Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wandering Wednesday: The Court House Edition

Today's wandering takes us to the court house, also called the village by those of us who aren't from here.  Those who are from here would simply say, "I"m going up the road to the store" which implies the court house but never the village.  Just wanted to make that distinction.

Bridging the language gap can be burdensome, but someone's got to do it.

Above is Fosters Department Store, or at least it used to be back in my day. It's changed hands several times since then and so help me there is now a sign referencing one Mathews Film Society that appears to have taken up residence.

I never thought I'd live to see the day. What does a film society do? Is popcorn involved? Raisinettes? Cinema as an Art Form was one of my best classes in college, and I can analyze color and lighting and scenes as well as anyone as long as wine popcorn is involved.

Below is the strip that includes Fleets, that little brick building with green awnings on the corner. Fleets was a very straight forward, uncomplicated restaurant that had a teeny, tiny little bar tucked away in the corner between the restrooms and the kitchen.

You see, you could drink in Mathews, but nobody was supposed to know about it.  So to keep those drinkers confined and entertained in that tiny 2x4 drinking area, they decided to put up a dart board, because nothing says epicurean adventure like having to dodge darts hurled by people who have been drinking since 1972 noon.

Still, I liked Fleets just fine. And it will always be Fleets no matter what Nom du Jour beckons from the sign outside.

Above is the public library, where I spend a good hour three or four hours each week doing research. If you ever drive by on a Thursday or Friday and see a green Saturn parked out front, go up to the Chesapeake Room and look for the one and only person in there (other than the nice folks who help the unemployed find jobs which CBW wants to do when she retires which will be in approximately the year 3056). If her eyes are bloodshot and she looks stressed you can rest assured she is she's wondering how in the world she's going to locate enough old photographs for the project she's working on.

Or, she's wondering what's for dinner. Either/or.

 This building used to be the Farmers Bank of Mathews, where I had my very first bank account. Before moving here, the library was located in the building where the sheriff's office was before the new court offices opened up on the site of the old Lee Jackson Elementary School.

Please try to control your excitement at these mind-numbing fascinating facts, and thank you for pretending to be awake.

For my one local reader, do you remember when the court house (aka the village, aka our commercial district) shut down half a day on Wednesdays and all day on Sundays?  And there was no such thing as Walmutant.  Pretty much if you didn't have it  you just did without until things opened back up the next day.

For anyone else, how would you describe the downtown or village area where you grew up? And have you ever heard of a commercial area referred to as a court house?  This isn't unique to Mathews, but it may well be unique to this region.  There's Gloucester Court House, King and Queen Court House, etc., but I'm not sure how many others.  I'm just curious.

Last but not least, the MHS cross country team runs this evening at Beaverdam in Gloucester.


Kate said...

Well, let's see... back in my heyday (ha!) Foster's was a carpet store, and the idea of a 'film society' most likely would have been viewed as a crazy 'come here' idea, even in the oh-so-progressive 90s (see 'ha' above).

Fleets was still Fleets, and I know my mother certainly frowned on the idea of going to a bar! Gasp! So I never went in there until I was out of high school and by then it was The Irish Cottage or something and that was just for lunch.

And the library was still just using one story, none of the rooms had official names, and the dewey deciamal card catalog sat by the front door. I spent a few hours there in 8th grade doing a research paper on penguins for Mr. Deputy's english class.

I remember life without walmart, hardees, etc. If you really needed something, you either got it quick at Mr. Hubert's store, since that sweet old man had one of everything! Or you waited until next time you needed to drive up to the court house.

With the BlogCabin coming in next year, I wonder how much else will change around the court house?

Anonymous said...

I remember the half day Wednesday and dead Sundays very well. I guess we didn't know any different back in the day so it really wasn't that big of a deal. We would die now! Somehow we managed to survive without Wal-Mart or big box pharmacies. Thank heavens for Richardsons, Hudgins Pharmacy, Ben-Franklin and lets not forget, Sibleys. I still miss Fleets too!
Good luck on your book adventure!

Ann Marie said...

Not only do I remember it I remember when the Library still had a drive through window even though it was a library not a bank.. they should have put the check out there and left the drive through can you imagine how fun it would be to drive through and pick up the books you had on hold or drop off!!!

I remember the Wednesday Sunday deal... I would love for that to happen again.

Kate's reference to Mr Hubert.. ahh I loved that story but you BEST NOT be short in your change or you would be putting something back.

I worked in Fleet's.. but only fleet's I have not frequented the place since it has been anything but. I MAY have walked into the bar section in the back a time or two.. but just not the same. I preferred the tiny corner.

For those of us from the Port Haywood area.. JR's Market used to be Port Haywood market and quite honestly had the best meat in the county. I am pretty sure Charles butchered that stuff right there in the back.. the same Charles that was the father of your friend A and my friend M. My mother was grocery shopping there the day my brother was born.. YES GROCERY SHOPPING as in enough food for the 3 or 4 days she would be gone in what is now a run down dump.. oh did I say that outloud. i am sorry it STINKS in there.

Let's see.. Hyco Corner Little Sue.. used to be a restaurant.. Now THAT is something you need a picture of.

There was no Hardee's I wish there still wasnt.. YUCK.

There was no Sal's Pizza. but there isn't now either..

I could go on and on and on and it will just make a mess.. so I am outta here.

WV Annic... The specific term used to describe my mental condition. No no she isn't manic she is just annic.


deborah said...

