by David Cecelski
This morning I drove to Bailey, in Nash County, to find a pecan tree. A gentleman in Bailey, Bill Bunn, has the finest pecan nursery I know of. I wanted a particular kind of pecan tree, an old variety called Stuart, and Bunn’s nursery, Lakeside Pecans, is the only place I know in North Carolina where you can still find Stuarts. While I was in Bailey, I also took a few photographs of the little town’s eateries, markets, and local dishes.
This is a Roddy Hancock’s teapot collection at the Bailey Café, in the old W.H. Farmer and Brother Store downtown. The teapots adorn an entire wall and several display cases in this charming restaurant, which always seems to have a kids’ cookie sale, a garden club lunch, or a school reunion going on—and lots of good food, everything from fried chicken livers to shrimp and grits.
This is one of Roddy Hancock’s handmade sweet potato jacks—a simple flour dough rolled out, filled with mashed sweet potatoes (usually with a bit of cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla), folded over, pinched closed, and deep fried. I found a basket of them by the counter at the Bailey Cafe.
This is Nana’s Breakfast Café. I’ve liked this place for years. It’s in an old mobile home on Deans Street. Nana and her crew serve good food, dote on their customers, and run a tight ship. They have biscuits, grits, and gravy ready every morning by 4 AM and close for the day at 11 AM.
I was in Bailey on the day of the Church of God’s chicken stew supper. When I saw this sign, I wished I had waited and come in the afternoon, instead of first thing in the morning.
And here’s my new pecan tree posing with our dog, Ryder. I’m hoping the little fella will be around for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
If you’re traveling on US 264 between Raleigh and Greenville, you can take the US 581 exit and get to downtown Bailey in 2 minutes. While you’re in Bailey, be sure to go by the Country Doctor Museum, too. It was founded by a group of ladies descended from country doctors and was inspired especially by a Bailey native, Dr. Josephine Newell, who was a seventh generation country doctor. It’s one of my favorite museums anywhere.