In the beginning... The rocky mound at the falls of the Tar River was the site of the second cotton mill in NC: Rocky Mount Mills was established 1818.
The Wilmington-Weldon Railroad was completed about a mile to the east of the village of RM. The little town heard the whistle calling and gradually moved over to meet it.
The Civil War and Reconstruction Era brought hard times to Rocky Mount. Union forces burned the railroad buildings and the cotton mills, but the town survived. On February 19, 1867, Rocky Mount was incorporated as a Town.
The establishment of the Rocky Mount tobacco market in the late 1800's is one of the town's most noteworthy developments. The growth of the tobacco market led to the establishment of the Bank of Rocky Mount in 1889.
As Rocky Mount encouraged the Atlantic Coast Line to locate shops and yard facilities in the town, there was an influx of railroad employees into Rocky Mount. In 1871, the county line moved from the Tar River to its present location in the center of the main tracks.
A New Century ushers in an era of “firsts ” First Public Schools First Daily Newspaper First Movie House First YMCA First Modern Hotel First Public Hospital First Library First Country Club
The first public school for white children was built in 1901 where Braswell School now stands. West Graded School was complemented by East Graded School in 1908.
By the turn of the 20th century, Rocky Mount's population was approximately 3,000. A main railroad line, a well established cotton mill, and productive farmland were major contributors to the area's growth and prosperity.
The mansion in the downtown area built by Thomas Hackney near the turn of the century was later occupied by Hyman Battle, president of Rocky Mount Mills.
The Atlantic Coast Line Relief Hospital at the corner of South Church St. and Nashville Rd. was built by ACL for its employees around the turn of the century. After burning in the '20s, ...
it was replaced by a brick structure that would later be occupied by Guardian Care.
The Rocky Mount of 1872 consisted of 21 bars and a Methodist church at the intersection of Falls Rd. and Church St. The Methodist church pictured here was built on the corner of Church St. and Sunset Ave. in 1905 and demolished in 1957.
The Gem Theater on Northwest Main Street, between Baldwin’s and Rose Drug Company, was the first movie house in the City. It was operating as far back as 1906.
J. W. Hines, the “ice king,” built this colonial revival home, “MacHaven,” in 1907, the same year Rocky Mount was incorporated as a city.
The Ricks Hotel, built by R. H. Ricks, opened in 1909. It was the finest hotel in eastern NC.
1911 saw the establishment of two Rocky Mount “institutions.” The Telegram, Rocky Mount's first daily newspaper, is pictured here in an early location. The corner property, known as The Drug Store Corner, was later occupied by Baldwin’s Department Store.
Also in 1911, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad contributed the land and $30,000 to build the “Railroad Y.” There were bowling alleys in the basement, and the main floor had a reading room and an auditorium. Sleeping quarters were on the second floor.
Epstein’s original location on NE Main Street is pictured here. The corner of Main and Tarboro was occupied by Kyser Drug Store at this time.
When fire gutted the building on the corner of Main and Tarboro, Eli Epstein bought the land. Pictured here is Epstein’s in 1914.
When the City decided that the shade trees on Church St. had to go, peg-legged resident Al “Peg” Arrington defiantly sat on his front porch with a shotgun for a week, vowing to shoot the first person who put an ax to his trees. Church St. was paved in 1914.
The RM Sanitarium was opened in 1913 by Dr. L.W. Kornegay, Dr. John L. Lane, and Dr. Walter Staley. It was the City’s first hospital with services available to the public.
In 1911 a high school department was added to East School, and in 1913 Edgemont School was built to house the high school exclusively. The banner on the postcard (postmarked September 18, 1913) reads "RMHS."
Park View Hospital was started by five doctors who did not have staff privileges at RM Sanitarium. It opened in 1914. When the City’s hospitals could not accommodate all the flu victims of 1918, an emergency hospital was set up at First Methodist Church.
The National Bank of Rocky Mount on the corner of Tarboro and SE Main Streets was completed in 1918.
We had a Hi-Noc-Ar before we had a country club.
The City’s first country club, organized in 1922, took its name from the Benvenue estate of the Bunn family on which its golf course was laid out.
In 1915 the City’s first library was set up in a room over a downtown store on Sunset Avenue. In 1923 Dr. Mark Braswell built the Thomas Hackney Braswell Memorial Library, named in honor of his son who had died in youth, on the site of RM’s first Methodist church. Bodies in the Methodist cemetery were removed to Pineview “in the dead of night” as required by law.
In 1924, Bob Melton opened NC's first sit-down barbecue "joint" on the banks of the Tar River.
While Rocky Mount had its share of business failures in the 30s, its diversified economy was a stabilizing force. Businesses on SW Main St. included Efirds, J C Penney, and Bulluck Furniture Co.
