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Williams column: Paths through Salisbury

Among the many things which comprise our lives are the daily paths we transcribe. Some of my most frequent routes include: the path to and from work, the path to and from Food Lion (because I like their deli coffee in the morning, and of course I also buy their food), and my daily exercise walk which might be referred to as my “path to health.” 

Time’s changes cause us to give up some paths once so frequented that they were a constant in our lives. When I was young and riding with my father in his car, we traveled a regular route of the same section of the Old Concord Road onto a few short sections of Salisbury City streets to pick my mother up from her work at 5 p.m.

In drawing, when things are traced over many times, they tend to stand out in greater relief, but in this case of my father’s repeated motorized tracing, the asphalt’s natural contrast with its surroundings remained the same as before, the only subjective “highlighting” being done on the road map within my mind.

Upon pulling out of our driveway, the homes we passed consisted of a “Lutheran Litany” (all of us being members of Saint Paul’s) of the names: Cline, Ritchie, Lyerly, Bernhardt, Canup, Safrit, Roseman, Kline, etc. Mrs. Catherine Safrit taught me in the eighth grade at Granite Quarry School, and in addition to her teaching talents, she was quite talented musically. I always thought of this “other” great talent of hers when passing her house and seeing the beautiful, stylish, metal treble clef sign adorning the front of the Safrit home.

On the way, we passed the South Salisbury Township Fire Department (former), then crossed the railroad spur which went to Badin. As we passed by the turnoff to Gold Hill Drive, I remember thinking that it must be something special to have the word “gold” as a part of one’s address!

We then crossed the bridge of a small stream and passed through an area in which I later remember seeing a great change taking place! Substandard hovels were being demolished and replaced by the proper sort of dwellings upon which those growing up there could also find their thoughts sometimes dwelling later in life; in other words: places worthy of memory’s revisiting.

A turn onto East Horah Street shortly followed. The differing pronunciations of the word “Horah” remind me that during the Battle of the Bulge, English-speaking German infiltrators in American uniform could be caught by asking them to pronounce certain words beginning with the consonant combination “th.” One example, the word “thistle” was pronounced by a German as “zissel.” In the pronunciation of the word “Horah,” those who are not native to Salisbury or Rowan County can be similarly “caught,” articulating that proper noun as “Who-rah,” “Ho-rah,” or “Hurrah,” instead of the native pronunciation, phonetically depicted here as: “Who-raw.”

After crossing the railroad tracks on “Who-raw” Street, my attention would always be attracted to the Salisbury Ice and Fuel Plant. Sometimes its great door would be open as we passed. I would see the ice-delivery truck parked there, strong men manipulating the great blocks of ice with tongs as they loaded them for delivery. Even during the hottest part of the summer, those working men looked quite comfortable in the “ice-conditioned” air.

Back then, I sometimes imagined those giant glistening “diamond” cubes of ice being crushed to be added to cups of soft drink, becoming “Cheerwine rubies.”

That traveled road and those streets remain, as well as the building of the former Salisbury Ice and Fuel Plant. Nowadays, due to the gradual increasing of world-wide temperatures, some of the ice and snow atop Mount Kilimanjaro has melted and turned to water, as has a certain amount of the ice in Glacier National Park. In the case of the old brick building next to the tracks on Horah Street, the ice within was not melted by an increasing number of days warmer, but instead by an increasing number of days more modern.


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