What an interesting post! Our little towns rolled up their sidewalks on Thursday afternoon. A lot of change here, in the old hardware store is now a very fancy Italian (Eye-Tal-yan) restaurant that has a select menu of Wines. People come from miles away to eat there, but we 'locals' hardly ever. That single block had about everything a person needed back then.

Lynne M. said...

Oh, yes. I actually "live at the Court House". Not literally, as I live a good 3 miles away from it, but I still consider it "at" the Court House. In Gloucester, that is. It was either "down Guinea", or "up Court House way". We have all kinds of fancy stuff there, now, too. I don't like it. I like the good ole days. Lou Smith, Roses, Ames, Wallaces. But I reckon there is no bringing it back. Oh, and I think it was called Morgan's. The drug store that had a lunch counter with the best sandwiches ever. Period.

Lynne M. said...

Oh, and do you still call places by their old names? I still call the shell station "Ark Texaco". The 7-11 by my house will forever be "Little Sue". Page Middle School will always be the Intermediate School. The Emporium will always be the Skating Rink.. haha

BayBrowder said...

We'uns comeheres call downtown Mathews a village because, to our friends and relatives back in the mountains of southwest Virginia, it best describes the quaint, compact collection of buildings and businesses.
I guess things have changed in Mathews. Now the court house is not in the Court House (village), but in the outskirts. It's nice to live in a place where the outskirts are three blocks from downtown.

Go Mathews Cross Country!!!

Deltaville Jamie said...

I don't know of any other area where the town is referred to as "the court house". I remember when everything was closed in Deltaville (and everywhere else) on Sunday. Sometimes I go to WalFart late at night because I can and because that's when the really freaky people shop. Not that I'm freaky, I just like to point and stare.

big hair envy said...

King & Queen county is almost seventy miles long and ten miles wide. Geographically, it's not conducive to this sort of "village" setup. (Much to my chagrin!) There are no chain stores in K&Q, and there are few mom & pop stores. We have to go to "town" to get groceries, etc. Those of us in the upper end go to Central Garage or Tappahannock. Those in the lower end go to West Point or Gloucester.

We DO have a lovely Courthouse, but it's strictly a county seat. It's centrally located, and would be a wonderful place to open up a little lunch counter...

AverettLadyNana said...

Yep and in my day Fleet's was Snooks Davis' Restaurant...and behind it was his wife Olivia's Florist. Next to that was Brownley Hudgins' Furniture Store and next to that was Mr. John Miller's store...think that was hardware. Mr. Snooks Davis parents had Restaurant there before him...Joe/Joseph and oh me...I was just thinking of her name and now forgot it....Sophie. And across the street on corner was French's Pool Hall (between Fleets and Hudgins Drug Store -- think a florist there now or was a few years ago) and behind it was his sister's restaurant...Miss Elsie French..Martha Ann had shop where Miss Elsie's was.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Well, I grew up 5 miles outside of a town whose population hovered around 1,000. We had a high school (7-12), Elementary school (K-6), and a few other commercial operations (one bank, a car dealer, a dentist, a grocery store, and yes, that seedy bar at the outskirts of town). Oh, and several churches, of course. There just wasn't a lot going on. But our town did not shut down like yours! On weekends, yes, but not middle of the week. Interesting.

Mental P Mama said...

My favorite was and always will be Ben Franklin. sigh

Film Society???

Daryl said...

So where I come from there's both a Downtown (anywhere below where you are at the moment) and the Village as in Greenwich Village .. not in Connecticut's Greenwich (which I am sure has its own downtown and village .. I am sure .. no I am just being assertive or bossy depending on how well you know me).

I love Mathews and its Courthouse .. and especially its White Dog Inn which I believe is part of the Courthouse .. best food in Mathews .. tho I havent eaten at Fleets ... maybe we can go there next BlogFest, how are they with large groups of wild women?

Kay L. Davies said...

I've never heard of a village being called a courthouse, but I do remember when everything closed all day Sunday and half a day Wednesday, in Kelowna, British Columbia, which was a small town then.
Now it is a sprawling large city that just growed. There was never a plan, at least not one you could discern by looking at the place today. They chopped down orchards, dug up farms, then put up malls and subdivisions apparently at random.
Mathews County sounds wonderful to me.
-- Kay, Alberta

TSannie said...

My grandmother's was know as the Court House Square. It looked kind of like the one in Back to the Future. A lot of midwest's towns had the courthouse smack dab in the middle, surrounded by the roads and on the other side, 4 rows of stores. It was a neat set-up.
Here in the Northeast a lot of towns surround the town green - a big area, sometimes with a church at one end, sometimes not. That's a neat set-up as well.

TSannie said...

I just found out that my cousin-in-law's mother grew up in Redart (or Redstart??) that's about a good spit from your house! Small world.

Mrs F with 4 said...

I am going to sound like SUCH a hick! We had The Post Office... which was the front room of Old Mrs Roundthwaite's house in the village. You could buy stamps (obviously) and post a parcel - if you were desperate and had about fifteen hours to spare. She also sold vegetables and fruit, all grown in her garden. That was it!

Other needs were filled by the milkman (six days a week), if you didn't keep cows; the cheese man (once a week); the baker (ditto); the butcher (also ditto). Oh, and the fish man on Fridays. They would each bring their van to the center of the village - oh, who am I kidding, it wasn't grand enough to HAVE a center! - and park by the old village well. Oh, I forgot the Rington's Tea man, who delivered loose tea to the farm.

Most things though, we grew or bred, or made!

Going To Town happened, I think, about once a month for such things as ... well, I have no idea, as we children were not encouraged to go.