26 March 2009

i slept in comfort.

i spent every summer 'til i was about sixteen in my mom's childhood home of comfort, a little town about an hour from the coast of north carolina. several generations of my family grew up there, so there's a rich history all around. i would cry when my parents drove away and cry when we drove away at the end of the summer, my grandma waving from the porch. we tended the garden, made homemade pickles, watched golden girls, did oil of olay facials and went to bojangle's and kmart with her girlfriends. i read babysitter's club books and made bulletin boards and shelved books with my aunt peggy in the school library across the road.
there's a few hundred people in the town, not much to do and not much to see. my paternal grandpa used to visit comfort [coming only from the mid-sized durham mind you!] and sit on the porch, counting the cars that went by on one hand. it's a bit busier these days but still most sundays about the only thing to do is pick up pecans.
those summers really shaped who i am and i will always cherish them but now well into adulthood i get a bit ancy after just a few days at the old homeplace. this time around i decided to hit a few of the tourist attractions i couldn't remember ever seeing.
one afternoon just before sunset my brother and i took a short drive to the 'wiggins house', comfort's namesake.
legend has it that george washington slept in this very house. when he woke up in the morning they asked him how he slept and he said, 'i slept in comfort'. and the rest is history.
or.....the rest is legend! i haven't been able to find very much about GW's stay but i did find this about the now torn down 'shine house' where GW stayed on his 'Southern tour' of 1791. the shine house sat just a few miles from the wiggins house. Washington departed New Bern after two full days of dining and dancing on April 22, headed toward Wilmington. As he left the town, he was escorted by some of New Bern’s leading citizens for several miles. He stopped in Trenton for a meal and then “lodged at one Shrine’s,” an “indifferent” inn or tavern along his route. The “Shrine” mentioned in his diary was probably a tavern operated by John Shine in Jones County. Shine can be found in the 1790 census as the head of a household containing nine whites and eight slaves. Washington’s tour was punctuated by visits with members of various Masonic lodges along his path and, during his time in Jones County, he was visited by the men of Trenton’s King Solomon’s Lodge. Washington left Shine’s tavern and enjoyed a quiet ride toward Wilmington for the next day.
GW or no GW....the wiggins house is truly a magical place. there's a real aura around the house, the land and all the little buildings and barns around it. being there for the sunset made it that bit more special, but i don't think i would want to go there in the dark! we couldn't get inside (a few tugs on the doorknob got me nowhere) but lookin' through the screen door you can see the main house is frozen in time, its last occupant's hat sat atop the coat rack and a tea towel hanging on the kitchen sink.
i fell in love with this little building with its quilt-like colours and shapes. and of course the tease of summery weather gave me the perfect opportunity to sport my 'new' 1940s shorts. i was so happy too to be reunited with the frail victorian blouse from my closet. two design archives beauties together, you can't go wrong!
the land is still being used for farming but the wiggins house sits empty as the family try to decide if they will give it to a preservation society. after going there i had a few thoughts of moving to comfort and saving the house (!). i hope someone saves it!

4 comments:

Rhiannon said...

I think I have to go on a trip to NC, because these abandoned houses and vintage shops seem too good to be true . . . I love those shorts, too! And your 1940s hair!

jessica said...

rhiannon....! yes, it's interesting how living abroad hasn't really made me more patriotic, but has definitely made me prouder than ever to be a north carolinian! there's so many parts i haven't yet seen, but let me know if you're headed that way and i can give you some tips.

thanks for your sweet words! i too am in love with these shorts. let's hear it for spring.....soon.

ZombieLace said...

Oh gosh, those shorts are a dream. And I'll echo Rhiannon's sentiment about the gorgeous dilapidated houses of NC! I would love to take pictures there.

jessica said...

thank you ms lace....it's worth the trip, mountaintops and seaside all in one state!

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