Author: Peggy Walker, The Panolian
One of my fondest memories of our first years in Batesville is of strolling my boys to the square. They were born in May so we started strolling in the summer of 1981 and progressed to walking as they got older. They enjoyed the fresh air; it made them sleep better; and I enjoyed the outing and exercise (and it helped me maintain my sanity). I had a double stroller that was actually two umbrella strollers hooked together by a special clamp. We could stroll double or single. After lunch I’d strap them in and we’d head to town.
When you’re strolling twins you get lots of attention. DW used to say we were going to have tee shirts made which said, “Yes we’re twins and yes we’re identical.” So, we visited with everyone along the way. Neighbors on Panola Avenue always came out to see the babies. And, Mr. Lightsey usually came out and spoke to us when we passed his shoe shop.
The boys and I got to be regulars in the stores that had doors wide enough to accommodate the double wide stroller. Smitty Williams would welcome us into Stubbs. There we claimed “kin.” My grandparents lived across the street from his Uncle Jack Stubbs in Holly Springs. I met Billy Downs in his men’s clothing store. Years later he would fit the boys for Prom night and reminisce of those days. As the boys got older and learned about Lowe’s dairy bar on the corner we would have to stop for some refreshments before heading back home. One Sunday when DW was out of town, we even strolled through the square to church.
On Saturdays DW and the boys made a weekly trip to Flint’s. Something always needed fixing around our house so the boys learned their way around the hard ware store. Then it would be on to Brown’s for dog food and maybe some cucumber seeds, but the boys would come home talking about rabbits, chickens, kittens, and crickets. A little later on I introduced them to the movies at the Eureka. I think ET was the last movie I took them to see on the square.
For a short while we had a post office box so we still had to come to the square every day. The boys were so concerned that we might step on the grass. They always cautioned me to watch my step and keep off the grass as the sign warned. I don’t know what they thought might happen if we did trespass on the grass, but they always had a great respect for it. I love that old post office building and I’m glad it’s still there and that the grass is too.
Now, almost 32 years later, I’m enjoying watching the square’s return to glory. Ever since we moved here I’ve heard Batesville locals lament over that fact that the trees that filled the center of the west side of the square were cut down and the park-like atmosphere they created was destroyed. Sounds like a regrettable decision at the time, but luckily through the years concerned citizens have worked to bring it back. There’s green space. There’s shade for the farmer’s market during the summer. There are red roses and crape myrtles that bloom in the summer, spring blooming trees, and happy fall foliage, too. There are benches for resting or just watching. There’s a memorial to our freedom to make us pause and remember. There are lights at Christmas. And there’s even enough space for our amusement and entertainment. I’d say the Batesville square is recovering nicely. And, I’m reminded of Evelyn Flint, Norma Riser, and Emily Allen and their love and concern for keeping things green and growing in Batesville. I’d think they’d be pleased and tell us to keep up the good work.
I’m so looking forward to strolling my grandchildren around the square and telling them about the times I strolled their daddy and uncle to town and about all the wonderful people we met and all the fun things we did as they grew up. We’ll stroll around and visit with old friends and make some new ones too. And, I’m excited about improved sidewalks, additional lighting, and more landscaping. The square is going from great to exceptional. But, these improvements aren’t really for us, they will actually welcome the next generation of children, shoppers, businesses, and prosperity to the square. Hopefully we’ll continue to get it right and there will be no more regrets.
Editors Note: Peggy Walker writes a special column featured in each Friday’s edition of The Panolian, our local bi-weekly newspaper. She also serves on the Batesville Main Street Board of Directors.