Last night, my husband and I went out to dinner. We do this a lot, often in the company of various family members, but last night we went, just the two of us, to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We’ve been married 37 years, or over 1/3 of a century. Yikes! It’s quite a record, and when you consider we also dated for over 4 years before we wed, that means we’ve been together over 41 years.
We met at Oakland Community College, in Farmington, Michigan, in 1970. Eight months after we married, my family relocated to North Carolina and took along the family business, Steele Rubber Products, manufacturing rubber parts for antique and collector cars. Matt and I stayed behind, but soon I was so homesick, that Matt approached my father about working for him and we moved to North Carolina in October of 1975.
I’ve never regretted it. North Carolina is a beautiful state with wonderful weather (most of the time!), and easy access from our home to both the mountains and the coast. However, it WAS a huge jolt to move from suburbia to an area that was much more rural. A major culture clash, and epitomized as much as anything else by the choice of restaurants in the area. Matt and I had been living in Oak Park, Michigan, after we married; a place where all kinds of ethnic restaurants were within five minutes of us. When we moved to Denver, North Carolina, there were only three restaurants in town – a fairly nice steak place and two diners serving typical southern food – grits, chicken-fried steaks, country biscuits, po-boys, and burgers ‘all the way’, which meant including cole slaw on the burger. We liked the country food, and loved the sweet ice tea, but we missed the choices we had up North. The first time we went for pizza after moving down south, we ordered a sausage and pepperoni pizza. It was covered with extremely salty pork sausage, instead of the semi-sweet Italian sausage we were used to; we each took one bite and then swallowed our beers in one gulp and got out of there!
It took a long time for our area to draw in any restaurants. Strict blue laws meant liquor-by-the-drink could not be sold anywhere, and even beer and wine were limited to certain venues. As a result, few of the nicer restaurants were interested in locating here. That’s all changed now. In the 1980’s, as the racing car industry settled in nearby Mooresville, a new prosperity fell on the former textiles-manufacturing town, attracting new businesses, new residents, and new liquor-by-the-drink laws. It’s not that Matt and I are so boozy – honest! – but obviously, a restaurant that can serve drinks makes more money.
So last night, it was with great pleasure that we enjoyed dinner at a really fine restaurant in Mooresville, the Epic Chophouse. It’s only been open about a year or so, located in a historic storefront on Main Street. Matt and I hadn’t been there before, but our darling younger children, Rebecca and Danny, gave us a gift certificate, so we checked it out. The food and service were fantastic. I won’t write a review here (although I will elsewhere), but what it mainly made us think was how much things have changed since we moved south. A sleepy little rural area has come to life, thanks largely to the racing industry, and now we have the advantages of modern development in terms of stores, restaurants, medical facilities and more, all within reach – where before, we had to drive for up to an hour for these items. Matt and I have changed so little (haha) in 37 years – but the area in which we live has changed a lot – and for the better.
It’s just nice to think about and remember, once in a while.
What changes do you notice about where you live?