I don’t remember the walk as much as the shopping at the downtown dime stores. She allowed my brother and me to buy some crayons and coloring books. Of course in 1958-1959, these were probably 10 cents each, but they were a grand prize for us because we had been involved in the purchasing.
Now as an adult, when I smell fresh roasted peanuts, I remember the smell of going into the big Sears store and passing the peanut counter in that wonderful place.
These memories are innocent recollections of a child born and raised in Anniston.
As elementary-age children, we were allowed to go to the “walk-in” movies — the Ritz and the Calhoun theaters. Mom or Dad would drop us off on a Saturday, and we would have the ticket lady call our home when the movie was over.
As a teenager, I remember walking home from Johnston Jr. High School and walking to friends’ houses on Christine and Woodstock. I remember shopping at Wakefield’s on Noble Street, the dime stores, Berman’s and Kingsley’s. Now it breaks my heart to drive down Noble Street and see the empty, neglected or dilapidated buildings.
As a recently retired citizen of Calhoun County, I have had the opportunity to visit a friend in Gadsden regularly. We have enjoyed many “1st Fridays” in that city. We have taken pleasure from open-air free concerts sponsored by the city. We have used walkable amenities such as restaurants or just sitting with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate on a street bench. Gadsden has about a half dozen restaurants on its main street that are always full at night. The city has wonderful night-time lighting and more patrons on a Friday or Saturday night than I have witnessed on Noble Street on what should be a busy day. It has mature trees on the main city street. Streets sheltered with mature trees are vital to facilitate walking in warm climates, to absorb carbon emissions and to help clean the air. These things give you the feeling that you’re not just on a street but in a place.
I know in my adult lifetime Noble Street has gone through many “revitalization” cycles — but none have seemed to help the overall success of bringing business back.
I believe wholeheartedly that when you shop local, you are keeping your hard-earned dollars in your community. That means better police and fire protection, better schools and better roads. Except for a couple of gift shops, a nice frame shop, a consignment shop and two or three nice restaurants, Noble Street has very little to offer the patron. Maybe the powers that be in Anniston should visit Gadsden on a 1st Friday, during the business day or on a Friday or Saturday night.
Judy O. Harris