“Don’t you think it’s time for another of your ‘Things I Like About Southern Pines’ columns?’” a polite but anonymous feminine voice inquired in a message left on my Pilot phone the other day.

Works for me.

Seems like it has been at least a year since I last expounded on this particular subject. More appropriately, perhaps, it has been almost exactly 20 years since wife Brenda, daughter Kate and I were fortunate enough to land here after three or four years in places like Russia and Washington. (It’s a long story, but never mind.) We’ve reflected more than once lately on that turning point in our lives and how much it has meant to us.

Anyway, here goes. And this time, I’ll try to take a more general approach instead of naming many individuals, companies, etc.

For openers, I’ve never been able to get over how cosmopolitan and (for want of a better word) sophisticated the population of Southern Pines is in comparison to the standard image so many people have of what a small Southern town is like.

I mean, consider the depth of intelligence and experience you become aware of in routine daily encounters with folks you are likely to run into on the streets of this town. So many people here have been to so many places and done so many unusual and interesting things. Anything but provincial.

Speaking of streets: Just look at the impressive number of busy stores and other businesses thriving on our Broad Street and its various intersecting avenues. Note how hard it can often be to find a parking place, day or night or weekend. Compare that to the relative desolation you too often run into while passing through the once-thriving hearts of various other (herein unnamed) burgs in this region. What a contrast!

I’m not going to get into naming restaurants, since I wouldn’t know where to start or stop. But just consider the fantastic variety of dining establishments we have here within our town limits, offering everything from soup to nuts and ranging in price from cheap to — well, not so cheap.

The Yellow Pages list nearly 60 eateries here, which means you could eat out once a day for nearly two months with no duplication. And that’s just the places in Southern Pines, not to mention all the ones in adjacent Aberdeen or Pinehurst or wherever.

I’m not trying to get any brownie points with City Hall, but I believe that the quality of the municipal government we enjoy here is second to none. And, though I’ve said it before in another context, I’ll say it again: I stand in awe of the excellent level of service, dedication and intelligence displayed by each of the four or five mayors we’ve had in my time here.

Or how about the presence right here in our midst of the Sunrise Theater, which was rescued from oblivion almost 20 year ago and now offers regular access to cutting-edge cinematic and stage presentations? How many residents of other small towns enjoy the privilege of routinely going downtown and watching live simulcasts of Metropolitan Opera or Bolshoi Ballet productions?

And right across the street from the Sunrise, of course, we have the beautifully restored and maintained Southern Pines Depot, offering free parking just feet away and ultra-convenient access to comfortable trains and connections heading for places like New York or Miami and all points between.

Last but not least: Since we’re talking quality, I will be so bold as to say that I hope Southern Pines residents realize what a remarkably good newspaper they have in the form of The Pilot.

Bear in mind that countless communities our size across this country are no longer blessed with any kind of hometown journal at all. And here we sit with one that has twice recently been honored as the best community newspaper in America? I’m just sayin’.

I barely got started, and already I’m running out of space. All things considered, let’s just say this has truly got to be one cool place to live in anybody’s book. Or newspaper.

I would welcome any additional thoughts along these lines that you might have, Dear Reader.


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