Lucy Street’s home was located about where the Bi-Lo shopping area now stands. As a child I can remember thinking it was akin to a palace because of its size and the remoteness of it being hidden among the trees and shrubs and enclosed with a fence with a large gate. I often wondered how it would be to live in a house with that many rooms and nestled in a secluded spot where no one was allowed.
Our then-Mayor Enloe and his family lived a bit further up North Main in another very beautiful home. The Gudenraths had a very large house in that area and I feel sure there were many more that I can’t recall just now.
The city fathers and the few business owners on the square, the doctors, and lawyers, along with the dentists lived in close proximity of the square, which, as you may have guessed by now, was the hub of all of LaFayette’s activity.
There were no shopping centers as all shopping was done either on the square or at the depot. The depot held a few stores and eventually a second movie theatre. At that time many folks would board the train at the depot and travel to Chattanooga to shop. My mom would tell me when she was growing up that it was a big event of the day when the train rolled in and people would either alight or board for a trip someplace.
As the people who lived in the North Main area died or retired to someplace else, the homes were sold and razed, making way for businesses.
The town began to move in many directions when Barwick Mills became the leading employer of the townspeople. Those who moved here from other places of Barwick employment needed homes, too.
The need for fast-food places became important and Runt’s Corner lunch on the square soon was confronted with competition. The Greyhound bus station was once a beehive of activity and was located on the southwest corner of the square, across from where The Bank of LsFayette now stands.
Those who did not board the train rode the bus because there were no two-car garages around and many did not have the need for a one-car garage. I can remember walking a lot when I was a teenager. Can you imagine?
One of the first residential areas to be built was Circle Drive. The homes were small, new and more modern. I remember when Skyline Heights was developed with Hill Pope Sr., and Johnny Magnusson being a part of that project. Oak Park became a desired residential area and later Dogwood Circle.
Driving around today I see the housing boom reaching out into the outer bounds of the city. When times prospered, there were more than a few who were making enough money to purchase a car and the need to live close in was not so important.
It seems we have come full-circle with the housing situation. Once the rage in building was ranch-style brick with two baths, three bedrooms and den. The parlor became obsolete when girls no longer courted at home, so the parlor moved out to make room for the “great room” where the family was supposed to gather.
In today’s society, the family seldom gathers anymore, so we see folks building frame houses with no yards, with gamerooms (for the adults) and three or four baths. We have become the cleanest generation of all time.
The family car is no longer a sedan but a Jeep or some other type of van. The home is no longer a man’s castle but a stopover from work to get ready to go someplace else. The children eat at a drive-by and it’s hard to tell the haves from the have-nots. We have progressed.
But I sure can remember when.
Mary Sauceman, a resident of LaFayette, writes a weekly column for the Walker County Messenger.
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