Many years have passed and time has changed in the Piney Grove community. There I leased a small building with a hand-pump gas tank in front, from W.P. Wellman of Clinton back in October of 1935. It was located on State Road 1725 (now Giddensville Road), about 7 miles west of Faison and a mile north of Piney Grove High School.
Wife Gladys and I moved from Goshen to that location, stocked the store with items a rural community would need in people’s daily routine, filled the tank with Gulf gasoline and a smaller tank with kerosene and opened up for business.
At the time there was no electricity or telephones in the area. The roads were unpaved and it seemed as though it rained or snowed all winter. There was very little auto traffic by the store, but the local people came on foot or horseback even when cars couldn’t get through the mud.
Despite the primitive conditions, the store soon became a gathering place for the people of the community. The older men, such as David and John King; Edwin, John Martin, and Jethro Oates; Frank Lee; Oscar King; Thomas King; Gutherie Sutton; and others, entertained everyone with news and views of the day, as well as anecdotes of the community from bygone days. The young men of the area gathered around the little pot-bellied stove in the evenings with much chatter, always teasing and goofing around with each another. Thus, time passed swiftly and enjoyably.
Spring finally arrived, and with it the big blue huckleberries in the ponds that surrounded the store. Also, the mosquitoes seemed to come in large swarms that spring, undeterred by the screen-door that was constantly being opened, back and forth, and traffic entered the store. Folks would slap at the pests but kept on laughing and talking.
One night Allen Jordan, Leslie King, Luther Sutton, Hicks King, Jesse Gautier, Bonnie King, and others were talking when Jesse said, “The mosquitoes in this store are twice the size of any others around, and I think we should name this place Skeeter point”. To my surprise and dismay, everyone agreed. The boys had named the place, and I had to make sure that it became well- known. I purchased a board 12 inches wide and as long as the store across the top. I painted the board white and the words “Skeeter Point” in bright red letters. With the help of the men, we secured it to the roof and Skeeter Point was established.
Electricity came to the community in 1936 and really brightened up the neighborhood. Electric lights replaced the oil lamps, and electric stoves, refrigerators, and washing machines were soon installed in most homes.
Skeeter Point enjoyed, along with its electric appliances, a new radio with loudspeakers set up outside for the courting folks to enjoy. It also had a broadcasting system that could be picked up by car radios more than a mile away. To the delight of the young people, even special requests were often played.
Teachers from Piney Grove High School were in the store almost every day. Sometimes they stopped by for things they needed but they often came visiting, as it was a close walk from Mrs. Frank Lee’s where some of them boarded. Mr. Frank would come in every morning for his Coca Cola. An English gentleman who was visiting Mr. Pat Harman, the school principal, came to walk through the “bush”, as he called the nearby woods. Harmony was enjoyed by all, and life was never dull around the place.
Today, Piney Grove High School has long closed its doors and now local students are bussed to other places. The old store burned down several years ago. The road from Faison, now Hwy 50, was moved about a quarter mile north of the old site. Many of the people who frequented the store have passed on. New houses have replaced many of the old ones, and wide-open spaces and fertile farmlands abound where the huckleberry and mosquito ponds once stood.
Now, a “Skeeter Point” marker, with black letters instead of bright red ones, stands at the crossroads near Harvey Murphy’s produce house, at the intersection of NC 50 and Giddensville Road.
Time has certainly moved on.
* From the Sampson Heritage Book, 1984