This has been the view from my desk all week. I’m in a habit of dropping off my son at day care and driving a short walk down the road to the local coffee shop.
I spend my workday at the makeshift desk I’ve created from two high-top tables, typing news stories, checking email, and drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee.
I love this spot. Not just the coffee shop, but this place. There’s a vibe here. It’s the heart of my hometown, on the corner of Scottsville Road and Paoli Pike. Before it was Paoli Pike, we called it Old 150. In the 1950s, it was a two story building with apartments upstairs.
My father’s family lived there when he was the age my son is now.
After my grandparents moved less than a mile down the road, the building burned to the ground and was rebuilt into the one-story building that stands now. When I was little, my grandmother had a grocery store around the corner from where I’m sitting.
The location that housed my grandmother’s grocery store would later become a pizza place that is still here.
In junior high, my mom would drop me off at Arni’s Pizza after basketball and football games. On Friday nights, the parking lot would be swarming with preteen angst and excitement. Many junior high hearts were broken on this corner.
The summer after my senior year, my parents let me stay home for the week while the rest of the family drove down I-65 South to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Before they left, there was a lengthy discussion covering who could and couldn’t spend the night, what I could and couldn’t do, and where I could and couldn’t go. The very first night they were gone, I wrecked my car in the pizza place’s parking lot.
The best story I know about this corner was found in an archived letter from the New Albany Floyd County Historical room. My daughter and I happened across it researching a school project. The letter was dated March 21, 1962 and gave a history of the “Saw Mill and Box Factory at Floyds Knobs, Then, and Now.”
Before it was a coffee shop, a pizza place, a grocery store, or the apartment where my father lived as a child, it was Floyd County’s first steam-powered saw mill. In 1890, a father and his two sons ran the mill, turning trees from local land-owners into lumber for houses and farms. According to the letter, the mill was a “rather crude affair” with no elevator to carry out the saw dust. While trying to scoop the dust from under the saw with a shovel, one of the sons caught his sleeve on the saw before it had come to a complete stop.
From the sounds of it, the event was a tragic affair, leaving the man’s arm mangled with no emergency health resources available. Because there were no phones in Floyds Knobs, and the nearest hospital was all the way across the river in Louisville, Kentucky, a doctor from down the hill in New Albany was called to the scene, arriving at the mill via a horse-drawn buggy. The physician amputated the man’s limb at the saloon across the street. You can click on the images below to read the historical letter in full.
Fortunately, nothing so gruesome has happened since I’ve been working here. Of course, if it does, there’s a good chance I’ll write about it.