Sense of Place:
A Creative Community Dialogue about the places in Caswell County that mean the most to us.
(presented by the Caswell Council for the Arts and the Caswell Health Collaborative)
There are so many stories to be told about this place we call home. There are so many long country roads and wooded paths, each taking us to places across the county that are meaningful to us, places that help define who we are. Is there a place in Caswell County that has special meaning to you? If you were going to tell someone about this place, what would you tell them? Is there a special story, memory, or historical importance of this place for you? Why is it meaningful and how has it shaped you?
Please enjoy the exhibit below, and we invite you to share your original stories, songs, drawings, photos, paintings, and any other mediums that tell your story about a place in Caswell County that is particularly meaningful to you. We will continue to accept submissions until July 15th. See please keep them coming!
Station 6, Pelham Volunteer Fire Department By Brittini Macedo
This piece on the Pelham Fire Department is a mixed media piece with photo and acrylic painting. The background is made up of a published, written history of the Pelham Fire Department, written by Mr. Ray Durham of Pelham, NC. The photographs blend the old with the new and highlight the important presence of the department since it’s realization in 1968.
My grandfather, Joseph ‘Wayne’ Carter was one of the founding members, and the department history has been sprinkled with many other family members along the years, including my father, uncles, cousins, and husband. As the wife of a firefighter, I see first-hand the sacrifices made to serve the community, and the hard work these men and women put in each week to keep our community safe. Thank you Station 6 for all you do!
The Yancey House by Lucindy Willis
Thousands of guests entered through the purple double doors at the Yancey House Restaurant and Gallery between 2005 - 2011. They came from all walks of life—farmers, teachers, students, lawyers, congressmen, CEOs, hunters, retirees, tour groups. They came from all over the world—England, Chile, India, China--as well as right down the road. Most arrived at the restaurant looking for the same thing: good food, good service, good times.
I believe they also came for something else; something they were unware they needed. Remember the lines from Field of Dreams? The scene when Terence Mann tells Ray Kinsella:
“Build it and they will come . . . for reasons they can't even fathom: . . . for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; [and] find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and . . . they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces.”
“People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and could be again.”
Some guests came to the Yancey House, a home built over two centuries ago, to once again savor granny’s Sunday dinner brisket or the vegetables they themselves picked as young children while living on the farm and which grew in our gardens. They came to eat a dish of home-made ice cream on the porch and play croquet on the front lawn with their children, as they did years ago with their own parents and grandparents out in their backyard.
And sometimes, just sometimes, they succeeded in re-experiencing the past. I am thinking specifically of Edith Milardo, mother of Durham resident Josephine Segatori. Edith, originally from Ansonia, on the Naugatuck River in Connecticut, was 92 years old when she came to visit the Yancey House back in July 2009.
That day, I looked out the restaurant’s kitchen window to see Edith picking all the vegetables in the restaurant garden located next to the house. She was focused and determined but was having a difficult time picking produce while juggling the tomatoes, eggplants, and blackberries with her hands.
Going to the storage room, I grabbed a white oak market basket that I had woven years ago, then went outside and held it steady as Edith carefully and methodically placed each of her treasures into the basket. She then removed the basket from my grasp and returned to her task. As she did so, her daughter Jo stood outside the fence, leaning against the top railing, her foot on the lowest rung. watching as her mother was teleported back in time.
According to Jo, little Edith “walked over half an hour to pick blackberries for her daddy. She also helped feed the animals and gather all the eggs from the chicken coop. With her mother’s help, she planted a garden and together they raised vegetables for the family meals. In her mind, right now, that is where she is . . . in her daddy’s garden.”
Although the Yancey House was the historical home of our greatest citizen Bartlett Yancey, Jr., although it served as a community gathering place for many in our county as a restaurant, it also brought reminiscences of the past for many individuals who came to visit. Looking back, I think this might have been its most significant contribution.
Lucindy Willis, Ph.D.
