As I scrolled through Facebook today, I noticed the location on a friend’s post was listed as Hayes, NC. It turns out that Hayes does not exist as a municipality but still appears on maps as it was once a stop on the railroad. That reminded me of the old “Neuse Station” depot that I used to live near and how it, too, shows up in maps as Neuse, NC though there’s nothing really there. I then did a search of my blog for posts including “depot” and turned up a great one I wrote in 2005 when I researched Neuse Station:
It was a day spent working in my yard which ignited my current interest. I took a break from digging a trench to climb up the hill near the tracks. On my way up, I spotted the stump of a sawed-off telephone pole. Nearby was a glass insulator, which led me to discover a long length of telegraph wire.
Curiosity got to me. How old was that wire?
I started putting a picture together from the resources on the Internet. These tracks behind our house are the oldest railroad tracks in North Carolina. They belonged to the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, which was commissioned in 1834 to build a line from Raleigh to Gaston, where other lines led to Petersburg and Norfolk.
Work was slow and sloppy, but progress was eventually made. The first stop northward was a station called Huntsville. Later this stop became known as Neuse Station. Neuse was located right outside my neighborhood. That makes this spot near my neighborhood the second-oldest depot in the state.
The next entry that caught my eye was my “Gimme Shelter” post, written after a night spent in 2003 volunteering at a hurricane shelter:
Occasionally, I would hear “excuse me, sir” and look up to find a sheepish child or lost-looking adult staring at me. “Can you tell me when the hurricane is past?” became a common question. Having the latest WRAL wind field displayed on my laptop, I would reply with confidence that the worst was over. They would always be polite in thanking me for the information.
One time, I looked up and an older gentleman would be in front of me. He was desperate to call his neighbors to see if power was on at their home. After hearing him lament that the payphones were missing from their spot on the wall, I offered him the use of my cellphone. He had difficulty dialing, for whatever reason, prompting his son to give it a try. A few moments later, they had the answer they were seeking, and returned my phone with a smile. Already, I was feeling good about being able to help out.
Damn. There is some mighty fine writing here, if I do say so myself. I spent hours volunteering at that shelter and later spent as many hours capturing my experience with 1,932 words. It perfectly describes the scene and in my mind I can easily put myself back in that spot.
Whatever happened to my writing? One of these posts is from 2003 and the other 2005, times when our kids were a toddler and a baby so I had a bit more free time. It was also before Facebook arrived to suck everyone’s attention (and sometimes just suck). I never really wrote to entertain an audience, though, but more for myself so the fact that my blog doesn’t attract the audience that it once did shouldn’t be a factor in my interest in writing.
I suppose it’s a combination of things that have vied my time. Certainly it’s nothing I can’t fix. And even if no one – no one – reads what I write I still enjoy the process. So, consider this a declaration that I will hereby devote less time scrolling through cat videos on Facebook and more time creating my own media here in MT.Net.