Change more than coins in your pocket

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 2/21/20

It’s been said change is the only thing that’s constant in life. That may be true because, as someone else has said, time and tide wait for no one. Change is all around and as Bob Dylan sang …

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Change more than coins in your pocket

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It’s been said change is the only thing that’s constant in life. That may be true because, as someone else has said, time and tide wait for no one. Change is all around and as Bob Dylan sang years ago, “The times, they are a’changing.”

Some folks thrive on change, and the more dramatic, the better for them.

However, even though change is a big part of life, at times it can be hard on our fragile egos and psyches, if we’re that way.

I think I am.

Granted, we need to remember some changes are positive while others are...well, less so. Some changes are absolutes, affecting everybody. For instance, it’s not a really good change when a hurricane hits the coast and destroys life and property and, in the aftermath, you see a different landscape. Other changes are relative, like when a monsoon makes it bad for the farmer who’s trying to make hay and the sunshine disappears behind a week of heavy rain but good for folks selling umbrellas and raincoats.

It’s a fact I’ve had some good changes all along — trading bachelorhood for my definitely better half, the arrival of our own brood and then in recent years the little ones who carry the description “grand.” There have been some good careers and vocations, as well — this newspaper for years, an enjoyable period in agricultural journalism traveling the two Carolinas, a wonderful course of study in seminary and then the opportunity to live among and serve communities of love and faith.

By and large, then, it’s been a good ride. So, sometimes I ask myself what am I complaining about. Well, for one, in my way of thinking, I could have done without the various visits with different surgeons during the past 20 years. But things — changes in the body over time — happen and it becomes something with which to deal. I try to remember Mark Twain’s line about “in my life I have known a great many troubles but fortunately, few of them happened.”

So, most of the time, I — and probably maybe you and most folks — go along until something comes along and reminds us that life is changing and, as a result, so are we. My little growing up town of Pittsboro is a classic example.

Years ago, before there was a Pittsboro Ford, which has now gone the way of all flesh, there was a Ford dealership in town. There was also a General Motors as well, but that’s a different story for another time. That Ford dealership was named Cooper-Harris, the “Cooper” being my Uncle Ken. At first, the new car display lot was on the main drag, Hillsboro Street, in a space now occupied by Virlie’s Grill.

The used vehicle inventory was on the corner where now sits Hardee’s. At various times, Uncle Ken would give me a job ranging from selling cars to washing them in the wash pit behind the used car lot where I hung out with Willie Womble.

Eventually, all parts of the business went onto the corner lot just east of the Masonic lodge, which years before had been held down by several abandoned houses, which finally the Pittsboro Fire Department burned in training exercises.

After the car business closed, mainly due to the deaths of family members, that lot became home to various enterprises, most recently a produce stand and ice cream trailer. I had gotten used to that scene, remembering people and events I’d encountered there. But over the past several months, I read in the paper about efforts to locate a convenience store/gas station there, over the objections of some town commissioners who said it would detract from the beauty of the town.

But it wasn’t until a few days ago when I rode by and saw the chain link fence and mound of soil that I realized what a big change was happening.

There was also a similar feeling when I happened on down US 64 Business east and saw the demolition of Dan White’s house on the north side of the road, just past where Thompson Street intersects the main road. It’s being razed as part of the Chatham Park development and I sort of knew it would be gone in time but to see it was quite a start.

See, I often used to spend the night there with David, the younger son, about my age. We played in the woods, smoked rabbit tobacco, built fires in the root cellar fireplace and played checkers and carrom and rummy, read comic books and ate a million hot dogs his mother Lanie made for us. At least, there was some small comfort that the once-stately old house wasn’t set ablaze.

Chatham Park, of course, is about the biggest change ever to Pittsboro all the way from Hearne Hill in Bynum where Henry cooked barbecue down to Gum Springs on the Moncure Road. Halfway, sort of, is the work being done on Firetower Road. Years ago, we could climb to the top of that tower and see for miles before the fence went up and the steps rotted. It was also a favorite spot for teenage lovers to go at night to watch the submarine races.

I had gotten over the demise years ago of the ice plant that was operated by Mr. Arthur Thomas. When I started driving, my folks would send me up there on Sunday after church with a quarter to drop into the slot to get a block of ice. Then I’d put the big paper bag under the funnel of the machine, turn it on and drop the ice in. As I remember, I didn’t need the signs he had to post telling you not to put your hands into the grinder.

Hopefully, this all doesn’t sound like I’m Atilla the Hun or Ogg the Caveman but I can’t help but notice. No doubt, you’ve seen change and changes in your life. Sometimes it can be hard but I do take some comfort knowing that the Good Book says that in a world of change that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

But, still, because I’m human, sometimes I think I’d like to get one of Lanie’s hot dogs, a glass of tea with that good shaved ice and maybe go by the Ford place or ride up Firetower Road.


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