the front door. She was already standing on the other side with the door ajar. She seemed to be the oldest, skinniest person my eight-year-old self had ever seen. To me, her hands looked like a skeleton’s, and her eyes had a kind of sparkle to them. The room we entered was small and dark; the piano lamp appeared to be the only source of light. There were shelves of books, a piano, an organ, and a harp crammed into the small space. After she and my mom talked for a few minutes, she instructed me to sit at the piano. My feet dangled from the piano bench, and I was not yet able to reach the pedals on the floor. “That’s ok,” she said, “You won’t need to reach them yet.” She asked me some basic questions about the piano such as the location of middle C and which end of the keyboard had the higher notes. Before the end of the lesson, she gave me a beginner’s piano book and assigned one song for me to practice until my next thirty-minute lesson, which was in exactly one week. Mom and I went home, and I practiced the song once a day for the next week. The events in the first lesson repeated week after week. Soon the weeks turned into months and the months into years. My mom and I grew more acquainted with Mrs. Reeder, and we both looked forward to the weekly visit to her house. We rarely missed a lesson, usually due to occasional illness or inclement weather. Every spring, Mrs. Reeder held a piano recital, and I participated every year. Each of the students would play their recital piece, and after all the students had played, Mrs. Reeder would play a song she had arranged herself. Each year I thought to myself, “I’ll never be able to play as well as Mrs. Reeder.”

  It was just another hot summer day in 2012 when everything changed. I was at church for Vacation Bible School when my mom got the phone call. When I arrived home, Mom told me that Mrs. Reeder was in the hospital. She had tried to talk to my mom on the phone herself, but she was too weak. Her daughter had talked to my mom instead and informed her that Mrs. Reeder had a low blood cell count. In the days to come, we learned that she had a rare type of bone marrow cancer. There were no piano lessons that summer. We were unsure whether there would ever be any again. I still practiced the songs that she had given to me the week before her hospitalization. By God’s grace, she began to recover near the end of summer. She took medications to control her blood count and had the cancerous cells removed. That fall, she began to give piano lessons again to a few students at a time.  

When my mom and I went to her house for the first time since early summer, she was still rather frail and was unable to get out of her seat to greet us at the door. Nevertheless, she gave me a piano lesson using the songs I had practiced over the summer. Over the next few weeks, she became stronger and stronger until she was almost back to the same Mrs. Reeder that we knew. In late December, she announced that she would still have a spring piano recital. All of the students and I were thrilled. I practiced my piece as hard as I could for that recital. It was a very special recital for me; just a few months earlier, I thought she may never hold another one.

  Life went back to normal after that. Every week my mom and I would set off for my weekly piano lesson. During the late summer though, Mrs. Reeder appeared to be a little weaker. She changed the medication she was taking, thinking that her decline was because of the side effects. Instead of helping her, the new medicine seemed to make her worse. The piano lessons continued, and I was approaching my seventh year of piano lessons with her. I had gone from an eight-year-old whose feet dangled from the piano bench to a fifteen-year-old in high school studying creative hymns and classical music. During one of the last piano lessons that I had from Mrs. Reeder, she gave me one of the best compliments that anyone has given me. “Karen, that was good.” she said, “You sounded just like me.”  

  Mrs. Reeder gave piano lessons nearly up to the time of her passing in the fall of 2013. The little old lady that I saw as a child had become not only my teacher but a friend. It seemed like I had always taken piano lessons from her, but in reality, I had only spent a few hours of my life with her. I learned many things from Mrs. Reeder about the piano, but the most profound thing I learned had nothing to do with music. She had given me thirty minutes of her time every week, and yet she gave me her legacy to share with others. Mrs. Reeder will always live on through her music, and through the gift of piano lessons that she gave to me and all her other students. Leaving such a positive impact on the world, even in perhaps a small way, is something I hope that each one of us will do with our own lives.     

Categories
Contributing Works Stories

A Christmas Promise by Nancy Sharpe Ellis

A child doesn’t see the hard times his parents face, but this little boy knew his father would keep his word.

This true story happened in 1942 in Liberty, North Carolina.

It was just before Christmas when the family harnessed the mule to the wagon for the trip to town. They were going to replenish farm and household supplies. The stores were displaying a few Christmas toys and winter clothing in the windows. Christmas was just a few weeks away.

There it was in the window of the hardware store, a shiny red wagon; one like a little boy could use to carry his valuable finds from the yard and fields and even haul wood for the fireplace.

The little red-haired boy’s eyes brightened as he saw the shiny red wagon. He told his father he wished he could have that wagon for Christmas. His father knew he could not buy the shiny red wagon in time for Christmas. He could only promise that he would buy it as soon as he could. A Christmas Promise was all he had to give the little boy.

Being the only child, he was the apple of his father’s eye. He was cherished by both of his parents. Later a sister would be born, but for now, it was just the little red-headed boy.

His father had been disabled as a child by polio, unable to stand and walk. He had worked in the fields while holding onto the plow being pulled by a mule in the foothills of North Carolina. He learned to walk with metal braces on his legs and a cane, but with great difficulty.

It was in these foothills that the little red-haired boy was born to Willie and Hattie, good God-fearing people.

The family had moved out of the foothills to Liberty, North Carolina, hoping for a better life. Still, times ere hard and material things were sparse. Hattie would scrub the floors and walls of the tenant house with hot water and lye soap to make it acceptable for her family. This helped rid the place of bugs and other pests.

The main meal of the day on the farm was called dinner, as the field workers came to the house to eat at the noon hour. Hattie would save a piece of fried chicken for her little red-haired son. She had a hiding place in the cabinet for his food, making sure he had food when the farmworkers went back to the fields to work.

There was no doubt that the little red-haired boy was loved by his parents. So when the boy asked his father for the shiny red wagon for Christmas, the father told him they would have to wait for the government subsidy check from the sale of their tobacco. Silently he hoped it would come before Christmas. A promise is a promise.

Time passed, Christmas came and went. No check came. Christmas was bare that year in 1942. But a promise is a promise of the shiny red wagon.

Finally, in April 1943, the check came. The father hitched the mule to the wagon and the family made the trip to the hardware store to buy the shiny red “Christmas Wagon”.

Not only was the wagon bought, but also a generous supply of candy. He ate so much candy that he was sick to his stomach. The mule pulled the wagon back to the farm carrying one happy little red-haired boy and his parents. Christmas Promised was fulfilled.

The little red-haired boy grew to be a successful farmer and cattleman. He is humbled when he tells the story of the promised shiny red “Christmas Wagon” in the hardware store window. Tears well up in his eyes, not because of disappointment, but because he remembers the love of his parents and the promise kept.

Christmas Promised came in April that year. Our Christmas Promise was foretold from Genesis to Revelation in the Holy Bible. This message is repeated during the Christmas Season across the world as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth is recorded in Matthew and Luke for all to read. Churches present the Good News of the Savior’s birth through concerts, plays, and special events.

In my childhood days, the Christmas story was performed by the children wearing homemade costumes. The choir sang songs, even though off-key, from the heart. It was a joyous sound. At the end of the program, everyone was given a brown paper bag with some nuts, fruits, and candy inside. They left with the feeling of peace and goodwill of Christmas. We even celebrated Christmas at school.

I wish you an old fashioned Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Categories
Arts in the Community

Jesse Lynn

Blue Heron Bead and Craft Works is founded by NC artist, Jesse Lynn. She has been designing one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessory creations for women and men in this particular media for over 10 years. Each unique piece is assembled using a variety of media including hardware, new, old, re-purposed and re-claimed items along with high quality findings and chain. Elements are combined with J. B. Weld, jump rings, rivets and wire. By using common and uncommon items together, each creation is as unique as the wearer.

Find her around the Web:
Website: http://blueheronbyjesselynn.com/

Categories
Arts in the Community

Jeanette Egan – Wood Burning Artist

As a wood burning artist for several years, Jeanette incorporated acquired artistic skills into creating one of a kind pieces to tell a story. Her primary focus is to create custom artwork that inspires, encourages and brings a smile. She is Featured Artist March 2019 for Fox News Art and Crafts segment of “Roy’s Folks”. She utilizes salvaged wood, processing as much of the wood as possible to create a variety of sizes and multiple uses for the art. She enjoys teaching workshops on the art of Pyrography as a means of relaxation and self-expression.
Find her around the Web:
Business: J. Egan Designs
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jnegandesign
Instagram: @j.egan_designs
Website: jnegandesigns@gmail.com

