If storefronts could be explained, each one could represent a block in the greater quilt of what we know as downtown Boonville. This quilt is ever-changing. Many blocks change patterns or get a new color but some blocks remain the same longer than others.
It is hard to imagine that it has been a quarter century since I would tag along with Grandma 'Peggy' Lang on our journeys to town from the farm. I always enjoyed our adventures, especially when we would walk around downtown on a spring or fall afternoon after being in the car a short 15 minutes. The weather was always perfect. I remember it being more quiet than it is today with much less traffic. Where were all the people? This quilt deserved some attention. It was as if it was locked up in a room away from visitors.
I used to hear stories about the glory days when crowds of people flocked to the downtown shops like geese over a pond. Often, Grandma and I were the only individuals utilizing the sidewalk.
It was time to begin another adventure. With one foot in front of the other, we found our first shop. Grandma never was one to shop unless it was absolutely needed. I believe living during the Great Depression helped mold her to that thinking, including many others in our community. But, window shopping we could do and we looked at many different things.
I learned early on about 'wants' and 'needs'. The 'needs' were always important. The necessities like food and water, a house to stay in, blankets to keep me warm were much more important than an item, which did not possess any of these qualities. I learned my frugalness from Grandma, which now I truly appreciate and thank her for the lessons.
While gazing at the downtown architecture, I always wondered about the previous establishments that inhabited the shells who welcome new dwellers ever-so-often. Grandma would talk about her time working at Woolworths Department Store. She also would mention the old Penny's Store, which left the town to install larger big box stores in larger cities right after I was born. My mother, in fact, has clothing from the old store she still wears. I even have a strand of Christmas lights I still use that Grandma purchased from Woolworths many years ago.
There was one store that sold cards and other things, including Christmas ornaments. I do not remember the name but it was always my favorite. Before Halloween, we went there and in the window were boxes of Halloween Pumpkin lights. I wanted them. But, I did not need them. Even at four or five years old, I was fascinated with holiday items, especially Christmas.
As the day would progress we would go down the east side of Main Street and then to the west side of Main, making sure we would go into every store with an open or welcome sign.
Page 2 of 2 - Another store I remember, had two floors. Once the owner found out I had a love of Christmas she let me go up stairs to gander at the 'still' decorated Christmas trees.
Once we had visited all the stores, we got in the car and journeyed home. At that time, there were many store fronts waiting patiently for the day they, too, would be welcoming guest. These store fronts were waiting for a square to add to the distinctiveness of the much larger quilt.
The test of time has prevailed for some downtown businesses because there are a certain few, which are as old as I.
Ever so often we would see the test of time extinguish a business or move it to a more fitting location. The quilt was always changing.
Twenty-five years later, there is a greater changing quilt, one with fewer empty squares. This quilt is full of energy and potential; a quilt rejuvenated.
When I am downtown, which is on a daily basis, I am not usually the only one utilizing the sidewalk, especially on those spring and fall days. There is more traffic now. More people have discovered the hidden quilt in the spare bedroom with the closed door. The door is now open, waiting for the quilters to piece together the biggest masterpiece yet.