Lizard Lick, North Carolina
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (January 2010)|
|Elevation||331 ft (101 m)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1021251|
During the mid-to-late 19th century, the US Government opened a liquor store near a tiny crossroads. It was built to combat the growing number of bootleggers in the area who were producing a lot of bad whiskey. Mayor Charles Woods’ Grandpa Carter was born in the area around 1890; the first money he ever made was picking up bottles and selling them to the still. There was a wooden rail fence built around the still where hundreds of lizards would run the fence to catch insects that were attracted by the mash used to make the whiskey. He reported that ol’ Ed Pulley was the official Whiskey Taster for the Government. When Ed sampled the day’s run and was feeling no pain, he would take his walking cane and run the lizard off the fence as he left for home. He called his cane the Lizard Licker. According to local story-tellers, a salesman came along and saw the lizards on the fence as he stopped to fill his jug. He told other people about the government still where the lizards have their tongues out as they lay on the fence in the hot sun. He gave directions by telling people, “Go till you see the lizards on the fence and you will be able to get your store bought whiskey, called Lizard Liquor". The operator of the still was caught making whiskey on the side and was sent up town to the jail house. The still closed down but the lizards stayed, according to the story.
Independent anecdotes seem to confirm parts of this story. According to NC historian William S. Powell, the town got its name from a "passing observer who saw many lizards sunning and licking themselves on a rail fence." Regardless of the town name, local community members who are native to the area are proud of their origins, and their economic future in the area. In May 1997, the state installed the first traffic light in Lizard Lick, marking a new period of "increasing property values" and growth.
In March 1998 the small town received publicity when Nintendo first released the Nintendo 64 game, "Yoshi's Story" there, with the name of the host town reflecting the Nintendo character Yoshi's ability to extend his tongue over a long distance. The pre-launch choice of Lizard Lick was the idea of Pasadena, Calif.,-based PR consultant Dereck Andrade. Andrade had been retained by the public relations firm Golin-Harris in L.A. to launch Yoshi's Story. Andrade chose two cities—French Lick, Indiana, and Lizard Lick, as possible launch sites for the game. Lizard Lick was finally chosen over French Lick because the character of Yoshi was a dinosaur, which was related to a lizard. The game's launch in Lizard Lick was the largest event ever covered by the news media for a Nintendo product, bringing national and international news media to the crossroads town including ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News, and NBC's The Today Show.
In September 2009 Lizard Lick once again received publicity, this time on a national level. The Time Warner owned TruTV cable television network became aware of a local towing and recovery company owned and operated by evangelist and Lizard Lick Mayor Pro-tem Ronnie Shirley and his wife Amy Shirley, called Lizard Lick Towing and Recovery.
According to the Eastern Wake News, the television series got its start at the end of August 2008, when the station sent a cameraman down for one day of shooting and that was all it took for a contract to be written. Those at the network were merely scouting out prospects at the time, but after realizing Amy Shirley was not only a power lifter, but a mortician and co-owner of the recovery business they realized there was more color to the picture than originally anticipated.
In addition, they soon discovered that Ronnie is a "walking reality show." Robyn Hutt, the truTV executive in charge of the show was quoted by the News & Observer (the largest regional daily newspaper of the Research Triangle Area covering several counties in North Carolina) "We really fell in love with Lizard Lick." The Shirleys are "dynamic and entertaining characters."
The television series (Lizard Lick Towing) following Ronnie and his company operations was called All Worked Up, and had a discussion forum, Ronnie's published poetry, interviews with the stars of the show, and further information including the scheduled show times. The Shirleys now have their own show called Lizard Lick Towing. It is a half hour program that is shown on the TruTV network. The show premiered on February 7, 2011. It is dedicated entirely to Lizard Lick Towing and Recovery due to its fast growing popularity from the segments of the show All Worked Up.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lizard Lick, North Carolina
- "How Lizard Lick Got its Name". Retrieved May 18, 2009.
- "Wrath of Lizard Lick" in WRAL.com, February 19, 2008. Retrieved May 4, 2008.
- Barnett, Cynthia. "Town basks in publicity." The News & Observer Raleigh, NC. 8 March 1998.
- "Company Website". Retrieved May 18, 2010.
- "Local repo man hits the small screen", police Published: Oct 14, 2009. Retrieved Oct 21, 2009.
- "Rolling with the repo man," Published Mon, Oct 19, 2009. Retrieved Oct 21, 2009.
- "TruTV Web Portal for 'All Worked Up'." Retrieved Oct 21, 2009.