My Rocky Mount Life: Part Six

A few of you responded to the request made in my last post to share something you love about Rocky Mount. HOWEVER, you didn’t send me a picture or write a paragraph. I guess you decided filling up this blog is my job. So here goes Part Six in this series that highlights what’s good about our hometown.

#1. Thelonious Monk Mural

Have you seen this huge mural of Thelonious Monk downtown? If not, cross the railroad tracks at the corner of the old Belk store (more recently Towel Town). Turn left on SE Main. You can’t miss it. Awesome!

Thelonious Monk, of course, was a famous jazz pianist and composer. His Rocky Mount connection? He was born here in 1917. The mural was painted by Scott Nurkin of the Mural Shop in Chapel Hill.

#2. Edgecombe Community College

Now I know Edgecombe Community College has a split campus, with part of the College located outside Tarboro. But there’s a Rocky Mount campus that definitely enhances our city. What better to have in a downtown than an institution of higher learning? I love its location at the historic Five Points area. I remember years ago when classes were held in the old post office there.

Riding by on a recent day between semesters, I could see that parking was no problem. However, I do wonder where students and faculty leave their cars at this urban campus during a busy fall semester. What does the College plan to do when the City uses its option to build work-force housing on what is now one of the College’s parking lots? Hmm.

#3. Nash Community College

I’m not totally sure my former place of employment passes the inside-the-city-limits test that I imposed to be included in this list of what’s good about life in Rocky Mount. But it seems unfair to include Edgecombe CC without Nash CC. Also–disclaimer here–this school gave me a job for a lot of years.

During my time there, I witnessed the phenomenal growth of the campus. I saw the construction of the Business and Industry Center and the Science and Technology Building. Soon after I retired, the new Continuing Education Building went up.

New buildings are great, but the increased enrollment which required their construction is the real story. People came (and are still coming) to Nash Community College (and Edgecombe CC, too, for that matter) to better their lives.

Rocky Mount is lucky to have not just one, but two, community colleges. Being able to train a local work force helps to lure industry. Also, the college-transfer program can save a family big bucks on the first two years of college.

And I appreciate those Nash CC continuing education classes I took in Spanish as well as the curriculum course I sat in to learn how to create a blog, even if my old brain struggles to learn anything new.

#4. Church Street Churches

Let’s move from education to religion. If you’re from Rocky Mount, you surely know there’s a Church Street. In fact, there’s a North Church Street and a South Church Street. I’m sentimental about the part of Church Street that’s populated by, what else, churches.

Old churches, to be exact. First United Methodist Church, which I attend, has a plaque out front which proclaims the church was established in 1856. There’s something about a historical church that speaks to me. “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,” we Methodists sing. There’s a comfort there, I guess.

I think of Church Street as home base for other denominations, too: First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Church of Good Shepherd (Episcopal) can all be found within a mile or so of one another on this aptly named street in downtown Rocky Mount.

#5. Central Cafe

Another plus on Church Street is Central Cafe. This small brick restaurant on the corner of Church and Western Avenue is a Rocky Mount institution. People who grew up and moved away often find time to visit Central Cafe when they come home. The food is simple: basic breakfast items and then a menu that revolves around hot dogs, hamburgers, and fries for the rest of the day.

Central Cafe is definitely a local hangout, especially for the breakfast crowd. For several years, my retired in-laws would meet a crowd there on weekday mornings to drink endless cups of coffee and chat. The restaurant lends itself to that kind of visit.

#6. Bin & Barrel Wine Bar

Bin & Barrel, owned by Sarah and Ryan Hicks, is located in Station Square in downtown Rocky Mount. I admire this husband and wife team for (a) daring to open the first wine bar (that I know of) in Rocky Mount, and (b) choosing a downtown location.

Like other businesses, I’m sure they’ve been hurt by the epidemic, but I remember a packed wine tasting I enjoyed pre-COVID. On a recent Tuesday when I visited, the business was closed due to what looked like some sort of construction/repair work being done.

I took a picture of the sign to remind myself to visit again.

Did you notice I have six items this time instead of the usual five? I guess I could count the two community colleges as one.

Which three do you think were recommended to me? I’ll tell you in the next post!

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