If you live in Westover, or have visited in the past few weeks, you probably heard the rumor that Maggie Kincaid is returning home. Be warned. Rumors run rampart in Westover. But, in this case, there’s a high probability that the rumor is true.
After all, Maggie is a Kincaid. She’s the granddaughter of Joe Kincaid, businessman extraordinaire, Westover’s ex-mayor and the richest man in the county. When Joe passes from this world to the next--he swears that he’s healthier than most men in their thirties, but that’s debatable-- Maggie will inherit his vast holdings. If Maggie’s not here to manage the Kincaid estate, who will?
If you don’t know the Kincaid’s, and you have never been to Westover, let me fill you in.
Westover is located on Route 67, a fifty-eight mile stretch of state road that originates in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and snakes northwest toward the Virginia state line. When you pass the Welcome to Westover sign, 67 turns into Westover’s Main Street. Western North Carolina and Virginia vacationers who frequently travel 67, regularly treat themselves to a lunch break at Ernie’s, a charming retro drugstore/restaurant at 229 N. Main Street in Westover.
The restaurant is known throughout the state for its burgers and hot dogs. Travelers craving a stick to your ribs lunch can order an old-fashioned Blue-Plate Special. The Specials include southern favorites like chicken pie, meatloaf and macaroni ’n cheese. In season, you can indulge in a straight-from-the- garden vegetable plate
Some folks, who live in neighboring towns, come for the conversation. The radio behind the counter is always on, and bulletins of interest are discussed and dissected by diners and the staff. Ernie’s lunch crowd is known for their discussions and arguments about everything from sports to politics.
Mayor Cam Meyers and Chief Handy, the local police chief, stop by for coffee every morning. In the afternoon, it’s not unusual to find one of the two at the counter ordering a large cup of sweet tea. The mayor and the police chief are the first to know about any news worthy events in the area, and they manage to get the news out to the public before the community newspaper hits the newsstands.
Chances are Sam Eisenhower Penney, Ike for short, will be sitting at his usual place at the end of the counter. He’s become a lunchtime fixture since he retired eighteen years ago. He’s the spittin’ image of Andy Griffith, so you can’t miss him. His recitation of ”What it Was, Was Football" sounds so much like the 1954 recording of the spoof that you will think that you are listening to Andy himself. Ike is pushing eighty-five, but his mind is sharp as a tack. He can rattle off Bob Hope and Red Skeleton jokes all day without repeating a single one.
Westover has several storytellers who are lunch regulars, so it’s not unusual for travelers to extend their lunch hour. If Bill Haley is at the lunch counter, travelers are in for a treat.
After lunch, if you can spare an hour, drop by Kincaid Hardware. The hardware store was founded by Joe Kincaid almost fifty years ago. When Horace Winters bought the store from Joe twelve years ago, he decided not to change the name. The store is located two doors down from Ernie’s. Even if hardware isn’t your thing, you’ll be fascinated by the store’s display of antique tools.
The names Joe and Maggie Kincaid are frequently mentioned in tales about the town. Kincaid men have been town leaders for over a hundred years. The Kincaid’s serve because they love the community and its residents, not because they need the money. Joe owns almost half the property in the business section of town and one-third of the farmland in the county.
Maggie is the last of the Kincaid’s. After college, she took a job with Hendrick’s Electronics, a firm in California. According to Joe, she’s content out there, but that remains to be seen.
The home place of the Kincaid’s is a magnificent old, house that you can’t miss if you are headed northwest on 67. It’s on the corner of Olive and Maple. Five generations of Kincaid’s raised their families in that house. During those years, the family patriarchs collected and preserved photos, certificates of recognition, diplomas, deeds and other legal papers that concerned the family and the town.
If Joe Kincaid decides to turn the house into an inn or B & B, as his friends have encouraged him to do, his library will be a magnet for history lovers and guests who appreciate the gentility of the Victorian era.