The More Things Change

 Downtown Floyd Virginia: the Barber Shop

We sat in the new and improved Floyd Country Store and had coffee. We talked about the latest improvements to the communications infrastructure in the county bringing internet speeds in excess of T3 lines to local businesses now. We walked across the street skirting the several construction sites to visit the Floyd Green office that Doug Thompson will soon inhabit.

And we enjoyed a brief visit with parapetitic Jonathan Kingston, passing through briefly on his way to his next photographic excursion and Photoshop teaching session in some far-flung place across the planet. That’s Jonathan’s shadow so strikingly set against the old Harrison Baker building where my physical therapy clinic was in 1997-99.

So much has changed since my first summer here ten years ago. And yet, there is a constancy of rhythm, a matter of human scale and a shared hope in this tiny burg that persists.  Somehow, we seem destined to change, to mature, even to grow, and can we do this without losing the magic? I’m encouraged to think YES. For now.

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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.

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  1. FYI, the old store in the photo was an earlier home of “Harris and Baker” Furniture (not Harrison Baker), the same store that is now located at the northeastern end of town. I know when we life-long local people say the name, it sounds like “Harrison Baker”. 🙂
    Congratulations on the new grandchild! Your joy is now doubled.

  2. I knew that at one time. It took me a few years to make the correction as HB is indeed said as a one-word name ’round here more often than not. We’ve dealt with Vernon Baker on several occassions out at their “new” store.

  3. oh, i do so hope floyd never loses that magic…. it seems like you all are on the right track.

    as much as i still love it, western NC has lost a lot of the magic b/c of the over-development. when we first moved out to the rural community where my parents live, about 25 minutes from waynesville, it was still mostly unspoiled. now there are homes on just about every ridge, even that far out of town.