‘Of days gone by’

By Keith Strange

June 9, 2014

A new exhibit opening this week at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has one goal: To hearken back to a simpler time, a time when America’s Main Streets served as the epicenter of communities far and wide.

Entitled “Main Street Memories,” the exhibit, which opens Saturday, is part of an effort to keep rotating exhibits in the museum, said Director Matt Edwards.

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do here at the museum over the past several years is a changing exhibit program to keep things fresh and new for our visitors,” he said.

From vintage hair care equipment to photos from a time gone by to a shoe shine stand from the original City Barber Shop, Edwards said he is excited to be able to display some of the items.

“The great thing about this exhibit is we had the opportunity to go back into our collection and pull objects and images that have never been displayed before,” he said. “One of the things that’s been getting a lot of attention is a permanent machine from a beauty salon that dates to the 1920s. To be able to see the technological changes in how people lived their lives has been interesting for us.”

Edwards said he has long wanted to display the shoe shine kit from City Barber Shop, located where Floyd’s Barber Shop is today.

“It’s one of those pieces that has seen this community’s development,” Edward said. “It probably sat in that building for 50 or 60 years before it came to us and it’s just a fun piece.”

He said he hopes the community enjoys the exhibit as much as he loved putting it together.

“Main Street, for many, many years, was the heart and soul of any community,” Edwards said. “It was the social center. The commercial center.

“This exhibit is designed to let visitors to explore the idea of Main Street as the heart of a community,” he added. “We’re using Surry County communities — primarily Mount Airy as a model, but it’s a chance for local visitors to reminisce on the Mount Airy that was, and for visitors to Mount Airy to compare life in what has become known as America’s Home Town to Main Street life in their own community.

Edwards said he hopes some of the iconic items will bring back memories of days gone by.

“We’ve tried to hearken back to a lot of those great Main Street stories,” he said. “Whether they’re about the growth of entertainment or business and industry, we’ve tried to tap into all those components of life downtown.”

The exhibit is free with admission to the museum, and will run from June 14 to September 6.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.