By JOHN MARSHALL CARTER
Consider the possibilities: It was 1967, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was already resounding on the air waves. Leaksville, Spray, and Draper were three small towns in Piedmont North Carolina, in the foothills of the Appalachians and near the Virginia state line. That's right. Leaksville, Spray, and Draper-- LSD!
Consolidation of the three towns had been discussed by Fieldcrest Mills executives, members of the Textile Workers Union of America. and individual citizens for a good many years. An attempt to consolidate Leaksville and Spray in March of 1959 failed and citizens displayed a wreath-shrouded tombstone at a local church with an inscription that read: “Consolidation is Dead.”Many factors influenced the second vote in September of 1967. However, it wasn’t necessarily the consolidation as much as the name change that affected many of the people of the three communities. “They (Leaksville residents) knew if it was consolidated, the name would change," said former mayor Jones Norman to a Reidsville Review reporter (Reidsville, Leaksville, Spray and Draper are in Rockingham County).
According to some, the area was ready for a change. Nevertheless. when the vote came on September 12, 1967, consolidation won in Leaksville by only three votes. Certainly one of the most interesting aspects of the vote on the consolidation merger was the number of write-in suggestions for the name of the newly-consolidated city. Among those submitted were Deadwood, Logtown, Bull, New City. Peyton Place, Readsville, Centerville, Chaos, and Paradise. Citizens finally decided on Eden. a name that William Byrd II of Virginia had called the area when he was surveying in the early eighteenth century.
Yet, with all the color of names like Peyton Place, Eden, Chaos, and Paradise, the name LSD suggested by an anonymous citizen, given the times, has to rank right up there with Madison Avenue’s best efforts.
Leaksville. Spray. Draper. Remember the Beatles' Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds on Sergeant Pepper? Surely the promoters of the Monterey Pop Festival would have considered LSD, North Carolina for its next event had the town gone with the appellation L.S.D. The Counter Culture would have had to investigate a little town in North Carolina with the sophistication and daring to call itself LSD. Scott Mackenzie might have sung:Unfortunately. or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it, Leaksville, Spray and Draper did not become LSD. They became Eden. But, some citizens considered the possibilities. When I left home for college in the late summer of 1967, the consolidation had not yet materialized.
"If you're going to LSD/ Be sure to wear flowers in your hair."
However, when I made my first visit back to what I thought was Leaksville, Spray and Draper (after September 12), I learned that my hometown was now called Eden. Over the next few years, my interest in poetry and songwriting seemed to be dominated by the writing of LSD (Leaksville. Spray, and Draper)-oriented material. In 1977 I published a book of poetry entitled
Wampus Cats and Dan River Rimes which lamented the passing of Leaksville, Spray. and Draper. Having played in several rock bands in the wake of Beatlemania with my colleague Ron Martin, I was inspired to write songs about the area.
Recently, along with our group, the Wampus Cats (the wampus cat is a legendary creature that allegedly swims in the Dan River which runs through LSD, er...Eden). I brought out a record entitled The Ballad of LSD (Leaksville, Spray and Draper), which tells of the story of the consolidation of the three towns. In the past two years. Martin and I have written several songs that conjure up the past of people, places, and events related to LSD (Leaksville, Spray, and Draper).Ron Martin's 'Olden Days” is a lyrical recreation of life in LSD before consolidation. His Avalon is the the story of the little mill town of Avalon (west of LSD) which burned in 1911 and sent many of its citizens to the mills in LSD. Ron and I have collaborated on The Wampus Cat Song, which tells the tale of the fabled Wampus Cat.
I have also been inspired by the people and folklore of LSD. My Life's A Beach Girl describes a well-.known beach vacation. Lady of the Dan (Dan River) takes a trip back to the lazy, hazy days of an LSD summer, much like the summer of 1967. Yes Virginia, There is a Tacky Branch highlights one of Spray's favorite geographical spots. I Love LSD is a
song that immortalizes Leaksville, Spray and Draper. It is a song that would been very much in vogue if the anonymous citizen’s suggestion, LSD, had become the city that might have been.
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