Phillip Graham has seen Yadkinville grow over the past 60 years. He’s gone from shining shoes on the courthouse steps to sitting on the board at town hall.
“I grew up in the house that is now a part of Ace’s Restaurant,” Graham said. “My grandmother Ina Inscore fed boarders there, and my grandfather, Arthur Inscore, was the sheriff.”
Graham said his parents, Martha and Ray Graham, worked for the federal government in Washington, D.C. and in San Antonio, Texas.
Graham grew up with a brother and sister working in their grandparent’s grocery store, Inscore and Graham Grocery Store, which would eventually become Ace’s Restaurant.
“It was the first grocery store in town to offer carts,” Graham said. “It also had a meat market with fresh fish from the coast and a BBQ pit where we cooked hams and shoulders each week.”
Jim and his brother spent most of their time working in the icehouse. The store would receive a delivery of 350-pound blocks of ice. Graham and his brother would get an order from a customer of how many pounds they wanted, and they would chip it off the block.
“We learned how to chip almost to the exact weight the customer asked for when it was weighed and sold,” Graham said.
Graham said that when he and his brother weren’t chipping ice they would head out to the courthouse. They would set up shop at the steps of the courthouse and convince lawyers, judges and office staff to let them do a quick job.
“We would go to the courthouse square and shine shoes for 20 cents per pair,” Graham said.
Graham and his siblings also made money from side jobs delivering The Winston-Salem Journal by bicycle and cutting and delivering cedar Christmas trees around town.
“We would go out in the woods or in pastures and saw down a tree for an order, but thinking back now we never asked permission for the trees we were chopping down,” Graham said with a laugh.
Graham said his childhood was everything he could have wanted for that time period.
“Yadkinville in the 40s and 50s was like a Norman Rockwell painting,” Graham said. “It was a good time to grow up in a good place.”
Graham attended Yadkinville Elementary, where he was honored as a seventh grade chief marshal for the eight grade graduation. He was also the eighth grade county spelling bee champion.
He graduated from Yadkinville High School, where he played on the football and baseball teams. In his junior year he served as grand marshal for the high school graduation and then served as president of his senior class and valedictorian for the class of 1956.
While he was in high school, he and his brother worked for his father’s irrigation company Gra-Mac Distributing Company.
“We would set up irrigation pipes in tobacco fields and then go out in the muddy field the next morning and get the pipe up to take it to the next farmer’s field,” Graham said.
After graduation Graham went on to North Carolina State University and studied textile management. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree.
While he was still in college he attended a football game between NC State and UNC. It was here that he would start his relationship with his wife, Carolyn.
The two had met before while her family vacationed at a mobile home park in Yadkinville, but a romance never bloomed. At the ball game, however, the two started a conversation and wound up falling in love.
“She’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Graham said with a tear in his eye.
The two married on June 15, 1963.
After they married, Graham moved them to Danville, Va., where he took a job working in production control at Dan River Mills for five years. He decided it was time to return home when he had a job opportunity at the N.C. Department of Veterans Affairs in 1968.
“I worked in the adjudication division and retired as head of disability rating boards in 1995,” Graham said.
Graham has remained active in his hometown over the years. He served as president of the Yadkinville Jaycees, sat on the town planning board, has served more than 20 years as a town commissioner and is a charter member of Maplewood Baptist Church where he has served as deacon and treasurer and still sings in the choir.
Graham is still the co-owner of his father’s business.
Graham and his wife have two sons, David and Jason, and five grandsons, Parker, Casey, Dawson, Seth and Wyatt.
“Nowadays I really enjoy going to watch my grandson’s sporting events and watching NC State football and basketball,” Graham said.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.