There’s no place like home.
Dorothy said it time and again as she, eyes tightly closed, clicked her heels over and over as if the sparkling ruby slippers would deliver her back to a comfortable bed at Auntie Em’s house. Magically they did, but not without a wide-eyed Dorothy recalling the mystical world of Oz, far removed from the small Kansas town she remembered.
There have been many times over the course of my journalistic career that I’ve been a Dorothy, clicking my heels and magically hoping my Sperry’s would drop me smack dab in the middle of the courthouse square in downtown Clinton.
Though the transformation had less to do with shoes and more to do with career moves, I was blessed to land back in Clinton and here at The Sampson Independent some 23 years ago, though both were places I’d sworn as a graduating senior I’d never locate. Ironically, now, it’s the only place I really want to be.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Clinton I moved back to in the summer of 1992 is, aesthetically speaking, far different than the one of 2015. That is to the credit of many, many people, including, but not limited by any stretch to. our mayor, Lew Starling, a forward thinking City Council, visionary business and property owners and caring community members, who’ve all, at one time or another, rolled up shirtsleeves to help turn a good downtown into a wonderful one.
Growth abounds. For me, the Clinton of today is our own Emerald City — from the public art that now welcomes us into the heart of downtown to the growing retail center that has new and thriving businesses intermingling with successful mainstays that have paved the way and set the example decade after decade. The mixing of old and new gives our downtown a personality of its own, beckoning visitors and residents to come, enjoy, shop.
Recently, Gloria Edwards and I had the opportunity at a Birdseye view of our fair city. Standing on the second floor of what will soon be the new Alfredo’s Restaurant shooting photographs for the newspaper’s Community Directory (thank you Mr. DiPinto for welcoming us), I gazed out at our breathtakingly beautiful downtown and realized that there really is no place like home.
And that the growth we’ve had, and continue to experience, only makes home that much more enticing.
Thanks to places like Sessoms Jewelry, Abbigail’s, Royal Gifts & Fine China, Burneys, Gracie’s Grill, Alfredo’s, Simply NC and so many, many more, today’s downtown offers the same rich history of my youth but with a modern-day flair that gives it a freshness akin to taking a deep breath of spring air.
I love our downtown, with its colorful flags flying high above historic statues that bring old and new together, celebrating where we’ve been and where we are going.
There really is no place like home and I, for one, am glad to be here. Aren’t you?
Sherry Matthews can be reached at 910-249-4612. Follow her on Twitter @sieditor1960.