Sunday, January 23, 2011

Poplar Bluff I

Poplar Bluff is a town through which we drive every time we go visit Jenna's family in Illinois. Actually, though, the highway takes us on a gentle curve around the actual city, so recently we stopped there for a look-around. It being historically relevant, there were plenty of things for my little eyes to see.

I saw the peak of the Rodgers Theater from over the rooftops of other buildings in downtown Poplar Bluff. It's a truly glorious downtown theater - obviously in need of some work, but apparently still in working order.

The building was put up in 1949 by I.W. Rodgers, who evidently took over most of the theaters in town at some point (this is, I think, the only old one left). It had capacity for 1,160 folks and included a "crying room," an enclosed area with sound-proof glass so emotionally unsound viewers could continue watching people being devoured by triffids whilst not disturbing the other film-goers.

A closer shot of the Rodgers:

More to come.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bygone grocery

I refuse to give up on this blog.

Driving to Rose Bud today, I discovered this relic:

I note that a fairly recent-looking Arkansas Democrat-Gazette machine is still guarding the door, so this grocer hasn't been closed for too long, I suppose. Judging by its looks, it's probably been around since the 1930s, maybe 40s, and was one of those hardwood floored Third Places where old men gathered around a hanging light bulb and told stories.

It's interesting to me that many old groceries (such as this one, from my friend Barbara's blog) had those old signs with very similar hand-painted text.

I bet that once this place was an oasis of food and culture, the only stop between Rose Bud and Joy or Center Hill, and when you're on unpaved roads up in the hills, that's a long way. It's paved now, of course, but not much more than a half-century removed. I bet this was a great place to gather. It would have had that inviting closeness and clutter that spoke of individuals and care, rather than cold vast-market calculation and consumer psychology. No rolling smileys or self-check outs here, just the people you know.

Ahh, I'm probably just romanticizing it.