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.