by Susan Taylor Block
This small grainy photograph from our family’s collection captures a lot of Pender County history. Like Castle Haynes, the Burgaw Depot was once the intersection of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and millions of dollars worth of farm products. From Burgaw and villages nearby, produce and flowers traveled the rails to New York and innumerable other municipalities where they were marketed to businesses and individuals who, doubtless, reveled in their freshness. Trains carried manufactured products and passengers to and from the depot, too, but nothing quite compared in beauty to the long fragrant trains full of springtime jonquils.
Another kind of business, not connected with the depot, is represented in the forerground, where Lillie Willis Paul and husband A. A. Paul sit in their Model T. After initial success with some enterprising real estate transactions in Florida, the Pauls experienced dramatic reverses. They returned to North Carolina with little to live on, and nothing to invest. Mr. Paul wanted to establish a small barbecue restaurant in Rocky Point, that would attract hungry folks traveling up and down Highway 421.
In 1928, my grandfather, Joseph Wright Taylor, loaned them $25 to get started. Granddaddy was struggling, too, but made the loan out of family love: Washington, NC natives Lillie Willis Paul and my grandmother, Bertha Willis Taylor, were sisters.
Over time, the business evolved in menu and fame to become a destination in itself. Today, many millions of hot dogs have been sold at “Paul’s Place,” and many tons of conversational “fat” has there been chewed.Paul’s Place thrives today, and still serves its signature meatless relish – the invention of A. A. Paul’s son, Beverly. Beverly came up with the secret recipe during World War II, when meat was scarce. Beverly’s son, Dave, manages Paul’s Place today. The main restaurant is located just yards from the site of the first location.