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Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014
Memphis BluesPosted Tuesday, March 4, 2008, at 5:29 AM
Since this blog has become reminiscent of old houses in Dexter, I dug through my old photos and came up with a snowball fight, circa 1954-55. However, I seem to have screwed up my blog in the process!!!
Actually, this cute little house isn't "new;" in fact, it was built in 1942 - an excellent year, I might add... It sits on a quiet street, alongside other little two-bedroom houses from the same era. There are sidewalks, which is a real novelty for me and something that I think is absolutely wonderful!
Isn't it funny how we got away from sidewalks in suburban America? What an oversight! I'm sure the cold-hearted developers of our modern subdivisions could never have envisioned (or cared) that this nation would one day be a community of non-walkers, living through an epidemic of obesity, disconnected from their neighbors and living behind privacy fences and landscaped impersonality.
The cracked and aging sidewalks in Advance were built, I understand, by the WPA, the Work Progress Administration, one of the Rooseveltian ideas to get the nation back to work during the Big Depression. What a colossal imagination and ability to think outside the box! Who could ever have come up with such an idea? In this age of outsourcing to Mexico and China, Roosevelt's imaginative program seems outlandish and naive, but I do believe it worked...(thoughts on this, FJGuy?)
The other night we went to eat out in a quaint area, where houses had been turned into shops and restaurants. The area was bustling with activity, and we had to park around the block, where I got to see some really creative uses for the old "shot gun" houses of the past, tiny structures that have been turned into upscale town houses. How adorable! From what I understand, these little "dollhouse" apartments are quite expensive.
Last year, I discovered a similar, though much more modest effort at refurbishing the past, when I visited the tiny town of Marquand, MO. in Madison County, just over the Bollinger County line. Several Marquandians (?), who left the town years ago, have returned (bringing along the money they made elsewhere) and are buying up the old houses. They've restored several of them to their former splendor and are working to turn the town into a page out of history.
The same thing is being done in that historic hill town of Marble Hill. Debra Ivy has restored the old bank building across from the steakhouse restaurant (the one on the corner). I interviewed her awhile back, before the building was finished, and she hadn't decided then what she was going to "do with it," but I'm going back this summer to do a story on it. She even had the wonderful Coca Cola mural restored on the side of one of the brick buildings...and that took an impressive effort to do the tuck pointing without destroying the painting.
It makes so much more sense to save the past, rather than tearing it down to build modern replacements, which often lack character and personality. I know it costs more to renovate and restore than it does to build new, but it's such a shame to let the old things go. I don't notice that tendancy in Europe. They keep the old buildings forever.
Well, I had no idea which way this piece of writing would go when I started it... and the problem with composing on my daughter's computer is that it'll time me out and I have to keep hitting "copy," in order to save it... I need to quit for now...Besides, her large, fat calico cat is tapping me on the shoulder and gently biting my knees, reminding me that she wants some attention. I guess I shall have to sign off for now.
Yesterday I had several calls from the homeland, reminding me that the weather is getting bad, and I should "keep an eye on it." It rained all day here in Memphis, and my daughter's little front yard is under several inches of water. So much for planting flowers on this trip...
From the "Armpit of the South," this is your roving rural reporter, Madeline, signing off on a soggy southern Tuesday morning... Keep your mind whole and your powder dry, folks!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.