Down the Lane: Boy has Winchester changed

Published 9:27 am Thursday, February 1, 2018

When my husband and I are having conversations, it is often difficult for us not to take trips down memory lane.

That happened this weekend.

If you have lived here for very long you will have to agree Winchester has seen many changes through the years. While some people may think Winchester has stayed the same, I would like to share with you some of my recollections. By the time I am finished, you might be surprised at how much our community has changed.

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I will barely be able to touch the surface and I am sure many will report to me all I have omitted.

For one thing, at one time there were three movie theaters in Winchester. The Town Hall Theater sat nearly directly across the street from the Leeds theater that has stood the test of time. The Past Time theater was the one that caught fire from what I have heard. I do remember seeing Town Hall but was never in it. Of course, I not only went to Leeds as a child and teenager, I later visited as a parent taking my own kids there.

Main Street used to be a bustling place and one could go there to shop for any kind of clothes you needed. There was Belk’s Dept. Store, J.C. Penney, Co. Jake Green’s, L.R. Hopkins (later Graham’s), Lord’s, Vic Bloomfield’s, Renee’s and specialty shops for children such as the Lily Belle Shop and Jack n Jill Shop. These shops allowed you to choose nearly anything you wanted and the prices would fit nearly any pocketbook.

Belk’s and Penney’s sold fabric and patterns, and many of the homemakers loved to go there for their material and the latest pattern styles. They sold clothes for the whole family and were very popular. At both stores you usually had a favorite employee you liked to have wait on you. You became friends with the employees and you met friends throughout the store.

Also on Main Street, if you needed shoes, pocket books or men’s dress clothes you could find them at most of the above named stores but there was also Hamilton’s Shoe store that only sold shoes, shoe strings, shoe horns and the like, the best I can remember.

Rosenthal’s had beautiful men’s suits, but shirts and ties, cuff links and tie pins could also be found there.

A&P Grocery store brought in a lot of farm families to buy their groceries and Kroger’s was on Broadway and stayed very busy.

When car washes first made their appearance in America, Winchester joined in and had a car wash on Main Street. I think Jeff Adams was still a child when his daddy ran the one on Main Street. Now, as we know, Jeff has several car washes.

If I can remember correctly, there were four banks on Main Street at one time. It made it easy for the merchants to take their money at the end of the day just a bit up or down the street to the bank.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Corner Drug Store, McGuires Pharmacy where I ate many a delicious meal, Begley’s and Wedding Drug Store. Another good place to eat was Quisenberry’s on Broadway, where I remembered delicious roast beef sandwiches over mashed potatoes and gravy. There was also Moore’s restaurant.

Bean’s Grocery, which was located next to Quisenberry’s did a lot of home deliveries.

A lot of the guys and men hung out at the pool hall and talked about Chris’s delicious hot dogs and chili.

The public library was very small and housed in a small church building for many years on Main.

JJ Newberry was also on Main and could also be entered from Broadway. It had a toy department as did Western Auto and J.C. Penney, Co. It was always like stepping into the North Pole for a child to go in at Christmas time.

Kress’s was a five and dime and sold most of the same things as Newberry’s.

If you needed furniture you could find it at Pound’s, Epperson’s on Main and Ratliff Furniture Stores on Broadway. They would let you put furniture on layaway and pay so much at pay day until you were able to pay it out.

There were two jewelry stores on Main Street where diamonds could be purchased and dreams were begun.

Winchester had two hotels on Main Street, with the Brown Proctor being one that drew in a large group of people just to dine. The Old South Inn was one of the best places in the south to eat according to Southern Living magazine. I would have to agree with them. It now houses Dr. Bishop’s office.

If you were lucky as a child, your parents would take you to the Marsh Dairy for a scoop of hand-dipped ice cream. It was so delicious on a hot day.

Then Eric and I talked about all the other areas our town had changed like the Ale 8 plant in town. Four car dealerships were downtown — Harrod and Early was the Chevrolet dealership, Stephenson’s sold Pontiacs, Muncie’s was the Buick dealership and another one that has slipped my memory of the name.

We had to laugh how good those 15 cent hamburgers tasted from the Jackson House. The Ritz Bar on Lexington Avenue, Jerry’s Drive Inn and Osborne’s Steakhouse were good places to go on dates and the place you went was according to how full your boyfriend’s bill fold was on Saturday night or if you had your favorite meeting place.

Also going out Lexington Avenue I thought of the days I sat in Clark County High School my freshman year of high school before it merged. I could glance over at the old Clark County Hospital and watch as people came and went. I would learn who was sick or getting out of the hospital on those days.

Then I thought of that same year I attended a class at the old Winchester High School before the new high school was finished. Now, the new public library sits there.

Things have changed so much and some things I wish had never gone away. So many of these places are still needed so much in our little hometown. We have lost so many good places to shop.

Our town has lost some of the closeness as it has grown. My husband mentioned two of the service stations — Slick Cruse’s service station and Jimmy Allen’s. You enjoyed pulling in there and feeling like they would take care of your needs whether it was gas or just getting your windows cleaned.

I also remember the time when if you needed an ambulance, you could call Scobee’s Funeral Home and they would be there in lightning time. I do not know if the Edgington Funeral Home did the same thing or not, but I know Scobee did.

Now the ambulance service is separate and I can’t imagine it ever not being that way.

Winchester has changed a lot, and in some ways it has stayed the same. I am happy to see that our town has just grown with more churches all over town with very few of the old ones closing.

Our town has proved to be a very caring town and I hope that never changes.

Our schools have definitely changed and I have not always agreed with this and still have not changed my mind on that. I still like having the elementary schools in the communities where the kids live especially the country schools like the old Pilot View, Trapp, Becknerville and Providence schools were. I feel fine with the middle schools and big school being as one but I would still like to see the elementary schools the way they used to be.

I am sure our school board weighed all the options and they felt they made the right decisions and everyone has to live with the decisions that are made.

As I write this I just wonder what changes our grandchildren will some day note that will take place in Winchester during their lifetime. I just hope they are all for the good of everyone in Winchester.

Maybe downtown will be bustling again by then.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United MethodistChurch, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.