Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Wrath of Lizard Lick

Posted February 19, 2008

Many years ago when I was an innocent radio reporter working with Famous Bob Inskeep on Mix 101.5 a discussion emerged about funny North Carolina town names. We talked about the origin of places such as Loafers Glory in the mountains and Why Not in Piedmont. Loafers Glory got its name from the lazy old men hanging out at a general store in Mitchell County. Why Not drew its name from a codger who kept asking “why not?” when residents were debating a new name for the community in the heart of North Carolina pottery country.

Bob Inskeep took a call from someone asking how Lizard Lick got its name. I explained that this crossroads community near Wendell was named by a “passing observer who saw many lizards sunning and licking themselves on a rail fence.” Please credit NC historian William S. Powell for that information.

I made the mistake of suggesting that Lizard Lick could become the name of a hit country music tune. We would call it “I’m a Hick from Lizard Lick.” What I thought was a humorous comment turned into a cascade of criticism. Just about everyone calling Lizard Lick home telephoned the radio station to say they were deeply offended by my off the cuff remark. I made a public apology and was forgiven. I pointed out that my maternal grandfather Wesley Bergeron grew up on a farm near Lizard Lick and I probably got my sense of humor from him.

Lizard Lick is seeing growth these days. There’s now a stoplight there and property values have been increasing. The unofficial population is 1,300. Lizard Lick is the home of Country Music Hall of Fame member Connie B. Gay.

What else do you know about Lizard Lick?


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Feb 20, 2008

    My mother grew up a mile down the road from Lizard Lick. She told me how her family eneded up in Lizard Lick versus buying a farm in Raleigh. That farm in Raleigh was located on the land that Tower Shopping Center now occupies. LOL. Her daddy didn't want the land in Raleigh because the house was 2 stories tall. He didn't want the girls jumping out of the windows. Man, they would have been rich if they'd bought that land. I remember as a child going to Privette's Garage to see the old men sitting around the woodstove, playing checkers. I'd get a Pepsi and a bag of salted peanuts. My mom's cousin was the late Willard Gay. He once owned the infamous Tijuana Motel duing Lizard Lick's seedy era.

  • 2thebeach Feb 19, 2008

    houndie - you must not be from around here. Down here, we're a little more mindful of our manners.

  • houndie Feb 19, 2008

    Lizard Lick is one of those crossroads that if you blink once you missed it. Not worth the trip to see it.

  • Silver loves Rebel Red puppies Feb 19, 2008

    I read that there was a distillery there at the crossroads many years ago, and lizards were attracted to the mash that was discarded, so they hung around in great numbers waiting for it.

    Another story I read was that an old gentleman who lived nearby walked every day. He walked with a cane. There were lizards hanging out, evidently where Lizard Lick is now, and so the man called the cane his "lizard licker", and that's how the crossroads got its name.

  • bleslie Feb 19, 2008

    thanks 2thebeach- those were some great days before I had to worry about things such as makeup and anchor hairspray!

  • Lissa Feb 19, 2008

    Lizard Lick was mentioned in the December issue of Readers' Digest, in a small article on humorous town names.

  • lookin4clowd9 Feb 19, 2008

    I know that stoplight always seems to be red when I need it to be green! LOL!

  • 2thebeach Feb 19, 2008

    I don't remember that particular story, Bill, but I do remember you and Greg Fishel and FBI together and how much y'all enjoyed each other. I was sorry to see him leave. That was good morning radio.

  • ajstarrrn Feb 19, 2008

    I found a WRAL story from 1998 about Nintendo using Lizard Lick as a location to unveil a game called "Yoshi's Story"!!

  • PikeMom4real Feb 19, 2008

    When I lived "out that way" Lizard Lick had the best peanut brittle you could find.You might want to check at the Town Hall and see if they still make it.

Meet the Author
Bill Leslie