Wineka column: Tuesdays with Charlie

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2011

SALISBURY — Call it my Tuesday with Charlie. Charlie Peacock invited me to lunch Tuesday at Chef Santos, where I had the delicious grilled salmon salad with avocado dressing.
When we get together, Peacock generously pays for our lunches — David Setzer dined with us — but he also brings an agenda to the table.
Three things were on Charlie’s mind Tuesday, and he covered them before the food ever arrived. Peacock, 90, always has been a great source of story ideas for me, and he delivered again at our lunch.
I will save his one story suggestion for another day.
But Peacock also handed me a poem, authored by Reid Goodson, and a “Rowan 200” bicentennial souvenir program from 1953. The thick booklet with its many sponsors sold for 50 cents in its day.
The inside cover speaks of a “Rich, Robust Rowan: a County on the March,” and trumpets the diversified economy, location, labor supply, churches, homes, schools and natural resources.
Some of you might remember the “seven days of fun” associated with the bicentennial. There were parades, dances, rides, fireworks and “Rowan 200,” billed as the nightly “dramatic historical spectacle” at Boyden High Stadium.
The program provides a schedule of activities, Rowan County history, old photographs, letters of congratulations to Rowan from President Eisenhower on down, the Brothers of the Brush, the Sisters of the Swish and page after page of sponsors.
The thing that struck Charlie Peacock was how many of those businesses were out of business today. He went through the book and counted them, coming up with more than 70.
You have to feel a bit nostalgic seeing the advertisements for businesses such as Rowan Dairy, the Gold Shop, Oakes Motor Co., Bamby Bakers, Rustin Furniture, Salisbury Hardware, Ketner’s Super Market, Jimmie Blackwelder’s Barbecue and the Yadkin Hotel.
Peacock marveled that at one time, Salisbury had three different car dealerships that sold Plymouths. Now “they” don’t make Plymouths, he grumbled.
The Reid Goodson poem — the first thing Charlie had handed me — was called “Just Another Member of the Family.”
It was a late Father’s Day gift of sorts.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Dan Goodson was the engineer for the Old 1722, the switch engine in Salisbury that made it possible, among other duties, for the passenger train from Asheville to change tracks and head north toward Washington.
Charlie Peacock said people used to go down to the Salisbury depot in the evenings just to see Goodson and the 1722 do their work.
“As she switched across the crossing,
The people would always stand,
Just to wave the glad hand,
to their friend, old Uncle Dan”
Peacock told me that Dan Goodson had four sons; Reid, White, Ken and Elwood. Ken Goodson, a 1934 graduate of Catawba College, went on to Duke Divinity School and became a bishop in the Methodist Church.
“Dan liked to say three of his boys got jobs, the other was a preacher,” Charlie laughed.
It turns out Reid and White Goodson followed their father and worked for the railroad. As a boy, Reid “beamed with admiration” watching his father pilot Engine 1722, his poem said.
He probably never realized that one day, he would be guiding the same switch engine in Salisbury:
“I sat again in the twilight,
My wishes had all come true,
For there I sat on the seat-box
Of Seventeen Twenty-Two.”
But there’s more. Goodson wrote in verse that his stint with the switch engine didn’t last long, yet his family could not seem to escape her grip.
“Many times I have visited her,
She was a most pleasant sight,
For there sitting at the throttle
Was my younger brother White.”
As the food came and we dived in, Peacock told me — as he always does — that I could do what I wanted with the things he mentioned. Just make sure I returned the bicentennial program.
On my Tuesday with Charlie, he had the tilapia.