Categories
Wealth of Our Community

Robert Truman (Bob) Stout

by WT Cox

Bob Stout was a special person by every standard and he impacted everyone who knew him. Bob lived on family property in Ramseur where his father Penn operated Stout & Raines Plumbing for many years, and Bob followed in his footsteps. I grew up hearing about the exploits of Bob from his younger days from my Dad, those of fast cars, and a rambunctious lifestyle. But something happened to Bob later in life. Bob trusted Christ as his Savior and became a changed person. His testimony has been an inspiration to countless people who had the privilege of knowing him. Bob had a unique outlook on life. One that recognized the good quality that everyone possesses. He certainly had a way with words and many people, including myself, sought his advice about life or spiritual matters. Bob was a great teacher and someone who you just knew spoke from the heart. Bob spent many morning hours sitting in “his” chair at our hardware store telling stories and talking with locals who stopped in to chat. I used to love listening to Bob and my Dad reminisce about the days of their youth going up here in Ramseur. That space seems empty now when I remember the stories and laughter that emitted from “Bob’s corner” of our store.  He was a friend, a mentor, and more importantly someone who knew from experience how a Christ could change a person. Everyone loved Bob. It did not matter a person’s race, age or social status… all were the same in Bob’s eyes. Bob Stout is one of the reasons we have a wealthy community. The following article was submitted by his daughter Johanna:

On the morning of October 21, 2019, Kent Burgess and I were sitting in the front yard by the fire. My father, Bob Stout, had died earlier that morning and Kent and I were both shattered. We sat there, not saying much, just looking into the fire and I can’t remember which one of us said it but the phrase “the greatest legacy a person can leave behind is to be missed” was spoken. I have thought of this phrase just about every day since Bob died, cause, Lord knows, he is missed! Whenever a photo of Bob pops up on my or Kent’s or Cousin Pam’s Facebook memories and we share it, just about every comment is about how Bob is missed and how there will never be another one quite like him anymore. Now I know I’m prejudiced because he was my father, but I truly believe he was the greatest man that I have ever met and will probably ever meet. Over the years have thought about why I felt this way and I have come up with a few theories. First of all, he had the ability to draw people to him. This is no exaggeration, but there were some days that I would pull into the driveway and ended up parking in the field beside the house simply because there was nowhere else to park. The driveway was full of cars and the yard was full of folks sitting outside, talking, insulting one another and in general just sitting a spell and visiting. One day my daughter, Anna, looked outside at the yard full of people and said, “I hope I’m as popular as my 87 year old grandfather one day.” I told her, “Don’t count on it, I’ve hoped for the same thing my entire life and it hasn’t happened yet.” Bob was popular but it was a popularity based on his wit, always quick but never malicious, his sense of honor, for he was of the generation where his word was as good as a legal contract and his wisdom, which came from the number of years he had lived (all in Ramseur except for three years spent in Maine and Bermuda when he was in the Coast Guard-as he would say, the US was never invaded under his watch) and wisdom that came from his daily reading and study of the Bible. His favorite biblical passage was John 14:1-3 and daily he lived this passage. His heart was not troubled and he trusted in the Lord and did not worry. Bob always said that he was not worried about dying, he knew where he was going, and while I accept that he is in glory, I still miss him and probably will til the day I die. It’s hard to talk or write about Bob without tearing up, but at the same time I remember him with laughter and all the funny stories that he told and that were told on him. Just like Truvy said in Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” 

Miss you and love you Daddy

Categories
Wealth of Our Community

Braxton Craven, 1822 – 1882

by WT Cox

Braxton Craven, the father of Trinity College. – Used by permission of Duke University Archives

A good example of someone overcoming diversity and hardship while leaving a lasting impact on our world is the life of Braxton Craven. Orphaned at a early age and adopted into the family of William Nathan Cox, who lived in the settlement known as Coxborough, located along the mouth of Millstone Creek and Buffalo Ford along Deep River approximately four miles south of Ramseur. Braxton chose to keep his birth name of Craven, but was deeply impacted by the Cox Family that raised him. He developed a work ethic and a desire to succeed despite the odds. His quest for learning was kindled at an early age. Braxton Craven went on to become a respected teacher, minister, scholar, writer and educator. He converted to Methodist while president of Trinity College but never forgot his Quaker up-bringing by his adopted Cox family. He is credited with allowing some of the first women to earn degrees of higher education in the South and his legacy lives on today in his school that later became Duke University. Learn more about Braxton Craven in the article below, taken from The Heritage of Randolph County , North Carolina: Volume I – 1993.

