• 77°

Elizabeth Cook: 40 years and a revolution ago

A lot has happened in Salisbury over the past 40 years, the span of my career at the Post.

Rufus Honeycutt was chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. Other members were Hall Steele, Paul Smith, Bob Mauldin and Dr. John Wear — all Democrats at the time.

If remembering an all-Democrat board of Rowan County commissioners doesn’t make me a dinosaur, I don’t know what does.

Well, working at the same business for all that time is a bit prehistoric by today’s standards.

But back to politics.

Wear set me straight when a story under my byline mistakenly called him a Republican.

Smith, sensing a shift in the political winds, switched parties and became a Republican. It was a smart move; he went on to represent Rowan in the state Senate for several terms.

Before meetings, commissioners would gather in the office of County Manager Set Murdoch to talk over in private what they were about to talk over in public. They were not ones for openly disagreeing with each other.

The election of Republican Brad Ligon put an end to all that harmony and pre-meeting. The Reagan Revolution was about to change Rowan County in dramatic ways. But that’s another story.

Dr. Wear went on to become mayor of Salisbury, and he said something during an interview that stuck with me: He’d only been in Salisbury 20 years, he said, so he was still a newcomer.

County commissioner. Mayor. Still a newcomer.

That was shocking to someone who’d been in Salisbury less than five years, but now it makes sense.

Every community has its core of native families. Here, they are the people whose ancestors’ names can be found in Jethro Rumple’s 1916 book, “A History of Rowan County.” The subtitle says it all: “Containing Sketches of Prominent Families and Distinguished Men.”

They have roots — deep, deep roots.

Roots or no roots, after you spend 35 or more years in a place people start asking questions like, “Haven’t you retired yet?”

There are fields where you can retire after 20 years, but in journalism you’re just getting warmed up. Rose Post did her best work in her 70s and early 80s. Homer Lucas also worked past 80. So I was really taken aback the first time someone asked me about retirement about five years ago.

Ridiculous.

For all-time, most eye-opening moments, it was up there with the first time a clerk offered the senior citizen discount. Who, me?

Makes me think of the day I was shopping with our daughters, then teenagers, and saw this pitiful-looking middle-aged woman dragging along — who turned out to be me, in a mirror.

Anyway, for a long time retirement seemed to be way, way off. Then one day it didn’t seem way off or ridiculous.

I don’t feel much older than the young reporter who interviewed Dr. Wear, or than that middle-aged mom suffering through Abercrombie. But here I am, a grandmother who picks up her iPhone every so often to see if there’s a new picture of the grandson.

Have you ever gone to a  class reunion and wondered why everyone else has aged so much? It’s called denial.

So here we are in the Rowan County of 2018, nearly 2019.

Through the years we’ve gone from two school systems to one. People who arrived here after 1990 have no idea what a protracted ordeal that was, bringing together city and county.

County commissioners have gone from Democratic control to Republican control — and then to the other Republicans’ control. That’s a long story.

The economy shifted —  up and then far, far down. We have nearly full employment again, but the jobs that replaced textiles did not replace textile wages.

And we’re in the internet age. Even “the information superhighway” is outdated now. The internet is pervasive — the way we do business, the way we communicate and get entertainment — almost as pervasive as the air we breathe.

Time marches on. The only constant is change. Deadlines make things happen. My three credos. They add up to a sense of inevitable forward motion that can keep a person going for a long time.

But going toward what?

This newcomer is ready to step aside and let someone else manage the daily snapshot of history. Stick with it. You won’t believe the changes you’ll see.   

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

Comments

College

Livingstone College alumna Quanera Hayes makes U.S. Olympic Team after first-place finish in 400-meter race

Crime

Blotter: June 21

Ask Us

Ask Us: What is status of ‘speed table’ on Charles Street in Spencer?

Local

East Rowan High graduate killed in motorcycle crash

Local

Political Notebook: Gov. Cooper vetoes Ford-backed bill allowing firearms at churches that are also schools

Crime

Blotter: June 20

News

Body of fourth tuber, age 7, found in North Carolina river

Nation/World

8 kids in youth van among the 13 lives lost to Claudette

Local

Hundreds turn out for annual Juneteenth celebration on newest federal holiday

Local

Between local champions and an upcoming state tournament, pickleball putting Salisbury on map

Business

Business leaders hope to draw big crowd for job fair at West End Plaza

News

Officers cleared in Mooresville shooting

Business

From firefighter to photographer, Brianna Mitschele is ready to capture more moments in downtown Salisbury

News

25 years later, runners reflect on Olympic torch’s trip through Rowan

News

Commissioners to consider designating Newberry Hall House as county historic landmark

Farm & Garden

51st annual Old Southeast Threshers’ Reunion set for July 1-5

Business

Biz Roundup: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Foundation awards grants from Salisbury to Jerusalem

Lifestyle

Kristy Woodson Harvey: For Dad

News

South Salisbury Fire Department activates new weather siren

Faith

Q&A with Bishop Tim Smith

Lifestyle

Library Notes: Meet the ‘Dare Devil Dogs’ in Week 5

College

Wolfpack tops Stanford falls in College World Series opener

Lifestyle

‘Down by the Praise Pond’ shares local author’s faith in debut children’s book

Nation/World

Driver crashes into crowd at Pride parade in Florida; 1 dead