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Yates Pryor - the Mayor of Ridge Drive - has a lot to celebrate

Yates and Sarah Pryor have been married 64 years. He celebrated his 90th birthday July 9th.

By Alan Hodge

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Celebratory and congratulatory vehicle parades have been a popular way of well-wishing these past few months and one took place on Ridge Dr. last week in to celebrate the 90th birthday of Yates Pryor. 

The 20-vehicle parade included Mt. Holly police cars, a Community Fire Dept. truck, and numerous other autos driven by friends and family. Huge balloons and festive greetings painted and penned on signs were also part of the curbside party. One sign even announced that Pryor was the “Mayor of Ridge Dr.”.

Pryor’s daughter Beth, who with sister Amanda Eldridge had planned the show, described another unique aspect of the already amazing event.

“A storm was predicted during the time we were decorating and lining up the cars for the parade,” Beth said. “It held off until we were all safe in the carport partaking of the refreshments. After the storm passed, we were blessed to see both ends of a beautiful rainbow.”

As you might imagine, Yates was totally surprised by the tribute.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “Nothing at all.”

Pryor is still enjoying a pretty interesting life. He was born on July 9, 1930 in North Belmont and graduated from Belmont High in 1950. After graduation, he was in the Air Force and served in the Korea and Japan.  

For many, many years he was involved in the movie theater business. He worked for Paramount Pictures. His job was to make sure movies got distributed to theaters. He did a lot of traveling and meeting with theater managers and owners. Paramount supplied him with a new car every couple of years. When the car hit 50,000 miles or three years, he was allowed to purchase on the cheap.

Some of the theaters Pryor dealt with included ones in Mt. Holly like the Gaston, Belmont’s Iris, the Lure in Lake Lure, the Mimosa in Morganton, the Rocky in Lowell, the Joy in Kings Mountain and many, many more.

“Sometimes I went to theaters as far away as Atlanta,” Pryor said. 

The movie business still holds a special place in Pryor’s heart, but something else is even more dear to him- his wife of 64 years, Sarah.

“My cousin introduced us,” he said. “She was working at McLure Lumber in Charlotte as a bookkeeper.”

According to Sarah, their first date was as Tony’s Ice Cream in Gastonia for a milkshake. 

That milkshake got things going sweetly. Another place the pair enjoyed going was Suttles Swimming Pool on Wilkinson Blvd. You might say the romance blossomed and even went swimmingly, because on March 25, 1956 they were married in Homestead Methodist Church in Charlotte.

After living with Yates’ mom for a while and also in an apartment near the old Park N Shop on Wilkinson Blvd., they built the house they still live in on Ridge Dr. in 1962.

So, what has been the secret of their 64 years together? Travel and going to movies, lots of movies since Yates had passes to many theaters provided amusement.

But the bottom line?

“Love!” says Yates. “She’s a keeper!”