OK, it’s not enough that Rocky Mount has been ranked pretty high on the worst-this and worst-that list. Now the city has made the front page of The News & Observer with the headline, “Will they come home to Rocky Mount?”
In case you missed it, this rather lengthy May 31 article detailed how the City on the Rise has become the City on the Rocks. It seems that because of tough economic times, the city’s population is shrinking, especially in the young adult demographic. The article quotes one man who, although gainfully employed, said that his children “should get out of Rocky Mount.”
Enough, enough! I’m tired of my hometown being beaten up not only by outsiders but also its residents. It’s my belief that there’s a lot to appreciate about the city. Here’s my answer to the slogan, “Ask me why I love Rocky Mount.”
I love Rocky Mount because of the relatively low cost of living. I know we pay more for utilities, which of course is a problem that should be remedied. But real estate is a deal. My house would have cost me double in Raleigh or Charlotte. I can pay a lot of higher utility bills and still come out ahead.
Dining out is cheaper in Rocky Mount. I can have a nice dinner for less than $20, whereas a similar meal in one of the cities attracting our young people would run me considerably more.
Also, try finding some good, reasonably priced country cooking in a metropolitan area. The famous Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill is no tastier but considerably more expensive than Jack’s at Dortches or the buffet at Gardner’s.
I love Rocky Mount because there are almost never any traffic delays. I can count on people not being in my way as I scoot from one side of town to the other. Rush-hour traffic is modest at best. People in our state’s big cities have to deal with gridlock on a daily basis. I used to listen to Raleigh’s traffic report on the radio as I was going to work and thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t stuck in the middle of Capital Boulevard or Wade Avenue.
It’s easy to know a lot of people in a small town. I like seeing familiar faces when I go to the grocery store or out to do errands. The pace of life here allows me to stop and chat. I could probably go to any church in town and know somebody there. I think Rocky Mount has a sense of community that’s hard to find in the state’s more populated areas.
It’s a sports lover’s paradise. That asset is wasted on me, but plenty of wooded areas within a short driving distance make my husband and a lot of other hunters happy. There’s the Tar River for fishing and canoeing, my sister’s favorite outdoor activities, and several reasonably priced, accessible public golf courses.
So before I jump on the bandwagon with those who want to dwell on what’s wrong with Rocky Mount, I will remind myself of all the things that are right about my hometown. I just wish I could convince two of my daughters, part of this exodus of young professionals, of the advantages of our small city life.