Watching the earth-moving and street and sidewalk re-construction on the Olde Town's main block, I've been amazed at the ease with which the traffic seems to flow. It isn't speedy, and shouldn't be. The much-debated and oft-maligned 25 miles-per-hour speed limit, while perhaps deterring some motorists, is welcomed by others.
Cars and trucks move right along with the changing traffic signals, just as if there was nothing happening within inches of their vehicles.
The only danger seems to be the distraction of the construction. Curious people that we are, we just must try to figure out what's taking place.
Recently I ran across a 1962 Woodstock Star newspaper clipping about one of the cotton warehouses that lined the railroad tracks for many years. The J. H. Johnston Company warehouse pictured in the article had outlived its usefulness and was slated for demolition.
The photograph is a treasure. The south wall of the building featured Coca-Cola ads and the J. H. Johnston Company name. A few landmarks and the description in the caption confirm the location on the northeast corner of Main Street and Arnold Mill Road.
I had seen the article and had even laminated it for use in displays, but until recently had not noticed the sign that was very prominent on the street corner. It reads: 25 MPH.
Remember, this was in 1962. The Woodstock Star was published weekly at the time, but there was no outcry on the editorial page about speed traps. Town was busy. There seemed to be no empty storefronts. A series of articles about the different merchants ran weekly.
There was angle parking on both sides of two-lane Main Street, which meant that pedestrians - customers, merchants, and employees - were often crossing Main Street. The space left by the departing warehouse was to be used for parking. At that time, if my research is correct, across the street from the warehouse, Morgan Hardware, Priest's Auto Parts, and Woodstock Jewelry were in the northernmost block, with First Baptist church next door to the jewelry store. There were no other businesses north of the church. The homes were occupied by residents.
The intersection of Arnold Mil and Main Street was not yet blessed with a traffic light. The street now known as Towne Lake Parkway was Church Street, a narrow little street that led to the church parking lots and a few houses before angling into Mill Street a few yards away. No need for a traffic signal. Arnold Mill was a residential street, folks managed to jump in.
Miller Barnes compiled a city directory that year. It revealed a total population of 726, with 28 businesses and five churches. A facade program had begun in 1961, and the town had a new look. Woodstock became a real suburb in 1962 when it joined other cities in the Metropolitan Atlanta telephone exchange. It was for a time included in the 404-exchange when area codes were put into use. The Woodstock Medical Clinic opened on East Main Street in 1962, and would have been visible from the vantage point of the above-mentioned photo once the warehouse was removed. Down the road a ways, Highway 92 was paved for the first time that year.
The frenzied activity of that year parallels the activity of today. Woodstock was a thriving, busy city even then, and will surely make a comeback now. Memories fade, and it won't be long until we won't be able to remember what it looked like before the streetscapes project began.
Lots of history buffs have made photographs for posterity, and our files at Dean's Store are filled with news clippings and pictures.
I guess you could say we're in the business of preserving memories. We make memories every day, and with so many things happening every day, it would be so easy to skip over something someone will ask about in the future. That's my excuse for watching as the work is done. Tough job, but somebody has to do it!
Juanita Hughes is the retired manager of the Woodstock Public Library.