The temperature was warm, but not too warm, and a gentle breeze Saturday made for an idyllic setting on the balcony of an apartment overlooking Bankhead Street in downtown New Albany.
Jenny and I had just met Warren “Butch” Gray, who was showing us around his apartment facing Cooper Park, where he has lived since 2005.
Gray was featured recently on the cover of New Albany Magazine as part of a story on downtown living. He also was one of several downtown residents who had opened their apartments Saturday for tours sponsored by the New Albany Main Street Association.
“Everyone said that when I moved downtown I would miss my house, which I had had for years,” he said. “I haven’t missed it one bit.”
“I could live here if we didn’t have three dogs and a cat,” Jenny told him, admiring the exposed brick, upscale finishes and antique pieces.
The French doors leading from Gray’s master bedroom to a back balcony are only a few feet from the mainline train tracks, but Gray said he slept straight through from the first night.
We enjoyed spending a few minutes with the straight-talking Gray, one of a group of supporters of a downtown that has been rejuvenated with more shops and new living spaces over the last several years.
Jenny and I wandered through six other apartments and a couple of shops, met several friends and made some new ones, before heading for a late lunch of chicken strips and ice cream at George’s. (Yes, we know we should be eating salads, but who can resist George’s?)
It was a day of the best of New Albany, fitting because I’m winding up my third year since arriving at the Gazette, and Jenny’s second since coming to town from Florence, Ala., where she taught in a nearby school.
May also is the anniversary of the Gazette, which begins its 123rd year of publication with this issue. Both the newspaper and the community are ever changing.
For instance, in the past year the Gazette created New Albany Magazine because we think our community deserves a general-interest glossy magazine about local folks doing local things. You’ve been kind enough to support it, by your readership and positive comments and with your advertising.
Also in the past 12 months we’ve published three glossy high-school sports previews, showcasing all of the sports (and the students who play them) that our schools offer.
And this month we will publish our second keepsake graduation booklet, with a color photograph of every senior in the New Albany, Union County, and Hickory Flat schools.
Next month we’ll publish our third annual Explore magazine, the guide of places to see, things to do and where to eat in our community. Explore is the show piece for tourists and newcomers, as well as for marketing of our area to businesses and manufacturers looking for a home.
As our downtown and our community have grown and prospered, so has the Gazette. All of these magazines come to you as part of your Gazette subscription. We call it “value added.” Jenny says that’s a silly marketing phrase that means “free.”
I guess she’s right. Oh, well.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.