My first memory is a two story farm house overlooking the Yadkin River. We lived with my grandparents, Jap and Maude Hoots, on their farm. There pigs, chickens, ducks, guineas, turkeys, horses, a mule or two, goats, sometimes sheep, dogs of a Border collie mix, and a dairy. This provided a wealth of adventure for a small girl to explore on her grandfather’s heels.

Later my horizons expanded to the neighboring farms of the Burton, Zimmerman, Peoples, Markland, Myers, Riley, Robertson, and Todd families. I still remember my first visit to Louie Todd’s. He had a bear skin rug that fascinated me. His wife gave me the Betsy McCall cut out doll that came in each issue of McCall’s magazine. The local churches, Elbaville, Advance Baptist, and Advance Methodist, as well as the community building, enlarged my list.

The local stores were Potts, Baileys, and Voglers. There was a barber shop, a post office, a pool hall, and later the Sowers store. These were places to shop and socialize.

When I started school my world really grew. The children of local families attended all twelve grades at Shady Grove. Teachers I respected from the Baily, Markland, Shermer, Vogler, Cornatzer, and Potts families, taught there. I was introduced to competitive sports and developed a fondness that I still have for basketball and softball. Advance was becoming larger. Trips to Winston Salem to shop and to Stokes and Yadkin counties to visit relatives made me aware of an enlarging world.

My first view of the ocean, and a family trip to Indiana made me marvel. Teachers taught of other countries, cultures, and the wonders of the world. High school, college, and a few chances to travel made Advance seem less significant at the time. Hearing news of the world on a daily basis changed my perspective even more.

The strange thing is, as I grow older, Advance is still the most important place in the world to me. Most of my family and many friends are here. It seems such a short time since we were kids. All of our families are woven into the fabric of this town. Even with a post graduate degree, most of my educational, social and spiritual needs have been met here. Many of my role models were people from Advance. This community has peacefully coexisted with people of all races, religions, and political leanings. That is no small accomplishment for a small, rural, and conservative community.

More by Gaye Hoots.