Let’s not stop there — how about Wade Medical Center or Wade Community Fire Department? Or, shoot, how about a whole town named Wade? That may sound as egotistical as when I bought a number 3 Miami Heat jersey even though I’m a Lakers fan simply because it has my (or, rather, Dwayne Wade’s) name on the back, but it isn’t.
All of those places already exist.
Boasting a population of around 560 people, the town of Wade is located in Cumberland County in North Carolina. It was founded by N.G. Wade, a businessman who sold cross ties to the railroad.
While I could probably discover if ol’ N.G. and I are related, he was a white dude. Finding out one of his ancestors maybe owned one of mine would cast a pall over this column. One rule of thumb I adhere to is never work slavery into a humor column. Oh, dang it, I just did!
Anyway, according to their handy website, http://www.wadenc.com, Wade was chartered in 1869, but that charter was abandoned and they had a charter reboot in 1913. The dimensions described for the town in the 1913 charter made Wade exactly 1 mile square. It stayed that way until 1990 when it annexed some land.
When I heard Wade was in North Carolina, I was overjoyed. I’ve lived in California for three-fourths of my life (moving here in 1975), but I was born in Portsmouth, Va. and consider myself a Southern gentleman.
Plus “The Andy Griffith Show,” set in North Carolina, is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. In my mind’s eye I pictured the citizens of Wade, like Andy Taylor and Barney Fife, hanging out at Floyd’s Barber Shop, chuckling over how Otis locked himself up the night before and waiting for Aunt Bee to show up with a bag of sandwiches for them to take with them when they headed to the fishin’ hole, just a-whistlin’ the whole time.
But the fictional town of Mayberry had at least two to three times as many people as the town of Wade does. Lifelong resident and town clerk Cindy Burchett explained that they don’t have a designated downtown with shops. Wade isn’t one of those small towns that rolls up the sidewalks at night because, well, they don’t have sidewalks.
Burchett informed me that they do have a hardware store, post office, fire department, medical center and a restaurant, the Main Street Grill.
While I’m sure the grub the Grill serves is tasty, the one review they received on Yelp wasn’t positive. In its defense, it was probably posted by some uppity visiting New Yorker ala “My Cousin Vinny” who’d never tried grits before.
Huell Aekins, 73, has been the mayor of Wade for 15 years and like Burchett is a lifelong resident. One of the things he spoke with pride about was the annual Wade Founders Day celebration, which took place in June.
“We have a parade, many different vendors, a car show, cornhole tournament, and music going on — for a small town, it was very well-attended,” Aekins said.
I found an online video where Aekins boasted of a Wade school as being the best in the state. While I thought it was hyperbole, District 7 Elementary School (home of the Dolphins) has been recognized for 12 years as a North Carolina school of excellence, among other honors.
I would love to visit Wade and what better time than next year’s Founder’s Day? My only fear is that walking through Wade Community Park and past Wade Baptist Church and the big water tower with “WADE” on the side may be like when John Malkovich took a trip into his own head in “Being John Malkovich,” and I may get sensory overload.
If that happened, though, and I was taken to the Wade Medical Center, I’d be in good hands because the town’s motto is the “Home of Southern Hospitality.”
Reach honorary Town of Wade resident Tony Wade at [email protected]