Birthday Cake Marks Southern Pines Anniversary
A roomful of Town Council members, former mayors, and other Southern Pines civic leaders crowded into an upper room at the new police station for punch and a birthday cake Thursday afternoon.
Mayor David McNeill welcomed everybody to the 125th birthday of "the mid-South resort."
Norris Hodgkins reminisced about the same day 25 years back, when Southern Pines celebrated "the First 100 Years."
"The events here in Southern Pines started with a downtown parade ending in the town park where 100 birthday cakes were awaiting the crowd," Hodgkins said. "The Best of Show cake went to Bonnie McDonald, whose late husband had served on the Town Council in the 1960s. The big event of the day was a costume ball. The person who enjoyed the evening most was Mayor Emanuel 'Jug' Douglass, who was resplendent in a morning coat and fancy vest and topped with a black derby hat."
The door prize at the centennial ball was a portrait of town founder John Tyrant Patrick. Councilman Mike Smithson and his wife, Wendy, won it. Their son Chris Smithson serves on the town council today.
"To the best of my knowledge, the Smithsons are the only three-generation members of the council," Hodgkins said Thursday. "Mike's father, Lee Smithson, served with me on the council in the 1960s."
Hodgkins held up two special volumes commissioned for that occasion and embossed with the anniversary logo. One was "The First Hundred Years" by Betsy Lindau, and the other was Nancy Mason's "Oral History of West Southern Pines."
"Very significant is the portion where residents recall the days when West Southern Pines had its own government before being taken over by the town of Southern Pines in 1931," Hodgkins said. "Life was particularly tough in West Southern Pines during the Depression years of the 1930s. I was struck by the story of Press Waddell, who tells of walking six miles to Pinehurst, where he caddied all day, then walked the six miles home."
Hodgkins turned to Felton Capel, who was standing nearby.
"To me the most significant interview is with Felton Capel, who served on the Town Council in the 1950s and 1960s," Hodgkins said, looking at his old friend. "Felton told of the formation of the West Southern Pines Civic Club and the importance of political activity in getting improvements such as paved streets, water and sewer connections and recreational facilities for the West Southern Pines community."
Hodgkins and Capel cut the birthday cake together.
"Though none of us have been here for 125 years, we have been blessed to live in this beautiful town for part of that time - some, like me, for longer than most," Hodgkins said, to laughter. "And it is truly a wonderful place, thanks to each of you - who in your own special way are continuing the tradition of excellence set by those who have gone before you in the town of Southern Pines."
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