Roanoke River- National Wildlife Refuge

By Andrew Scott

Leaves of red and gold fell slowly down from the tree tops to the watery ground of the Roanoke River. The cool fall wind wisps and bites at the neck as one walks along the boardwalk and trails of the wildlife refuge. Regional birds chirp in the distance. The movement of the leaves in the wind haunt the otherwise silent forest ecosystem. The leaves drift down the slowly moving river, meandering across the flooded coastal plain toward the great release of the ocean. The scene here in Williamston is much like the rest of the coastal plain, swampy and wild.


North Carolina has a large tributary system that dumps a variety of rivers into the Atlantic Ocean up and down the coast. While these rivers may gush and flow frantically in the mountainous and piedmont regions, they alter their path drastically when they get to the coast. They ease their way into the ocean, creating seas of swamp land, maritime forests, and transportive ecosystems. One can easily image Native Americans and colonists traveling up and down these maze-like systems. The rivers slow to almost a lethargic halt, yet are more alive than ever. Some of the most abundant wildlife in the state can be found in these flooded refuges, giving off an almost otherworld affect. Kin to the Everglades or the Bayou of Louisiana, the Roanoke River and the greater Dismal Swamp area distinguish this area of the state from the others.


The sandy beaches and barrier islands of North Carolina play a huge role in the tourist interpretation of the region, but the clear majority of the region is haunted and founded on these traditions born in the swamps. The region is established on a vast habitat for animal life and human interconnectivity with the environment. The colonists had to accept these harsh terrains and find a way to survive in them, knowing that beating Mother Nature isn’t an option. The same rings true today, with the smaller coast plain communities bending to the will of the river systems. Adjusting to the flooding and movements of the environment, living off the land, and a disappearance of much of the modern essence of life takes place in these small towns. Highway 64 itself bends and flows with this land to create a seamless ecosystem. The protective services of the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge are a major part of that. 


Protecting the “219 birds, 33 mammals, 37 reptiles, 39 amphibians, and 59 fish” different species is critical to the environmental survival of the area. Without these foundational citizens of the waterways, the system would crumble. The current Roanoke River refuge contains around 20,978 acres of land protected; however, expansion of the park area is up for proposal. In this proposal, the National Wildlife Refuge tries to incorporate the members of the community into the act of saving the ecosystem. They additionally, look at the situation from a climate change viewpoint and a rapid urban development projection. All in all, much like other environmental pieces the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge is an essential region of North Carolina heritage that is in danger of elimination.

Meeting an Old Friend in Robersonville

By Kyle Lynch – 2014

Carol’s Home Cooking sat right on the edge of the town of Robersonville, if you want to call it a town. With a total area of only 1.2 square miles, you are out of Robersonville as quickly as you went through it.

Carol’s was the local eating hole, known for their classic home cooking and friendly service. As I ordered my meal of fried chicken (my waitress said it was the best in North Carolina), I started chatting with my neighbor at the table next to me.

James was an older man, most likely in his early 70’s, who was born and raised in Robersonville. He said most people in town his age had been in Robersonville their whole lives, and it was apparent when every person who came into Carol’s seemed to be a relative or best friend of somebody already enjoying their southern comfort food.

Growing up on a farm on the outskirts of Robersonville, James lived the “regular life” of a boy in a small town: up early to help on the farm, off to school, back to the farm. In his free time, he played baseball on a local field that no longer existed, but James would tell you it was “right down the road there.”

It seemed like everything in Robersonville was “right down the road there,” according to James. He told me about Ann’s House of Nuts, which was of course, right down the road. The factory opened in 2002, a date he didn’t think twice about. Ann’s is an international company, and their website claims to be the number-one provider of trail mixes in the United States. Their factory in Robersonville holds the largest oil nut roaster. This fact allowed James to tell his “Robersonville has the biggest nuts in North Carolina” joke, one he had clearly told hundreds of times yet always seems to make him chuckle. There’s nothing like an older man with a child’s humor.

While Ann’s was the only real big business around Robersonville, it had only been around for less than fifteen years, a smaller part of James’ life in town.

For years before Ann’s came to town, there were local businesses that were passed down from generation to generation, something James said has stopped in recent times. He talked about the old drug store and local supply shop that no longer existed but were once run by men who James described as if they were his best friends. Everyone James knew was a “good man” or a “friend of mine.”

I couldn’t tell if that was the norm for a small town like Robersonville or if James was just truly the most popular guy around.

As I finished up my meal (the chicken lived up to the hype) I felt like I had just gotten the old “Back in my day” speech from my grandfather. And that was the type of guy James was, the town grandfather that everyone loved to listen to.

