A mirror image of Market Day

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 9, 2005

The Times-Journal

It was all there Saturday, just as it has been for Riverfront Market since the very first time.

At one end of the filled three-block section Brenda Ellis sat at her electric piano, playing the songs of a time that used to be and singing “Just Because” and “Did I Tell you Lately That I Love You?” The folks standing around her, listening, were of a certain age and their eyes grew misty as she sang.

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At the other end of historic Water Avenue, near the Pettus Bridge, The Riverboat Gamblers played some easy rock mixed with Country and Western. And down by The Restaurant on Grumbles Alley, The Upper Society of Lower Water Avenue (or is their name the other way around?) pleased the crowd seated on the bleachers before them with “Georgia on My Mind” and a host of old and well-loved familiar tunes.

The first breath of autumn hung over the crowd gathered on Water Avenue and a light breeze carried with it the fragrance of Riverfront’s favorite foods:

Polish sausages laced with onions, the smoky aroma of Deep South barbecue, Blooming Onions blossomed all over the street, carried on paper plates and eaten petal by petal.

Oh, there was ice cream; there was Grumbles Alley’s grilled chicken sandwiches, served to the crowd seated beneath the restaurant canopy at tables and chairs set for the purpose; there was even fried shrimp from Alabama’s Gulf Coast; and egg rolls and fried rice for Chinese food fanciers.

In short, there was plenty to eat and all of it delicious.

What else to do? Four pretty ponies carried small smiling children around and around, led by larger smiling children, reins in hand.

There was a plethora of goods and gifts. There was jewelry, some handmade, hand-tooled leather belts, belt buckles in every design, saddle bags and ladies hand bags, all jeweled and sequined, ready to go partying.

Across the street racks of vintage clothing enticed women of fashion, who fingered the shoes, felt the chiffon and velvet folds of the gowns and thought back to the way their mothers dressed for tea parties.

Oh yes, among the clothing hung a Baum Marten stole. Now, when have you seen one of those?

For the children, on a table of vintage toys, there was actually an Easy Bake Oven set and a Jingle Bell Rock Santa Claus. Now, when have you seen either of those?

Christmas shopping was made simple Saturday for any who thought ahead. Hand knit sweaters, T-shirts by the dozens, sombreros and straw hats, unpainted furniture

for dolls and children, – desks, chairs, small tables and cradles were on the Avenue, along with antique china, ceramics from Cahaba clients and cornucopias of popped corn from the Police Athletic League.

Two little boys strolled down the street, each clutching a marshmallow shooter, but Ford and Wilkes daddy, Dr. Park Chittom, didn’t load their weapons for shooting. Nearby, Brooks Whitehead and David McKinley of Walnut Hill, Fla. ersonalized children’s books for a waiting line of mothers and children.

Pat Cory, new to Selma, whose husband is pastor of Barrett Road Methodist Church, greeted passersby from her attractive Southern Living at Home Booth.

Former Selmians Kelly Newman Herrin, her mother Susie Newman and Mildred Malone of Pensacola came up especially for Riverfront. Mary Williams of Perry County came, also, bringing with her jewel-like jars of jams, jellies, pickle and pear butter, which disappeared rapidly into shopping bags.

So did the baked goods filling the booth of the Mennonites, known throughout the region for their excellent products.

What else? A table of Elaine Lambert’s sweet-faced, old-fashioned dressed dolls that brought memories of Christmases long ago. She brought also from Flomaton a wooden miniature country store that opened into a birdhouse.

There was even a rack of hand-sewn quilts, just right to sleep beneath during this newly arrived chill weather; and boiled peanuts, and antique furniture and Earl Hopkins hand-carved tables.

And just in the center of the Market, chugging and popping away, was a 1926 Hercules hit and miss engine, brought by CW and Dorothy Bruton of Cantonment, Florida, which kept busy all day grinding corn into grits and meal.

Yes, it was all there Saturday on historic Water Avenue, just as it has been since the first Riverfront Market.