Downtown living has its advantages
By Rima Austin | August 20, 2018 6:17 am
Last Updated: August 21, 2018 at 7:47 am
Many people choose to live in the country because it is quieter. The traffic is lighter, and there is not something happening right outside the bedroom window at any given time of the day or night. However, living in town can be beneficial, too, and, in some cases, downright fun.
Karen Hyder LaFever grew up in downtown Sparta, close to Greenlawn Drive. She recalled how her family’s neighbors had a full farm in the middle of town and how they would often wake up with their neighbor’s horse grazing in their yard, while highway 70 traffic roared by just yards from their front door.
“I lived in the country, in town,” LaFever said with a laugh. “When they took the horses and cows away is when I moved to the country.”
When asked what she enjoyed most about living in town, LaFever said she had the most fun when she and her friends could ride their bikes down Highway 70.
“We would ride our bikes around the courthouse,” said Lafever. “The whole place was our playground. It was Sparta. If I had done anything I wasn’t supposed to be doing, [my parents] would find out. Everybody knew everybody.”
LaFever said Sparta has grown away from the downtown and that, especially since Highway 111 came in, more businesses have migrated east.
Martha Jane Swindell Clark grew up around the old high school in a neighborhood unofficially called Swindell Hill. She recalls being able to walk to nearby stores even at the age of 6 years old.
“We had two neighborhood stores, Myatt’s Grocery and Young’s Grocery,” said Clark. “They were across the street from each other. I could only go to Myatt’s Grocery because it was on the same side of the street I lived on. My parents didn’t want me crossing the road because [both] stores were on a little hill.”
Even today, Clark said she lives only three miles from the courthouse and enjoys being so close in case she needs something, like milk or bread, because she can just run out and get it.
“One thing, the parents would let you out of their sight when I was growing up,” said Clark. “This day and time there is no way you are going to let them leave your side. It was just another world then.”
With the new sidewalks being constructed and more businesses opening up in the city area, downtown Sparta seems to be getting its stride back. Not only are there places for friends to congregate, such as Happy Trails Brewing Co. and the skate park, but there are also places to pick up food, such as the Sparta Green Market and the regular Sparta Farmers’ Market that operates on 5 W. Maple St. or the Dollar General Store, at 280 E. Bockman Way, all within walking distance of the courthouse. In addition, a person can stop off at any of the other businesses in downtown Sparta, including Jongee’s Fine Furnishings and Gifts, The Coffee Collective, Sparta Office Supplies, Miss Marenda’s Tea Room, Fragrant Mushroom, Pluto’s Hot Dogs and others.
It is not unusual to see groups of people walking through town and waving at each other. If anyone is interested in living downtown and enjoys the hustle and bustle of life on a busy street but not the danger that comes with a big city, there are plenty of places to purchase or rent. Talk to a real estate agent, in Sparta, and the agent would be happy to point anyone in the right direction.