Catherine Turcotte, Executive Director, Main Street Corydon
Shae Kmicikewycz, Director of Indiana Main Street, Office of Rural and Community Affairs, said something interesting: main street communities are important because they give us a sense of place.
She said that our downtowns are where memories are made.
And, that these memories root us to a place.
It is the memories that often bring us back, and sometimes help us to decide to move there.
For example, in 1990, I was working in Louisville for an advertising agency, along with Sheila Wheat, who invited me to a party in Crandall.
She gave me directions from Louisville and this is what she said, “Before you come out to Crandall, take a few minutes and drive through downtown Corydon. It is charming. I think you will love it.”
She was right. I fell in love. After the party, I went home and told Arthur, you have to see this town! So, the next morning, after church, we drove out and had lunch at Granny’s Restaurant (later the Y fitness center). We loved the people there and the food was great.
After lunch, we saw a beautiful home on North Capitol Avenue. On Monday we toured the home. On Tuesday we bought it.
Sheila knew that Arthur and I had traveled all around the country in an RV looking for the perfect place to live. We loved working in Louisville, and we liked the atmosphere of the Highlands and St. Matthews but it was out of our price range.
We found what we were looking for in Corydon.
Yesterday, Roger Corley shared that he was in Florida at a conference and someone came up to him and shared a downtown Corydon memory. This guy had bought his wife’s engagement ring at a jewelry store in downtown Corydon … Albins or Pfeiffers, I guess.
Now, do you think that if that guy bought something at the Walmart in Corydon he would be relating that memory?
I’m not here to slam the big box stores … but I do want to compare and contrast.
Virtually every interstate town looks the same. They provide something for those passing through --- we can pull in, get what we want, and move on, without distractions and without connecting. This is great when you want to get somewhere.
The day before Umuganda, I went in Ace Hardware to get our supplies. It was an experience. A man greeted me and asked what I wanted. Not knowing where everything is … and they have everything … I went down my list. He walked from shelf to shelf with me, and picked out what I needed, and then carried most of it to the register for me. Then, after ringing up the order, he carried it to my car!
It was convenient. And fast. But it was also connectional. Which was good for me and good for him.
So, I’d like to get us thinking about trying downtown. Where else can you get soup for $3 or a mini turkey salad sandwich for $1.89?
And, run into a friend you haven’t seen in ages?
So, while the interstate stores give us convenience and predictability without distractions …
Downtown gives us a place to explore, experience, make memories.
Corydon gives our visitors a sense of who we are … a sense of place.