I have a real love / hate thing going with Google Maps. I love nothing better than going there and typing in an address from the past and then flying down to the street level view and wandering up and down the highways and byways of my past.
The thing that I hate so much about Google maps, is that while it provides me a chance to revisit those old locations…. it also provides me a chance to revisit those old locations…. or rather, it let’s me revisit some of those “old” locations as they exist today. It breaks my heart to see some of these locations and the state of disrepair and abandonment they are in. Maybe it bothers me so because it is a true mark of time passing… of things moving relentlessly forward. In any case, I thought I’d drag you along to a couple of these locations and tell you a little about them… at least the way I remember them anyway…
The Arrow Drive-In
If you are driving out of Ahoskie on Hwy 13 heading toward Windsor, you will pass this place on your left. It is a traditional drive-in with the long awning coming out of the front of the building where cars use to park side by side. The waitress would come out and take your order while you were able to sit and listen to music of the early 60s coming from some speaker that you never could figure out exactly where it was located. I remember sitting in the back sit with my sister… drinking chocolate milk shakes and eating a deluxe hamburger and those wonderful crinkly fries. The coolest thing about this place was that in the late 60s my best friend’s family bought this place. I thought that was the coolest thing ever! In August of 1969 we left Ahoskie for Elizabeth City and I don’t recall ever visiting there again… but I still remember those burgers… and that ugly milk shake spilling incident that I won’t rehash here!
If you are travelling south on hwy 17 between Hertford and Edenton, you should take the left onto hwy 32… cross the sound bridge, then take the right at the fork onto old hwy 64 heading back toward Roper. Yes, my friends, you are definitely in rural northeastern North Carolina at this point…. mile after mile of corn and soy beans and peanuts. Not too far up the road was a little gas station / grocery / restuarant looking place called Simp’s. I remember summers visiting with my cousins. There were two things about Simp’s… if you followed the dirt road next to the building, at the end was the Albemarle Sound where we were lucky enough to spend an hour or two on a hot summers afternoon… and then there was the pit cooked Bar BQ! If it wasn’t pit cooked back then, it wasn’t worth eating. You could get a sandwich (with slaw of course), or minced or chopped. It was as good as Que could ever get!!
The Tomahawk Restaurant
Before the family moved back to “the narrows”, we lived in Ahoskie (have mentioned this on several occasions I think). Well, the Sundays that we didn’t make the trip to Elizabeth City to visit with my grandparents, we would often have Sunday lunch at the Tomahawk. There was always a crowd there after church. This was as fancy as dining got in my life back then. Looking back on it, it was just a little diner kinda place but I always love to get a hamburger steak and fries. What a treat that was.
And now I look at these places… and it makes me a bit sad. All the signs are gone, the parking lots have grass growing through cracks in the asphalt, windows are broken or have just been neglected to the point that you couldn’t see through them if you pressed your face right against them. Time hasn’t been very kind to these monuments of my youth. But as I sit and ponder them all, the memories of my youth take over… and I can smell the smells and taste the tastes and hear my the loud conversations and laughter… and those places will go on forever regardless of how they appear…