Love Letter to My Hometown

Last night I returned to my hometown of Elkin, North Carolina for the night. My parents recently converted their guest house into an Airbnb (shameless plug: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/11062826) and I decided to take advantage of one of its rare vacancies to work on the upcoming essays and paperwork I am required to complete in preparation for ordained ministry. It was a treat beyond comparison to have the luxury of a quiet house all to myself, let alone to be able to walk next door at dinner time for a delicious meal prepared by my parents.
After a restful sleep and a delicious breakfast of homemade granola and fresh scones (thanks Mom!), I decided to go for a run through my hometown. To say it was nostalgic is an understatement.
Parks have sprung up in the most wonderful of places.
There is shade where it didn’t used to be.
Beautiful structures and bridges have been erected “in memory of” friends of my parents’ friends who it seemed like just yesterday were cleaning my teeth, or playing tennis at the park downtown.
I have incredibly fond memories of my childhood hometown. As I have become a parent, I only wish for an upbringing like I had. The town is fresh from the pages of a Norman Rockwell book. Many towns such as this one, experience the ravages of time, and suffer the consequences of urban flight and neglect at the hands of either disinterest or lack of funds. But time has been kind to Elkin. In fact, over the years, it has only gotten better.
There is now an extraordinary nature trail that snakes along Big Elkin Creek, replete with waterfalls and bird sanctuaries. I had hiked along these paths and played in these areas for years as a kid, but now I suppose they have been revealed to the world and declared “official”.
There are now breweries, wineries, antique stores, and coffee shops in our historic downtown, where we used to ride our bikes and line up to watch the annual Christmas parades. The old movie theater, where we would hide in the last row and sneak our first kisses in the dark, is being renovated to be a state-of-art performing arts center.
Change is inevitable. Time has a way of doing this. Thank goodness for our memories. Our bodies might ultimately fail us, but our memories are forever shelved in our minds, free to be dusted off and revisited as often as we like, for joy and warmth.
This is how I felt on my run this morning. It was a journey through time, but it was also an exciting glimpse into the future. I could write volumes on the memories I revisited as I jogged along the landmarks of my youth. But no one would be able to truly experience them in the same way I do. Those are special glimpses, preserved only for the eyes lucky enough to have seen them first hand. I will continue to share these memories to anyone who will listen- don’t you worry about that. But for now, I wish for new and exciting memories to be formed today by this next generation of Elkin youth. My message to them: one day you’ll wake up, like I have, and realize you’re a grown adult (even though you’ve fought it the best you can!) And you will realize how lucky you are to have grown up in such a special place.
So to all the incredible people of Elkin, North Carolina, thank you for making me the man I am today. Although I wish you would have made me a little taller, I carry with me the wisdom and insights of my youth you instilled in me so many years ago. I hope to make you proud.

With love and admiration,
Brook Seaford

13 Comments

All Elkin needs now is a new Lutheran church!

Liked by 1 person

Suffice it to say that we have different memories of growing up in Elkin. Like most small Southern towns, I found Elikin to be a cliquish place to grow up. A place dominated by just a few truly privileged families. I have dear friends who have always lived there and love the place. I can fully understand their attraction to and your nostalgia for Elkin. On the other hand, I’m sure there are many more like me who who are grateful to have escaped.

Like

Wonderfully written about a place that I’ll love till I leave this earth! Thanks so much, Brook!

Liked by 1 person

Brooke, what a wonderful tribute to our special town. Elkin will always be so special to our family and we feel just as you do, how lucky were we to grow up there!!! Hope you and your family are doing well.

Like

I absolutely LOVED this article Brook! You voiced the feelings of so many of the wonderful youth “we” as a village have raised!!!! ha West Main Street in Elkin North Carolina is my : happy place” filled with all the joy and memories that have made life the rich experience and adventure I cherish. Thank you for writing this article and sharing your thoughts. May you be blessed beyond measure as you continue your journey and may God hold you close. in the palm of his hand …. Much love and welcome home always… Dot Turrentine

Like

I wrote a counter perspective to the joys of small town life on the 20th. Almost 24 hours later I see a reply in agreement with Mr. Seaford’s nostalgic view of Elkin has been posted while mine is still awaiting moderation. How odd.

Like

I left Elkin when I went to grad school in NY and only returned for numerous visits with my family. After my parents death, I found myself still returning pulled back by nostalgia and memories and also finding myself charmed by Elkin growing, thriving, and changing with the times. Now, thanks to Facebook, I have renewed friendships with former classmates and plan more trips back. I have lived in CT, NYC, FL, and now AZ. But Elkin is home. I still have to get my courage up to drive by my former home which is someone else’s now but have my memories. Thank you for this article. Will share.

Like

BROOK: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ESSAY. IT TAKES A SMALL ARMY TO KEEP A TOWN LOOKING WELCOMING. WE HAVE HAD SUCH GOOD STEWARDS OF OUR TOWN WITH OUR ELKIN VALLEY TRAILS GROUP, THE WATER SHED NOW GROUP, MAIN STREET, DOWNTOWN MERCHANTS, PEOPLE WHO ADOPT STREETS, PEOPLE WHO PICK UP LITTER AS A PART OF THEIR WALK….IT S A GOOD TOWN, AND IT WAS GOOD TO ME ALL MY LIFE.

Like

This touched my heart and my soul. Elkin will always hold incredible memories of a blessed childhood…one where my dad is still vibrant and young, and everyone that has passed is still vibrant and healthy, it was truly right out of a storybook. There are still many people there I hold dear. On a recent trip, my husband and I also discovered the trails past the waterfalls and had a wonderful time reliving memories through the years. Thank you for bringing back good times and happy memories. Although I’ve been gone since 1985, Elkin will always be my home.

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for your insights, memories and love of our hometown Brook. Sandie and I moved here in 1979 and were graciously welcomed by everyone we met. We raised two kids who received a fine public school education and went on to advanced post graduate degrees. We were active in school, church, scouts, many sports, and other enriching activities and enjoyed making friendships and mentorships we still keep and treasure. We Blackleys love and treasure Elkin and continue to be impressed by the positive attitudes, kindness, concern for others, grit, willingness to work hard for the common good, and to give energy, time and money to make our community a unique and vibrant place to live. Nothing is perfect but people are steadily working to improve our community.

Elkin owes a debt of gratitude and, yes, thanks to our Elkin forefathers and mothers who established this community and held it together through wars, floods, depressions, good times and bad, and through it all exhibited humility, character and fortitude.

I endorse all the positive comments above as we work to enrich our community and our lives in Elkin through the “Explore Elkin” project led by Jeff Eidson and Mayor Sam Bishop as all are invited to meet on 30th March at 222 East Main, Angry Troll/Liberty, at 5:30 to 7:00 p.m to talk about ways to reinvigorate Elkin. If you have great ideas, want to work on reinventing Elkin, appreciate your family and friends in our community . . . come on out and join the conversation. Chairperson Jeff and a bunch of others have been planning this “unofficial” town meeting for several months (it was a campaign promise of Sam Bishop) and there are some knock out great idea cooking. Bring your thinking caps and join the fun and adventure getting ready to spring off the starting line!

Like

Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

%d bloggers like this: