Recalling a vibrant downtown then, and what it could be now

Coincidence is a remarkable thing – it can lead to great memories and a future filled with hope.

  • Tuesday, June 24, 2008 2:47pm
  • Opinion

Coincidence is a remarkable thing – it can lead to great memories and a future filled with hope.

Recently, I was helping at my husband’s sign shop in Auburn, preparing to close, when our last customer walked in. As I get the sign that says, “The Last One To Leave The City, Please Turn Out The Lights,” it leads us into a conversation about our fair town.

We both remarked about the changes over the years – the development of the downtown Auburn area does not seem to reflect in foot traffic flowing through the streets or a community built around it.

An old town Main Street conjures up images of a brick faced row of eclectic, individually owned businesses. Streets are dotted with old lamps and hanging baskets and water fountains. Families walking up and down Main Street with kids jumping over cracks in the sidewalk, while adults chat about the day and window shop to see the treasures that lie within.

“Old town” of my memory is a place to linger and grab that great cup of coffee or tea for yourself, while chatting with the shop owners who you have come to know and who know you well. Or, maybe it’s a place with an ice cream parlor that your kids can delight in (during an afternoon outing) for a scoop of their favorite flavor in a waffle cone. Perhaps a local hardware store where you can grab those light bulbs you are always forgetting, or the flower shop that set out the cut stems of the season in a gorgeous array.

A revitalized downtown is where you can do all of your shopping from the essentials to the carefree and end with a great dinner in that special restaurant. Instead, what I see are boarded up businesses and empty shops that represent a lifeless community. Most sad is the historic old theatre that sits in the heart of downtown virtually unused.

A Street Theatre (back then) was a glorious memory for me. My dad would take me, and it became a special event we would share in my young life. When I was a child, he took me to see the Neil Simon comedy, “Love On the Rooftop.” Then it was a dinner theatre, serving half a roasted chicken with peas and potatoes. The service was great and the play was

performed with gusto and always to a full house. We both enjoyed the experience immensely and went as often as we could.

I wish those lasting memories for new generations. Revitalizing downtown connects new with old. I have always tried to remember and live by a saying that so perfectly sums up how I believe we should conduct our lives and the decisions we make. We

do not inherit from our

ancestors but borrow from our children.

It takes us all, our voices, our efforts, our diligence.

Please let your City Council know what memories you want to create and maintain in your Main Street.

Deena Cornish is the owner

and creator of Uneek Organics Eco Friendly Pet Products.

You can reach her at

info@uneekdogs.com


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Jayendrina Singha Ray is a PhD (ABD) in English, with a research focus on the works of the South African Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee. She teaches English Composition and Research Writing at Highline College, WA, and has previously taught English at colleges in India.
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