Who’s next to get put on the endangered species list? How about the hometown good ol’ boy?
We’re changing. The good ol’ boy with the dirty ball cap and bib overalls is getting himself cleaned up. The good ol’ gal in the loose, flower-patterned, mid-calf dress sweating it out in a hot kitchen all day is getting doodied up.
I see it in church. Fewer and fewer in attendance share my memories of the old guard in the neighborhood. There are a greater variety of last names on the church roll, and a greater variety of personal stories being told.
I see it in town. Go to the Friday or Saturday night shows downtown, and the din of conversations are crisp with not one drawl to be heard. I feel like I’m in a Charlotte nightclub. I get the feeling that these folks are not from around here.
Now I have some numbers to back me up. An outfit out of Chapel Hill called Carolina Demography made a splash with a report that asserted that more and more North Carolinians are not native-born tarheels.
Nearly half — 43 percent — were born elsewhere and have moved here. Among working folks and retirees — those 18 or older — the number is up to 49 percent.
And the percentages will continue to rise, the demographers assert.
Many of the new folks come to Charlotte and Raleigh for jobs. That’s no surprise. Migrants also play a part.
But a mild surprise are statistics showing that more retirees are choosing of their own free will to move here instead of, say, Florida. The experts predict that the percentage of North Carolinians 65 and older will rise from 15 percent now to 21 percent in a decade. Better quit being in such a hurry on the roads.
The two fastest growing counties in North Carolina, the report said, are Brunswick and Pender counties surrounding Wilmington. Retirees are credited.
These days Myrtle Beach, in South Carolina, is boasting that it’s the second-fastest growing city in the country as beach homes sprout. Try not to get run over by all of the folks while walking the beach this summer.
Meanwhile, Currituck County, next to Virginia Beach and Tidewater Virginia, leads North Carolina with three-fourths of its people hailing from out of state.
The changes are not so much in evidence here. Surry County is about in the middle of the pack with about 30 percent of its population non-native. Alleghany County, with its mountain homes and retirees, shows a bit of a boost with about 40 percent.
Yadkin and Wilkes counties are among the 23 counties with populations from elsewhere of under 25 percent.
Such an influx will bring change. Remember the stories you heard in school about carpetbaggers after the Civil War.
The new folks are not carpetbaggers. They’re nice folks, once you get to know them. Personally, I feel refreshed upon meeting new folks from other places. Credit many of the upgrades we see Here Around the Hometown to fresh blood.
I can point to the example of a couple who hail from Iowa. While on vacation in Florida, the couple met up with a hometown good ol’ boy who told them about us.
Upon retirement, the Iowa couple checked us out and built their retirement home here in State Road. Early on one asked me about grits, and I tried to explain, clumsily. The Iowa couple proceeded to fit right in and now are upstanding and even beloved members of the community.
You have your own stories to tell as well.
But so many new folks will bring change. Expect to hear less about tobacco priming and more about wine tasting.
It may be time to start thinking about saying our goodbyes to the good ol’ boys.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.