Where there is always a sense of calm
Hand dyed wool, hooked rug
by Leslie Zimmerman
The Yancey House
North Village Pharmacy
Old Gunn Memorial Public Library
Bright Leaf Legacy
The Old Courthouse
The Old Courthouse
At 86 years old, it's hard for Jean Vernon to choose on place, or one story that is significant to her. There are stories, and precious memories everywhere she looks. Many of them are of her family home and the pack barn they renovated into a cozy cabin that still serves as a gathering place for family and friends.
New Hope United Methodist Church also holds significance for Mrs. Vernon, a reminder of countless stories of her own family but also stories of friends and neighbors.
Downtown Yanceyville is also particularly special for Mrs. Vernon as it holds so many special memories of the Brightleaf Hoedown Festival and her late daughter, Claudia Vernon Smith.
Mr.s Vernon has collected a lifetime of stories - photos, newspaper clippings, booklets, and other mementos packed away carefully, tangible reminders of the places and people that have filled her life.
Finding the Special Christmas Tree
Submitted by Jean Vernon
Christmas in the Country
Submitted by Jean Vernon
Memories of the Farm
Teddy Bear Gravy by Jean Vernon
Guest House Packs Heritage
Drug Store Photo: Jean Vernon, Annise Davis, Claudia Smith, Ellen Robertson, Lorraine Snyder
The Rocky Place by Rebecca Page
Located in the creek below “the ol’ homeplace” (as my daddy referred to it) where I now live just outside of Yanceyville, my dad and his brothers took their weekly Saturday evening baths here when they were growing up in the early 20th century. Perhaps Dad’s sisters took baths here too, but none are left to ask. I assume this was only a warm weather routine, but they were a tough lot so who knows!
When I was growing up, my dad took me here often, probably on Sunday afternoons. It was one of my favorite places to play…spending hours wading, poking at leaves and sticks to help them wash down stream, catching minnows (or just trying), building dams that stilled the water and delighting in the rush when I broke them, skipping rocks, splashing, jumping from rock to rock, slipping on slick ones, reveling in mossy carpets, ferns, the shady coolness, mini sand beaches along the banks, birdsong, and occasionally falling in.
To my knowledge, this place had no name until I came along and dubbed it “The Rocky Place” simply because, it was. Two rock formations stand out to me, a small almost square sink-like basin where I assume the baths took place and another that mimicked tiny stair steps. As if needing maintenance, I would always clean the basin, rubbing the slick off the bottom and nudging trapped leaves and sticks into flowing water. When I would scamper around jumping from rock to rock I would always step up and down the tiny “stair steps” even though they went nowhere in particular. My “net” was a long-handled wire basket intended for lowering french fries into hot oil. Even the slowest minnows could clear its wake, so rarely did I catch one, and when I did it wiggled out between the wires. I didn’t mind.
While I played, Daddy would always sit on a rock, probably whittling a twig. At some point he told me about the baths he used to take here and about times spent here “cooling off” after a hot day’s work in the fields. A short distance downstream from Rocky Place, he and his brothers had dammed the creek to make a “swimming hole”. There was no trace of this when I came along.
Once when trudging up the hill from The Rocky Place to return to the house, I stepped in a yellow jacket nest. Yellow jackets filled my pants stinging all the way. I remember how daddy grabbed me under his arm ripping my pants off, while running to safety where he daubed my stings with the chewing tobacco he spit from his cheek. As bad as those stings throbbed, I think they hurt my daddy worse. Fast forward many years, my young son stepped in a nest. I can still hear his heart wrenching “MOMMY”. The same scenario ensued, minus the chewing tobacco. I cried too.
When my children were young and visited Granny and Papa, they loved to go to The Rocky Place. Daddy, who was near 90 by then, would sit and whittle while they played. Without directions, they discovered the same joys I had…jumping, damming, cleaning, poking, wading and probably falling in. They took their friends there as I had done, and now, even as young adults, paths overgrown and teeming with ticks and chiggers, they and I still make our way down to The Rocky Place.
Staying home and plants keep us company as time passes slowly - 2020