The North Carolina Visitor Center




Life in Mt. Gilead

Life in a Small Southern Town - Mt. Gilead, NC

by Elizabeth LaRosa



On one of our many visits from Pennsylvania to Mt Gilead to visit my childhood friend Jean Ann Haywood and her family, my husband Sam and I decided to buy a house and retire here.  This all happened three years ago the weekend of the Christmas Parade, the community concert directed by Johnny Almond, and the lighting of the Christmas lights at the town museum.  As we stood on the porch of the museum, the words of the old hymn, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are" were read by Mayer Earl Poplin, carols were sung and there was such a feeling of friendship and closeness.  At that moment Sam and I knew we made the right decision.

The people in Mt. Gilead have welcomed us with open arms and made sure we were included in everything.  I suddenly felt like I would never have to worry about anything ever again, because suddenly we had so many "real friends” who would always be there for you.  I grew up in a small northern town, which was great to grow up in, but has changed terribly.  The gentleness and friendliness of the southern people gives me such a calming feeling.  After several trips back north to visit family and being part of the fast pace made us long to get back to Mt Gilead again,

The day we arrived at our new home for the first time, there was a group of people gathered to welcome us. The moving van couldn't make the turn into our driveway.  These people -- all strangers to us, helped carry our furniture up the driveway in the pouring rain and set things up in the house.  For the next couple months our new friends brought us casseroles, cake, homemade bread, soups, and pies.  As each person arrived they introduced themselves and gave us the most important gift of all-their friendship.

Life in this small southern town has been wonderful.  You can be as involved or uninvolved as you want.  The churches are very active and you can always find some activity going on there for everybody in town. There is also the Lyons Club, Civitans, Chi Sigma, Amity Club, Red Hat Club, Bridge Clubs and various card clubs, knitting club, Dinner Clubs, Wine Tasting Parties at Henry's Tonight, Reading Club, Museum Committee,  Historical Society, art classes and art shows in our own artisans center, Bluegrass concerts at the Music Barn,  the community choir and our own radio station.  There is a great interest in antiques and restoration of old homes.  The "Vintage" and the "Antique Mall" serve as a great venue for those interested in antiques.  The Highland Center, which is a senior center, offers activities and lunch everyday.  There is also a dance studio for all who want to learn any form of dancing.  The local pharmacy is also the flower shop, the card store and the dry cleaners.  Jim Haithcock, our pharmacist can often be heard saying "oh, I'll just drop it off for you on the way home", and proceeds to tell you a joke or two.

This year our "Special Events Committee" as part of the Mt. Gilead Step Program, is planning our first "Town Nativity Pageant" and coming together to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus.  The pageant will consist of individual scenes depicting the Christmas story.  Scriptures will be read and carols sung by a mass choir.  There is a special feeling of togetherness as the town comes together -- some building sets, working on costumes, singing in the choir, portraying a Biblical character, reading scriptures, doing lights and sound, making refreshments or being in the all important audience.  Truly we will all experience the feeling of Christmas, and the feeling of life in a small southern town.