Memory Lane and Commerce Street

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." Even though this may be a very trite expression, it is, nonetheless, true.

When I drive down East Commerce Street today, I am filled with memories.

We should not be afraid of memories; they remind us of where we have been, which only help to guide us to where we are going.

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Even painful memories can provide the opportunity for personal growth, if we will only allow them.

But, I digress.

Let's see.

I can see myself on my bicycle flying over those bumpy sidewalks along East Commerce, or "Main Street."

The first stop is Capps Drugstore.

I park my bike, open the door to that cool air conditioning, and hear that familiar bell clapping on the door as it opens.

Mr. Jim Ryan always had a big smile and a hearty, "Hello!" for me.

I could pick up medicine for anyone in my family and not have to sign a thing, and I was just a kid.

Moving on down the street.

Those sidewalks would get really wavy and bumpy once you got closer to Confederate Park.

I absolutely loved to see the fountain churning and flowing and shooting up all those brilliant sprays of water at the same time.

I always wondered how many pennies were in the bottom of that fountain.

A lot of strange things happened to that fountain at different times throughout the years.

Once, it was overflowing with suds just like a washing machine in mid-cycle.

Don't look at me.

I didn't do it.

Just because I might know who did is another story.

Moving right along.

Mr. Clarence Petty had his store right next to the Ritz Theatre.

Now was the time to stop in and get some bagged candy.

Today, you couldn't buy any candy that hadn't already been wrapped and inspected by 25 different people first.

My, how times have changed.

Now, it's time to cross the street.

Belk Hudson's was always a neat place to go.

Of course, if you're shopping with your mother, it can get very tedious.

I realize now that it was tedious.

If I had known what that word meant when I was a kid, I would have told my mother, "Shopping is tedious.

I'm ready to go home."

However, one thing I did like about Belk's was the water fountain they had right in the middle of the store.

It even had two little steps that helped you to reach the water, so, of course, I needed water about 15 times before we ever left the store.

My mother took me in there every single year to buy those white patent-leather dress shoes with the strap across the top of your foot.

They were the same shoes, just a bigger size each year.

I didn't have much say in the matter.

Now, when I go across the street, I come to one of my favorite stores, which was Elmore's.

That's where I bought all of my stuffed animals and my 45 r.p.m. records.

You do remember those round, plastic, vinyl things, don't you?

Try to imagine balancing two 45 records, (I wasn't rich), a big, German shepherd stuffed dog, and a bag of candy, all on the handlebars of my bike.

I had one of those little baskets with the flowers on the front, but it would only hold so much.

So, I make my way home with the breeze in my hair and a cramp in my hand from holding all my new treasures in that little plastic basket.

I realize that things can't always stay exactly the same, but I certainly miss these particular places.

They have been replaced with new stores and new faces, both of which will provide new memories for someone growing up in Greenville.

Here again, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

This bike ride down memory lane has been brought to you courtesy of the child who lives in all of us.

Regina Grayson is a reporter with the Greenville Advocate.

She can be reached at 334-383-9302, ext. 126 or via email at