When an airplane passed over to shoot this 1940 aerial, the landscape of much of the East Wilson into which I was born was undeveloped. My early years were spent mostly east of Carroll Street and once I started school I had essentially free range of the blocks between Carroll, Highway 301, Academy Street to the north, and Atlantic Street to the south. The housing in those blocks, except along the western and southwestern edges and a solid line of shotguns in the 1300 block of Carolina, sprang up post-World War II, when severe housing shortages and pent-up demand pushed East Wilson beyond city limits toward the planned path of a ring road (Ward Boulevard) and a widened and re-routed U.S. 301.
I came home from Mercy Hospital to 706 Ward Boulevard. Before I turned one, we had moved to a little brick rental house at 1401 Carolina Street. There, I gained my grounding in Black Wide-Awake and, on June 26, 1969, celebrated my 5th birthday in the backyard.
My friends then are my friends now. I hugged the neck of the lady at upper right just last month. And my own sweet mother, at upper left, blesses me daily. This birthday hits a little different, but I’m grateful for the journey — and proud that it started here.
Photo from the collection of Beverly A. Henderson.