BRAXTON CRAVEN

Braxton Craven was born on August 26, 1822, near the Holly Spring Community in Randolph County. At age seven he was orphaned and was taken into the home of Nathan Cox, a Quaker who operated a farm and a trading post. He had 14 children of his own, plus young “Brax” to help out with the farm work.

A minor accident when he was eleven years old had a great influence upon the life of Braxton Craven. He was riding in a wagon with his adopted father hauling goods to Fayetteville. He fell from the wagon and a horse stepped on his leg. They stopped at a store to secure bandages and the storekeeper gave Braxton his first book, a “speller” to divert his mind from the pain. This started him on his educational career. He persuaded his foster father to let him attend a subscription school about three miles from their home.

Braxton was an apt pupil and read everything he could find. At age sixteen, he organized a subscription school of his own at Soloman York’s plantation. During this period, young Braxton was converted to the Methodist faith while attending a meeting at Salem Church. His preaching career started soon after and he began preaching in 1840. He worked on the farm, taught school, and preached, saving his money to further his education. He attended New Garden Boarding School at Guilford College 1839-1841.

After finishing at New Garden, he went to Union Institute in Trinity, as an assistant teacher and became a full-fledged teacher in 1842. He succeeded Brantley York as head of Union Institute and soon became sensitive about the fact that he did not have a college degree. He secured permission from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia to take the examinations in certain courses.

After passing these exams, he received an honorary Bachelor of Arts Degree in June 1845. Two years later he did the same thing and received a Master of Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina. As his fame as an educator spread, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Andrew College in Tennessee and in 1874 was awarded a Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Missouri.

Braxton Craven married Irene Leach in 1844. They made their home in Trinity and he spent his life working for the betterment of education. He realized the need for a school to train teachers, and it was through his efforts that the Union Institute became Trinity Normal College. He guided the school through the trying years of the Civil War and Reconstruction. By his persuasion, the Methodist Church became the supporter of the college when it was near financial ruin. He continued to guide the institution until its move to Durham where it became Duke University.

Chair from the Office of Braxton Craven while President of Trinity College.  Courtesy of WT Cox
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Uncategorized

Ramseur Community Museum

The first Ramseur Museum was in the former post office building which had been placed behind the Ramseur Library in 1970. As the nation’s Bicentennial approached, most towns found a project to help the local areas celebrate this historic occasion. The building still had post office boxes and items from the town’s first post office. This museum was formerly dedicated on October 17, 1976.
The Ramseur Historical Committee found items were beginning to deteriorate in the building without heat or air condition. An opening in the door for the post office cat became the entrance for many rodents as well as snakes and other creepy animals. The committee asked the town commissioners for help in locating another place to store the fragile artifacts that the former committee had placed in the museum. The first floor of the former Bank of Coleridge building was made available to the committee. The renovation of the building began in 2002. The museum opened at this location on November 18, 2006.
The Ramseur Community Museum features exhibits on the area’s early history, events, and people. Current exhibits contain memorabilia from Columbia Manufacturing Company (the cotton mill), Ramseur Broom Works, Alberta Chair Factory, Brady Funeral Home, and other smaller industries.
Military uniforms from World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam are on display. Newspaper articles from these wars are included. One display case contains bank memorabilia from the Bank of Coleridge, the Bank of Franklinville, the Bank of Ramseur, and Page Trust Company. Ramseur had a community band in the early 1900s. Uniforms, instruments and music from the band and that period are on exhibit. A good portion of the movie Killer’s Three was filmed in Ramseur and Coleridge as well as other parts of the county. One area of the museum contains memorabilia from that event.
Exhibits change periodically. We have had special exhibits featuring boy scouts, girl scouts, farming, and schools. The only permanent exhibit is the one about General Stephen Ramseur for whom the town was named.
We have had over 700 visitors in the museum since it opened. These have included visitors from 10 different states and 2 foreign countries as well as from our local area. The museum is open one weekend a month and by appointment.
The old post office museum was renovated in 2015 by a local scout who was working to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. It is now a Ramseur post office museum only. It is opened periodically and also by appointment.

