Friday, May 25, 2012

Sepia Saturday: On the Street Where You Live

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt features a busy marketplace complete with cows, hotel, shoppers, and the Waterford coffee and tea van, perhaps a forerunner of food trucks and kiosks.  The community where I grew up in the 50s and 60s was once equally vibrant while today it struggles to revitalize itself.


Photo by Laura Purvis
Cradock is a historic neighborhood built in 1918 to house shipyard workers during World War I since the neighboring city of Portsmouth, Virginia was not equipped to handle the large numbers of workers moving in.  It is significant because it was the first government-funded community in the US.  Cradock was designed as a fully self-contained pedestrian neighborhood of 35 blocks surrounding a shopping district close enough for most residents to walk to stores, to school, to church, to a library and post office, and to recreation areas.  The same theories used in planning Cradock are being used today, but now it’s called “new urbanism.”

Cradock was named for Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock whose fleet was sunk by the Germans in 1914. The street layout is based on an anchor with Gillis Road (where I lived) forming the stock and the main thoroughfare Afton Parkway forming the shank.  The curved part is created by Alden and Dahlgren Avenues.  Many of the roads were named for naval heroes.



Inspired by Howard over at Postcards Then and Now I’ve put together some before and after shots of the commercial district of Cradock.  Let’s go shopping in Cradock then and now.

     1. At the corner of Gillis and Afton was Reds, a bit of a forerunner of convenience stores where you could get lunch as well as buy light bulbs, cleaning supplies, toys, and candy.  I was scared of this store because greasy boys smoking cigarettes were always hanging around.  However, I had to be brave and go in because Reds carried the best selection of Barbie doll clothes. 

    

 





Today it is a pawn shop. Next door was a hardware store, and I see by the Gliddens paint sign that it still is.  At the opposite corner was a bakery and later a florist.  I don’t know what is there now.




2. Across the street was a dry cleaners (although it was some other business in this older photo). It later housed a talented upholsterer who did some work for us.
Now, the stores are home to a real estate management company and some other office.
     3.    Moving on up Afton Parkway the road becomes “one way” around a circle. 

Older photos from HistoricCradock.org

The park in the middle was where every summer Holy Angels Catholic Church held its annual bazaar.  We went every night.  We could play Bingo, enjoy ponies and carnival rides, play carnival games and win cheap prizes (my favorite was picking a plastic duck out of the “pond” to see if I was a winner – yeah, I’m easily entertained).  And cotton candy!  Cotton candy EVERY. DAY.  This park remains although not quite as lush as it used to be, but it still sees plenty of action with fall festival and other “Come Home to Cradock” activities.

      




     4. This part of the shopping strip gives a good view of the “new urbanism” concept with apartments above the stores.  On the right was Highs Ice Cream.  Five cents a dip when I was a kid.  On the far left corner was Moys.  They ran both a Chinese laundry and take-out restaurant.  We used to get their chow mein quite often.  A variety of businesses have come and gone over the years including appliance stores, antique shops, thrift stores, and beauty parlors.


5.       Here’s the bank where I had my little savings account and Christmas club.  Now it is the latest of a series of restaurants that have tried to make it there. The empty lot was once Overtons Supermarket.  We did most of our grocery shopping at Colonial Store on the highway, but if we needed something right away, Momma sent me to Overtons.


6.      Going to the Afton Theater was everybody’s Saturday activity.  The ladies’ restroom had a vestibule with a picture window where you could continue watching the movie while your friend was occupied.  Sometimes we hid in the bathroom after the movie so we could sneak back in and watch it again for free.  There have been several failed attempts to raise funds to refurbish the place for 2nd run movies or little theater.  Right now it’s a gutted disaster.  Next door was a drug store with the best selection of penny candy.



7.      Down from the Afton, the shop on the corner was a fabric store where Momma was a frequent customer since she made most of our clothes.  At one time it was run by her high school friend Bertie Winn Campbell.  It is now just a variety store or junk shop.



     8. Chapman’s market was a meat market. My grandmother sometimes helped out since the Chapmans were old family friends. 


Now look at that stretch of Afton Parkway. So depressing.



9.        The Gazebo (bandstand) has always been the heart of “downtown Cradock.”  It was originally on Prospect Parkway but was moved to its current location in Afton Park in the circle to be a focal point for community activities.

Photo by Laura Purvis
Whether in times of prosperity or poverty, the bandstand will probably always be important in the hearts of Cradock citizens as a reminder of the Cradock that once was and the hope of what Cradock could be again. 

To see what else is happening in the neighborhood, head over to Sepia Saturday.


44 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading about the history of Cradock. It's interesting that it's the first government funded community. I hope that the revitalization efforts continue and that this area will be vibrant in the future.

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    1. Oh if only. Some streets look really good, and some look like a warzone.

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  2. I love the then and now postcards. It's interesting--and sometimes sad--to see how much things have changed.

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    1. It is sad. There is a directory online of everyone who lived in Cradock in 1956, and it was like having a little reunion reading all those familiar names. Now everyone is gone, either dead or moved away (including us).

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  3. That is so interesting to see how much things have changed.

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    1. Sally, please send me a link to your blog.

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  4. I really enjoyed your 'Then and Now' Photo Tour. Again, I'm so amazed at the vintage photos you have. Craddock's Revitalization Committee needs to hire you to do a Calendar with this theme! Great pot for Sepia Saturday!

