Recently a lady who had grown up on Lewisville Street across from where I lived, called me and told me that after twenty years she had moved back to Minden.
She said “this is not my Minden anymore, what happened to the downtown area because it is not like it used to be?”
There are so many things different in Minden today from my younger years, not just the obvious physical differences. I often think of the whistle that sounded so many toots and we counted them to see where the fire was located.
Every house had a card that indicated the location of the fire alarm box. If there was two toots, a pause and then one toot we knew that the box was at location 21, and so on. We counted to see where the fire was located. It has been many years since we heard those toots.
And of course, we still notice and point out our brick streets, laying of which began in 1917. They have been repaired a few years back, and they are still a distinctive feature for downtown Minden.
Bandstands and Vacant Buildings
The big old bandstand is no longer in the park downtown, but there is a smaller version that people call a gazebo, not in the exact location but still in the park.
It is pretty but it does not hold the memories that the big old bandstand held.
There are vacant buildings downtown now. And of course, the old Andress Motors Company building is just a hole in the row of businesses, and is being used as a parking lot.
There are many businesses such as antique shops that are in locations that we remember having other stores long ago (such as City Drug Store is now an antique store.).
At one time we had at least three drug stores downtown and now there is none. There were several shoe repair shops in downtown Minden on both front and back streets.
To my knowledge there is not even one today. There were at least five barber shops in downtown Minden, and I think there are only two today.
Of course there is no movie theater in downtown Minden or even in the shopping centers on the outskirts of Minden, and we had at least three when I was young.
There were many stores that sold fabrics for ladies who sewed. As far as I can discover the only place that piece goods are sold today is at the Walmart Super Store.
I don’t think that is a single men’s store that sells only men’s clothing. I remember the store that was first called “Flewellyn’s”, and then “Scruggs” and then it was called “The Gentry” and finally it was named
“Ratcliff’s”. Another such store was “McCrary’s.” All gone from the scene. There is a small amount of men’s clothing at the WalMart store, but the nice suits and shirts are not available here today.
“Hog Heaven” is the only restaurant that I am aware of in downtown Minden. Ray Allen’s cleaning and pressing shop, Imperial Cleaners, and Al-N-Way cleaners were downtown. Today the closest to downtown is Imperial Cleaners on Pennsylvania Avenue and out the Homer Road is the Al-N-Way shop.
Now that Vivian’s Dress Shop has moved out to the shopping center on the Homer Road there is no dress shop there on the corner of Pearl and Main Streets. There are several shops that have come in lately,and of course there is “Her’s Bridal”
We had several variety stores that sold small, inexpensive items – such as Morgan & Lindsey, Ellis and T G & Y. There is none today.
Several stores have moved in, specializing in antiques. We still have Bryan’s Jewelry and Gray’s Jewelry, but House of Gifts no longer in business with gifts for brides and a bridal registry.
We still have Western Auto. It seems that the trend in Minden today is to move to the shopping centers on the outskirts of Minden. We have at least two investment offices in downtown Minden, and we have three banks in downtown Minden. Out the Homer Road we have Regions Bank, Hibernia Bank, Richland Bank, Gibsland Bank, Citizens Bank and Carter Federal Credit Union.
As for restaurants in the outlying areas you have a choice of at least four Mexican restaurants, and there are at least four or five locations to purchase cooked fish. So if you like to eat out occasionally hope you like Mexican or fish because that is the most that we have. We have some smaller cafes like the Golden Biscuit, Exacta Inn and Country Place. I have already mentioned “Hog Heaven” in downtown Minden.
At one time there were four or five automobile dealerships in downtown Minden. Today there is none.
Even the furniture stores have moved out – Spillers is now out in the West Plaza shopping center. Ivan Smith has a new building out the Homer Road. We have Holley’s Furniture and Appliances also out on the Homer Road.
We have a movie of Minden downtown in the fifties. The most amazing thing is the many people on the sidewalks and streets walking and shopping. Today we just look at the downtown and think about when there were many stores, and many shoppers.
In our memories we can think of the people who were there, the businesses that are no longer there as we look at the vacant buildings.
I did not know how to answer my friend. I, too, remember how it used to be. Do you remember, too?
Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.