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THROUGH the cabin window he watched the car coming up the lane. Then he went outside. "'Light, and come in, John," he said, as the car slowed to a stop on the leaf-dappled parking circle. "Welcome to north Mecklenburg's woods."
"You've got a wonderful place here," his visitor said, climbing out to shake hands. "That drive up here through the woods, and now this house-" John paused, looking around, intrigued. "This is just the sort of writer's retreat you read about in novels, eh? But say, where's the water? I thought you were going to build on the lake."
He laughed. "The lake just hasn't got here yet." He pointed. "See those stakes? That's where the shoreline will be at high water when the lake fills up. Seven hundred sixty-foot level, top of the Cowan's Ford dam. When the lake fills, I'll be sitting right on the shore."
Inside, they stood on the wide rock hearth with their backs to the fire and talked. John twisted around to face the blazing logs. "Nothing more cheerful than an open fire," he observed. "Say, what is this?" He pointed toward an odd-looking iron piece standing in the fireplace jamb.
"It's a potrack, John. Colonial fireplaces used to be high enough for a person to stand up inside them, with a long bar from one side to another on which they would hang the potrack. See, this is two flat pieces of iron attached together so that this one slides past this other. They put this hook end over the bar and hung the pot on the hooked end of this other piece. Then they could slide the bar up and down according to how hot the fire was. This particular potrack was made by John McKnitt Alexander. See the date: 1785? And these initials, I. P. and C. P., are thought to have been the initials of a newly married couple to whom he gave this potrack as a wedding gift."
"You like antiques, don't you?"
"Well, yes, if there's some significant history relating to them. That old candlemold there, for instance" - he nodded his head to indicate - "came from the McIntyre log cabin where the little group of Hopewell boys had the skirmish with Cornwallis' foragers-"
"Say," John interrupted, "you really should do that history of Mecklenburg. with all these books" - he waved a hand toward the filled shelves that reached the ceiling along one panel wall - "and you must have a lot of source books among them, you should be able to write it without leaving your hideaway, eh?"
Now it was his turn to point. "I'll tell you something, John," he said. "See that typewriter-paper box over there? I've done it - the story of Mecklenburg. It's inadequate, of course; it would take several volumes to tell the story fully. But I decided to write my story of our county as you suggested."
"And you've finished it?" John was beaming. "It's ready for the printers?"
"Except for a little trimming here and there. I'm taking it to town this week." He grinned. "Nowadays we don't have to go to New York to get a book published. But, as I was saying, this one leaves out much more than it might well include were there space available to do it. What I have tried to do is hit the high spots of Mecklenburg's amazing story. I know many readers will be disappointed that I have left out this person and that incident, but it has been necessary to make this book highly selective; I have tried to tell a readable story, giving emphasis to important highlights of Mecklenburg history rather than trying to cover the whole two-hundred-year range since colonial days."
"Good. I think that's the way to handle it. After all, as you've just said, it would require several big books to provide a history in any great detail." John paused, turned back to face the dancing flames. "Say," he said, looking over his shoulder to confront his host again, "now that you've had a fresh look at Mecklenburg over the long span of its history from colonial days to the present, what's your verdict about this - this genus Mecklenburgus, I believe you called him?"
He laughed. "Reviewing Mecklenburg's story from before the little log court house in the dirt roads' crossing the new county office building on Fourth Street has been a rewarding experience. Mecklenburg had a great story in her early days, she has a tremendous story right now, and the coming years should provide an even greater one. And, to answer your question, I think the reason is that her type of citizenship has changed very little, if any, through those two hundred years. The hard core of that hard-headed, independent, industrious, determined citizenship that was the Mecklenburger of 1775 has come right down through the generations." He clapped his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Yes, sir, John, the genus Mecklenburgus, despite importations from Boston to Beaumont, from Michigan to Miami, has persisted. Snatch almost any modern day Mecklenburger from his station wagon, exchange his gray flannels from knee breeches and cocked hat and set him astride a horse, you'd never know him from one of the Alexanders or Davidsons or Brevards" - he paused, grinning - "riding off through the woods to that May 19 convention!"
Blythe, LeGette and Brockmann, Charles Raven. Hornets' Nest: The Story of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Charlotte, NC: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, 1961.