I rarely drive down Third Street, anymore. When I first moved down here – 25 years ago come June 22nd – I used to take Third Street all the time as the main route to get to the Kendale area. I get lost in my own back yard, so as I ventured out to learn how to get around in a new city, I stayed on streets I knew and that took me where I wanted to go with the least amount of twists and turns to have to remember. Horner Blvd was also a direct route that I took to most places, but the busy traffic was a little intimidating for someone from a very small rural town, so it was avoided whenever Third Street was a logical way to get me there. (Side note: I suppose it is appropriate to add that, at that time, Horner Blvd held another element of fear for me. Shortly after I moved here, I totalled my Camaro on Horner Blvd. Someone pulled out right in front of me from a side street in the peak of Friday evening rush hour traffic as I was driving in the outside lane going south. The impact sent my beautiful Camaro, me, and my 8-year-old son veering uncontrollably across the other three lanes of traffic - miraculously avoiding any other impacts and any serious injuries to me or my son – to land in the parking lot of The Meat and Cleaver restaurant – for those who don’t know, that was an upscale restaurant that used to be located on Horner about across from where that little laundromat is now, near the street that the Sanford Herald is located. It later burned to the ground and moved to the corner of Carthage and Steele Streets for a while.)
Anyway – I digress – back to the topic at hand – Third Street. At that time, the corner where Third Street crosses Horner seemed like the end of the world. There was practically nothing on that corner – the plaza with the furniture store was there, I think, but that was it!! It felt like crossing Horner at Third Street meant leaving Sanford on the way to Kendale – even though it was all still Sanford and “Kendale” was just a shopping plaza, not a separate town! But, we frequented Kendale to shop – there was a Sky City discount store (that and Roses – where the Dollar Tree and the YMCA are now – were all there was for discount shopping back then – no WalMart, yet) and the main movie theater there, as well as a bunch of other shops. Kendale was a booming area — my son loved it when we would drive through there just after dark to “cruise Kendale”, like the teenagers did! Also, there was almost always very little traffic on Third Street – the traffic light on the corner of Third and Horner was one that needed to be “tripped” to change. I remember coming up on that light on my motorcycle and having to wait for a car to come along and trip the light, but quite often found myself giving up and turning right on red and then circling back around to get where I really wanted to go. So, Third Street was a regular route for me to take.
Aside from that end of Third Street feeling like it was the far end of Sanford, the most prominent feature was the tobacco warehouses. At that time, they were actively used to store tobacco. At certain times of the year, driving down that section of Third Street was almost like sticking your nose in a bag of loose leaf tobacco. The smell of drying tobacco filled the air. I remember thinking it was a pleasant aroma (not like smelling a cigarette burning), but that when it was at the peak time, it would make me feel a little dizzy to breathe it in – sorta like a mild version of the time I tried to be cool and smoked in the girl’s bathroom in school and felt like the room was spinning! As time went by, the tobacco warehouses stopped being used for tobacco and they became run down and rusted eye sores along that area.
I rarely, if ever, take Third Street anymore – no particular reason, I just haven’t gone that way on a regular basis in several years. But, I drove up through there yesterday - one of only a handful of times in the past year – on my way to the Enrichment Center, where we held our CIS Board meeting last night. I took notice of the “missing” tobacco warehouses! They are gone……just a section of foundation wall remains. It isn’t the first time I noticed them being gone – I think I’ve been by there a couple times since they’ve been gone. The first time was a shock! But, this time, I found myself reminiscing about how Third Street used to be and how different a LOT of Sanford used be 25 years ago…………and decided to write about it! Maybe someday I’ll post my memories of all the things that have changed and grown in Sanford in the quarter of a century that I have lived here………but not today!