By SHANNON WATKINS
A few weeks ago we asked what you’d like to see us ask your fellow citizens in our Man on the Street feature.
Response was sparse, but one citizen took it upon herself to write not merely a question but a reminiscence of Pulaski in its past days. The gist of her question is, exactly what are we referring to when we say “downtown”?
Darlene Rorrer wrote us, and later said of her question, “If people just look at what we have on one block, we don’t have much. But if you look around, beyond that, we have a lot. No, we don’t have everything big like New York. But we’ve got a nice little town here.”
We present her letter to you below.
Dear “Man on the Street”:
After reading “Man on the Street” weekly and reviewing your Friday (May 10) column, I’d like for you to draw me a picture of just what area makes up “downtown” Pulaski?
When I was a young girl walking to Jefferson School and Pulaski County High School a mile each way, “downtown” probably meant businesses on Commerce Street (grocery stores, barber shop, Maple Shade Inn, depot, etc.) and businesses on Main Street all the way down to Stegers and Mason Cleaners on Route 99, or East Main. Washington Avenue had some important businesses, especially our post office where my husband was employed for over 30 years. We are blessed to still have it. Jefferson Avenue had some very important businesses as well, such as Seagle’s and Piggly Wiggly and Dawn’s Flowers. We had a lot of important businesses within walking distance. Our very important Pulaski County Library on Third Street gave our daughter Sherri her start in life with employment at an early age.
Now, I live five miles from “downtown” (Alum Spring Road), and I think of “downtown” as being nicely spread out to include Memorial Drive, Bob White Boulevard and Route 99 Shopping Plaza, banks, and eating places; also West Main Street and Commerce, Jefferson and Washington and streets connected to them.
I miss Parks Belk and Sears, but I’m still satisfied that we have other nice businesses replacing them. Personally, I consider all the business section as downtown.
I’m an old lady now who’s still learning, so please straighten me out—just exactly what is “downtown”?
With all the walking I did as a young girl, I spent much time in out two shoe repair shops. Maybe we ride everywhere anymore, so shoe shops aren’t a necessity. They were really important way back then, and I’m sure saved my parents some expense.
Church was a very important part of my growing up and occupied much of my time. My mother was employed so I kept busy and happy just helping out at home. Once in a while us neighborhood kids got to take in a Saturday movie at the Dalton Theatre. Otherwise, it was a big treat to travel with family to visit relatives and friends. We had a radio and an old Victrola in those early years, and in the summertime, a swing in our creek was a family treat. That was enough for me—didn’t need anything fancy for happiness.
As far as I’m concerned, I think Pulaski offers its citizens a lot. I love my hometown, Pulaski, and am very thankful for it and its citizens.
Now, after thinking about it quite a bit, I’d like to back up and count the number of businesses in the mile I traveled way back then. I can think of about eight grocery stores, four drug stores, two theaters, three banks, ladies’ and mens’ clothing shops, two or three furniture stores, one shoe shop, two photo shops, two auto shops, Pulaski Laundry, Dee’s Cut Rate, Rose’s, McCrory’s, a music shop, two or three barber shop—one being Silas Burchett’s on Commerce Street where I took my little brother to get his first haircut, losing his beautiful blonde natural curls—all these businesses centered around our courthouse. There was also a paint shop, sewing center and insurance offices. Actually, there were a lot of businesses within a mile radius, as you can see, and even more than I realized when I started getting it on paper.
Now, wouldn’t you believe it? I forgot to list the Southwest Times which was right there on Washington Avenue and now on Fifth Street. And, by the way, are you still considered “downtown”? To me, you are, but what do I know? Now, I’m asking you, Southwest Times.
I like to think of our local hospital and Pulaski Elementary School as being downtown since they are in our city limits. Can I include them, or not? There are other businesses not mentioned which I do not mean to leave out. The one business I really miss, and think was a tremendous asset to Pulaski, was Pulaski Flower Shop with all those greenhouses. The plants found at this particular time of year couldn’t be beat. It’s such a shame that is has been torn down. It was one of Pulaski’s treasures.
Keep up the good work, Southwest Times. I don’t have internet access, so please keep me informed. Thank you.
Darlene Rorrer (Mrs. Billy E.)
P.S. Roy’s Lunch, which was located on Jefferson Avenue, had the best hot dogs around, and they cost only 10 cents each. It’s been a long, long time since I had one, but I can taste them now—yum, yum!