Being a child in Laurel was like a dream, but being an adult here is somehow so much grander. I’ve learned to appreciate the heat, humidity, and all the summer rain. My footfall between the oaks means so much more as I realize the feet that fell before me. The sunlight peaking through the oaks’ leaves, the wisteria, the ancient homes guiding me.
Small Beginnings Make Monumental Memories
My childhood truly was dreamlike, filled with a lot of bright summer sun and trips to M&M Bakery and Shipley’s with my grandmother, Nellie. On Saturdays at Lott Furniture, I would sit at her desk, where my mother sits today, and count pennies for what seemed like hours. It was “important work”, she said, and I believed her.
My Papaw Willie had a furniture store too just across the way from Nellie’s, the home of Laurel Mercantile Co. today. He was a navy man, but a geologist at heart. He would take me exploring in the empty lot beside the Mercantile that used to be darned with stone pathways and trees,
just to find the most beautiful rocks and stones.
“I grew up here but live in Big Sky, MT now. I love all the wonderful new shops and old shops that have been here always. I hope people come from all over to see this special town.” -Amber from Big Sky, MT
I remember walking from that lot to Trustmark Park just to sit and take the tops off acorns, where you’ll still catch others in solitude from time to time.
I remember taking piano lessons upstairs at the YWCO for a time from a Costa Rican woman named Nuria. She used to sing the notes as I played them.
I used to walk back and forth on the high ledge in front of my Aunt Candy’s house on 7th Street, right across the way from Rogers Green House and Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. (One time I fell into the hedges.) I even got to live in the duplex beside her last year and have my first real adult experience living Downtown.
“I love eating Loblolly Pops at the farmers market with my friends!”- Santanna from Laurel, MS
I was a flower in the “Nutcracker” at Laurel Little Theatre. I remember thinking it was a big deal.
My parents used to rent the old Big Chief’s furniture building as a warehouse, and I would sit in the window facing Magnolia Street and watch the Christmas parade. One time I even got to be in the parade when I was a cheerleader at St. John’s Day School.
“I love the hometown feel!”- Jerry from Mobile, AL
At St. John’s I was a “niner”, which means I stayed there for nine whole years, K3 to 6th grade. We took
all kinds of field trips around town—to the museum, Rogers Green House, and to Signatures, the old
coffee house where Knight Butcher is today.
My class planted a tree once. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s still there.
I played kickball, danced around the May Pole, was on the “green” team for field day at Gardiner Park, read my first books in the library, ate Mrs. Janice’s vegetable soup, came home with rocks in my shoes from the playground, and graduated with the Ariel Ball award at St. John’s Episcopal Church in 6th grade.
“I love the heart and the kindness of the people.”- Barry from Little Rock, AR
My first real job was at Lee’s Coffee and Tea my senior year of high school. I left after I graduated to go to Mississippi College, but I couldn’t stay away. I came back to Lee’s and started internships at Laurel Main Street and Own Your Hill. I had never been more humbled.
“I love coming here and feeling like family.”- Leanna from Hattiesburg, MS
Small Town Grandeur
And like I said, my adulthood is so much grander. I can see the oaks, the centenarians standing so tall above us, and I see their winding roots below them. Roots that are grounding everything, breaking up sidewalks and crossing our paths—keeping it all together.
I see the old bricks, planks of wood, Masonite board, nails and screws that come together to forge our
homes, the ancient castles of the South that we still treasure.
I notice the candle light from jack-o-lanterns and the dead leaves crunching under my feet on 6th avenue at Halloween, the larger than life Christmas tree in Pinehurst Park, live garland hanging from porch rails, and the wildflowers in the late spring and summer.
I hear the kids at St. John’s during recess, church bells, car honks, and Elvis music playing outside the Loblolly Boutique. But the smell might just be the best—sweet olive, honeysuckle, Pancake Day, right after it rains…
The heart of our City really is Beautiful.
“I love the beautiful homes and friendly people. I’m proud Laurel is my hometown!”- Beth from Laurel, MS
We have started a guest book at Lott Furniture Co. where we ask for our visitors’ favorite Laurel memory or experience. The quotes throughout this blog are some stories we got. From time to time, we are going to post more of the responses we receive so that the community can see firsthand why our town is so beloved from locals and out-of-towners alike.
Your story is just as important as mine. The story of your business is just as special as Lott Furniture Co.’s. People need to know about it.
Please share in the comments, email us, or send us a message so that we can hear your story! Also, don’t forget to sign up in the gold box to receive updates every time we post!
-Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.
Keri Rowell is part of Downtown Laurel’s most historic business, Lott Furniture Co. A Laurel native and Historic District resident, Keri enjoys exploring all of the beautiful spaces and places in her Home Town, discovering the hidden tales buried deep within its history, and sharing them with the world. When you visit Downtown Laurel, you might just spot her out exploring, dreaming up the next story to share with you.