DART: Couple squeeze in park fun for the children

Published 12:17 am Monday, July 3, 2017

Editor’s note: The Dart is a regular feature that requires reporters to throw darts at a map of Rowan County and use the locations to find a story.

By Shavonne Walker


SALISBURY — Most days Richard Fralick and fiancee Ashley Gray are up early with her children and like a flash out the door for work, but sometimes there’s time for the park. The couple usually take the children, which also includes Gray’s nieces and nephew to a park closer to her work, but recently they consulted Google and found themselves at Ellis Park.

Gray is a carhop at Sonic Drive-In in Concord. The couple usually leaves early so they can spend time with the children at the park before Gray has to arrive for work.

“We have a busy schedule and life is crazy,” Gray said.

Their mornings are filled with therapy sessions for Gray’s 5-year-old son, Eli, who has a sensory disorder. When school was in session, the couple would rise early, take Eli to school and most days go to therapy sessions and baby-sit Gray’s nieces and nephew.

They would squeeze in some outside play time at the park two to three times a week with the younger children before Gray would dash off to work. Now that it’s summer they go to the park as much as they can.

They’ve found that bigger parks like Dan Nicholas Park, though enjoyable for the children, are at times very busy. A busier park also makes it harder for Fralick and Gray to keep up with all the children. When they want a less crowded park, they search Google. The couple said they had no idea Ellis Park was so close to their home.

Gray and Fralick live just minutes down the road from the park with her identical twin sister, Ashlyn, and her brother-in-law Alfredo Reyes. The Reyeses have two children — Julien, 4, and Journie, 3 months.

Gray has two other children — son Gracin, 7, and daughter Emmalyn, 2.

The park is a way for the children to burn some energy, but she wishes they had more quiet moments.

“They are really hyper. They don’t take naps,” Gray said, laughing.

Fralick, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., served 12 years in the Army. The couple met while both were working at Dunkin’ Donuts in Salisbury. They’ve been together for two years.

“She’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Fralick said of Gray.

She said she loves that he’s driven, hard working and funny.

The couple had a planned wedding this year, but life happened and they had to postpone it. Fralick, who has been unemployed for the last year, had taken on the responsibility of watching the children in between applying for jobs. This past week he found one at Bestco in Mooresville, where they make Halls cough drops and other health-care products.

“He’s so good with the kids,” she said.

Although there is a noticeable age gap between the couple, they have lots in common, including their love for the AMC television series “The Walking Dead.” Their first outing was just hanging out at home together, watching the TV show.

Life will again be hectic for the couple, who have one car, “but you do what you have to do,” Gray said.

Although the two will travel every day in opposite directions, Gray would not trade their situation. She loves her job and especially her regular customers.

“You get attached to these people,” she said.

Gray primarily works evenings and nights. She is looking for another job to supplement her income from her current job. She said contrary to what people think, working at Sonic is just like being a waitress at a traditional restaurant.

Most people don’t know you can tip carhops, she explained.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.