Maybe I am a little different; a little odd.  That's fine.  I feel like an old person trapped in a young person’s body and I always have.  I think growing up on southern back porches may be a potent ingredient in the making of my particular brand of peculiar.  Listening eagerly and endlessly to my grandmother tell stories of the depression would have done that to anyone.  I will never forget her stories of bringing in glass bottles of milk from her front step on cold mornings. The image of milk bottle caps set atop frozen milk lifting out of the bottles is forever in my memory.  I'm not a highly intellectual person, but I can hold my own.  Knowing my heart searches content over form, I wouldn't dare pretend to be intellectual.

Although I do great research, I can't tell you historical facts about whatever you ask off the top of my head particularly because it doesn't interest me, but I can tell you how it feels and how it changes things.  I can recall stories by word and motion of hands.  So I hope what I lack in grammar I make up for in style.  But there are things, time periods, people, photos that grip me.  If it looks old or whispers simple and passing experiences, it has my ear and mind and heart.  I just love old things.  I don't own any antiques for fear my children would destroy them.  Maybe when they are older I will take in a few, but I can't for the love of life itself pull myself out of any old general store.  I love stories of how things use to be.  Even more than that, I love old black and white photos.  The picture above is an archived postcard of Main Street in Elm City, NC.  It was sent by no one that I know on February 7th, 1910.  And I love old photos of people whom almost no one knows.  People like 'Guitar Shorty' and his wife Lena.  The photo below was taken in 1971.  Guitar Shorty recorded an album of blues music. I am a fan of blues music but even more the kind that comes from hard calloused hands and old southern front porches.  Is there really any other kind?  Maybe so, but nothing like it.  I've yet to hear it but I finally found a copy for sale in the Netherlands for $35 on vinyl so something deep inside me is pretty sure it will be mine one day soon.  Let hope arise!  Wouldn't that be great?  A poor farm hand who spent his days playing the blues and working in the dirt of Elm City finally comes home to rest and be known?  Yes!  That's right!  That's good!  Don't ask me why; I don't know.

I like to try to look at their faces, figure out what they might have been thinking, doing, what their priorities were; their struggles.  In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't make a difference in this world I suppose.  Or maybe it does; maybe we don't usually attend such thinking because we don't know what to do with what we find.  It's like not buying artichokes because you don't know how to cook them but never learning to cook them because you never buy them.  The stories, the people, the time may all escape us but one thing never does, the results of choices made without knowing.  History has its purpose.  But hey, that's me being traditional and old, even though I'm not, old that is...not yet anyway.

I live in the small town of Elm City, NC. The town was incorporated in December 18, 1873, but was originally called the "Town of Toisnot." Over the next 40 years the name changed from that of Toisnot to Elm City a total of three times until October 11, 1913, when finally the name would officially become and remain Elm City.  I was born in Rocky Mount, NC and when I was 4 years old we moved to Hephzibah, Ga.  My father was a unionized construction worker and where the bread was put on the table we hung our coats on the wall.  I was raised in Augusta, Ga.  Our family moved back to NC when I started high school at Northern Nash Senior High School.  After getting married and having my first baby we moved to Elm City where we remain and probably will remain for at least some time to come.  We do most of our shopping and living in Wilson, NC.  But we love and live out our days in little old Elm City.  Elm City is a small town in southeastern North Carolina.  We currently have two schools (elementary and middle school), a grocery store, a gas station, three mechanic shops (one for every kind of person I guess), a family diner, two handfuls of churches, historic homes, an old pharmacy, a very small library, a bank, a gift and collectibles shop, a Laundromat, a hair salon, a cemetery, a train, and, yes, a stop light!  The old train depot was moved last year for preservation.  The inner city limits of Elm City are part of the historical preservation society.  The homes down the main streets of town stand tall and beautiful with the old historical columns of a hundred years ago.  Many have been preserved, yet many are still waiting for their day of polishing.  It's the type of little town that is often passed by over and over again and rarely looked into, but if you know who to talk to, you'd find an interesting history. 

