Issue January 28, 2009

FIRST PLACE: Franklinton, North Carolina, 1969

By Robert L. Penick

You have to write this all down before you forget.

The Askew’s gas station and store across the railroad tracks and down the path lined with red-rusted bedsprings and the corpses of stoves and ice boxes.

That baby rabbit that one fine dog held squirming in his jaws as you chased them down the path hollering “Let it go, let it go.”

The Askew’s had Mobil gasoline for 31 cents a gallon and candy for two to five cents. Pixie Stix, pure sugar, a nickel a rush.

It was a 45-minute walk down the tracks to Franklinton. Three miles. Your Uncle Clifton lost his legs climbing a freight, trying to beat that time. 

That accident was before you were born, though.

Long before you mattered. If you ever mattered at all.