Home wasn’t built in a day

Published 4:36 pm Monday, March 13, 2023

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This weekend while Milt was away attending the Men’s Ignite Conference at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. with about 4,000 others, I used some of the weekend to catch up on finishing two books I am writing.

Between breaks of writing, I listened to PBS and a show on the ‘Pop, Rock and Roll, and Soul hits’ of the 1960’s and 70’s. Some of my all-time favorites, I Love You More Today Than Yesterday by Spiral Staircase, Kiss Him Goodbye by Steam, He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother by the Hollies, and This Old heart of Mine by the Isley Brothers made for good company and memories. After the show went off, I turned to the Grand Old Opry and listened to some really good music. The song that captured my heart was Todd Tilghman’s Home Wasn’t Built in a Day.  That sweet song brought back so many warm memories of people’s commitment and prayers for me growing up in Washington.

Born and raised here, Washington endeared itself to me after living away for many years.  My love for my home wasn’t built in a day.  It covers a lifetime.

If you grew up here in the late 50’s 60’s and 70’s, we may all have similar memories no matter where you lived.  Although each community had its own uniqueness, allhad neighbors who looked out for you.  Most can remember things that made childhood so sweet, a candy store somewhere nearby where you could buy two for a penny cookies and penny candy.  And always there was the neighbor or teacher who just happened to have a few pennies to give you to buy goodies. No matter where you went to school, there was a teacher who took you under their wings.

Speaking of school, my friends and I and I’m sure many other students remember the miniskirts or bell bottom pants we wore, l which were the hits of fashion, and the ‘go-go boots’ that were so cute. But for those who didn’t have ‘trendy things’, there were folks who looked out for you and gave you nice clothing for school if you needed it.

I remember going to Frank’s Jewelry Store to get my ears pierced and buying my first records from Jowdy’s as rites of passage.  But if you couldn’t pay to get your ears pierced, a teen neighbor was happy to pierce them for you. And stopping to look in the window of Adrian Garris’ Television and Appliance Store on Main Street was something I often did because Mr. Garris was my hero.  He or one of his repairmen would come to our house to replace a blown-out tube in the back of the TV so we could watch Sky King, Roy Rogers and all our favorite Saturday morning westerns and cartoons, the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday evenings and the Beverly Hillbillies on Wednesday night.  But if you didn’t have a TV, all you had to do is find a neighbor with one. The same thing was the rule if you didn’t have a telephone.

Pomp Credle’s Restaurant at Fifth Street and Gladden Streets had the best twin ice cream cones ever and Matthew Gibbs Store across the street from Pomp’s sold the best Baby Ruth’s candy bars. Shorty’s Sandwich Shop at Fourth and Pierce had the best ‘Dirty Reds’ (which were shaved ice snow cones with sweet fruit flavored syrup poured over top.)  Ammon’s Bakery had brownies and ‘lay heavy’s (bread pudding squares) that were out of this world good, and if you didn’t have money for treats, a neighbor or the store owner themselves made sure you got that ice cream cone, lay heavy or the ‘dirty reds’ when they treated the neighborhood kids for getting good grades or doing chores for them.

Most of us growing up at that time can remember going to McClellan’s Department Store to buy freshly popped popcorn, everything you needed for school, and sometimes you brought things because it seemed like a good idea at the time, like baby turtles, or fun things like real goldfish or roller skates, Jacks, Marbles or Old Maid Cards to have fun with your family and friends. But if you didn’t, somebody always shared.

I miss those places and I fondly remember those times.   I love passing those old locations on morning walks and reminiscing. But these warm memories, of the wonderful neighborhoods I grew up in and played in, and all the people who prayed, cared and committed themselves and help me to grow up in a loving and stable environment, took years to create and helped me to realize that Washington, my home, wasn’t built in a day, but thru a lifetime of as Todd Tilghman’s song says, “home wasn’t built in a day, but thru a lifetime of commitment, caring and prayers.”

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.