• 57°

Elizabeth Cook: Signs of past times in downtown Salisbury

In looking for information in Post files, we sometimes stumble across interesting bits of history.

I offer here photographic evidence to back up my sometimes dubious memory.

After dashing off a column last week about the downtown Salisbury of 40 years ago, I began to second-guess myself. Was there really a Tobias store downtown, or was it in a shopping center?

Well, Tobias may have had a store in a shopping center later, but a look through old photos shows there was indeed a Tobias on South Main Street in the early 1980s.

In addition to confirmation, the photo also gave me renewed appreciation for the appearance of downtown Salisbury today. I had repressed how it looked in 1984, when the photo was taken.

Many decades ago, merchants across the country decided they needed a more modern look. Perhaps it was part of the whole mid-century look that’s being revived in home decor these days. In downtown Salisbury, that modernistic trend resulted in sleek facades of aluminum or other material being placed over storefronts’ original brickwork.

The most distinctive may have been Phil’s, with its name writ large in cursive script, ascending at an angle.

South Main Book Co. now occupies the space that Phil’s — then run by Mort Lerner — filled with shoes.

The transformation of these storefronts to what they are today, with the aluminum removed and brick facades restored, didn’t happen overnight. It took the coaxing of the then-new Downtown Salisbury Inc. and city officials — and cash grants — to convince some owners that what was old could be new again.

Richard Dobkin Purcells sold women’s clothing.

 

I need to make a clarification about the clothing store I called Richard Dobkins in last week’s column. The store’s name was also Purcells. That store —where the Salisbury Wine Shop is now, I think — had a lighted sign proclaiming “Purcells Richard Dobkin.”

In 2015, Mark Wineka wrote a feature about a 100-year-old woman who many years earlier had done alterations, window displays and other work at Purcells, Margaret “Monnie” Reid Russell Sherrill.

“Monnie laughs,” Mark wrote, “remembering the day a man on the street rapped on the window and complained about the nude mannequins. Monnie then made it her personal job to wrap any naked mannequin with an overcoat until a new dress was added.”

I guess you could call that facade work, too.

Mrs. Sherrill died last month at the age of 103, mother of the church at Sandy Ridge AME Zion.

We lose the people who know our history every day. Photographs can fill some gaps, but not all. Share your stories. What seems so obvious and eternal now will be gone some day.

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

Comments

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners

Business

Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs

Columns

Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers

Business

Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class

Sports

Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow

Nation/World

States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

Nation/World

Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack

News

NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting

Coronavirus

People receiving first dose of COVID-19 vaccine grows by less than 1%

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools brings Skills Rowan competition back to its roots

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City

Sports

Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow

Business

Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh

Nation/World

California population declines for first time