By Wayne Easter © 2014
Online: December, 2014
They came from all over in the 1940s, to a small neighborhood on Pine Ridge Road in Northwest Surry County, North Carolina. From Lambsburg, Low Gap, Round Peak, and Pine Ridge they came, for some fun and games. After a hard week at the sawmills, and hoeing corn in the burning fields of summer, it was break-time at a dilapidated log tobacco barn everybody called "The Barn." It was located at the intersection of Pine Ridge and Lowe Roads in an area called "Easy Street."
Its reputation had spread throughout the land, and according to the grapevine, "All them people that hangs around down yonder at that old barn is shiftless and lazy, and all they do is mess around, make music, drink moonshine and play poker." For some, including my dad, (according to Mama) it was their doghouse, their second home, their home away from home. It was the main topic of fire and brimstone sermons in local churches, and some housewives threatened to "burn that place to the ground."
The barn leaned southwest into the wind, it leaked, and had seen better days, but it still got the job done. On Saturday afternoons and again on Sundays, crowds gathered in and played poker, the claw-hammer banjo, the fiddle and harmonica. They drank RC Colas, ate Moon Pies and shared some of "the best moonshine ever made "from right up yonder in Round Peak, right up under Fisher's Peak."
They talked about the good old days, who had been caught doing what, and whom they did it with. They told of strange happenings, like the time William Senter's barn ran into someone's automobile. (The driver swore to God he was just driving along in the middle of the road minding his own business, when the barn ran out into the road, "right smack dab in front of him.") Kelly Senter told of a family who found a dead cat in a crock of molasses, "You know? They wasted nearly all them 'lasses gittin' that dead cat out." I sat on my bicycle and listened bug-eyed.
When the Law stopped by, a miracle happened in the blink of an eye, right there in broad daylight. All of the cards, money and moonshine vanished into thin air and the Barn became a house of worship. When asked what they were doing there, the answer was, "We're holding a little prayer service here, Sheriff; don't you see that sign up there that says, "Easy Street Church of God?" The Sheriff shook his head, drove off and before he was out of sight, everything was back to normal; running wide-open.
Everybody had a great time, but those who had just got back home from the Big War had the best time of all. They had seen Germany, Paris, Tokyo and the South Sea Islands and all agreed, "There's no place on Earth like home and Easy Street."