Categories
Contributing Works Stories

Icing on the Cake of Life

Everyone knows that family is important. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today, no matter the situation. We each have our differences, hardships, and struggles. We also have the good times, lessons that last with us for a lifetime, and things that connect us, even when we’re apart. Below is a letter from Teresa Canoy, proprietor of Harvest House in Ramseur, NC, to her late father, James “Boot” York, who was a fireman for Franklinville Fire Department.

Dear Dad,

Thirty years ago, November 10th was our last conversation about Christmas lights for the fire department. I wrote to you 19 years ago, that letter printed after 9/11. It being about your grandson, J.R. and him remembering you being a fireman, with his hopes of maybe one day becoming a fireman.

Dad, I tried so hard to be a son, always trying to prove myself of being tough, not just on the farm, but with many other life duties. When you became a grandfather, I saw the softer side. The overwhelming love you had for my son, and then my daughter, Jessica. You would be proud, Jessica has been a Jr. Fireman. J.R. now has a son of his own. Now I know how deeply grandparenting love runs. 

Dad, I was very wrong in my dislike of you and your involvement with the fire department. I know that you being a fireman and a grandparent was your Icing on your Cake of Life. Those were some of your best years. 

Dad, sitting here this morning, having just returned from a fire alarm and taking off turn-out gear, I’m understanding even more of the importance of all fire departments and what they do for the communities. Even though you are not here, I feel closer to you than I ever have. You leaving this earth at 46 years old was too soon. I’m proud to tell you at 56 years old, I’m working to have a brother-sister hood. I’m just a probie right now, but hope to honor what you started.

P.S. Hope I never forget the fire truck…I want to honor all of those who have given their time, talent, and their lives. When I look at the Senior Fireman, I’m humbled of all they have given. I look to the young fireman and feel so proud of them. I feel hope and pray not only for their dedication, but for their lives and all that they are giving. 

Dada, you taught me to be tough and to fight. I will not give up, I will stumble and I will fall. It will take me longer to stand back up than those younger ones, but I will stand and keep fighting. Thank you Daddy.

I want special thanks to all my loved ones that will be here to cover my ass and support me. I want to thank J.R. and Cortney for making me a grandparent. My cup runneth over. Thank you and love to Jessica and Josh for always being here for me. Josh, thanks for knowing how stubborn I can be, and talking to me about knowing my limits, so I don’t fall out and cause hardships on the team.

Thanks to the Ramseur Fire Department for making me feel safe, welcome, and allowing me a chance to be a part of your vital organization, that voluntarily helps others in time of need. I’ve been told there is always something anyone can do. 

I challenge everyone to check in with a local fire department. Volunteers are needed. 

P.S. I’m beginning to put the Icing on My Cake.

Love,

Teresa

Categories
Contributing Works Stories

Lessons from Miss Lou’s

by Debra Vernon

Today, it seems as if there is a Dollar General on every corner.  Little islands of retail pop up in the most rural of areas.  It’s a place where you can run in and grab most necessities, and then quickly beat a retreat to the car and on back to your house.  But in the not too distant past, the local “country store” was a big part of any community, and it was no different at Browns Crossroads. 

The neighborhood of Browns Crossroads still exists among the gently rolling foothills of eastern Randolph County.  It is the type of place where anyone that lives within a 5-mile radius is considered your neighbor, and that’s a good thing.  Back in the day, there at the crossroads was Langley’s store, affectionately known by anyone in the neighborhood simply as “Miss Lou’s”.   

