LETTER: Recognition should not have to wait

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 04:59 AM

To the Editor:

Back some years ago, just after early racing legend and Olivia native Herb Thomas died, I sent a letter to the Department of Cultural Resources in Raleigh suggesting that a state historic marker be installed on Highway 87 at Olivia to commemorate his life and exploits. I even provided my version of how I thought it should read, something to the effect of, “Herb Thomas-1923-2000. Born and lived near here at Olivia, N.C. Successful early NASCAR driver — first to win two season titles in 1951 and 1953; also finished second in 1952, 1954, and 1956. Lifetime record of 48 wins. Many wins came in his famous “Flying Hudson Hornet.” Since those earlier thoughts for the sign, it could be expanded to read “Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994” and “Inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2013.” Pretty noteworthy stuff to be sure.

Not long after sending the letter, I got a reply back from Raleigh stating that an individual had to be deceased for 25 years before a historic marker could be erected in their honor. I don’t know what committee came up with that rule, but Olivia, and indeed North Carolina, should not have to wait another 12 years to see recognition for one of its most famous citizens.

Edwin Patterson