Smithfield: Opinion

A pastor’s memories of home

To borrow a line from “The Andy Griffith Show,” Smithfield, “it’s my hometown.”

I grew up in Smithfield and have fond memories of growing up there. I now reside with my family in Kinston, where I am pastor of a church.

Every year at Christmastime, my mind goes back to growing up in that Southern, rural town in the shadows of the Triangle. I admit that, like every other high school student, I would sometimes say, “I can’t wait to get out of this town.” But while I did leave Smithfield for Nashville, Tenn., for college, I always missed the sights and sounds of Smithfield and always looked forward to going back during holidays, especially Christmas.

With some help from friends on Facebook, I took time to write down a few of my Christmas memories. I hope you enjoy my list and that it takes you back in time to fond memories of “my hometown.”

You probably have your own list, that’s what made our town so special. However, I realize that many of my memories are just that: memories. Many of the businesses and sights don’t exist any more. I understand things change. But that’s one of the precious things about Christmas, remembering things that made it special, and Smithfield was special.

•  The red Christmas lights on the light poles that lined the Neuse River bridge. A few were always burned out.

•  As a child in the 1970s shopping in the downstairs of the Roses store that was on Market Street.

•  Shopping at Belk and Green’s Jewelers when they were downtown.

•  Lee Rodgers and his incredible jazz bands playing around town.

•  Marching with the Smithfield-Selma High School Spartan Regiment in the Smithfield Christmas parade.

•  Lunch at the Galley.

•  Lunch at Sellers Grill with a piece of buttermilk pie.

•  Hanging out in the Dugout parking lot every night during Christmas break.

•  Hugh Austin’s sales at Christmastime with my Dad.

•  Eating at one of the few sit-down supper restaurants in town: Golden Corral, Pizza Hut in West Smithfield, Holt Lake, Howard Johnson’s or, on special occasions, Becky’s Log Cabin.

•  The Christmas tree outside the Smithfield library.

•  The aged Christmas lights under the underpass of the train track on the east end of Market Street and the wreath hanging over Market Street near the courthouse.

•  The Christmas tree in the middle of the pond at a doctor’s home in South Smithfield.

•  Dr. Hampton Casebolt’s Christmas tree in the lobby of SSS.

•  Ringing the Salvation Army bells with the Key Club in the parking lot behind Belk.

•  Getting a bag of fruit and a candy bar in a paper sack at church the last Sunday night before Christmas.

•  Christmas caroling to the elderly and shut-ins with West Calvary Free Will Baptist Church.

•  Basketball every day of Christmas break at the home of Kay Carroll or, if we could get in, at the Smithfield Elementary gym.

•  Renting movies from A-1 Video.

•  The smell of Mom and Dad’s house on Powell Street in West Smithfield.

•  Roger Wood’s house on Christmas Eve.

•  Luminary bags around the neighborhoods.

•  The people of Smithfield.

Thanks for the memories. I’ll never forget Smithfield, “my hometown.”

The writer, a former Smithfield resident, is a pastor who makes his home in Kinston.