Friday, May 16, 2008

Walking Home From The Picture Show

My Calvert Photos

These were taken from where we set up to sketch and paint

For some reason, I couldn't get these vertical pictures to post on the slide show below. I turned the camera to take them, then rotated them after I saved them in My Pictures. However, each time I tried to add them on the slide show, they turned back sideways, and I couldn't find out how to straighten them out. So, I'm adding these separately.

We set up on the sidewalk beside the Masonic Lodge, out of the crisp wind that was whipping around that Saturday. The top photo shows across the side street, to the south. The bottom photo shows what was behind me.

I can remember a lot about what the street, curb, and even the railroad tracks looked like, as I walked from the school, to my house, and town, and back, it seemed like, almost every day while I was growing up. Every place the street dipped, every place there was gravel or where there was sand, where there were red ant beds to avoid, where you had to walk quickly to get out of the hot sun on a summer day and on to the next shady spot where oak trees hung over the street. I remember where puddles were made when it rained, where there were cracks in the curbing, and where there were sticker burrs to avoid. There were good spots for roller skating or bike riding, and other spots where the sand or gravel would throw you over. Where there might be wildflowers or where the lawns were neatly edged at the curb.

I remember which houses belonged to friendly folks and which ones were to be avoided. I remember houses that used to be, but are now gone, replaced with a modern house, or an empty lot.

As I looked across the street where we painted that Saturday, I thought of the way that it used to be. How some things have always been pretty much the same, like the streets, the railroad and its ditches, and some buildings. You can still see the old brick that is beneath the asphalt on Main Street, which is Highway 6. I remember when they put the asphalt over the brick, which was just heart breaking to many. I've felt sure that I can remember when the streets were still dirt, but that can't be. I wasn't born then!

The outcropping that holds the street light, where Uncle Tom always parked his car is still there, with the scrapes in the concrete where he always hit the base as he parked. But the lights are new. Uncle Tom bought the old one when the city replaced them, and put the light in his yard.

The steps that lead up to the sidewalks are still there, some with the "new" railings that were put up "for the older folks". Some of the original overhangs that covered the sidewalks are still there. Most buildings used to have them, with canvas curtains, that rolled down on the sides. That made like a tunnel to walk through along the sidewalks. Stores on the west side pulled them down when the sun was in the east, while stores on the east side pulled the curtains down when the sun was in the west. In hot weather, when the crowds were in town on Saturday, especially, it was like a steam bath along the sidewalks.

I guess I looked down, when I was walking more than looking down the street to where I was going. And I had plenty of scraped knees to make me remember certain spots in the street, after I fell down on my bike or roller skates and had to have Mama pick gravel out of the wounds with the tweezers. Hot pavement was a reminder about where not to linger in hot weather. And I walked with wet, muddy socks and shoes, after trying to get across a wide puddle in winter, enough to remember that soggy, cold feeling, and the squishing sound as I walked until I could get home and change clothes.

I remember when people could just pull their cars in and park along Main Street, and when they made people change to parallel parking. Uncle Tom had hit that concrete with his car even when he could just pull in. It was worse after parallel parking. No one wanted to have to go through that, but the Highway Department wanted to make the street wider with more lanes, so the rules were changed. I never did master parallel parking. Instead, I tried to park on the side street, if I could. Well, I could park, but I sweated bullets trying to do it!

In the top photo, with the white building on the corner, this building was not there when I was growing up. There was a vacant lot there, which we used to cut across if we were coming or going to the picture show down this street. This street ended at the park entrance, but I lived the next street over. The Methodist church was on this street, so, sometimes, while Mama practiced the organ or they had choir practice, I would walk to town or the store. It was also good to have the park as a stopping place to rest or get a drink of water from the fountain during our long journey.

My cousins, Diana and Joan, lived at the Calvert Hotel with their grandmother and their mother during WWII, while their father was in service. And they visited there often in other years. So, the hotel was another place that I grew up playing around, and was a place to stop by on my way to or from the picture show. Like other kids, my cousins were quite creative and were always doing something interesting. So that was one of my favorite places to go.

I think that there had been a building on the corner where the white building is now, but it burned before I can remember. When I was older, Mr. Allen built the building that is there now and had a nice Western Auto Store .

The building next to it, where the sign is hanging down over the sidewalk, was a different Allen's hardware store. And, the next white building is the Eloia, the picture show. There used to be a long, rounded neon sign outside that said Eloia. I don't see that in this photo.

Next door to the Eloia is a two story antique shop, the Boll Weevil, which I remember as a bank. I don't think you can see the rest of the buildings in the block from this picture.
In the picture below, you can see where the steps to the Masonic Lodge are, at the end of this building. The Masons made a really nice spot on a covered concrete slab where they have barbeque for special events, like the homes tour.
Just across the railroad tracks, you can see the Calvert Hotel. The street that goes on beyond that is the one that ends at Virginia Field Park entrance.
I was just thinking about the paths we took and wondered why we went some of those ways.
Across the empty space where the Western Auto store was built, was a path that was a bit of a shortcut to the railroad tracks. I seem to remember some twisted, rusty tin and old wood there, too. But, I wondered why we didn't walk on the sidewalk beside the Masonic Lodge, especially when our store was just across the highway. When we crossed Main Street, we always walked on the side of the street beside the empty lot. Maybe there was something mysterious about the Masonic Lodge, with its dark green shuttered windows. And how we always heard that what they did there was secret. It was kind of spooky, I guess. Grownups went there, and told us that things were secret. And while my family members were Masons and Eastern Star, I didn't question. I just knew that was someplace I wasn't supposed to go. But, since there was a well worn path on the empty lot, maybe others thought the same thing.
There were various stores below the Masonic Lodge, at different times, so that should have made it less scarey. Maybe they were not kid friendly places, or maybe it just seemed dark in the shadows.
At one time, there was a Delaware Punch bottling company in the building below, and we would go in there to see how they bottled the drink. The manager and his family went to our church and his daughter was my age. That was one time when the lower part of the building seemed open, light, and happy. I didn't have much experience in going into the building when they had a grocery store or furniture store there. The grownups bought the furniture, and had grocery stores, so there was no need for me, as a child to go there.
Now that Delaware Punch bottling company was a different story. They even brought some of the bottle drinks to church functions like family night suppers.
Wouldn't it be nice if memories remained clear. And if we had taken pictures, and labeled them, about all the little things that were a part of our lives.
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I'm enjoying the blogs of Myrna Wacknov and Nancy Standlee. Nancy is attending Myrna's workshop this week in Cedar Hill. I know they are creating up a storm! I'm just about jealous and wish I was there with them.
Also, check out Virginia Vaughan's blog and website. Her "Last Year On The Farm" exhibit is opening in Rockport and she is doing some demonstrating and a mini workshop there Saturday. You can see more information on her blog.
Get Ready to have a great weekend!

1 comment:


Aaah, the memories of childhood, and small town America!
Nothing else quite like it. I enjoyed this tour of your town, and seeing it through your eyes.
Great blog!