As part of an assignment for my a photo stories class, each student was assigned to pick a zip code and capture its essence in an essay. I wanted to explore somewhere new, so I picked 27243, otherwise known as Efland, N.C.
North-west of Chapel Hill, Efland would seem to be mostly farms, a couple schools and a smattering of houses. According to its residents, however, it is so much more. Every person featured in the story described the intensely close sense of community which pervades. It seems that folks don’t only know each other, but they genuinely care for and look out for their neighbors.
Folks of all sort gather in Efland, NC for the Tarheel Antique Festival at the Barn at Lloyd’s Dairy. Efland has a long history for a little town and, according to its many residents, one colored by their sense of community. Peter Efland holds a coke bottle from his 6-cent machine at Efland Farm and Garden. He continues to stock the bottles even though each cost him a dollar. Peter Efland finishes checking out a customer at his store Efland Farm and Garden. His ancestor Madison Lindsey Efland served as the town’s postmaster for many years before it was known by his name and eventually all the mail addressed his way simply led to the town being known as Efland. Efland-Cheeks Elementary sits at one end of the McAdoo family home, rather family homes. Fred McAdoo and most of his family went to school. When it integrated in the 60’s, Fred said white kids K through 3rd came to join them at the school. One Frank Efland told his kids to get along with and stand up for the black kids at their new school. Beyond that, Fred said, “When it came to black and white, he was really important to us.” Fred McAdoo stands on what was and still is his family’s home. Nearly every house on the block and many in the surrounding area house a relation. He said, “Kids may move away, but they always know that if they need to come back, they have a place to call home.” An old water wheel sits rusting in the woods on the site of the old mill. Industry has largely vanished from Efland, but some folk still use the land as it has been for centuries. Karen McAdams and her husband Howard McAdams Jr. run one of Efland’s largest and oldest farms at over 130 years old. They offer pick-your-own strawberries and sell a variety of crops as well as beef and products from their sheep. Karen McAdams calls to one of the farm’s dogs which guard their herd of Katahdin sheep. Robert Riley inspects his firefighting equipment. He is a volunteer firefighter at the Efland Volunteer Fire Department and has been for 31 years. Only one year afterwards, he began a career at Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation as a meter reader and now serves as Vice President of Operations. A native of Efland, he said he volunteered to be a firefighter so he could help the community and is at his happiest when he can walk away from a scene knowing he helped protect someone and their loved ones. A jukebox at the Tarheel Antique Festival is queued with music. Most folk in the town seem to have a deep awareness of their family roots in the area. A wall of one of the barns at the McAdams farm. Whether heritage lives on at like the farm or things have greatly changed, Efland remains a place where the sense of community unites many of its inhabitants.