This picture is of the Martha Moore Sanatorium which has sadly been since torn down.  I am sure that was done before Elm City became a 'historical' town.  Now you can't paint your house without approval. :)  It was once an elementary school and eventually turned into a sanatorium.  This little town use to also have a small clinic, shoe and clothing stores and a long list that I will save for later articles.  It was a bustling merchant town at one time.  The farming industry and the train made Elm City a popular stopping point from New York to Florida until Hwy 301 was laid alongside of it.  Some have said Hwy 301 was the beginning of the death of Elm City, but Elm City is not dead.  Elm City is a leisure small town with the necessities of living.  If you need anything fancy, well, you know where you can go.

It would be nice to see Elm City bring in a few store front businesses in the empty locations along the rail and even start its own annual festival or firework celebration of some kind.  Those types of things keep the community of small towns alive.  And I'm not the only heart bleeding for it.  The more I mention it, the more people resonate with the sentiment of it.  I wonder if the town of Elm City really knows the life potential of this little town.  If you build it, they will come?  I bet they would.  Elm City use to be a major pass through with our railroad and depot.  Trading and living made it great in its day, but that is all it needs today to flourish; business and activity.

The CSX train has passed through this town for only God knows how long.  Well someone knows but I still need to find that person.  How long has CSX been around?  Well, about that long.  The more I learn the more I love this little hole in the wall, but sadly researching this tiny historical town isn't easily done because, at least as far as I can find online, not a lot of information has been preserved online.  I will have to begin trekking down to the library and sitting down to talk to a lot of old people.  Wait a minute.  That sounds like a job just for me!

So I will begin and end FOR NOW with a little bit of info on a pretty restaurant in the heart of town.  From the photos below you can see our Legacy Restaurant in Elm City, NC.  It is located on Main Street, as is most of the town, and if you can ever make it for dinner you might as well give it a try.  It's worth it!  The food is good, but it's more than food.   


The food, the atmosphere, the town, the stories; you just have to make time for it.  It's our little sparkling gem in the middle of town.  The home was built for R.S. Wells in 1910 who was a wealthy farmer and merchant.  Charles Benton of Wilson, NC was the architect and the home was built of solid heart pine and the finest materials.  It presents with a gorgeous columned entrance and porch and leads indoors to a stately staircase, beautiful mantels and high wainscoting.  The house is said to be a perfect example of Classical Revival Architecture. 

During the 1950's-60's it was the home of Mrs. Ruth Davis who worked as a librarian at the Elm City High School.  In an interview, Elm City local Wanda Dorsey said, "Mrs. Davis was said to be a very no-nonsense type of woman."  She did not put up with messing around in the library and her students knew it.  Wanda recounted a personal story about The Legacy and its past tenant saying, "When I moved from the 8th grade into the 9th, I became a member of the Keyettes Club.  This was an all-girls service club.  In order to become a member, there was an initiation with tasks to perform.  One of my tasks was to go to the home of Ruth Davis AT NIGHT and ask her for a bobby pin from her hair.  I was terrified of her, so having to go to that huge house, at night, disturb Mrs. Davis and ask for a bobby pin was traumatic.  When the moment came to knock on the door and ask her for the bobby pin, I was quite stunned at how super nice she was and she gave me the bobby pin, no questions asked.  I had the feeling she had done that before.  To this day, I never ride by The Legacy without thinking about Mrs. Davis, the bobby pin and how petrified I was that night."  Wanda shared a story about her husband, Jerry Dorsey, and The Legacy as well.   "Boys tend to be a bit mischievous and once they are 16, the mischievousness intensifies with the addition of a driver’s license.  On one of those such nights, Jerry and his friends noticed some barricades in Elm City with flashing battery powered lights. It was getting late and with nothing else to do, they decided to reroute incoming and outgoing traffic through Elm City. What was so unique about their detour was that they set the barricades up on either side of Mrs. Davis’ home, detouring all incoming and outgoing traffic through the circle driveway at Mrs. Ruth Davis’ home. To this day, we can’t pass a DOT detour and not think about that night." 

Today the Legacy is a wonderful restaurant for locals and visiting travelers.  The menu is diverse and delicious.  Last year my husband and I walked from our home in town to the Legacy for a nice date night dinner together.  The walk together, historical nature of the restaurant, and fine dining were all splendid.  This is just ONE of the many reasons why I love small town southern living.  If you are ever passing through be sure not to pass up the chance at making a unique memory at The Legacy Restaurant in sweet little Elm City, NC.