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Williams column: Meadowbrook leaves a lasting impression

By Mack Williams
For the Salisbury Post
The first of something always makes a lasting impression in a person’s mind, i.e., the first early remembered toys from one’s childhood, the first day at school, first prom, etc. My first impression of long-playing records were the ones purchased by my father at Spence Hatley’s Music Mart on West Innes Street, not far from Catawba College. He bought both classical and jazz recordings there.
Some of my remembered first impressions of music consisted of recordings by Vladimir Horowitz, Roger Williams, Al Hirt, Phil Napoleon and “Red Nichols and His Five Pennies.” Another first-of-a- kind record was that “classic” recording of Tschaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, specifically chosen and recorded (complete with cannon fire) to showcase the “new wonder” of Hi Fi ( those using the English language on this side of the Atlantic always have a predilection for abbreviations, i.e.,”Hi Fi” being much later superceded by “Hi-Def”).
Spence Hatley and his family were our friends and lived just two doors down the Old Concord Road from us in a fairly small-sized home. Things seemed to be going well for Spence’s music store, and it came time for his family to expand their living space, so they moved away to a newer, larger house.
The Hatleys’ move from their home was a first for me, in that it was the first time that some of my neighborhood playmates had ever moved away. Since they were our friends, after they got settled in, we went to visit the Hatleys in their new home. This in itself, became another first, visiting former playmates of the Old Concord Road who no longer referred to it as a part of their home address.
When we arrived at their new home, we were impressed, finding it to be physically larger and newer than both their previous home and ours. Their home was in the Meadowbrook development, its placing in a grid of streets more complex than the simpler, linear connection of homes along the Old Concord Road.
The Hatleys were happy in their new house, and we enjoyed visiting them. Renewing our play, I remember walking with the Hatley kids one day through a field and encountering a nice-sized stream not very far from that home. The scene from that day remains in my mind, since I’ve always been fascinated with streams, and especially the rocks which they uncover in their course. In my yard, nature seemed to be always pushing the stones up, while there at Meadowbrook, nature was reaching down and scouring the earth to bring them to sight. I also remember the commonly associated water flora, along with the characteristic green of algae, close to the stream’s banks.
I had seen streams from the windows of our family car, but never before had been transported to one solely by my feet, viewing the water close-up, without the intervening glass of a window, or through that same space in warmer months when the window was rolled down.
I know this may sound somewhat simple-minded, but the reason for that housing development’s name never clicked in my mind until I began writing this recollection, which includes that little outing with the Hatley children, not far from their new home.
The name Meadowbrook wasn’t just some idyllic pastoral name for some housing development in a place less urban. The name referred to the actual “meadow” and “brook” experienced by the Hatley children and me on that nature walk so long ago.

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