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Stuck in traffic as wrecks clog I-40 river bridge

Trying to go home Thursday after work, I had driven just 50 feet in 15 minutes in busy Clemmons. Once again, the Yadkin River bridge was blocked by another tractor-trailer wreck — the third in a month.

Leaving Mocksville at noon, I had whizzed by the wreck scene minutes after it had happened on the Davie County side of the westbound lanes. The rig had blown through the guardrail and nestled among the trees on the embankment overlooking the BB&T soccer park. Several motorists had stopped and were rushing to check on the driver.

The roadway was clear, but there would be plenty of trouble getting the rig out, requiring the road to be blocked for hours.

Evening rush hour traffic backed up to Hanes Mall.

U.S. 158 was slower than a crawl as all the interstate traffic attempted to skirt the wreck.

Meanwhile, drivers were getting antsy around me as they barely inched forward. I finally opted for the northern escape along the scenic route.

I headed to Lewisville and took U.S. 421 to Dinkins Bottom Road in Yadkin County. A line of other cars had the same idea — head north to go east and get away from Interstate 40.

I revisited Shallowford, the place that allowed me to get into journalism in 1975.

After college, I interviewed for a reporter job at the Salisbury Post. The interview had started well because I knew the difference between a baler and a threshing machine.

The editor, a noted historian with a number of books to his credit, then asked if I had ever been to Davie County’s historic Shallowford crossing where Lord Cornwallis forded with his 1,000 Redcoats during the Revolutionary War.

I told him that I had, but Shallowford was not in Davie. Rather, it was the old link between Yadkin and Forsyth.

He railed long and hard that history wasn’t being taught adequately in schools any more, and that I was an ill-informed naif and should go back home to the dairy farm. He had detected cow manure on my shoes.

That night, he called. He had been studying, and discovered that Shallowford is not in Davie at all, to his utter surprise. He offered me a job — as farm editor.

Shallowford gave me a start.

• • • • •

It took nearly an hour to get home, and I wondered how far I would have gotten still trapped on U.S. 158 in Clemmons.

More delays on the I-40 corridor are very likely as crews begin roadwork in Davie. Commuters on Monday were slowed by construction that will shift east and west traffic onto single lanes of traffic. Between mile posts 171 and 177, contractors will shift westbound traffic over to the eastbound side, making a two-way, one-lane pattern. That will allow crews to repair the concrete pavement and top it with asphalt.

This is no time to be in a hurry.

• • • • •

We went back to Yadkin County on Saturday night to see a community theater performance of “Steel Magnolias” at the new Willingham Theater. The theater seats less than 200, so all the seats were good. The show was well done and continues this weekend.

The 1989 movie was wonderful, of course, with Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Shirley McLaine, Daryl Hannah, Sally Field and Olympia Dukakis. We were drawn to the show by Elizabeth’s cousin, Nancy Cherry of Bermuda Run, who performed as Ouiser, the curmudgeon role filled by Shirley McLaine in the movie.

She did Shirley McLaine proud.

— Dwight Sparks