Main streets the pulse of county, country

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I have an infatuation with small-town main streets.

I believe this interest began as a child when I would travel with my family, and with every small, American town we passed, my mother would proclaim, “This is just too cute!”

The first time I drove into downtown Columbiana I was on my way to a job interview with the editor of the Shelby County Reporter. I was nervous, running late and wearing clothes too informal for an interview. I should have been better prepared.

Even with all of the inner pre-interview turmoil, though, I was struck by the beauty of downtown America.

When I drove out to Calera High School for my first “real” interview as a new reporter, I stopped at a red light in downtown Calera and literally laughed out loud as I saw a knight in shining armor guarding the second-floor balcony of a shop front on Highway 31.

I’ve enjoyed driving through Montevallo and watching college students converge on the surrounding businesses.

I suppose I’d like to thank small-town America for preserving its gloriously quaint heritage. Main streets are beautiful time capsules of yesteryear in an era so desperately in need of reminders. As I’ve only been with the Reporter for about a month now, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit all of Shelby County yet, but I’m getting there.

Accompanying main streets, of course, are the groups of people who conduct everyday life and business from their posts off the main drag. After taking this reporting job in an unfamiliar location, I cannot express my gratitude enough to these people.

These are the people who are immediately open to telling a complete stranger about their lives. Their chests puff out as they talk about their towns, the towns in which they were born and now to which they contribute a great deal. These people are the beating pulse of small-town America, and this nation would not be the same without them.

While I do, admittedly, have an infatuation with small-town main streets, I owe my profession, and the enjoyment of the profession, to the people who work so hard to maintain not only their towns, but the deeply-committed attitude of those making a life for themselves away from the high-rises.

If you keep telling your stories, people of Shelby County, I’ll do my best to keep writing them.

Christine Boatwright is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 16 or by e-mail at