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30 Things I Remember About Growing Up In North Carolina

Nostalgia is all the rage these days. Once the internet really took off, we felt the need to clasp on to those last bits of childhood with funny articles about what it meant to be a 90’s kid. While being a 90’s baby means a lot of things, what about being a 90’s baby growing up in North Carolina? Some of my favorite memories are very specific to the state I grew up in, and am proud to call home. Here are thirty.

1. Learning the proper context for multiple curse words while my dad watched the Carolina vs. Duke game.

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I didn’t need to sneak around and watch PG-13 movies or ask my friend’s older brothers what “that” word meant. I just had to press my ear (barely) against the basement door while my dad watched the second half of a Carolina Vs. Duke Game. At age four, I became totally aware of the nail-biting, curse word spillin’ heat every fan goes into in those final moments.

2. Speaking of Carolina, the overwhelming joy I felt of getting a Tarheel’s cheerleading uniform for Christmas one year.

At age four I thought I was the COOLEST in that Tarheel blue uniform, cruisin’ up Grandma’s gravel road in my Barbie Corvette.

3. Running like a crazy person to chase down the ice cream truck.

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Whether it be on my street, at the pool, or at a friend’s…that ice cream truck song was unforgettable.

4. The cul-de-sac was where it was at.

The neighborhood streets were THE meeting place. Ah, simpler times, no iphones or ipads to distract us…just going on adventures through the woods and talking about who had the coolest bike.

5. Stopping at fruit stands on the way to the beach.

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6. When school was cancelled because of Hurricane Floyd and it was sunny the whole day.

Although it wreaked havoc on other parts of the state.

7. When school was cancelled because it was “going to” snow.

I didn’t mind the snow day!

8. Epic snow days when it DID snow and the streets became a white wonderland and sledding lasted from morning to night.

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Also all the sledding injuries that resulted from that, and that poor kid who accidentally drove his sled into the creek that one time…

9. My dad taking me to sled at Moses Cone Park off the Blue Ridge Parkway for the most EPIC terrifying sledding a ten year old could experience.

I highly suggest this location for all parents…your kids will love it!

10. Learning to “pizza” on the bunny slope at Beech Mountain, and a year later skiing down my first black diamond.

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11. My grandmother taking me to Town Creek Indian Mound and stumbling across a  huge black snake. I was so freaked out I refused to leave the safe room.

Either way, Town Creek is really cool.

12. Forcibly being fed collard greens, fresh from my Grandpa’s garden, at four.

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“You’ll grow to like them.” (still hasn’t happened)

13. Always having abundant amounts of tomatoes and other vegetables throughout the summer. Of course, they were fresh from the garden of both of my grandparents.

Even to this day, no tomatoes compare.

14. Getting a mouthful of salt water while boogie boarding at the beach.

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I can taste it now.

15. The first time I took the ferry to the Outer Banks.

There are cars, on this boat, and we’re all going to this magical place, on this magical boat, that holds cars. (child mind blown)

16. Battlefield field trips!

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Even at a young age there was still something SO interesting about this empty field that contained so much history.

17. Legitimately believing I had stepped back in time at Old Salem.

Can’t forget making the wax candles either.

18. Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts for Every. Single. Special. Occasion

School, swim team, friends, birthdays. Every.Single.Thing.

19. My first trip to Short Sugar’s BBQ

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As a child I just wanted a milkshake, and to this day, Short Sugar’s is still a beloved family favorite.

20. PUMPKIN PATCHES, fall, glorious colors on the leaves, the crisp air, the smell of cider, bonfires, just FALL!

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We are SO lucky to get all four seasons in all their glory. As an adult now, I realize how much I cherished the changing seasons as a child.

21. Going to the Nutcracker Ballet at the Steven’s Center

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As a dancer myself, dancing in the Nutcracker at my dance studio was formative. But nothing compared to how graceful and beautiful those dancers looked on stage.

22. My first trip to Carowinds…

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And getting saturated by the super saturator.

23. Driving to the mountains, going to a Christmas tree farm, chopping down the tree, strapping it to the roof, and driving home.

My parents always preferred to get ours down the street (we still do) but I remember going with a friend and it was such a memorable, cool experience!

24. Being in complete awe at the beauty of the Biltmore Estate

You mean, people lived here? Is this a castle?

25. Hiking in the mountains, crossing the swinging bridge at Grandfather’s Mountain, seeing my first waterfall (breathtaking), spotting a black bear …thinking the mountains were such a cool, enchanted place.

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Also…sleepaway camps, staying in that air conditioning absent cabin for a week and all the adventures that came with summer camp in the NC mountains.

26. Searching for the perfect seashell on the coast, and coming home with SO many, digging my toes in the sand to find a sand dollar, getting stung by a jellyfish (multiple times) oh and the first time I saw a dolphin…

Lets not forget…trying amazing seafood, never wanting to leave the beach as a child, literally counting down the days/hours/minutes until you left for vacation. Oh and this one “how much longer?” Your stomach rising in excitement at the FIRST sign of water or smell of salt when you neared the beach.

27. DISCOVERY ZONE and Sci Works.

A child’s haven, oh and the star exhibit at Sci Works…I can still see it now.

28. Dozing off to the sounds of a Carolina Panthers game on the TV.

Can you tell I love sports?

29. SO.MANY.ZOO.TRIPS.

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30. That first terrible pang of homesickness when I went out of state for college.

I may or may not have called my mom crying. NC will always be home, I just HAD to come back eventually, and no matter where my  journey in life takes me, I will ALWAYS find my way back home!

Cue mad sentimental feelings! What are some of your favorite memories from growing up in North Carolina? Tell us in the comments!

 

Emory Rakestraw
Emory was born and raised in North Carolina. She enjoys writing, photography, filmmaking, travel, wine and cheese. You can find more of her work on emoryrakestraw.com