Published: Nov 24, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Nov 24, 2012 04:32 PM
I was born and raised not too far from where I sit and type this.
The foundation of the home I grew up in lays under the interstate highway that brought most of you to my hometown. The woods that we rode our horses in are now developments where most of you live and shop.
Over 40 years old now, I remember not too long ago when small businesses would open and close up around the UNC and Duke University semesters. Back then the coolest thing on a Friday night was to eat at Darryls Restaurant and hope that you got to sit in the suspended jail cell booth. Not to mention you had to be home by 8 p.m. to watch The Dukes Of Hazzard.
My grandparents, (Monroe and Bessie Hudson) built a homestead on an estate-like 13 acres. It sat where I-40 crosses Highway 54 in-between Fayetteville and Barbee roads. Our front yard was open and our Chapel Hill gravel covered driveway was lined with pin oaks. We always knew when UNC played a football game because there would be a crawling line of cars on Highway 54.
I look at my life as a pre I-40 and post I-40.
In the pre I-40 years, for me that would have been the Seventies and very early Eighties, traffic was congested around the working hours of the RTP businesses like IBM and Monsanto. As the years went by the cars became faster, more numerous and more consistent throughout the day. This, a time before leash laws, made it difficult to keep a dog. Seemed I was always morning the loss of a dog struck by a vehicle. As a child even I understood the need for a larger highway.
Life before the completion of I-40 for me was about being a kid, riding my bike and catching fireflies. My grandmother told me about the time John F. Kennedy waved at her from his back seat on his way from the airport to speak at UNC.
Post I-40 meant moving from the only home I had ever known. Our family village uprooted and sent most of us to different corners of Durham where we have now started our own homesteads. As a home builder, I understand the importance of infrastructure and a solid foundation. And for each home I build I talk to the walls as if they were actual living things. I pray for our homes they may stand forever and protect the souls living within them and not succumb as my grandfathers home did.
Over the last month Ive read things that people are thankful for on their Facebook status updates, and today I offer you my humble thankfulness of my hometown and its offerings of freedom, safety and opportunity. How lucky am I that I was born to an area with such economic engines as Duke and UNC. Ive been able to earn a living within a few miles of where I went to grade school. I get to walk the same dirt that my grandfather walked on. I have the opportunity to attend the same church and fish the same riverbanks.
I miss the smell of tobacco downtown, but I am thankful for its memory.
Chad D. Collins is an accredited master builder.