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.”
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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.