Rocky Mount Municipal Airport in the 1930s. The airport was dedicated on June 25, 1935 with an address by Governor Ehringhaus and a daredevil air show. Stunt flyer Reavis Nelson (Barbara’s dad) won a trophy.
Through the Works Project Administration, formed because of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Rocky Mount acquired a new municipal building in 1936 to house the City’s offices and police department.
The two-day Gallopade festivals of the 30s were a “Salute to Spring” that brought 50,000 potential shoppers to RM in 1939. At the far left the U-shaped Cambridge Hotel is visible. It was demolished in 1936.
On the heel of the Gallopade came June German week, a weeklong period of revelry culminating in the big dance in a tobacco warehouse. The Germans, which attracted the biggest names in dance bands, peaked in the 30s. Pictured here is a decorated banquet hall in 1903.
In the eyes of the world, the Rocky Mount of the 30s stands out as an oasis of enjoyment and pleasure: barbecue, the Gallopades, the June Germans, and, of course, the “Old Professor.” RM honored Kay Kyser on November 15, 1939, when “That’s Right, You’re Wrong” made its world premiere at the Center.
Pearl Harbor Jitterbug Pinup Girls Victory Gardens Joe DiMaggio Baby Boom Big Bands Radio The War ends and we begin... The Forties
The theme of the 1940 Hi-noc-ar was the railroad.
Rocky Mount High School campus from the 1940 Hi-Noc-Ar.
WEED, the City’s first radio station, aired on September 10, 1933. It made its presence known at the 1940 Junior Senior.
“ Tobacco. It’s wonderful!” declared the 1941 HI-NOC-AR, which had “tender, tempting, tasty tobacco” as its theme.
The head cheerleader at RMHS in 1941/42 was Beth’s dad, Wayne Whitley.
This Atlantic Coast Line engine derailed in downtown RM in 1942.
In the midst of war, the 1943 Hi-Noc-Ar paid tribute to the boys of RMHS in the armed forces.
Miss Dorothy Craighill and Miss Mary Wood Winslow (later Bobbitt) remind us that gas was a precious commodity in 1943.
Planters Bank, named Tar River Bank when it was created in 1897, completed this 3-story building in 1907 at a cost of $30,000 plus $10,000 for fixtures and land.
Davenport Motor Company in the 1940s. Remember RM's obelisk style street markers? (This image downloaded from the Killebrew collection of Braswell Memorial Library.)
This corner of Sunset and Church was once Andy's Esso.
In the 40s, steam locomotives were brought to the “Roundhouse” for repairs. When diesel engines replaced the steam locomotives, the “Roundhouse” was demolished.
High school sororities were popular in the 40s. Members of the SDA sorority are pictured here with a birthday cake.
Taylor’s Department Store on Main St. was one of many clothing establishments in the 40s. Remember the dog catcher trucks?
The Rocky Mount Sanitarium was a port of entry for many of us. 1946 1947
Brownies and double malts. Both businesses opened in 1947.
In 1947 the Union Bus Station was on the corner of Coastline St. and SW Main. When the bus station was demolished , the Ricks Building was built on this site with Coplon’s on the ground floor.
The first motel in the RM area was built by Hal Orr in 1947. The rooms were called "hotel cottages." (This image downloaded from the Killebrew collection of Braswell Memorial Library.)
Hoggard-Vann Motors sold Oldsmobiles and Hudsons in 1947.
A highlight of the 1947 movie season was a visit by Jimmy Stewart and Jane Wyman to promote the movie Magic Town, which was about life in small-town America.
Carolina Office Equipment Co. sold us pencils, notebook paper, ink cartridges, and composition books. We managed just fine without calculators, glue sticks, gel pens and high-lighters. (This image downloaded from the Killebrew collection of Braswell Memorial Library.)
but we all watched our weight and said “Yes ma’am” to our elders.
The Edgemont School building housed Rocky Mount High School prior to 1927 and Edgemont Graded School from 1927 until 1953, when EGS was renamed Gorham School to honor its principal, Miss Fannie Gorham.
Aerial view of land in vicinity of Wilkinson School circa 1950.
And we have walked the pavements of a little town and known the passages of barren night, and heard the wheel, the whistle and the tolling bell, and lain in the darkness waiting, giving to silence the huge prayer of our intolerable desire. And we have heard the sorrowful silence of the river in October --- and what is there to say? October has come again, and this world, this time are stranger than a dream. (Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River )
We did have a swimming pool with a high dive...
and a miniature train that tore through a tunnel of screams.
We had a real honest-to-goodness historic train station...
drive-in theaters… (This image downloaded from the Killebrew collection of Braswell Memorial Library.)
and picture shows downtown. "Bwana Devil" started the 3-D boom in the US film making industry from 1952 to 1954. The Center's marquee reads "Bwana Devil The Worlds First Feature Length Picture in Third Dimension." Note the Colored Balcony Entrance just to the right of the trash can. (This image downloaded from the Killebrew collection of Braswell Memorial Library.)
