03/07/18 — History at the market

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History at the market

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 7, 2018 5:50 AM

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Addie Evans, of the Rosewood community, travels to his mother's homestead near Princeton most weekday mornings, where he cooks up vegetables and dishes to sell at the Curb Market, soon moving from the Wayne Center to the Maxwell Center. He is keeping up the tradition started by his mother, the late Ethel Evans, back in the 1950s, using her original recipes and cooking them up in her kitchen.

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Gloria Flowers, left, and Jennifer Maxwell Thompson will sell their wares at the Curb Market at the Maxwell Center starting Friday. They have also launched a public Facebook page and will post their menu each week there and on Twitter.

The Curb Market, originated as a place for people to sell their prepared foods, moves to Maxwell Center on Friday afternoons.

Addie Evans is not only a participant but a historian of sorts on the effort.

He manages the Curb Market for the Cooperative Extension Service, says Kevin Johnson.

"He's also a vendor," he said. "People can come to just purchase items from the Curb Market but if they're interested in being a vendor, they can contact him."

The Curb Market boasts a rich history in Wayne County, Evans said, dating back to the 1930s. He loves regaling people with how the name came to be, and the meaning behind it.

"They first started in front of the Goldsboro Hotel, people would sell things out of the trunk of their car, at the curb," he explained. "The extension service started it because back in the day it was giving the farmers' wives a chance to sell produce and make their own money."

A farmer for most of his life, Evans said he began accompanying his mother, Ethel Evans, to the Curb Market starting around 1954, and can still recall the "little change box" in which she kept her earnings.

"I was 10 years old when my mother started and it was in the Community Building, in the gymnasium, in front of the courthouse," he said. "We did that for three or four years, then it moved over to the Wayne Center and the Cooperative Extension Service has always governed the Curb Market."

In its heyday, he said, there could be around 50 sellers, setting up tables for a variety of fresh vegetables and other dishes for sale.

"Forty years ago you could go in and you couldn't hardly walk, there were so many people that had food for sale," recalls Gloria Flowers, noting that the attendance had dropped off in recent years. "We're hoping that with the move to the Maxwell Center there will be renewed interest. It'll have more exposure."

Evans, now 73, retired from farming in 2009 and has been raising Butterball turkeys for 32 years.

But he never lost his passion for the Curb Market, and continues preparing food every week. It is, in some respects, an homage to her legacy.

"After (mother) died, I decided to keep it up, even when I was really the only seller that was going," he said. "I talked my sister-in-law into bringing cakes and pies, then she got her own table and her sister started coming and bringing applejacks and deserts."

His sister-in-law has since passed, but Evans continues the tradition.

"I have enjoyed every minute of it," he said. "I have got wonderful customers, customers that followed Mama years and years ago.

"We're really excited about coming to the Maxwell Center. I'm selling the same items that Mama sold all those years. As a matter of fact, I cook in her kitchen."

Most weekday mornings, Evans still travels to the homestead, where he cooks up things in his mother's Princeton/Rosewood home.

From the way he chops cabbage to the special drizzle he adds to the sweet potatoes -- ingredients include sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and pancake syrup -- "Everything I do I do it just like she did," he says.

The menu is extensive, but a few of the things he serves up are chicken pastry, corn, peas, butter beans, cabbage and collards, turnips and rutabagas, homemade soup and banana pudding.

The Curb Market will become a staple at the Maxwell Center, in the same time slot it has always held throughout the years, 3-6 p.m. each Friday. The only time they are usually closed during the year is Christmas week, Evans said.

Flowers, along with Jennifer Maxwell Thompson -- a distant relative to the building's namesake -- are also looking forward to being vendors when the new center opens.

Thompson's father, Jay Maxwell, was a brother to Louie and Gordon Maxwell's grandmother, she said.

"I grew up on a produce farm where my father, Jay Maxwell, grew just about every vegetable known to man," Thompson said. "This sparked a love for good food and cooking. I love experimenting with ingredients and trying new dishes.

"I will admit I'm not much of a baker like Gloria. Baking is an exact science and I tend to build my dishes by testing instead of measuring."

Flowers and Thompson started bouncing around the idea of starting a food truck a few years ago, Flowers said. But it was all light-hearted, Flowers said.

"We both love to cook," she said. "However, we quickly found out that was going to be more involved and complicated than what we wanted at this time in our retired years."

The Curb Market seemed like the "perfect fit," said Flowers, the baker of the duo. She has won blue ribbons for her whole wheat flaxseed white chocolate cookies, she said.

"About 20 years ago I invested in a small electric grain mill and I grind my flour fresh when baking.

"In cooking for a large family I learned quickly to just add a little of this and a little of that and when extra children came in, I just threw in an extra cup of water with the soup."

The women are in the formative stages of what their menu of choices will be for the Curb Market, and it will likely vary from week to week. They have set up a Facebook page, Kitchen to Curb, as well as Twitter addresses, #curbmarket and #kitchentocurb, where updated menus for each week will be posted.

"We know we would like to provide healthy choices when possible as well as some gluten-free items as we can," Flowers said. "At this point nothing is set in stone."

Ultimately, the goal is to revive the concept of the Curb Market and make it more popular than ever, the women said.

"I've found that there are a lot of people that haven't heard of the Curb Market or thought it had faded away," Flowers said. "Our hope is to be able to do our part to bring new interest into something that has been a part of Wayne County for decades and would like to see it grow to be as large as it was the first time I went years ago."

Vendors interested in participating in the Curb Market can contact Evans at 919-738-1363.