The Online Magazine FOR and ABOUT Southside Virginia
"Born and Bred"
North of the river, and right side of the tracks
-= By Brenda Snead =-
I've been a Southsider all my life. Born in Charlotte County, my parents moved to Halifax County when I was only a small child. I was a "tweener" in those days. My family and I lived in Centerville, "tween" Halifax and South Boston. Our neighborhood was great! There were plenty of other kids to play with, a dead end street perfect for bikes, a field large enough for games of tag, baseball and touch football, and across that field, the golf course, where we played in the creek and fouled up more than one golfer's game.
When I was eleven, my parent's dream of owning a home came true, and we moved to Halifax. Don't be confused...yes, I had been living in Halifax, but in the County. Now, I was living in TOWN! In town, the kids were a little bit cooler, and there were sidewalks and street lights. Now I had the opportunity to see and be with other friends without having to beg a ride from Mom. I could walk or ride my bike up that hill from the railroad tracks to the magical neighborhoods of Buena Vista, Canterbury, and Holy Hill (so named for all of the preachers living there). I was a member of the Downtown Pool, I visited the public library, I watched Little League baseball games and Peewee football games at Halifax Elementary, I walked to school during my junior high years, and I worked the soda counter at Halifax Pharmacy after school and in the summers.
I graduated high school in 1977, and after a really short stint in college, decided I was through with education and entered the work force. I went to work for Central Fidelity Bank, which shared a common wall with the ABC store in the middle of downtown Halifax. The important part of this is that I was still in Halifax. I remained north of the railroad tracks.
I did move from town and go back to Centerville when I decided to leave the nest. I still headed north to work every day, though. There was something comforting about the "thunk, thunk, thunk" of my tires crossing those tracks, and a small sense of freedom when the same sounds took me to my psuedo-home in the evenings. I met the man who would become my husband in town. We married, and HORRORS!...moved into an apartment in South Boston...THE CITY OF SOUTH BOSTON! (I know, it's just a plain old town, now.) Do you know how far it is from there to the railroad tracks?!!
Still, I went to work every day for eight more years on the "right side" of the tracks. When banking became a sales job, I looked for and found work...guess where? That's right, in Halifax. I worked for the Town, preparing and collecting various bills that townfolk owe, and even acted as dispatcher for the two-man police force. It was also during this time that I moved back to town, right back to the same street on which I had spent my teen years. Life was back to normal, working AND living in town.
I got older, had a family, sold the small house in Halifax, and bought a larger one just about as far from either town as you could get. My next two jobs were in the city limits of South Boston. You know, of course, that there are railroad tracks in South Boston. Just before entering Riverdale, you'll cross two sets of tracks before crossing the river. Still, I was living AND working north of that river. It was a little strange each time I made one of these geographical changes, but only a few weeks before I felt like I was as familiar with the surroundings as if I'd been there all my life.
It's been a long time since I was eleven, and a long time since 1977. My husband died three years ago, my oldest child is going off to college this fall, and, at 14, my daughter will not be at home with me much longer. I've listed my larger home for sale, and am looking for another house...guess where? Wait, that's unfair of me...Halifax, South Boston, or at least nearer than the twelve miles I now travel to town. My realtor interviewed me extensively before we started the search for my new, perfect home. I outlined, ad nauseum, the features I'd need in a new home, and of course, made it perfectly clear to him the geographical location in which I'd live.
Did you know that there are people and houses and businesses SOUTH of the river?!? Do I want to move there? Nuh-uh, no way, nada! Talk about being outside your comfort zone! It feels like a foreign country to me, the "north of the tracks/river" girl. I can't point at any one building and say with any authority who lives or works there. I can't make a turn off Highway 501 South and know where I'm going. I don't recognize any of the vehicles moving down the road or parked in front of houses. I think I know one or two people who live there, but I can't be sure because I don't know them well.
By the way, I got a new job in February. I'm happy to say it's north of the river.
BUT IT'S IN PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY!!!!!!!!
Brenda Snead is a lifelong resident of Halifax County.
PO Box 1061
South Boston, VA 24592
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