Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Want To Grow Old Downtown

I'm 60 years old.  I remember downtown Knoxville in the "good old days," but I definitely was a suburbanite and the trips felt more like pilgrimages as we dutifully prescribed to our mother's sequence of shopping -- walking through the (smelly, yucky) Market House but rarely buying anything, checking some of the other stores along Union before working our way over to Gay Street and Penney's, Hall's, and The Knox (It is the building in which I now live--we are in former storage space on the top floor.)  We rounded up the shopping at Miller's, which would deliver our purchases to our home the next day, and then on to the S&W, where I ALWAYS ordered fried fish and cherry pie. 

Yet as I consider the possibilities of living downtown beyond my automobile-driving days, I seem to be recalling more of the downtown stores we rarely went into--the grocery stores . . . the drugstores . . . we had our own White Stores and Long's Drugs in West Knoxville, thank you very much.

When I can't drive anymore, I'll need a well-stocked grocery store. I'll need a pharmacy that'll keep my dozen or so prescriptions straight.  

We don't have those yet downtown.  There are a few smaller food stores, but they cannot compete with what we continue to access as we did before we moved downtown (and for a thrifty person like me, I have to take advantage of the specials made even sweeter with aggressive couponing). How can you appease a West Knoxville gal with an intimate grocery store after she has seen the lights of a Super Target?  

The panel addressed multiple aspects of a healthy downtown.
I'm thinking, though, that when I and my baby-boomer-buddies give up the cars, the vendors will discover us, and then we will get a better selection of stores.  Check back with me in 2033.  But in the meanwhile read Urban Guy's account of last week's address on walkability and aging in place:  Getting Nerdy in Knoxville--Symposiums, Keynotes and Panel Discussions  Events such as this and the concept of aging in place make me optimistic. 

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