This was a place which was not designed for the quick stop.  This was a place where you were encouraged to stick around and find out the comings and goings of your neighbors.  The parking lot was composed of a little bit of gravel and a whole lot of bottle caps, which gave a distinct sound when you walked on them.  A Sunbeam screen door would slam shut behind you as you entered the sanctuary of the neighborhood retail chapel.  A long counter that ran along the back, with an assortment of items for display: ‘nab crackers, Vienna sausages, potted meat, saltine crackers, sardines and for the high-end diners, cans of beanie weenies. The coke machine was the chest type, and you could reach in and find the coldest coca cola ever, chilled just right and waiting for you to add salted peanuts.  Coble Dairy ice cream cups with the little wooden spoons occupied my childhood desires while there, but they were not housed in a fancy freezer like frozen items are nowadays.  Nope, there was an old white Kelvinator fridge that sat back in the corner, where milk and cheese occupied the cooling section, and ice cream cups and sandwiches occupied the freezer portion.  Loaves of bread sat out on a metal rack, and a few cookies and sweet things occupied another shelf.  There was not a lot of variety, and that was okay, as it was a simpler time and a simpler place, when just the basics was quite enough.  Red Man chewing tobacco, as well as Camels with no filter were available by the pack.  Chatham Dog Food was stacked in 50-lb bags over against the wall, and I spent many Saturday nights sitting on those, watching my mom and dad and our neighbors playing games of Canasta or Rook at the table in the corner.   I can see it so clearly in my mind’s eye right now.  

Miss Lou was queen in that realm and ruled it accordingly.  I do not believe I ever saw her in anything but her “house dress”, standing behind the counter while ringing up purchases on that big old metal cash register with the bell on it, and dispensing the latest news of the neighborhood.  She was a fount of knowledge; and knew everyone near and far.  It was in this small space I learned some valuable life lessons.

If someone in the community was sick, the ladies would map out who would provide meals during the week.  On your assigned day, you cooked up a big meal and took it to them.  And it was an entire meal, complete with meat, a few vegetables, homemade biscuits, sweet tea and a dessert of some kind.  And it was all made from scratch.  None of that store-bought stuff.  You marked your dishes with your initials, and you were sure them get them back.  If it was an extended illness, house cleaning, as well as clothes washing, and ironing would be taken care of.  Men folk would take care of items such as planting or harvesting (depending on the time of the year), moving stock from one pasture to the next, or gathering/splitting wood.  

If the doors to the church were open, you were there.  You served whenever and wherever needed and did so with a glad heart.  Bible school was held each summer, revival services in the spring and fall, and the Christmas program with the kids was always a big hit.  You may not attend the same churches as some of your neighbors, but you supported their fund-raising dinners and gave generously to their projects.  It was just the Christian thing to do.  Some of those dinners were held at the Grange Hall across from Miss Lou’s store.  Fried chicken, green beans seasoned with fatback, homemade biscuits, sweet tea and some of the best desserts to ever hit your taste buds flourished at those dinners.  

You went to school with your friends at one school for all grades, and you were subject to the expectations of your teachers and the principal while there.  If you were not on your best behavior, discipline would be dispensed quickly and efficiently at school, and a note sent home to ensure another dose would be administered by mom or dad.  Even if you were not on the school sports team, you were still at any of the games you could get to.  School spirit was infused into everything you did, and it was contagious!  The smell of freshly popped popcorn still takes me back to the gymnasium at Ramseur Elementary school, and I am so tickled the gym I remember is still there and in use!

You also learned to respect your elders.  This was not just the older folk in the family, but anyone in the community older than you.  You respectfully listened to what they had to say and did not interrupt or argue.  And for those who were authority figures, such as police officers and firemen, a special measure of respect was due, as you knew they put themselves in harms way to protect and serve others.  

This was also during the time of the draft, so every red-blooded and physically able young man gave a minimum of 2-4 years of service to the armed forces.  And every mother gave a piece of her heart.  Because of this, it was instilled in you at a young age to stand for the national anthem with your hand over your heart, say the pledge of allegiance every day in the classroom while facing Old Glory, and always put God and country first.  It was the least you could do to signify how much you loved your neighbor and your nation.

Today, Miss Lou’s store no longer stands at Browns Crossroads, and the Grange building is long gone too.  Highway 64 is no longer a two-lane highway, but a divided highway with a convoluted intersection which now requires a trip either east or west just to go straight across (government intervention at its finest).  But you know what?  Even though time has marched on, this neighborhood still embraces the lessons I learned while sitting atop the dog food sacks.  Taking care of your neighbor, being at church worshipping God, doing your best in school, respecting your elders and showing compassion and concern for all people.  All of that still runs deep here.  So, I would say Miss Lou’s store provided the basics in more ways than one.  And no Dollar General can improve upon that.