Back in March, partly as a reaction to all the negative comments I was hearing and reading about my hometown of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, I began this series of posts listing why I love living here. Each week or so, I’ve featured five businesses, activities, or places that make my life in the city limits of Rocky Mount enjoyable.
At the end of today’s post, you’ll find a list of what I’ve covered. If I’ve missed something you like about Rocky Mount, let me know. I’m drawing near the end of this series, and don’t want to overlook anything or anybody.
Moving along, below is this week’s selection of all that’s good about life in Rocky Mount.
Although Hardee’s was founded in Greenville, North Carolina by Wilber Hardee in 1960, many people think of Rocky Mount as being the home of this famous fast-food burger chain. That’s because early in the game, Mr. Hardee sold out to Rocky Mount businessmen James Gardner and Leonard Rawls.
The first location in Rocky Mount of what became an international chain was on North Church Street. The building was demolished in 2007 and replaced with the Veterans Memorial at the Jack Laughery Park.
Although I appreciate a veterans memorial as much as anybody, I do regret there’s no physical trace of Rocky Mount’s original Hardee’s, known as Building Number 1. I remember eating lunch there with my grandparents after finishing my piano lesson at Harris Conservatory of Music. I ordered the same thing every other Saturday: a hamburger with fries, a Coke, and an apple turnover. At 1966 prices, I’m pretty sure my entire lunch was considerably less than a dollar.
Hardees lives on in other Rocky Mount locations, though. The menu has expanded over the years, and today, I take my grandson to the Sunset Avenue location for his favorite breakfast: a biscuit with two packets of grape jelly, a side of hash browns with lots of ketchup, and a sweet tea.
#2. Bailey’s Fine Jewelry
Bailey’s is another long-time Rocky Mount business that’s expanded over the years, and Mrs. Ann Bailey, the matriarch of the company, is one of my favorite people. She and her husband, Clyde Bailey, Sr. began with a small jewelry store in downtown Rocky Mount in 1948.
I remember going into that eleven-foot wide shop in the ’60s to buy Beatle records (yes, Bailey’s once sold such). My mother would chat with “Annabelle,” as she knew her from their days together at a local business school in Rocky Mount. Mrs. Bailey always impressed me as a go-getter, a businesswoman when being such was far from the norm. She became a single working mother of two after her husband passed away at a relatively young age. It couldn’t have been easy.
Today, Bailey’s has passed to a second and third generation and, in addition to the Rocky Mount store, has locations in Raleigh and Greenville, NC. You’ve probably heard the store’s slogan: “Every woman wants a Bailey box.” I know I do.
#3. Rocky Mount Writers’ Guild
On the second Thursday of each month at 7 pm, I meet with a small group of folks who like to write. We begin with a prompt, a topic pulled out of a shoebox filled with ideas written on slips of paper, and scribble for ten minutes. Then we go around the table in the conference room at Lewis Advertising, where we meet, and we all read aloud what we’ve written.
Sound terrifying? Not really. We’re a nonjudgmental group. We laugh a lot. We even give everyone there an opportunity to read something they’ve written before the meeting. For example, I’ve shared parts of Ms. Dee Ann Meets Murder, as well as the sequels I’m working on. I’m not the only published author in the group. Linda Edwards has compiled her poems in Cathead Biscuits, and Diane Henderson’s self-help book All God’s Children Got Issues is available on Amazon Prime.
Meeting with this group each month is one of my favorite activities in my Rocky Mount life. Come join us if you like to write.
#4. Mario’s Pizza and Restaurant
Although Italian cuisine is what Mario’s is noted for, this local eatery is my favorite place to grab a Philly cheese steak deluxe. My husband also gets one, and we split an order of fries. We enjoy the pizza too, also the deluxe version, with lots of toppings! One day when I’m on a health kick, I might order the grilled chicken salad, which my daughter says is excellent.
Located in Westridge Shopping Center, Mario’s is a less than ten minute drive from my house. It’s a go-to place when my husband and I want an easy, uncrowded, comfort-food dinner option, either dine-in or take-out.
#5. Sunset Park
I’m not sure what the current coming-out-of-Covid operating schedule is at Sunset Park, but in past summers, I’ve taken grandchildren to a morning of entertainment here. First on the agenda was the spray park, followed by a ride on the kiddie train, and, finally, a spin on the carousel.
Who doesn’t love a carousel? Look closely at this one in Sunset Park. Can you see the scenes of notable Rocky Mount places painted around the top?
Okay, as promised at the beginning of this post, here’s the list of what I love about Rocky Mount that I’ve covered thus far. Send me what I’ve missed.
- My neighborhood (you can nominate yours but since I don’t live there, you’ll have to tell me what you enjoy about it)
- Farmer’s Market
- Stoney Creek
- Mama’s Pizza
- Rocky Mount Garden Club
- Chico’s Mexican Restaurant
- City Lake
- Planet Fitness
- Braswell Memorial Library
- The Bath Place
- Prime Smokehouse
- The Train Mural
- Lilly & Lane Boutique
- Gardner’s Barbecue Restaurant
- Books and Beans Coffee House
- The Koi Pond
- The Rocky Mount Walking Trail
- Anne’s Donuts
- The Dunn Center
- The Imperial Centre
- Bin & Barrel Wine Bar
- Central Cafe
- Church Street Churches
- Nash Community College
- Edgecombe Community College
- Thelonious Monk Mural
- Sunset Park (Best Friend’s Dog Park)
- Ichiban Japanese Steak House
- Boice-Willis Clinic
- Harris Teeter
- And today’s entries: Hardee’s, Bailey’s, Sunset Park (Carousel, Train, Spray Park), Mario’s, Rocky Mount Writers’ Guild