Ode to North Carolina and its wonderful people

Published 4:35 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2017

To the Editor:

I took a bad fall the other day, and several people rushed to my assistance, and it made me remember why we moved to the South.

I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and my husband in Minot, North Dakota. We were married and lived in Wisconsin, where we taught in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

When it came time for us to retire, my husband suggested North Carolina, where he had served in the 82nd Airborne, and he loved North Carolina. The first thing that came to mind was the scene from “Deliverance” with the two men in a canoe paddling down the rapids as fast as they could to get away from some very unsavory southern dudes.

Well, because marriage is forever, we now live in a charming coastal town called Belhaven. I ventured out slowly into the community, and soon was in a women’s book club, working for the library association, a member of the River Rats Boating Club, and my husband is the commodore of the Belhaven Yacht Club (most of us don’t have a boat — but we sure have a lot of fun, and we eat a lot!).

The one thing that has really struck me about the South is how easily and how often people invoke God in a positive way. As a result, I have become more positive and open about my Catholic faith.

If I was living in Chicago and talked about God openly, by nighttime there would probably be a burning cross in my front yard, but living in the South, I have had my heart blessed more times than I can remember!

One Monday afternoon, I was taking a walk in Belhaven. When I was about two blocks from home, I became dizzy and fell hard on the sidewalk. I tried several times to get up, but all I could do was crawl into the grass.

Two couples were riding their bikes. They immediately stopped, rushed over to me and helped me to get to a lawn bench to sit down. I don’t remember much because I hit my head hard. They asked if I could get home on my own. I said, “Yes,” but one of the ladies said, “Oh no! I’m calling my son. He’ll be here in a minute with our golf cart.” And so he was! He and his two children drove me right up to the front door where my husband helped me into the house.

Now! If this had happened in Chicago, at least 10 people would have stepped right over me and at least two would have kicked me and screamed, “You’re blocking traffic! Get out of the way!”

We have lived in N.C. for 18 years, and you couldn’t pry my husband and me out of N.C. with a tractor.

For all the uneducated thoughts I had about the South — let me say, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”

I didn’t remember the names of the people who helped, but just as I was finishing this paper, one of the ladies, Donna Radcliffe, came to my door to ask how I was getting along. Her husband, Ricky, was there, and the other couple was Bobby and Thela Sawyer. Brend, who is an EMT, was there. Elton Braddy (Donna Radcliffe’s son) drove me home in the golf cart.

In the 18 years we have lived in Belhaven, almost everyone in town has helped us one way or another, and we are grateful for all of them!

Carol Montgomery