Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who wants to know the secret?

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Who wants to know the secret I mentioned in last Wednesday's blog entry, Spring is almost over, yet summer is already here... and I've got a secret !!!  Hopefully, whomever reads the question will answer "I do!  I do!" 

The long and short of it is that UNC-TV (Public Broadcast TV) will be in Hamlet very very soon filming a piece for their acclaimed show, North Carolina Weekend.  A little slice of small town America, Hamlet style!  The end product will be a wonderful vehicle to bridge the gap between Hamlet's rich, historical, and all important railroad past with its now and the future its working towards for generations to come.  On film, North Carolina Weekend will be anointing Hamlet as a a town that makes a great visitors' destination!  Isn't that awesome?

And now, North Carolina Weekend will be producing a show featuring Hamlet's railroad history coming directly to your tube for your very own viewing pleasure sometime over the coming months. 

"This exciting program takes viewers on a journey beyond black and white pictures and boring text descriptions and into the colorful sites and sounds of the story - giving them a firsthand look at what North Carolina has to offer."

Isn't that grand? 

Hamlet locals and residents of Richmond County, and those of who may not live nearby, but have heart string ties to Hamlet, isn't that something to be proud of?

I hope your replies to my questions above were a resounding, "I should say so, Jeanne!"

As one who enjoys enthusiasm and anticipation of good things to come for Hamlet, my hopes are that this good news will spread like wildfire around town and Richmond County.  And that it will also echo with momentum outside the county borders over and over again.  

Are you now wondering to yourself how the heck did this happen to happen? 

Well, a cutting edge advertising/marketing services firm by the name of Walker-Marketing, Inc. was contracted by the Richmond County Tourism & Development Authority to promote Richmond County, NC as a tourist venue and/or destination for visitors.  How lucky for us that the Walker-Marketing, Inc. team member managing the contract and project is a fellow by the name of Jeffrey Cheatham

Jeff is a real go gitter and dove head on into this project earlier this year full of enthusiasm.  He has been doing a bang up job representing and promoting Richmond County to various media outlets.  Outlets that can truly make a difference in getting Richmond County on the map to bring those outside of the borders inside.  As well as for those who travel through, or around on their way to the beach, or to pick up I-95 to stop awhile to investigate firsthand what it has to offer. 

A key piece to the package, of course, is none other than the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum, once known as the Seaboard Airline Passenger Depot aka Seaboard Airline Railroad Station aka Seaboard Station, etc. etc. during the days of yesterday.  Trust me, the name is practically a religious debate for Hamlet locals.  But, the affection locals have for it is what matters most. 

Jeff's efforts on behalf of Hamlet have been especially appealing to me, since I'm all about promoting Hamlet and along with it, of course, as member of the Board of Directors, a volunteer, the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum is on the top of my list.  Even more so, as a granddaughter and niece of "Seaboard" men.  Just as I'm always hoping to get others on board, or better said, all aboard the Hamlet promotion train.

One example of Jeff's promotional efforts on Hamlet's behalf...

He wrote an article which recently appeared in The Quarterly Newsletter of The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society featuring the Tornado.  He covered its history and included the 1892 replica on display in the Tornado Building which is part of the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum complex, owned by the City of Hamlet.  For those of you who may not be familiar with the newsletter, it's an esteemed historical railroad focused publication. 

More cool articles will be hitting the printing presses of national magazines focusing on Hamlet's current and historical railroad significance in the near future.  So, once again I say stay tuned.

But, this is all about his latest efforts on Hamlet's behalf, the secret which I've already shared.

Are you wondering why I included the 1915 circa photo of the Seaboard Airline Station above, back in its heydays?

Well, when Jeff came across that very photo of Hamlet's one of kind Victorian jewel in her years of glory.  Needless to say, her unmatched beauty captivated him as it has countless others.  She literally has the power to stop an onlooker in the their tracks and she did it again with Jeff.  As she appears today, does she not have that same power?

Through Jeff's and Walker-Marketing, Inc.'s efforts, she'll be spot lighted in the North Carolina Weekend program featuring Hamlet's rich railroad history.  Along with her, her new role as the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum will be featured and partnered on screen with the National Railroad Museum & Hall of Fame.  As will several special interviewees.  For the HHD&M, as mentioned in my previous blog entry, both Riley Lee Watson and Sam Ballard, Jr.   For the NRM&HoF, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Williams.  For the City of Hamlet, Mayor, Jeff Smart.

As for my role in all of this.  I had the distinct pleasure of giving both Jeff Cheatham and Emily Tucker, President of the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce a tour of the HHD&M back on March 21st.  It was chance thing, on very very short notice.  I tend to believe it was a God thing.  At the time my heart leaped because I knew what Jeff's position was, and his reasons for visiting Richmond County.  In fact, I'd researched him.  I'd already prayed that my path would cross his so I could promote the HHD&M to him and share with him a bit about Hamlet's rich railroad history.  Since I know there's nothing better than a living breathing example of Hamlet's railroad roots, nor is there any "living" artifact more captivating than that of Mr. Riley Lee Watson, I asked him to join us for the impromptu tour.  Riley is not only a HHD&M volunteer, he is the embodiment of 250 years of a family devoted to the railroad.  He's one of a number of the living railroad treasures "of" Hamlet.

Jeff spent all of his time with us wide-eyed and captivated while listening intently and viewing every single thing we asked him to!  He and Emily both enjoyed their tour.  Riley and I did, too.  Together we worked our magic in hopes of charming Jeff and Emily into promoting the HHD&M and its significance to preserving Hamlet's history, while being an attractive tourism asset to both Hamlet's and Richmond County's economic future.   

The rest is history and a partial answer to many prayers on my end. 

On the ground my role has been to help coordinate a good part of the shoot in Hamlet and to educate Jeff on the lay of the land persé.  Or, perhaps better said, I've acted as a wrangler, In Jeff's words.  Whatever it is, I'm thrilled and overjoyed to be a little part of it.  As far working with Jeff, in all of of our communications back and forth it's been evident that he takes his work extremely seriously, and that he's been utterly taken by the Little Town That Can, called Hamlet and her story.  

The yesteryears I remember as a small child and teen fondly during the 50s and 60s are very much alive still within me and are very much a driving force behind this blog and everything I do with thoughts of Hamlet's future.  It was always my favorite destination!  So, I'm going close with a copy and paste of my dedication at the bottom of All Aboard Hamlet, just to remind my readers (who don't say much on this blog, but do in person and in notes behind the scenes, but admittedly I hope will one day!) why I created All Aboard Hamlet in the first place.

Dedicated to my mother's dream of Hamlet returning to its glory days. A dream she's held onto in honor of her parents; her siblings and her memories of it as a little four year girl dining with her daddy at the Seaboard Hotel in 1925. A dream and memory she's quite obviously passed on to me. This blog is also dedicated to we "Monroe" grandkids & greats and great greats. Also, to the visionaries who always have Hamlet's best interest at heart and aren't afraid to dream. Nor, put feet to those dreams to make them happen. In doing so, you inspire others, just as you have me.

Special thank you to Walker-Marketing, Inc. and Jeff Cheatham for helping to make my mom's dream come true and for allowing me to be a little part of it.


Sharon Davis said...

This is a wonderful event for the citizens of Hamlet. Thanks to everyone who has a hand in this project. Our railroad history richly deserves the spotlight.

Chip "Rocket Man" Allen said...

Very cool and I love the photos! We get UNC PBS up here but I don't know about NC Weekend. I'll have to watch the listings.

Meanwhile, guess where I'll be 11 days from now.