Turning trash into treasure

By Stephen Harris - For The Tribune
Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown -

One time we boys in the neighborhood here in the hometown got off on a trading kick. Someone got the idea that we needed to do some horse tradin’, like the grown-ups.

We kids didn’t have much to swap. A few old toys were about all we had.

But we had made up our minds that we just had to horse-trade something. Anything.

One guy offered me his plastic molding kit. Those things had been advertised heavily on TV the previous Christmastime. The kit would heat a slice of plastic and mold it into a toy car. Absolutely useless. By the following summer, that toy was old news. Bad kids’ toys don’t have a long a shelf life.

I didn’t go for plastic-molding. But we just had to trade for something. So I went for his old ball glove. I don’t think I ever used that glove much as I quickly outgrew it.

I don’t know what it is about the hometown. But people here seem to have a special love for acquiring old, used things. Notice our plethora of antique stores and yard sales. And if there’s no money involved, all the better.

My favorite horse-tradin’ story comes from the family. Great-grandfather Harris, who died more than three decades before I was born, had a kid brother. And one time the kid brother came wanting to trade his mule. Great-grandfather traded for the mule, and only after the kid brother had left did my great-grandfather discover that the mule was blind. And useless.

There must be something in the hometown DNA — a desire to turn junk into treasure.

So I was delighted to learn how Elkin got its street lamps for the new Heritage Center grounds downtown.

Instead of going shopping at a high-end, street-lamp store somewhere, folks at Town Hall learned of some lamps available for the taking at an old textile mill in Greensboro, the Revolution mill, they told me.

The Greensboro mill had escaped demolition after textile operations ended there in 1982. The old mill reopened in October as an apartment, office and retail complex complete with an events center for parties and such.

So they sent someone from here down to Greensboro to pick up the old street lamps.

And now we have some nice accessories for Heritage Center. Check them out.

The 10 street posts with hooks holding antique-looking electric lamps look like new to me. And they arrived just in time for Christmastime.

“Half a dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn’t have lighted the entry too well,” wrote Charles Dickens in his 1843 classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Thus, illustrations of Dickens’ famous Christmas tale usually include tall lamps on snowy Victorian London streets. Now we have some Dickensonian street lamps.

Such street lamps have set the mood for many a novel and movie. The movie scene will open with a street lamp standing hazy in London fog and setting a sinister mood. And as the camera slowly pans, you just know that someone is about to be murdered.

Let’s have no murders at the Heritage Center, shall we?

Instead, let’s pause and bask in the circle of the lights’ glow some night and thank those who added a touch of class to the hometown.

And know that folks here know a thing or two about turning trash into treasure.


In memoriam: My very first newspaper story here in the hometown came from an interview with my school principal, Lewis Mitchell, for the school ‘paper. You could say that Mr. Mitchell started it all for me.

I was saddened to hear of Mr. Mitchell’s passing a couple of weeks ago. He was the very first principal of C.B. Eller School near Pleasant Hill. Mr. Mitchell once lectured us on the difference between principle and principal. He said a principal was your PAL. At CBE, he turned out to be right.


Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.

Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_Stephen-Harris-mug-12-07-2.jpgStephen Harris Back In The Hometown

By Stephen Harris

For The Tribune