Down East

Change at a break-neck pace.

In Pasquotank County, they’re getting a wind farm.  In Perquimans County, I heard they changed the name of Hog Alley to something-or-other Road, and they even paved it over: “I mean, you wouldn’t know it to look at it.”

Across the river in Bertie County, they still operate a cable ferry between Sans Souci and Woodard, although “they” aren’t who you think they are.  “They” in this case is not the ferry authority, but another part of the Department of Transportation that runs inland ferries.

One of the last two cable ferries in North Carolina.  The other is here.

One of the last two cable ferries in North Carolina. The other is here.

In small communities, or even suburbs without a dense urban plant, “they” are busy people.  People whose actions you see but whose faces you don’t.  That’s why “they” seldom earn our trust.

That said, I confess to a certain fondness for “them,” provided they leave things behind.  Children’s building-block edifices are charming; in a more solemn but no less poignant way are the remains of the dead, left where they did the work that sustained them.  Like these houses:

Nineteenth-century farmhouse in norther Chowan County.  Oil on paper.  12 x 16in.

Nineteenth-century farmhouse in northern Chowan County. Oil on paper. 12 x 16in.

Burnt-out house in northern Chowan County.  Oil on paper. 12 x 16in.

Burnt-out house in northern Chowan County. Oil on paper. 12 x 16in.

Even the gratuitous hand-work is telling.  Like the “V” for the more usual “U” in the Perquimans County High School facade. Someone made that decision about lettering to give an air of Latinate dignity to poor students in an overlooked part of the world.  It was put there before someone decided to abandon the world of learning and human children and masonry for that of information, human resources, and trailers.

File photo from WAVY10, a Hampton Roads area television station.

File photo from WAVY10, a Hampton Roads area television station.

 

 

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