You couldn't go wrong with a horse picture in 1950, when The Palomino (starring Jerome Courtland) was released. Next door, Glenn's Doughnuts advertised hot plates and salads. (This image downloaded from the Killebrew collection of Braswell Memorial Library.)
We had one of our country’s first children’s museums, and a children’s zoo.
Late in September, the Fair came to the fairgrounds at the end of Tarboro Street...
and The Greatest Show on Earth came in October.
It snowed every year… (This image downloaded from the Killebrew collection of Braswell Memorial Library.)
but never at Christmas. (This image downloaded from the Killebrew collection of Braswell Memorial Library.)
Fillin’ station attendants would wash your windows all around, check your oil, fill your tires and battery, and chat or flirt, whichever was appropriate. And they would sell you gas for less than 30 cents a gallon (less during gas wars).
The Sixties Space Race Cuban Missile Crisis British Invasion Assassinations Civil Rights The Summer of Love Andy Griffith Beehives & Mop-Tops “ If you can remember anything about the Sixties, then you weren’t really there.” (Paul Kantner, The Jefferson Airplane)
Some of us needed an extra year to cope with Senior High.
and a tragic death It was a day for perfect shots, Lundy’s aim as right as Oswald’s, and just as deadly. Rocky Mount 14 Winston-Salem Reynolds 13. A trifle to the left or a shade to the right, and who can say what the difference might have been?
and some of us learned how to sing Rudolph in Latin.
A few of us knew what was behind the mysterious Green Room door.
We wrote our senior themes, with special thanks to Ruth Jeffreys (Peg Brantley’s grandmother), librarian since 1943, who was always there when we needed her, even when we didn’t know we needed her ...
and then it was spring again on Sycamore Street, and time to move on.
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Douglas “Butch” Aldridge Distributive Education Terry Alford Senior Class President
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With US Georgia Barnhill Dramatics Sandra Blanton Choir
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With US Cooper Brake National Honor Society Governor’s School Veda Clark National Honor Society
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Linda Cox Booster Club Hiram Cuthrell National Honor Society Soph Class President Hi-Noc-Ar
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Judy Dawes Band Cy Edson Student Organization Rep
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us David Edwards JV Basketball & Football Charles Ellis Athletic Club
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With US Judy Fryar Radio Broadcasters Club Jeff Futch Radio Broadcasters Club
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Bill Harper Radio Broadcasters Club Nancy Hedgepeth Chorus
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With US Cheryl Hemenway Choir Skipper House Wildlife Club
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With US Betty Joyce Inscoe Donnie Jackson Track
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With US Jimmy Clack Track, Football, Basketball All-State Football Darrell Johnson Football, Baseball MIA, South Vietnam 1968
Who Are No Longer With US Page Keel Radio Broadcasters Club Robert Liles National Honor Society Sr Class Treasurer Remembering Those
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Lee Pearce All-East 4-A Football Ricky Clack JV Football
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Doug Sharer Sr Class Vice-President National Honor Society Morehead Scholarship Stewart Smith Student Organization Rep
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Earnie Strickland Service Club Speight Sugg National Honor Society
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Robby Sykes Football Tim Smith
Remembering Those Who Are No Longer With Us Arthur Viverette Juanita “Tinka” White Booster Club
Coach Teacher Administrator W. Dudley Whitley 1934-2009
The Management of this Theater Appreciates your Contributions To Tonight's Show. But there's more to come... Please remember to replace the speaker on your rack when you are ready to leave.
Diane Pelt in 1964 posing beside a picture of her great-auntie (or possibly her great grandmother, she’s not sure which).
Still Diane, but now she’s on her way to a party at Wesleyan College with Bill Williams in February, 1965. If the hair looks different, it’s because it’s a different month. In December, 2010, Diane and Bill will celebrate 45 years of dishes and laundry, happiness and grief, and a lifetime of shared experiences.
Bill Lee poses beside his 1963 Porsche Cabriolet convertible, which he rebuilt himself.
Beth Whitley, now Bill’s bride, rumbles at the Rio Restaurant, 1966.
Sub Deb Linda Bryan and her escort Chris Marks on their first date. Lighten up Chris, it’s not your execution (well, not yet).
That’s much better. June, 2010 marks 41 years for Linda and Chris.
Tribute to a special guy who never came home. Lindy and Darrell at the Sub Deb Ball. Contributed by Lindy Brice in honor of Darrell Johnson (lest we forget).
Those remaining for the next SNACK BAR in the Concession Stand of delicious food and drinks. where you'll find a wide variety feature are invited to visit the