Tuesday, 19 November 2019 14:49

COLUMN: A forgotten crossroad

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COLUMN: A forgotten crossroad J.A. Bolton

New roads have affected people and places for thousands of years. Seems when a major artery of a highway bypasses a community or small town, things just seem to wind down. The young folks move away while the old folks, well they just fade away. The once booming small private businesses either move or go out of business. Mom and pop stores are things of our past in our fast way of living.

This story is about such a place that was left behind when the roads changed. It was a little intersection called Five Points by all the locals, and sure enough you could drive in five different directions.

Two of the main roads that ran through Five-Points were Hwy 74 and Hwy 220. The folks going south on 220 had to stop at a stop sign before entering Hwy 74. I reckon at one time this was the end of Hwy 220. Other roads were called Prison Camp Road, Honey Town and then a dead-end road. Why, by taking one of these roads you could go north, south, east or west.

Back in the day, small towns or villages would spring up around highway or railway intersections and so it was with Five Points. 

Between the forks of Hwy 74 and 220, folks, sits a building that has been used for a cafe-tavern for as long as I can remember. Several different folks have run the business for years. Why, at one time they served the best hot dogs that could be found bar none.

Across Hwy 220 sat John Heavner’s barber shop. Just so happened it was where I got my first big boy haircut. I remember waiting my turn to jump into what I thought was the biggest and finest chair that I had ever seen. 

While waiting, I looked at all the pictures in magazines and listened to the stories the men were telling. Won’t long, Mr. John placed a padded board across the armrest of his barber’s chair. Then he said, “Next,” and I knew it was my turn. I ran and jumped in the chair. Then he spun me around, so I was facing the mirror. On the counter in front of me were Mr. John’s scissors, clippers, shave lather, smelly stuff and something I didn’t much like he called a straight razor. He then let me pick out my favorite sucker from a box he kept under the counter as he started cutting my hair. I continued going to Mr. John’s barber shop for years.

Just past the barber shop on the road to Honey Town was a large junkyard. The junkyard stayed full of old and wrecked cars because, after World War II, there won’t much call for scrap metal. Most folks kept their old clunkers going by buying used parts from the junkyards.

Just below the junkyard on Hwy 74 was one of the nicest Esso gas stations I’d ever seen. My Dad knew the owner well and we would sit around, drink a Coke, and watch the cars go by. Some folks would pull up and ask for a quarter’s worth of gas. The uniformed attendant would put in their gas, wash their windshield and check their oil just as if they had asked for a fill-up.

Across Hwy 74 was Homer “Dynamite” Benoist’s grocery store. Why, Homer sold everything from salt mullet to hog feed. He even cut and ground his own meats. He ran his family owned business as long as he could and had a lot of local customers.

Another service station just up the road in the early ‘60s was run by Alvin Blackwell. Alvin owned a ‘62 black and white Chevy Impala with a 409 engine under the hood. Folks said the car was one of the fastest around. Why, back during the gas shortages in the late ‘60s and early’70s, I remember waiting in line at Alvin’s station just to purchase a few gallons of gas. Some people said there won’t no such thing as a gas shortage — it was just a way to raise gas prices, ‘cause all the gas we wanted was in oil tankers just off the coast.

In the ‘40s and ‘50s, instead of large motels, some travelers stayed in rented one- or two-room houses that were built in rows. Such a row of mini-houses lined the hill just west of Five Points. They stood for many years before being torn down.

One family living and owning a business around Five Points was the Lassiter family. They made and sold their own brand of pork barbeque (Lassiter’s Barbeque). Their delivery truck could be seen all over southern N.C. and even in S.C. Bill Lassiter ran a workout gym and even had a small zoo at Five Points.

The McKenzie family ran a furniture business called Discount City in Five Points but later relocated it on the 74 bypass close to Pee Dee River.

Also, a legend or well-known character to live around Five Points was a feller named George Mooney. I’ll tell you more about old George in another story. 

Five Points saw its heydays in the late ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. As Hwy 74 and 220 were rerouted the first time around Rockingham, things started to dry up around the Five Points intersection. Most of the businesses are gone now and the place is just a shell of what it used to be. 

So, with progress comes change, whether we like it or not. In the last few years, our area has seen yet another 74 bypass and soon to be I-73 (old 220) built through our county. My hope is that our county and city leaders have the foresight and backing not to let the city of Rockingham dry up as did  a forgotten crossroad called Five Points. 

J.A. Bolton is the author of “Just Passing Time” and co-author of “Just Passing Time Together.” He is also a member of the Anson County Writers Club, the Anson and Richmond County Historical Societies, the N.C. Storytelling Guild and the Story Spinners of Laurinburg.

Last modified on Tuesday, 19 November 2019 14:58