October 8, 2017 § Leave a comment

Throughout early childhood, ringing in my ears—
“Don’t play in the Creek! (You’ll get polio.)”
“Don’t cross the Highway! (You’ll get run over.)”

Catawba Creek

Emerging from a source down under Firestone Field, just half a mile north-northwest, the Creek meanders south and east, crosses York Rd, passes under the Southern Railroad trestle, through the Municipal Golf Course and beyond, fifteen or twenty miles to the state line, where it empties into what is now Lake Wylie, but my childhood knows to be the Catawba River.

It’s where the town stops and the county begins, which is why I go to Victory School. Urban legend says Johnny Jones got polio by drinking from it. It’s sometimes blue with dye from Firestone (tonce the LoRay) Mill and other garbage, now and then raw sewage. Typically it’s only inches deep, but during heavy rain it sometimes floods it six-foot banks.

We play there all the time.

The Highway

From the Creek, York Street rises up as York Road, a two-lane highway leading south to the town for which both Street and Road are named, twenty miles away across the border in the other Carolina, where alcohol and fireworks are legal, you can drive at fourteen, and high school kids get married on the spot, no questions asked. Designated US 321 in 1930, it originally connects Bristol, TN, to Chester, SC; it now runs from Knoxville to Hilton Head.

But just across the Creek on York Road, to the left, between The Filling Station and The Store, two massive stonework proskenae frame Dale Avenue, each bearing a bronze engraved plaque marking the entrance to Brookwood.


Bucolic Brookwood

The first house on the right, as Dale at once forks into Oakwood and Crescent, curving uphill, is the house in which I spend my formative years.


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