By Maggy McGloin – 2016
As any trip with anticipated adventure should begin, the exploration down Highway 64 began with clear eyes, caffeinated bodies, and an overall excitement to see what was ahead. The first stop on the highway was the town of Mocksville, just about an hour outside the Elon bubble.
The car rolled into a town seemingly barren of existence, pulling into the parking lot of the grand Town Hall, currently being cleaned with high-power hoses. It was 11 AM, late enough in the morning that shops should be open on a Saturday morning, yet every single one was closed. The streets, too, were relatively deserted–a sporadic passerby occasionally punctuating the quiet . After passing a darkened doll storefront, the town’s GOP office, a pub amongst few restaurants, the sidewalk lead to the one open business: The Factory Coffee Shop, an obviously-new addition to the town. It turns out the shop had only been open for six months and was part of the new effort to revitalize downtown Mocksville.
Inside the store provided cappuccinos and a muffins, set with an ambience made by modern touches, such as acoustic music, seating areas for people who wanted to work, and an industrial-looking bar. There were also accents that kept the shop true to Mocksville’s heritage, however. By the cash register, there was a large bulletin board displaying flyers, business cards, and artwork provided by Mocksville locals–a physical manifestation of the town’s activity hub. There was also an out-of-place old-fashioned bike hung on the wall, one of the first visible decorations upon entering the store. It seemed the bike, though visually different, would provide insight as to what The Factory was all about.
As she whipped up another cappuccino, the barista, Ayenna, explained a bit more about Factory, as well as what it means to be a Mocksville local. She confirmed that The Factory was the newest addition to downtown Mocksville, but the building itself was historically valuable, once a pharmacy from the early 1900’s. To pay homage to what the building once was, the owners hung up that bike–which once belonged to the pharmacist–on the wall. “He used to ride the bike up and down main street to make prescription deliveries to people’s homes,” Ayenna said. “The pharmacist knew where everyone lived and what each family’s’ prescriptions were.”
Ayenna was vibrant, compliant, and happy to answer questions about how long she’d lived in Mocksville and whether or not she enjoyed the familiarity of the town. She said that she grew up in Mocksville, surrounded by people who always said “that if you don’t get out of Mocksville by a certain point, you end up staying there your whole life.” Ayenna stated that when she was younger, she wanted nothing more than to move away from Mocksville. As she gets older, however, she admits to becoming more content with staying there. Knowing that the town could seem uneventful to outsiders, she continued to describe the different things there are to do in Mocksville: “There’s a movie theater fifteen minutes away,” she said. “And high school sports are a really big part of the community.”
The local high school homecoming game is one of the most exciting events in Mocksville during the fall. Ayenna pointed to the windows of the town’s favorite pub across the street, scrawled in orange paint: Beat the Mustangs! Evidently the homecoming game was the night before and has been held in the same location for 65 years. “The whole community came out and they had all of the homecoming kings and queens from years’ past come out on the field,” said Ayenna.
When asked what her favorite Mocksville event was, Ayenna stated matter-of-factly, “the mattress car races.” For visitors who have no observed such an event, a mattress car race consists of Mocksville locals gathering on the main downtown strip to race their mattresses down the hill. “I can watch the races from the window of The Factory,” she said. Looking out the window, the image of those same mattresses plummeting down main street painted a stark contrast to the empty road, a quiet extension of Highway 64.