Originally published in the News-Graphic in 2009.
I was interviewed this past week by a third-grade student from Garth Elementary School who asked the question, “What was Georgetown like when you were a little boy?”
Then she added, “Where did you shop?” And she continued with one final question. “Where did you go to school?”
Those who have read many of these columns know I love to turn back the hands of time to when I was a little boy and this interview opened up the opportunity.
Let me share a few of the days of my past that I shared with my little friend.
I told her it took me 22 years to get out of Garth School.
I spent 12 years there as a student, four years as a teacher and six years as principal.
The school then was grades one through 12 with no buses.
For the most part, the kids you began first grade with were the same ones you graduated with 12 years later.
People just didn’t move around much those many years ago.
The best part of this was the life-long friendships you made by being together for all those years in the same class with the same group of classmates.
When it came to shopping it was all downtown, and what a lively place it was, especially on Saturday when all the country people came to town.
It seems almost unbelievable today to think about what our town looked like back more than half a century ago.
But let me give you a glimpse of what I remember. There were four grocery stores right on Main Street, including Kroger, an A & P, along with Kemper and Glass’s Grocery.
There were four drugstores and tow of them also had a soda foundation and booths, where to kids hung out after school and drank cherry cokes and talked to their sweethearts.
Believe it our not there were four clothing stores all individually owned, expect for one — J.C. Penny, and one women’s hat store as well.
There were four, and sometimes five, restaurants right on Main Street, and as we know the only one that has survived up today is Fava’s. Coffee was a nickel a cup, and a double dip ice cream was a dime.
That wasn’t all that downtown provided. There were three hardware stores that sold everything from fishing hooks to garden seeds.
And Sam James had a paint store right beside B & B Barber Shop, where Bill Medford and Bill Johnson cut men’s hair for 35 cents, except on Saturday when the price went up to 50 cents. Kids still got the weekday price, however.
The busiest spots on Main Street, though, were the three pool rooms that opened early and didn’t close under after midnight. The men gathered there and played pool nearly all day while their ladies shopped and visit with their neighbors.
There were two dime stores, a jewelry store, two hotels, three insurance offices, one sporting good store, one army goods store, the newspaper office at least 50 parking meters, Benny — the shoe-shipman, Porter Traylor — directing traffic at the crosswalk, always a few dogs roaming the street and poker game on the second floor of one of the office buildings on Main Street.
And that, my young friend, was just a few memories about the good old days of my youth, and what made up Main Street just a few decades ago, where we stopped and visited on Saturday night.
George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.