Hello, Mount Airy!
It’s me. Lucie.
Yep. You probably don’t know me — yet, that is.
Hopefully, you will soon.
I just moved here from Tennessee — about 10 days ago, in fact.
Now Tennessee isn’t all that far away. Only about six hours or so, even considering the slow way I drive. I guess you’d call me a feather-foot. Yes?
Anyway, although in travel time by car or in miles — about 320, if I remember correctly — it doesn’t seem like much, it’s a world of difference — at least it is to me.
First of all, I have been wanting to settle in “Western” North Carolina for ions. It just never worked out — until now. I thought that Eastern Tennessee might do it for me. On the map, it looked like U.S. 64 was a pretty straight shot to where my aunt and uncle and my one North Carolina cousin live in Brevard.
If you aren’t familiar, which I wasn’t either, U.S. 64 is the one with the landslides. Remember the news stories now? Plus, it’s one of those harrowing mountain roads with sheer drop-offs on one side and mountains so close to the road that road crews don’t need to trim the trees because the trucks going up and down the road do that for them.
Get the picture?
Anyway, that plan didn’t work. It took me around four to four and a half hours to get to Asheville, and then another 40 minutes or so to Brevard. So, I kept — doggedly — on my quest.
It took about two and a half years since I moved from St. Louis to Tennessee with my ultimate goal of WNC. I have people in both St. Louis and all across North Carolina. But I don’t really like St. Louis, even though my mom lives there. St. Louis has terrible weather, although I’m really not liking the current rainy, chilly weather here in Mount Airy either. But I distinctly remember being out in the driveway at around 7 a.m. scraping an inch or so of ice off of my windshield, dreaming of Florida. St. Louis also has a lot of crime, congested traffic, and a poor economy.
But I always have wanted to live in “Western” North Carolina. I’ve already spend a lot of time there, ah, here, especially in Brevard, as a kid visiting with my two cousins and my aunt and uncle. I learned to swim at Camp Strauss there. (I understand they call it Snake Strauss now. Sure glad that wasn’t the case way back when I was learning the American Crawl.) I learned — well, I shouldn’t say “learned” exactly — I got piano lessons during one or two of my summer vacations here. My aunt insisted. Did the same for my two cousins. Oh, by the way, my two cousins, Mart — in Asheville — and Fred — in Brevard, along with my aunt and uncle, they never moved away from here — WNC. They are still here, as are my other cousins around Charlotte and the others in Cary — or Apex. I can’t remember rightly right now. I also worked at a paper in New Bern, the birthplace of Pepsi, so I have covered and/or visited just about every corner of North Carolina.
Anyway, as far as particulars about me are concerned, I have a journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, have worked at newspapers, magazines and the like for about 10-plus years. Over the years, I made sure I learned as much as I could about writing, photography, editing, layout and design. I really like knowing all aspects of what’s involved in putting a story, newspaper, magazine, etc., together. I’m just kinda nosey like that.
Oh, as an aside, sometimes it has been said that it is difficult for a person to both write and also take photos. The two require vastly different skill sets. However, I feel I have been extremely lucky in this regard. You see, my dad was a writer. In fact, he also graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia Journalism school — back in the day, of course. My mom, however, is the artist. She paints beautiful paintings, mostly of wildlife and landscapes. So, I claim a natural predilection for doing both, which is exactly what I am being expected to do here at The Mount Airy News.
You see, I have just recently started as the new features reporter here. I will be writing the weekly cooking feature, Surry Scene, a column, covering arts and entertainment, and taking care of the bridal news.
Some of you may have already met me, but most of you haven’t. You probably will soon — over the course of the next few weeks and months. I will be both taking photos and also writing stories — trying to cover some of the stories that the iconic Miss Ellie (Eleanor Powell) used to cover until her recent retirement after around 50 years at this paper.
Now, I want to make one thing crystal clear above all else.
I will not be replacing Miss Ellie.
No one can do that.
Miss Ellie is irreplaceable.
I just hope I can try to some small measure cover the people and the community of Mount Airy half as well as Miss Ellie did.
In fact. If Miss Ellie is reading this, I would like to invite her to lunch whenever she feels like it to introduce myself and meet a true Mount Airy legend.
I also am probably going to count on all of you to help me out as well. Well, “probably” has nothing to do with it, now that I think about it. I will definitely count on all your help out there. I will need help with getting to know you all and getting to know all your names. I will need help with directions and getting around town. But especially, I will need help in getting stories for my various beats, as we call them. Cooking. Events around town for Surry Scene. Arts and entertainment, and more. So, make sure you either email me — at firstname.lastname@example.org — or call me at the paper — at 719-1930 — and let me know what is going on.
Oh, and while I am on this topic, I will confess right here and now that I have the worst sense of direction. For example, I remember getting lost on my way to an assignment — and getting lost again on the way back from that very same assignment. So, take pity on me please, especially if you see a little red car driving around in circles with a short, blonde lady sitting in the driver’s seat. That’ll probably be me.
But as for now, I want to say “Hey” to everyone out there — and I am looking forward to meeting you all and covering your stories and becoming a welcome part of this community.
‘Til later, Lucie.
Lucie R. Willsie is a lifestyle reporter for The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 719-1930.