An Old NC Main St.

| No Comments

Note: This is my last year doing the Inshaw blog, which I'll wrap up in 2013. I do plan to keep blogging, as it is a nice writing exercise. I haven't entirely decided on how the next blog will work out, but below is the kind of stuff I plan on writing.

Belk-Tyler's The photograph is about two stories. For simplicity sake, I'll focus on one, my mother's story first.

My mother's segregated North Carolina school was so small (it was K-12) that everyone who can, shows up to the annual reunion. This year my mother came up to the reunion, so I and the Help came down to meet her. She was staying at her brother's, my uncle's house and so we had time to talk several times that weekend.

The Help and I had previously wandered around the town's pretty much dead as a door knob downtown and took pictures. I shared this one with my mother and asked her if the above was the entrance to the Belk-Tyler department store that she had integrated as the first colored/Black (no one was calling her an African-American back then) saleswomen for that store. She retold the story of how a white child had spat at her, but then she added that she also received unpleasant treatment from other Black people. She didn't go into detail, mainly because I then told my own story of poor treatment from customers when I was working at a grocery store.

The second story is that of the dead as a door knob downtown. Main Street is three or four blocks of commerical space bisected by the railroad tracts that lead to the train station. There were visible signs that the city was in the process of trying to revive the city center by redoing the sidewalks and promoting the downtown as a historic destination. I wish them the best, but I don't see where the life is going to come from. The downtown had been in its death throes for decades. Like many cities, the mall, hurt the downtown. The Main Street we walked town had a few thrift and low end clothing stores. There used to be a store front church there, but according to the sign, they moved to better digs. There was also the obligitary "antique" store. Mostly it was a bunch of empty storefronts, like the old Belk-Tyler's, with 'for sale' signs. Because NC was having a tax holiday, there were some people in the few open stores, but not a crowd. The light traffic and everything else doesn't seem to bode well for the future of Main St.

Leave a comment