SF to Charlotte


Mark dropped me off at the airport early in the morning on his way to Fresno to see his own parents. I settled in for a very long day of plane rides and airports and cravings for food, nicotine, and a chair which didn’t have another chair six inches in front of it.

My layover was in Dallas, and the size of that city’s Sunday paper plus my new used copy of All the President’s Men kept me relatively entertained in the air.

Mom and Dad were waiting for me in Charlotte. They fed me at a Waffle House there and headed northeast for Greensboro. I marvelled at the highway construction along I-85. We just don’t have that much highway construction in California anymore.


Up early to go pick up the rental car. It turned out that a weekly rental actually cost the same as a four-day rental so I opted for the former.


We drove around town a bit in the afternoon, covering downtown and my grandmother’s old neighborhood (which is where I just might want to live if I moved back to Greensboro), and sort of generally seeing all the sites and getting me re-oriented. What I noticed, mostly, was how much more green and attractive North Carolina is compared to California.


My mom and I stopped in at a big band concert by the lake in High Point to meet up with my aunt and my cousin’s wife, but it was just too damned hot and mosquito-filled. All the same, I planned to spend as much time as possible with my parents during these first few days because I knew things would get hectic later in the week.

Greensboro Again

I didn’t go for the free cigarette tasting because I hate all the pretense, the palate-cleansing, and the pressure to buy. Besides, the place seemed to be closed. So my mom and I went to Yum-Yum and had hot dogs and ice cream instead.

Actually, I stayed pretty close to home today, going through boxes and boxes of my stuff which my parents have in storage. I do some of this every time I’m home, just to try to reduce the bulk a little. It seems each passing year makes me a little more ruthless and allows me to throw away more stuff. This is good.

Dinner at the cafeteria again. Lest I sound bored by this, I’m most certainly not…


Tonight, I went out on my own and did my little circuit of Greensboro, visiting all the neighborhoods my parents would just as soon skip (including the increasingly ghostly and creepy shell of the former Carolina Circle Mall), checking out the supermarkets, etc.

Family Dinner

I worked a little more on the pile of stored stuff today, and then ventured over to High Point to take pictures of old supermarkets and see if I still knew my way around. I was moderately successful on both counts.


Tonight, the family (and I mean pretty much the WHOLE family on both Mom and Dad’s sides) came over for dinner. It was great to see everyone, if a little exhausting. Dinner was set up “open house” style, which meant the first guests arrived before 5:00, and the last ones didn’t leave until almost 10:00.


I was sort of beat when I hit the bed tonight. And Mark was coming tomorrow…

Danville, Charlotte

Today was a fairly long day, with an awful lot of travel (in two directions). In the afternoon, Mom and Dad took me north to Danville VA to hit the thrift stores and this big discout store they go to up there. I bought a nice new pair of $58.00 Silvertab jeans for $18.00 and got a few shots of “used to be” buildings, one an old Howard Johnson’s restaurant and one a former Burger Chef.


We came home down the “Future I-785 Corridor” (now simply known as US 29), had a quick dinner at the cafeteria, and I headed south to Charlotte to pick up Mark at the airport and then go ever farther south.


Once grabbed at the airport, we did a late-night drive around Charlotte and had dinner at the very same Waffle House my parents had taken me to on Saturday night. I showed him some of my favorite strips, and downtown, and all the sites you can see in one very fatigued evening.

And then we went back to the Motel 6 and committed several felonies together. Or what we thought were felonies, at least. Actually, they’d just been ruled legal and Constitutionally-protected activities mere hours before…

Charlotte and Atlanta


Morning. Breakfast at Bojangle’s. Checked out of the Motel 6, determined to “do Charlotte” in two hours or less. We went downtown. We saw my old house and neighborhood. We expreienced the intersection of Queens and Queens and Providence and Providence. And we found a cool map store at Kings and Morehead.

We toured the old neighborhoods around downtown, and Mark commented that he never knew anyplace could be quite so lush and green. I think he liked it…


We took pictures downtown and went to the Harris-Teeter in Dilworth (which was one of my “home” supermarkets in the late 1980s), and then we went to Dairy Queen for ice cream. Not just any DQ, mind you, but the “Nanook of the North” DQ on Wilkinson Boulevard.


Soon (but later than planned), we were headed south toward South Carolina, the Gaffney peach, and (eventually) Atlanta. Our only obstacles were Greenville/Spartanburg (where we spent an hour locating a K&W Cafeteria) and lots of old, slow people on underdeveloped freeways.


