You know you're from Rutherford County when ...
Whenever I feel like taking a trip down memory lane, I visit a local Facebook page dedicated to recollections about Rutherford County by people who, as the page's administrator describes,"know EXACTLY what we're talking about."
Granted, these aren't my own personal memories, as I'm not from here. But I share a few that are similar. And I'm riveted by others that vividly capture an era that took place before I was born, yet is one I frequently wish we could make at least a partial return to: that period of time during the 1950s and 1960s marked by mannered cordiality and customs, and an excited anticipation of what the future held for humanity.
The posts are also a glimpse into what I view as the essence of the rural South: an interest more intense than anywhere else in one's fellow community members. As the saying goes, “Here in the South, we don’t care what you do. We just want to know about it...”
Speaking of which, one of the first things I’ve learned from the appropriately named “You know you’re from Rutherford County when...” Facebook page is that, Bible Belt or no, our county used to be rather lively at night. Can anyone tell me more about a place called “El Tango”? Or another referred to as “Riverside”?
I’m wondering what the music was like at these spots. What people wore to them. If they were places for mill workers or management to congregate, or an egalitarian mix of both.
On one recent visit to the page a mystery of sorts is finally solved for me: who the "Dr. Logan" is whose name remains visible on a wooden door inside the Spindale Drug Store.
A poster recalls a bad tooth ache he had one evening prior to a basketball game he was scheduled to play at the Spindale House. A quick dash across the street to the doctor’s office resulted in the doctor calling a dentist, who arrived minutes later to pull the tooth and pack up the gaping space with cotton. All in time for the poster to play the basketball game.
Other posters soon chime in that the doctor was Dr. Logan. He delivered me and my siblings, one says. He delivered me, too, another recollects.
I am trying to imagine what it must have been like to trot up the drug store’s stairs to see the doctor, whose office likely had high ceilings and windows that offered a full view of bustling Main Street below. It is impossible to not compare this to today’s tedious wait in the lobby of a bland “healthcare facility."
There are the funny posts, too, like this one from a man who reminisced about a long ago pool room in Rutherfordton. “It was run by a man about 5 feet tall and when you went in he would say ‘boy you ain't 16’!”
That's another memory I don't share. But am I wrong in betting that after making you sweat it out for a minute or two in front of your older friends, he’d let you stay?
And then there are the posts so vivid in description they almost physically transport you back to that place and moment in time they’re describing. Like this one:
“Spindale Pool was so much fun. We would walk to Keller's dripping wet, and were dry by the time we got there. We traded in all of our change for a hamburger, and a coke from the drink box. No air conditioning in Keller's. But the best, best food on the planet. What did ya'll like? Hamburgers, beef dogs, or BLTs?"
I'm a vegetarian, but this one hurts. Shortly after we moved here, Spindale closed the town’s pool.
Another post makes me even more pensive: "I am all for the need to update places but I cried when they took the wrecking ball to Spindale School. It was one of the most beautiful buildings in the county." The poster went on to lament the similar fate of the Stonecutter Mill.
Again, I’m not from here. But sometimes I feel the same pain. Yes, some change is inevitable, and thankfully Spindale’s new elementary school is just as bright and happy of a place as the old school must have been. But there’s a lot that was altered in Rutherford County...and all over America...that didn’t have to be.
Well, if my own generation doesn’t get around to it, maybe the newer generations coming up can fix some of these mistakes. My six-year-old, for instance, has informed me that after he grows up and strikes it rich, he’s rebuilding the pool in Spindale. I'm inclined to believe him. After all, he loves it here.
As I ponder this, I can contain myself no more. I add my first post to the page.
“You know you’re from Rutherford County when an old timer at the Green Hill Store pulls a quarter out of your child’s ear and lets him keep it!” I write.
The post soon receives a flurry of “likes.”
They know exactly what I'm talking about.
Stephanie Janard is a mother and writer who lives in Spindale. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.