“My new” town was settled in the piedmont of the Appalachian Mountains in the colony of Carolina in the 1720s by a group of people looking for religious freedom. Later, people less attached, but maybe equally devout came to the same area. One community was named Salem after JeruSALEM. The other community was named after an obscure Revolutionary War hero. The two communities emerged into one a hundred years ago, and Winston-Salem became a small city.
The cigarettes were named after the town, not the other way around, as many people assume. Tobacco. That was big here, and when the industry collapsed, it caused great hardship. You know the underwear and socks? Hanesbrands still is a strong presence in town, but not as much as it once was, due to outsourcing. Krispy Kreme Donuts have their original store and corporate headquarters down the road from me. And to counteract the effects of tobacco and donuts, now our biggest industry is Healthcare. Wake Forest Baptist and Forsyth Medical Center are renowned for their high quality and services, among the nation’s top 10, actually.
It is still a small city, and often we call it America’s biggest small town. There are less than six degrees of separation nearly every day in people that I come across. It is surprising how much it seems how “everybody knows everybody.” It is not literally the case, but take for instance, one of my new friends, who turned out to be a neighbor of my brother’s in-laws. Or my other friend who was in the Air Force with the childhood friend of my Lake friend down at Waccamaw. Or my nephews’ and nieces’ nanny, who also knows my Lake friend. I mean, come on! I have discovered many more, surprising connections that are more complicated to explain or follow. I love it!
I really landed in the best possible spot. I finally feel that this is “home,” that this is my life, and like my favorite underwear and socks, it is a perfect fit.