China Grove- A day in the life of a photographer
January 6th, 2011 - Article by Aaron Cress
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Caption:FM bank where the pace is slow and the tellers know you by name. -- Photo by: Aaron Cress --

Welcome to China Grove, NC, where news travels by word-of-mouth faster than cars travel on the small town’s single main road. Everyone knows each other here, and the conversation flows freely if you know where to find it.

Things just don’t run without cash, so the first stop is the bank. Walking along, you can see the new Thai restaurant across the street is putting up a sign. After stepping into the bank, sirens are heard. A glance outside reveals the police are blocking off the street. Everybody has a puzzled look on their face. It’s time to investigate.

News travels fast in China Grove, and this was no exception. A few photos of the commotion were taken, and then a visit to Brian’s Grill where people were discussing (over hot dogs and fries) the smoke, which seemed to be coming from the Thai place, not the hotel above it. The police came in and informed everybody that a furnace had burned up in the back of the building and filled the place with smoke, but no damage had been done.

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Caption:South End Barber Shop in China Grove where you can find Jessi and Josh cutting hair and chatting with patrons about sports and local hunting spots -- Photo by: Aaron Cress --

The next stop was the barbershop, a mile down the road. Walking along, you can see many classic small-town scenes: a hundred-year-old hardware store, a local coffee shop, fairly new restaurants, and those that have been around for decades. If you live in a small town, everyone knows you, and sometimes you’ll get a shout-out. “Take my picture!” yells Mr. Lucas from across the street.

At the end of this stretch, you’ll finally find the South End Barbershop. No appointment is needed here. The local crowd discusses hunting spots, local sports, and how things are changing and everyone is getting older. The two barbers are always happy and seem content with their humble shop.

A quick detour was taken to a friend’s house, where topics were discussed such as new jobs, the Thai restaurant furnace burn-out, and everyone’s various projects.

The sky was gray and threatened rain, so a ride was given to the South Rowan Public Library, an amazing building filled with wonderful people. The library is an excellent place to collect your thoughts. A day like this one in China Grove brings a renewed appreciation for small-town life, and great anticipation for a future in a larger city, where there is greater potential to meet new people and go to various new places. It was a good day to say goodbye and look forward to a new start.