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In Love With: Waxing Nostalgic

03.5.2008 by André Natta · → 4 Comments

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Is it possible to have nostalgia for things that are only a few years past? I’ve only lived in Birmingham for a bit past four years now, but I’ve already seen some changes to this city. Almost all of them have been steps forward, taken by brave entrepreneurs, cool people, and those determined to make Birmingham an even more terrific place to live. A few of them however, are changes that sadden me. Even after a short time here, I can name a few places I miss every time I pass by, namely the old location of V. Richards in Forest Park, Vestavia’s Moonlight Music Café and the Highland Coffee Company.

It seems a shame to be nostalgic for the old location of V. Richards, when the new facility is even homier, roomier, and better stocked than the old one. I’ll chalk it up to personal preference, and simply say that there was something safe and enveloping about the old storefront it occupied (now the Maralyn Wilson Gallery). Between the piled-high shelves, the twistiness of the aisles, and the fact that you could barely squeeze by another patron, the old V. Richards was a tiny temple to gastronomy. I quite like the new space across the way, but secretly, I still miss my little matchbox store.

I sorely miss the Moonlight Music Café, because there’s really no replacement for it. I came late to the party there and only saw a handful of shows before it closed. But every show was marked with friendly people and amazing, intimate musical performances. I liked the smoke-free atmosphere and the fact that the audience would shush any talkers in the crowd during songs—but in a respectful way. It was a place for true music enthusiasts to come together and have a few pints, close their eyes, and drink in the sound.

A lot of Southsiders I’ve talked to have a soft spot for the Highland Coffee Company. I will always remember it as my first haven when I moved to Birmingham. I didn’t know a soul when I arrived to the city and my new, tiny apartment in Southside. For months, I would walk to Highland a few times a week, just to get a cup of tea and some human interaction. Something about the friendliness of the clientele meant my chances of striking up a conversation were high, and I met some wonderful people. Whether I was heading there to meet a new friend or just curl up with a book, the Highland Coffee Co. was a welcome port in any storm I faced.

Many of the friends I made at Highlands and Moonlight Music Café have left Birmingham or my life by now. But every time I pass by these empty doors, I can’t help but remember the welcome that those places meant to me, finding a footing in a city I’ve come to love. I will miss them, but I look forward to finding new spots in the city that will mean just as much to me.

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4 comments
Andre
Andre

Hey folks, I'm loving seeing the answers here, but I was wondering if anyone else wants to post their comments, if you could do so over on Magic City Question... Thanks!

StephenS
StephenS

I miss Magic Platter. In middle school, we used to skip track to run and buy all the cds we couldn't get when our parents were around (who thought that Stone Temple Pilots was that controversial...). I also miss Noise in homewood - walking in , I instantly felt like I had left the suburbs and was in someplace unique. I miss New York Pizza's old location where cool beans is now. It had an authentic, lived-in feel that the new location, with its generic tables, booths, walls and five TVs blasting sports twenty-four/seven, has lost. I miss highland coffee too. Why is that place still empty?? Um, and am I allowed to miss all the historic buildings that have been torn down in this city, even the ones I never saw? Terminal Station being at the top, others include the Morris Hotel, the Court House on 4th next to St. Paul's, the Temple to Vesta on Shades Mtn., etc, etc. I miss them almost everyday, even though I've never seen them.

Southtrek
Southtrek

I miss Eastwood Mall in it's hey day. Remember ditching school and hanging out there with friends. I miss the Cadillac Cafe, Dugans and the Courtyard. I miss Smith & Hardwicks bookstore in its original shop downtown. It wasn't a big book store but Ms. Anna could always give you a good idea on a new read.

Mike
Mike

I was just thinking about this yesterday as I took my son to the zoo. I miss monkey island. That was the highlight of every field trip. I also miss the original food court at Brookwood. It was one of the first places we'd hang out when I move here in 5th grade. The hoover police annex on Lorna is where we saw "Return of the Jedi". Krispy Kreme is cool, but I miss Putt Putt. I know, these are more "metro area" kinds of things...