Editorial: Making it better for generations

Published 9:15 am Thursday, August 4, 2022

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My dad remembered when NC 801 was a dirt road, even at the intersection with US 158. When he died in 2004, that intersection was a bustling multi-lane road with a stoplight and businesses at every corner, even nearby shopping centers.

That’s a major change for one lifetime.

I remember when I-40 ended as motorists entered Davie County, when the only real subdivision of houses was in Mocksville, and it was new and different. Now, there are so many housing developments it boggles the mind. I-40 stretches through the county, and almost all roads are paved.

And busy.

That’s a lot of change for one lifetime.

It makes you wonder what Davie County will look like when our young people of today reach their golden years. I don’t see how anyone can predict that far ahead. It will be different, for sure.

Looking back, it seems that each generation wants the same thing. They want a better life for themselves and their children. Politics may differ, religions may differ, lifestyles may differ – but they all want the same thing. A better life.

My parents were no different. Dad actually got a job, working for the state highway department. A real job.  Don’t get me wrong, he was no slouch (Some of his cronies from back then may disagree.), but public jobs weren’t that common as he grew up. Farm boys stayed on the farm – or started their own – and worked to provide for their families.

I think it was probably obvious that dad was no farmer. He could do the work, he knew what to do, but farming just wasn’t his thing. He chose hanging out with his brother “Chick” at his garage, working on cars and small engines. It was there where he was rescued by the kindest man I have ever known, Roy Williams. A department of transportation supervisor, he knew dad’s skills as a mechanic and welder would come in handy. He provided a place for us to live, and dad with a job – and a best friend.

At the same time, mom also entered the workplace, in one of the few jobs open to women at the time – working in a sewing factory, making this garment or that under conditions that probably are outlawed today, literally working for pennies.

They worked because they wanted us to have a better life. And in just about every way imaginable, we did.

By the time my generation entered the workplace, few were farmers, and if there were any subsistence farmers like my dad’s family, they were more likely to be hippies than country boys. Also, factories and businesses and all sorts of job opportunities opened up for us.

We took full advantage of those opportunities. People have been successful in any occupation you can think of. New schools were built. New hospitals were built. Road systems were improved. Communication systems have improved so much that it has changed our lifestyles (I’m still trying to figure out if this one is good or bad, but one thing is for sure, the world at your fingertips is here to stay.).

Sure, there are always bumps and bruises along the way. Each generation experiences them. But time moves on.

No matter what Davie County looks like in 50 years, I’m confident it will be the same. It will be filled with people who care about their families, and will do what they can to make a better life for themselves and their families.

What more could we want?

And after hearing from three young people recently named ambassadors by the Davie Respect Initiative, I’ll bet that Davie County, in 50 years, will be good. Very good. Families will still flock here, seeking that better life.

After all, it will still be Davie County.

Our home.

– Mike Barnhardt