From Downtown Mayberry RFD

image copyright Fred First

Yesterday, I took a pleasant solo drive from Goose Creek over to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Now that the leaf-peepers have no leaves to peep, I had the long, high road to myself for 35 miles, all the way to Fancy Gap. And for the first time in thirty years, I wound down the mountain the old way–on Route 52–to the bottom of the Appalachian Escarpment, to the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the piedmont of North Carolina. My destination: Mt. Airy, a town that reared and now prospers on Andy Griffith. It’s almost too much as you walk along Main Street. Opie this, Aunt Bee that, and of course, Floyd’s Barber Shop. Small wonder the whistled theme music wasn’t piped out onto the streets at every corner. But altogether, a nice unwalmarted downtown still flourishes.

Promptly at noon, Traveler Trish arrived at the Snappy Lunch–a local diner of some reputation, but as small as Aunt Bee’s kitchen and we’d have to wait for one of the three booths. So we ended up down the street instead at the Blue Plate Diner (if I’m remembering right) and they were very accommodating. Later, we walked the sidewalks through the older homes near town and chatted, catching up on a year’s worth of accumulated water under our bridges. She’s been around the world. I’ve been around Goose Creek.

But we’ll do that again, Mt. Airy being about half way between us. Trish was one of the first to find Fragments, sense a resonance of fellow-feeling with a would-be writer and offer to get together to chat about writing, about goal setting, discipline and about getting your book’s essence down onto the back of a business card–one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever been given!

A writer by background and temperament, Trish left that behind to form and promote WorldsTouch, and just returned from many months putting feet on her intentions to make some small, remote corner of the world a better place. And she’s not done yet, only home to save up enough to go back to India, Nepal, who knows where she’ll travel and do this good work next.

It was a great pleasure to hand her a book across the table in the diner in Mt. Airy yesterday. I never would have imagined four years ago when we met that we’d have to be careful not to get frenchfries grease on the cover of my book in the middle of Mayberry.

Pictured: The distinctive silhouette of Pilot Mountain (aka Mt. Pilot–the bigger town not far from Mayberry) as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

And let me add: Slow Road Home is now available at PAGES BOOKSTORE on Main Street in downtown Mt. Airy. Now there’s both a destination AND a purpose for a Saturday afternoon drive. You’re welcome.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. When clicking from ‘old’ Fragments to ‘new’ I was surprised at the difference in the picture – the gray background really sets it off nicely.

    So there really is a Mayberry (aka Mt. Airy)? Sounds like a neat place to visit.

  2. trish sounds like a neat lady. i’ll have to let my hubby know about her work- he works in the IT field.

  3. Fred, I am thoroughly enjoying reading my copy of “Slow Road Home” and am looking forward to reading it all again, by the woodstove this winter.

    … is your magnificent barn crafted from chestnut by any chance? Up here, the choices for barn materials seem to have been cedar and oak with a maple granary thrown in now and again for good measure.