Once your parents are gone, there are always questions that you wish that you asked. While there are some significant ones for which I would like to have answers, there is one that is relatively simple.
I am curious where I first enjoyed a restaurant meal. In the early fifties restaurants where just beginning to appear on the scene in rural North Carolina.
Before we moved to Lewisville, NC to begin a new life, my mother and I were living in Yadkin County, between Yadkinville and East Bend.
Even today Yadkin County remains one of the most rural counties in North Carolina. The Styers family has been in Yadkin since at least the late 1700s. The Styers were millers, and my great grandfather even ran a ferry across the Yadkin River from Yadkin County to Forsyth County.
There is even a road in the Lewisville area called Styers Ferry Road. There is also a Styers Street which is where we moved after living in Yadkin County.
It turns that the first restaurant that I can remember is the Dinette in East Bend, NC. I am sure someone has written the history of the Dinette, but there are some things which just do not show up on the Internet. The history of the Dinette is one of those things.
In talking to some of the family elders, I believe the Dinette started business in 1951 or 1952. It was in 1952 that we moved to Lewisville. I have one of those vague early childhood memories of a screen door on the Dinette and booths along one wall.
I am pretty certain that I ate there in 1951 or 1952. That being the case, I suspect the Dinette would own the honor of providing me with the first of many restaurant meals.
In the early fifties you mostly ate at home. Supermarkets did not even show up in our area until the mid-fifties. Thruway Shopping Center on the western side of Winston-Salem brought the first real supermarket to the area.
Along with the Dinette, I can remember Poplar Tavern where we often stopped for a hot dog on our travels. It was just across the river in Forsyth County. There was also a small restaurant that came to Lewisville in the fifties and occupied a space in the shops next to the mill.
When we started going to Winston-Salem for groceries in the middle fifties, I can remember a Burger King which appeared probably around 1956. It was located on Stratford Road, not far from another restaurant called Staley's. Staley's ended up being one of my mother's favorites because of their onion rings.
It was just yesterday that I had lunch with some relatives at the Dinette in East Bend. They are still in business after all these years. When we got there at noon, there were only four pieces of fried chicken left, so go early it you are looking for the meat and two vegetable special. Some of my relatives claim that the Dinette is home of one of the best hamburger steaks in the area.