SHOPPING IN ALEXANDRIA
We did not and still do not have a recognizable downtown area. There
are small pockets of a limited number of businesses. FOR EXAMPLE:
Reitman’s Garage/Camp Springs Volunteer Fire Department and the
Corner Bar; Camp Springs Grocery by itself; Four Mile Inn joined later
by the Camp Springs Ballpark. Four Mile Road served primarily as a
connector between Silver Grove and Alexandria. The closest we had
to a retail area was Camp Springs Grocery and that alone.
Our nearest shopping location was Alexandria. It was always
mentioned that we went UP to Alexandria and it was technically south
by the compass but in actual elevation it was higher or UP. There
were at least ten businesses in old town Alexandria in the 60’s when I
was growing up. Just to mention a few: Art’s Grocery and Meats/Bank
of Alexandria/Post Office/Dr. Howe’s Office/Carmack’s General
Merchandise/Central Café/Neiser’s Café/and a few more. My favorites
were Western Auto and Decker’s 5 & 10. These two were my favorites
because they sold toys. Western Auto was located in what was later
Schnitzler Carpet. The pickings of merchandise was quite sparse,
maybe because they were just opening or were preparing to close. My
interest there was the model car kits. The store later moved to
Washington Street. However, my favorite was Decker’s 5 & 10. It was
jammed with anything and everything that a young kid thought he
needed (notice, I said needed). A customer was required to move stuff
to see more stuff that was hidden below. Most merchandise was small
and inexpensive dime store stuff. Things were on tables, counters,
shelves under the counters, on the floor, on the walls and suspended
from wires stretched from wall to wall. It was like walking through a
jungle of toys.
Usually and fortunately for me I was able to convince my parents that
Decker’s had a least one item that I could not live without. Most of my
shopping time occurred when my Mother had an appointment with Dr.
Howe, whose office was located directly across Main Street and while
my Dad patiently waited in the car. This was by his choice. Decker’s
5 & 10 later closed and the space was then taken by Country Cousins
Bakery Shop for many years until it also closed in about 2015 and
remains empty today. During these early times there was limited
commercial businesses along US 27 through Alexandria.
Today, it can be a last minute thought to drive to Alexandria from
Camp Springs, however, when I was just a kid it was a big adventure.
This is evident by the fact that sixty years later it remains a fond
memory that I will never forget.