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DOUG FORD: Back to the future

Attending the ribbon cutting for the New Brick Historic Lofts on Thursday jolted my memory a little, reminding me of what South Boston used to be like.

Moreover, what the town could become.

It’s a story worth repeating, never mind the continuing monologue on how the town and county are on their respective deathbeds due to the loss of tobacco, textile and manufacturing jobs.

I try not to deal with those whose favorite television program is Doomsday Preppers, and although a resident of the county, I still have a stake in my hometown, where my family ran a successful business for over half a century.

Ednes’ Beauty Shop was a part of the community from 1927 to 1989, and I jokingly tell friends I grew up with the smell of talcum powder in my veins.

North Main Street, my little corner of the world, had just about everything I needed, with Reynolds Pastry Shop on the corner and the Halifax Theatre across the street.

Back then, shoppers were three abreast along the sidewalks of town on Saturdays, and during the holiday rush and tobacco market days, downtown bloomed with numbers of people flush with spending money.

Retail establishments were plentiful, with multiple department stores, drug stores and hardware stores gracing downtown, with places to eat thrown in for good measure.

Sadly, those days are behind us.  You can call me a sentimentalist, but sometimes you can move forward by looking back.

As seen in the City of Richmond the past 20 years, urban living has become chic again, with young professionals and empty nesters alike choosing the convenience of downtown over suburban commutes.

On a much smaller scale, South Boston is seeing somewhat of a similar effort in attracting folks downtown.

Some may decry every effort the town makes in trying to “re-invent” itself, especially when talking about the former John Randolph Hotel.

Business and property owners, particularly along Seymour Drive and Wall Street have expressed concerns over rezoning issues, and those are viable.

Their approach has been both reasonable and appropriate, and they can and should be part of the mix as the town moves forward.

There are those, however, who move through life complete with horse blinders, saying in essence, “Give me what I want and leave me alone.”

They seem to offer little in the way of ideas but a lot in terms of complaining, and I think they may be part of the problem rather than the solution.

“Market rate” apartments may seem too expensive for some, but not for others, and at least it’s a start.