Saturday, April 4, 2009

Discovering Downtown America!

(My home town in western Washington)

I truly love small towns. I love the history behind them, the quaintness of them and the down-to-earth people you’ll find in them. But most of all, I love the old downtown sections of them.

I grew up in a very small rural town in eastern North Carolina. Back in the 60’s our downtown was a thriving, busy place. Once a month, my mom and I would walk the mile to town so she could pay her monthly bills. I always looked forward to these treks into town, for we would always stop at the little “whole in the wall” snack shop for lunch. They had the best hot dogs and soda there, but I think the true treat was eating someplace other than home! That was a rare experience back then!

Our downtown had everything. When you think about it, it was just an outdoor mall with a street running through the middle of it. Anything you needed could be found there in one of a couple dozen store fronts. The two town’s grocery stores were there, as well as a couple of “dime” stores. We even had a nice department store called Belk Tylers. There was a couple of jewelry stores, a shoe store and, of course, the corner drug store with its little soda fountain. There were two furniture stores and a high end furniture/antique store that was run by the most prim and proper ladies. Of course the post office was there, as well as the theatre. We even had a Western Auto store and a Sear’s catalog store. It was your typical "small town America."

But today my small town has become a ghost town. And when I last visited there a couple of years ago, it just broke my heart to see all those stores I remembered visiting as a child long gone. I could almost see the tumble weed rolling down the street. Vacant stores, run down buildings, empty parking spaces.

In the late 70’s and 80’s towns began moving to the main highways, or bypasses. We lost so many of those downtowns and the energy often found there. Many of those towns are now trying to revitalize their downtowns. That’s what’s happening around here, to much success. I wrote how my husband and I venture out every Saturday morning, finding new places to have breakfast. I now live in the Pacific Northwest, living less than 20 miles from Seattle. We are SO fortunate to live in an area surrounded by so many small towns and communities. So many of these towns have turned their downtowns into quaint areas filled with antique stores, gift shops and cafés. We seldom travel further than 30 miles to these towns.

Today’s venture took us to the town of Auburn. Now, I have been through Auburn many, many times. But today is the first time I discovered its older “downtown” section. I knew it had to be somewhere, and I must say, sometimes it’s not easy finding the downtown section in some of these towns. But it’s ALWAYS worth the hunt! We found a nice little café to have breakfast and then I walked across the street to a little antique shop. We also stopped at the local Goodwill, but I had no luck there. Anyway, I picked up a few neat items at the antique store. I hardly ever spend over $5 for any one item and especially love my one and two dollar finds. Anyway, my first find was this neat candle holder. As soon as I saw the $3.95 price on it I KNEW I had to have it! It will make a great piece to use for my gatherings. And its candle part has three adjustments for raising the candle as it burns down. It's a very nice size...about 9 inches wide. I’ve never seen anything like this and thought it was so neat! I also picked up another Kraft cheese box, a nice rusty sifter (the flash from my camera makes it look shiny) and this old rusty oil can. It was only $2 and the spout actually bends. Can’t wait to do something with these pieces!

Well…last week I got off track with my trash to treasures and never completed my project using the white pitcher. I was in a funk all week with my cat gone and not in the mood to do much of anything. We had terrible weather all week! Also had a few special orders to get out and it was all I could do just to work on those. But things have turned around! My kitty is back, the sun is shining bright and the temps are wonderful! I will probably begin working on my Patriotic/Americana items this week. And there will be more trash-to-treasures to come, also. So stay tuned!

Oh…one last thing! While out this morning I had to stop to get this picture of Mt. Rainier. I miss seeing it throughout the winter and always joke that “it’s still there” when the clouds clear away and we can see it once again. Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous! Have a wonderful week everyone! ~~Annie


  1. Hey Annie, what town did you grow up in NC?? It's so nice for us to have those fond memories of childhood...The closest place for us to go shopping was downtown High Point (NC). It was such an adventure for us to walk up and down the street, stopping at the clothing stores, the shoe store and even Woolworth's! So fun for us all!
    Now it's all furniture related and that's a good thing, but it is kinda sad that the "old" stores for shopping are gone.


  2. Hi really WAS an adventure back then. I grew up in the big back town of Plymouth ... population -- four thousand something and dwindling! If you've ever been to Nags Head, you probably drove through Plymouth.

    Always loved furniture shopping in High Point! Think we still have a few pieces from there! lol Even now when we furniture shop, we make sure it was made in North Carolina!

    Have a great day!


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