Carol’s Home Cooking

By: Phoebe Hyde

The joys of traveling down an unfamiliar road through an unknown town are realized at times
like this. Our morning started early, being awoken by a mix of our nerves from our night’s stay
in the Williamston motel and our excitement over that day’s itinerary. Carol’s Home Cooking,
although not on our itinerary, was the ideal place to stop to suppress our grumbling stomachs,
even though we’d been driving for only about 25 minutes. It is places like this that inspired
our original motivation to create a lenient itinerary. It was essential to leave ample time for
potentially undiscovered or unwritten about establishments that we knew would tempt our
attendance, and Carol’s Home Cooking was just that.

This one-story, washed-grey shingled building appearing originally to be a home to a small
family had a neon OPEN sign on the front window and a sign out front reading “Carol’s Home
Cooking*Eat in or Take Out.” After nearly passing the restaurant since our eyes couldn’t read
fast enough, our car screeched as we pressed down on the break pedal making sure not to
miss the parking entrance. We hesitated at the sight of the white van out front with capital red
letters that read Pit Cooked Barbeque, thinking, maybe they are not serving breakfast at nine
o’clock in the morning if they are, in fact, a barbecue restaurant, but the OPEN sign gave us
hope. We also promised each other that, despite our breakfast food craving, we would eat
barbeque for breakfast just this once, because we could not pass up a place like this. Clearly, if
this remotely located restaurant was still standing in the middle of the miles of straight, single-
lane highway roads and cotton fields that led us into Robersonville, there must be something
remarkable inside. The aromatic smells of hot-off-the-griddle cooking that filled our nostrils the
moment we stepped inside only solidified that assumption, and our bellies grumbled again.

We were greeted at the door by a soft-spoken woman with a generous smile on her face. She
brought us over to a red circular table on the far side of the square shaped room, placed the
menu in front of each of us—an eight by eleven piece of paper, which listed the breakfast items
each in a different pastel color—and took our drink orders. Taking a look around before deciding
what to order, my eyes were drawn to the framed piece of paper which stated (in rainbow
italicized font)

“Notice!! Good food is not Cheap & Cheap food is not good. Please note, we here at
Carols cooks our food to order, if you have a limited time for lunch call ahead. Freshly
cooked food is what we thrive for. We are not the average fast food restaurant, we care
about how long your food sit out!!”

The sign brought a gentle smile to my face and I turned back to the menu in front of me.

Brittany ordered first, kindly stating, “Can I have Herring?” The woman responded, “She doesn’t
have any of those today.” This response caught my attention, as it is not everyday that I hear
one refer solely to the chef rather than to the restaurant as a whole. This again alluded to the
uniqueness and authenticity of this restaurant, and the important role that Carol holds in the
establishment. I then ordered a pancake, which was listed on the menu as “Pancake ($2).”
Watching my budget, I was pleased with this price list, and also assumed I would be getting one
pancake for two dollars, which seemed more than reasonably priced to me. But I was wrong.

Moments later, but enough time to have whipped up the batter and poured the freshly made
batter on the griddle, my two pancakes were served to me with a side of maple syrup poured in
a small, silver metal cup along with a small container of gold packaged butter. The smell was
overwhelming, while the heat lifted off the pancakes and warmed my cheeks. I took a bite. I
hesitate to say they were better than my mom’s homemade pancakes, but there is undoubtedly
some serious competition (I hope she doesn’t read this). The lightly crisped, soft brown edges
perfectly complemented the fluffy, moist inside that melted on my tongue with each bite. I
tried to pace myself but kept wanting more, and was immediately grateful that I was given two

Sad to see my two pancakes disappear, we packed up our things and walked up to the front to
pay our bill. I took out a five-dollar bill, in anticipation of getting one dollar back to leave on the
table as a tip. I saw a green neon $2.00 show up on the cash register, and waited a moment for
the number to increase. “Two dollars,” our waitress said to me. Shocked, I happily handed her
my five-dollar bill and received far more change than I initially expected.

Carols Home Cooking is a diamond in the ruff. Directly off the un-trafficked Highway 64,
on the left hand side if headed west, Carol’s Home Cooking is located amongst the large
expanse of cotton fields. It is no surprise that people travel all the way from Rockymount
(nearly forty minutes away) just to eat here. Carol’s Home Cooking far surpassed my already
high expectations of the restaurant on all accounts—in taste, cleanliness, friendliness of staff,
service, & pricing. It is places like Carol’s that one learns to appreciate randomness and happen
stance, and places like this that quantify the value of field study opposed to that done by mere
internet research.