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From the Publisher's Desk – Let's open our history books (July 29, 2015 issue)

Please check out the special historical supplement in this issue of The Erwin Record. Each year I am amazed at the stories I read in the Historical Review of local items that I never knew before. Chris Tipton has spearheaded that project for us from the beginning. Each year, she contacts various writers and historians in the county and asks them to contribute an article of historical interest. And, each year, I gain more and more knowledge on our local heritage.
It is a bonus for me to get to read the articles ahead of time. I enjoyed the wide range and details this year that brings each story to life. I was fascinated by Jim Buchanan’s recollection of the original WEMB and the process it took to broadcast a show. His listing of the stores in town amazed me. I remember many of those but not all. I would love to go back to those days when Erwin was booming.
Jim’s article reads, “four jewelry stores, two Five and Dime stores, three variety stores, along with The Unaka Stores and A.R. Brown. There were also four furniture stores, three barber shops, six clothing stores, including Erwin’s and John W. Price, three drugstores and all the bars and pool rooms on Union Street. Whites, Publix, Smith’s Market and Tally’s Supermarket were the mainstays in grocery. Two financial institutions and about eight or 10 service stations around town.”
I must say it sure would make it more convenient if all of those were still in business. Why would we ever need to shop beyond town? I know it would make our job as a newspaper easier to have lots and lots of advertisers to call on. Hopefully with our downtown revitalization and the beautiful new Main Avenue and sidewalks, we can start to build up again.
But, times change and history is history. Times have also changed with me. When I was younger, I didn’t like gardening and now I do. Also, I didn’t like history in school, and now I am fascinated with it. I think at the time I viewed history as having too many missing pieces to hold my attention. It tends to be fact after fact with very little detail for visual. Small, descriptive details would provide me with a mental visual of the situation, and therefore hold my attention more.
Whether we realize it or not, each of us are writing a history book of our lives daily. What may seem insignificant to us, might be substantial in the life of someone we are around. I am sure a lot of the heroes we hear about from the past weren’t thinking of their lives as being a milestone that would be studied for decades to come.
Not all of the key players realized the impact their consequences would have on us from then until present day. But, all of those key players couldn’t have done it by themselves. If it was a battle won, it took all the men in the army. Are all of them recorded in history books? No, but they were just as important.
While writing this, I thought about my ancestors, even the ones that died before I was born. A lot of the person that I am today is due to how they treated and raised their children, who passed it on to their children and finally down to me, an indirect offspring of their values. From that, we each put our on individual spin on our lives.
Several years back I got my mom a book. It was actually a book for her for me. It is called “The Story of a Lifetime.” The problem seemed to be that the book contains 384 pages, full of questions and the owner is to answer them. After years of what must have been an overwhelming task for mom, I got the book out and started asking her the questions myself and writing down her responses.
Evenings are usually spent with me sitting with the laptop, while mom plays games on the iPad. But this has opened up discussion between us on topics never shared before. The book contains specific questions pertaining to memories of grandparents, parents and the individual answering the questions. They range from childhood to adulthood. Questions ask about friends, values, favorite things, religious based questions and more.
Now I am hoping it doesn’t take a lifetime to fill in the blanks of this book, but I am intrigued to hear the inner thoughts of my mom and her memories from the past. It is a history lesson that I anxiously listen to as it unfolds. I know where it’s going. It leads to present day and my own story, one that I sometimes share in this column that I am privileged to write. Review your history. Someday there may be a quiz on it from your children.