I have been rather excited to begin my oral history project for this class. My mother and grandparents were both born and raised in Mount Airy, North Carolina. The fact that this town has been a large part of their lives as well as mine is why I chose to focus on it for this project. I hope to learn more about my grandmother’s and mother’s experiences through the lens of the town and its history, economy, and culture.
On every other weekend my grandparents would either come down to visit us in Winston-Salem or we would go see them for the day. I always enjoyed traveling to Mount Airy. When I was much younger, it felt like a little mini adventure. On the way there, my family always took highway 52 north. If any of you have travelled that highway towards Mount Airy, you will know that you always pass by Pilot Mountain along the way. I would always get really excited about that and until I was a little older, I was always referred to it as “the rock.” My parents and grandparents got a big kick out of it. Pilot Mountain always fascinated me and I knew from an earlier age that I would be into the outdoors and exploring beautiful ecosystems. This has held true since I have been here at App with frequent hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
I was excited once we reached the turn off for my grandmother’s house on S. South Street. The house was an older estate with three floors (including a basement) and a large backyard. The house had at one time been much smaller. My grandparents had added to it over the years to make it more suitable for a family. We always had great experiences in that yard. I loved to “explore” the area and the little gulley behind their property. The whole area intrigued my young curiosity. I even remember dragging my grandmother through some potentially treacherous areas just because she had to see some object that I found interesting. She was always adventuresome and happy to accompany me through these little treks. Looking back on it, kind of cracks me up just because I was such a little nerd. 😉
One summer, in particular, I remember having a family cookout in my grandparents’ back yard. My great uncle and aunt, who lived down the street, would walk down almost every day to check in and visit. I remember it was really comforting and exciting to have everyone together for a little cookout and some summer fun. I definitely miss those times now that most of them have passed away.
Even as I grew older, I would go and spend the weekend or several days (if it was summer) with my grandparents. My grandpa would always wake up at buttcrack of dawn everyday and go get us biscuits from Hardees for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent prowling around town, visiting relatives and friends, and relaxing. I remember loving being in that house. There was something always very reassuring and comforting about being there. Even on the days that my family would just go to visit for the day, I never wanted to leave. I loved it there. There was something about my grandparents’ way of life, the atmosphere of the house and even the feel of the town that I was drawn to and didn’t want to leave.
As you can see in depicting some of my more brief, but fond memories of my grandparents and Mount Airy, I fell in love with this little town. This adoration for both my grandparents and the town led me to decide to research Mount Airy for this project. I hope to learn more about the town that I always had a warm, nostalgia for all these years.