Finally we arrived and checked into our lovely accommodations at the Red Roof Inn where I’d stayed last visit. Only we had a MUCH smaller room. That was OK, since we turned on the TV and heard the news that it was now legal for us to have sex, so we did.

We also heard that day that Lester Maddox (racist former governor of Georgia) and Strom Thurmond (mummified former senator from South Carolina) had died. Maynard Jackson (first black mayor of Atlanta) was also lying in state. Oddly enough, the Supreme Court decsion on sodomy was still the top headline in the Journal and Constitution the next day.


I love Atlanta and have a strange relationship with it, but that’s been covered before. Tonight, after a stop at Kinko’s so Mark could do some work and a lovely dinner from Krystal, we just drove the length of Peachtree Street from Buckhead to downtown. Mark was amazed; Atlanta was a much more urban and cosmopolitan place than he’d envisioned.


We stopped by the coolest Kroger in the world to get supplies and cash. It was a two-level affair, and it gave me a stiffie, especially when I realized my Ralphs club card worked there.


We also detoured down Ponce de Leon and I showed Mark what a Krispy Kreme was supposed to look like. None of this stucco, strip mall shit you see in California, although the counter and stools had been elminated even in this one.

Finally, we were all tuckered out and went home to sleep.

Atlanta to Greensboro


After a not very early start and breakfast at Waffle House (in this particular one, smoking had evidently just been banned), we went back into the city.


The first stop was Little Five Points, also known as the Haight Street of Atlanta, and the neighborhood where Miss Daisy finally allowed Hoke to drive her to the Piggly Wiggly. We hit Wax-n-Facts (I first visited this store almost 20 years ago) and Criminal Records. Then we drove around the neighborhood. I was happy, because I’d finally found a Minute Maid Orange Soda, which had not been an easy task in North Carolina.

Inman Park and the area around Little Five Points is quite beautiful and doesn’t seem all that pricey or “precious”. It’s another potential home, methinks.


Farther down Moreland Avenue, we found an old A&P which still bore the impressions of its old “Super Market” lettering, even though it probably hadn’t served in that capacity for over forty years. I was excited. Mark was accommodating.


We went back downtown for more photo ops and then made for home, after obtaining gas for about 70 cents a gallon cheaper than in San Francisco. I would have liked a lot more time in Atlanta. Mark would have too. A repeat visit will be forthcoming.

The drive back was from hell. We encountered a nasty traffic backup about twenty miles north of Atlanta, and things weren’t crystal clear the rest of the way either. It was, after all, the Friday which began Fourth of July week. We ended up eating at the very same K&W as yeaterday in Greenville. Mark liked the cafeteria scene, I think.


As soon as we got back to North Carolina, it started raining. By Lexington, it had become one of those torrential summer downpours with thunder and lightning. It was cool. You never see rain in summer in California, and you absolutely never see rain with this much volume. I liked it.

Finally, we arrived back in Greensboro. Mom and Dad were relieved.

Greensboro Some More


I was a little nervous about Mom and Dad getting to know their new son-in-law, even though Mom had already met him. I needn’t have been; everything went smoothly.


We hit my old stoping grounds on Tate Street so Mark could do some work at my old Kinko’s, which looks much worse for the wear, and then we met my parents for barbecue at Stamey’s.


We spent much of the afternoon driving around the city listening to The Music 103.1, my old radio station. It was sort of exciting showing him my hometown; I was already pretty well-acquanited with his even before we met, although he showed me things I’d never seen before. I think I make a good tourguide, as I’m pretty well versed in Greensboro trivia. OK, maybe that means I make a boring and tedious tourguide…


We went to (yes, another) cafeteria in Kernersville for dinner with Mom and Dad and my aunt. After dinner, we went through all my old vinyl, looking for items to add to the collection. I couldn’t make many decsions about what to bring back; I wanted it all, and that will require a house. Some day…

Coming Home


Last day in town. I took back the rental car, and Mom made lunch. We even had a cake for Mark, simce I’d mentioned that Monday was his birthday. I love my Mom and Dad…

Soon it was time for Charlotte, the airport, and all those tearful goodbyes. I hate this part of the trip. The drive down is always so quiet. But I know I’ll be back soon, and will actually see some of the friends I missed this go-round. I most definitely won’t wait another two years…