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  5. Oh, Wendy, this is awesome! It makes me want to go there, or really it makes me wish that I could have come across the country and visited you at your house and with your family when you were still living there. I had to laugh at your favorite game being picking up the ducks. One of my favorite rides when I was little were the boats going around in a circle in 1' of water. I was always a bit worried about tipping over, lol. That is so neat that your Mom made your clothes too. Hugs!

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    1. HA -- yeah, those boat rides! Isn't it funny how big things seemed when we were little?

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  6. A wonderful visit to your town then and now. I liked that you were so determined to get your Barbie doll clothes - you were brave enough to pass by the greasy punks.
    I wish towns were all designed with everything in easy walking distance. In calif. you have
    To drive everywhere.
    Nancy

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    1. Yes, I'd like to live in a place like that now too. Short of that, I'd like my area to develop lightrail.

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  7. It's funny that something from 1918 is called 'historic'. But I liked your tour of the neighbourhood (although I had problems concentrating after reading about the daily cotton candy).

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    1. Oh Rob, that is too funny. I know what you mean though. Europe is so OLD. Here in the US, anything still standing from the 1700s is considered a miracle.

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  8. Hi Wendy,

    Please send me an email: mjjoachimswriting@gmail.com. It's regarding "Name that Stitch." Thank you:)

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  9. Oh Cradock Sounds A Great Community.The Idea of a Community Built Town is a nice People-Sized Idea.It reminds me a little of the village of Saltaire nearby to me in Yorkshire.

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    1. "People sized" -- I like that term. And it perfectly captures the idea the original developers had in mind.

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  10. Wendy, I loved the "then and now" concept of this post. It was great fun to travel with you through Craddock and see how things have changed. Five-cent ice cream cones were a big part of my childhood, too. The price of those has changed drastically, hasn't it?

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    1. Indeed! You can almost buy a half-gallon container for the price of a double-dip cone.

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  11. The then and now pictures are interesting, but what I really love are the old photos. It looks like it would have been a fun place to live.

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    1. Back THEN, it was a great place to live. I wouldn't give 2 cents to live there now though.

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  12. Thank you for that trip down memory lane. I'd love to live in a place where you could walk to everything.
    Barbara

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    1. Me too! But the poor ol' folks in Cradock don't have much to walk to the square for anymore.

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  13. What a vivid description of greasy boys smoking cigarettes! I just enjoyed this detailed journey, and your title just drew me in!

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    1. Oh thanks--I like my title too. It's probably the best part ;-)

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  14. What an interesting journey around your home neighbourhood, Wendy, made so much more vivid by the memories, thank you.

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  15. yep, Reds was the place to be after school! 15 cents got you 15 pieces of penny candy-Reds was the first place I tasted Sprite =)
    AND the place that Momma and Betsy stole a magazine! LOL

    Loved that Catholic Carnival-especially those swings that went in a circle.

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    1. I see I need to start interviewing you before I write any more posts. I totally forgot that story.

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  16. It must be the only town in the world to be made in the shape of an anchor. I love "then and now" photos, somehow the 'then' always looks more vibrant now that out of town stores have taken over. I live in shipbuilding town, lots of our older streets are named after admirals etc. It must be a feature of these types of towns.

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    1. I think you're right about street names in Navy towns.

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  17. Well done with the now and then pictures; it's so interesting to compare. To live in a community like that with everything within walking distance must have been wonderful. As Tony says it's reminiscent of many English villages and towns, now sadly disappearing.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that English villages are disappearing too. I thought it was just an American thing to move out, build new, kiss the past good-bye.

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  18. Love, love the then and now pics, somehow the "then" almost always looks better.

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  19. It's so interesting to go back and look at what was there when we were and what's there now. I've been doing that the past few weeks too.

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    1. Yes, I saw your Alphabet theme and your general sadness that your childhood haunts have changed for the worse. We certainly have that in common.

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  20. Fascinating "then and now" post about Cradock. Very interesting that the streets ran in the shape of an anchor too! Thanks for sharing!

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  21. Wonderful detail on a small part of Hampton Roads. Shows just how organic neighborhoods can be over a half century.

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  22. Pretty cool before and after shots. I used to sit in the library for hours looking at cities I stayed in and catch glimpses of their past. The town looks better in the old days if you ask me1

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  23. Looking back at old familiar places is not always comforting as things just don't feel the same. I know the feeling, especially when I visited my parents in my old neighborhood...
    The Chapmans was my favorite here, with the signage, and the bikes in front of the stores, it does speak of a certain era.
    Thanx 4 sharing!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  24. Hi Wendy, I too am a keen genealogist and love the thrill of the chase to find my ancestors.
    Thank you for visiting my blog the other day and leaving me a lovely comment.

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  25. Enjoyed your post - the annual bazaar sounded like alot of fun. I would have been there every night too. It's a shame the present can't be like our memories - it really is true, you can never go back home. It was sad to see the present pics of your hometown contrasted with the 1950s photos when Cradock was probably in its heyday. Hope the town will be revitalized some day.

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  26. I really enjoyed your post. Inspires me to take a journey down my old streets. I lived on quite a few, so my memories of each one are not always what I wish they were.

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