What Franklin means to him

Published 10:11 am Friday, December 9, 2011

by James Williams

The holidays are here again and everything is getting busy, but this I’m told is a time of reflection and giving thanks.

With that in mind I would like to share my feelings of thanks and explain what Franklin means to me and my family.

It all started in 2004,when I wanted to get my family out of Chesapeake. There is nothing wrong with Chesapeake. It is a beautiful city and my hometown since I was born.

Only problem, I was drowning in life, not knowing which end was up. I needed a change in a bad way.

A chance came about for us to move to Franklin, a place where I had visited my sister, Sue Jernigan, as far back as I can remember.

It was so hard to leave Chesapeake, my friends, most of my family and just about all of my memories, but I was looking for a fresh start for me and my family.

The first night we had moved in was a sign that we had done the right thing.

I had to run to Walmart at 1 a.m. to pick up a couple of things that we needed to settle in. I was in line and the guy behind me asked me what I thought of the beautiful weather we were having. I thought he was either talking to someone else, or he was in happy spirits, if you know what I mean.

I soon realized he was talking to me, a stranger. I soon came to realize there are no strangers in Franklin, just friends we haven’t met yet. I was in heaven.

I had found my Mayberry. I told all my friends and co-workers and anyone else who would listen about how great Franklin is, and most did not know what and where Franklin was — somewhere on the other side of Mars, they seemed to think.

I didn’t care; this was fantastic. I noticed people down here waving to us all the time. They did this in Chesapeake as well, but in Franklin they use more than one finger.

I noticed Franklin had everything they had in Hampton Roads, but just one of it. For instance, no 500 Burger Kings or 1,000 Pizza Huts.

One day I was at work in Virginia Beach, where I still work (a long ride, I know, but I focus on what I come home to) and my wife, Wendy, called me and she was very upset. She and my little 4-year-old at the time, Amber, were stranded with a flat tire.

All I could do was think the worst. Here they are in a town they don’t know, they are stuck and I’m in a tizzy because I’m all the way in Virginia Beach.

I called a customer of ours in Franklin, RJ’s Body Shop, and Ronnie, the owner, told me he would take care of it. Not only did he send two of his body men out, they also fixed it and would not take a penny. That would never happen in Hampton Roads.

The ride to Franklin from work is long, but when I get to beautiful Holland, I feel like I can breathe again. Friends come to see us all the time from Hampton Roads just to drink in the homeliness of Fred’s, a quick trip to Dairy Queen, a Thursday night summer concert by the river (especially Hot Cakes), a 7-Eleven Slurpee (they taste better here), or even to shop at a Walmart where they won’t be trampled upon (Black Friday excluded).

My daughter, Amber, is 10 now and attends Carrsville Elementary, where I feel she gets a great education, more individual attention and has learned about great family and community atmosphere. I don’t think I could have picked a better place, if I looked forever. Wendy is a substitute aide and teacher there and I have never seen her happier.

We are fully blessed to be here. This is our hometown and we feel it every day.

Thank you, Franklin, Carrsville, Holland, Windsor, Courtland and all the other places here in God’s country. You have truly saved me.