Northerners respond to life in ‘Wolfpack State’

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 15, 2003

I like it when readers respond to the musings of this crusty old reporter. It makes it worthwhile to know after agonizing for hours and hours each week to come-up with a topic of interest, someone out there in News-Herald land is taking the time to read what I write.

It makes me no never-mind whether the responses are positive or negative. I can accept critism just as easily as praise. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after nearly 30 years in this business, you can’t wear Velcro. If you let criticism creep into your skin, then you’ll become too conservative, too gun-shy, to ever again attempt to tackle a controversial topic. Ditto for receiving words of encouragement for a column or a story. It’s nice to know that your efforts are appreciated, but you can’t dwell on the kind words because as a writer, you’re only as good (or bad, depending on opinion) as the last story you wrote.

A few weeks back, I had a little fun with a column entitled, &uot;Yankee’s guide for living in the Wolfpack State.&uot; I thought it would be kind on my part, as a born and bred Southerner, to pass along my vast knowledge about living in the great state of North Carolina to our new neighbors – those who have chosen to escape the hustle and bustle of areas north of the Mason-Dixon Line and join in on the slow-paced life here in the South.

I received numerous comments about that column, the majority from Southerners. Even my newspaper pals over at the Chowan Herald in Edenton said they busted a gut laughing at my words. They even went as far as asking me for permission to have the column reprinted in their publication (apparently there’s a lot of Yankee transplants living in Edenton).

In the meantime, I even hired a Yankee as a new reporter for this publication. Even though she’s still attempting to develop a taste for eastern ‘Carolina barbecue, Stephanie Duffey – a New York native – read my musings and still took a job here.

However, the best response came from another Yankee transplant, Victoria Newcombe, now residing in Rich Square. The following is an e-mail I received earlier this month from Mrs. Newcombe. I’ll let her own words do the talking:

Dear Mr. Bryant:

Thank you for the Yankee’s Guide to Living in the Wolfpack State.

Though originally from New England, my husband and I left our home in Miami about two months ago in search of a rural (and better) life in North Carolina.

We bought a beautiful, if bedraggled, Civil War-era home and in the course of settling and renovating, we’ve made a few pleasant observations about life in the Wolfpack State ourselves.

Everyone says hello to you.


If they can’t say hello (driving a car, mowing a lawn, chasing a child) they wave.

(I’ve never felt so popular).

Upon hearing that I moved from glamorous Miami, the first question is &uot;why?&uot; The second is, &uot;you got people around here?&uot;

When I answer no, there is often a mention of divine intervention.

People know more about your house than you do. Will even share some tidbits.

Going to the post office is a lot of fun. You greet and visit and catch up on the local news.

And the employees will still speak to you, even if it ‘s past closing time.

(Compare to Miami where I used to stand in line for half an hour, be met with grunts, and on one occasion, had my car broken into.)

Folks spend a lot of time on riding mowers.

Yards look great (see above).

Haven’t seen one person throw trash out of a car window yet.

You can be at a busy intersection in mid-morning and traffic will consist of a tractor and two riding mowers.

Store personnel say hello; assist you in person; clue you in on a special; ask if that’s all you need; and wish you a nice day.

Gracious service is still practiced here.

Medical personnel repeat your name frequently, listen patiently and express sincere sympathy at your troubles.

People aren’t too busy. I watched a harried convenience store clerk help a caller figure out if she threw grandma’s false teeth in the trash bin while gassing up. Not a discouraging word from anyone in the packed store.

Neighbors bring fresh picked corn to your door or offer a paper sack of sun-warm tomatoes.

It’s difficult to find espresso coffee, pumpernickel bread or fresh seafood, but the various incarnations of pork are startling.

I haven’t heard Gloria Estefan since moving here.

Sweet tea is a pleasant, if acquired, taste, but I think I’ve loosened some fillings.

Watching the fireflies dance from your own porch is better than any night on South Beach.

These Yankees have no complaints and plan to stay right here.


Victoria Newcombe

Thanks Mrs. Newcombe for your sharing your observations about life in the South. Welcome to the Roanoke-Chowan area – the home of grits for breakfast, ‘mater sandwiches for lunch and pork, of any fashion, for supper.