History in the Making

Can you tell a personal story of Durham? A story, when told, brings a smile to your face. I can. One of my first memories of downtown Durham was when I was only twelve. My mom had enrolled me in a sewing class at the Singer store in the heart of downtown.

Every Saturday morning for weeks, I would walk from our house on Wrightwood Avenue, through Wrightwood Park, up Bivins Street to Davis Bakery. It was here, next to Lakewood Shopping Center where I would take the city bus to downtown. I remember the bus dropping me off only a couple of steps away from the Singer Sewing Machine Company at 325 W. Main Street.

Once I arrived downtown, I descended the steps of the bus, and walked over to the building that Taberna Tapas now occupies.  I walked through the door of the building, passing an array of household devices and sewing machines for sale, and made my way to the back of the building to my assigned machine.

Other young girls from all over the city joined me as the teacher demonstrated how to cut out a pattern, pin a hem, and insert a zipper. After the teacher finished her demonstrations, we would sit in front of our sewing machines, place our foot on the pedal and watch the needle create straight neat stitches.

The other night, a new personal story emerged when I attended a celebration of the Durham History Museum, a museum that has grown in popularity over the last ten years. Clay Aiken and Mayor Elaine McNeil were the speakers. Both spoke of their own childhood memories right here in Durham and how proud they are to call Durham home.

It was very cool being a part of a gathering that honored the rich history of our incredible city and how it evolved from the hands of men like Washington Duke, John Merrick, and Richard Harvey Wright.

But the history is not over. We all have our own history to record. And with that, I hope to provoke others to dig into their memories for their own personal stories of Durham and just as importantly, to find ways to contribute to making our home city better than ever.

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