Conway: you’re not forgotten

Published 10:09 am Thursday, September 21, 2017

To the Editor:

Dear Conway: When I read the article (Declining Carolina; I couldn’t help but feel the sting. As one of the many who left you behind, I can say with absolute honesty that at 17, I couldn’t wait to go. I had big plans back then – plans that only really included you on a few holidays and weekends a year. I knew back then that I wouldn’t be back for good, but I never imagined you wouldn’t always be there to come home to. Oh, the things we take for granted.

I visited a few weeks ago, and just like I’m sure you do every day, I felt the changes all the way to my soul. I felt it because this time I didn’t just drive straight through to Mama’s house, but I did something on that visit that I hadn’t done in years. I made a quick stop and I walked into the store that made me who I am. I don’t think I even stayed inside for a whole minute. I couldn’t. I’m not even sure now what I was looking for, but I do know what I got – a flood of memories that I wasn’t quite ready to feel.

You see, Conway, to those of us who left, you’re worth more than you think. When I walked in that store I could still see the people who raised me standing behind the registers. I could see my daddy behind the meat cooler, and I could see my Pop standing at the front window waiting for me to get off the school bus. I could see 6:15 pm on Christmas Eve when we waited for the last minute folks to come get what they needed to finish cooking for their families before we went home to get ready to be with our own. I could see it all, but none of it was there.

Anyone who walked out on this town will tell you that memories like this are busting out of every quiet corner when we come home. I know I’m not the only one who looks to the right when I pull into town just to catch Miss Helen’s house on the way by. I know I’m not the only one who wishes I could stop and practice a pirouette one more time or hang upside down on the bar.

I’m not the only one that knows how much fun it is to ride on the back of a CVFD fire truck on a cold fall night, or play hide and seek between the boots of the first real heroes we ever knew. I’m not alone when I say there’s no sweeter smell than your peanut fields and no snow in the world more beautiful than your cotton.

I’m certainly not the only one who hears ‘Just As I Am’ or ‘Old Rugged Cross’ and no matter where I might be, I go right back to a middle pew at Conway Baptist Church.

I know that we left you, Conway, but between all the slow days you might be having, we see you still shining. Some of us are lucky enough to still have family there, and we know firsthand that some of the hardest working people in America live on 158 East.

We know that when one of your own hits rock bottom, you have it in you to build them back up like nobody’s business (show ‘em #teamtrey).

Here’s the other thing you should know. We are proud to be one of you, and while we might not make it home enough, we haven’t forgotten you and that’s still what you are – home. If anything good can come from your children and grandchildren moving away, it’s that your values and your small-town heart have spread beyond your county lines.

The way I see it, Conway is not just a bunch of empty buildings and a stoplight. Conway is right here in my house 2.5 hours west. I’ve seen Conway with my own eyes in Kitty Hawk, in Raleigh, in Chapel Hill, and in NYC. Your true population is bigger than you think. You raised us all, you did it right, and we are forever grateful.

They can call you a ghost town all they want, but come on, you ain’t dead yet. From what I remember, you’re not the type of crowd to lay down and give up.

Chin up, Conway, and when it gets rough, don’t forget you have family all over the world that still believes in you. #conwaycan

Love, one of yours,

Allison Davis Satterfield
Roxboro, NC