As I write at my office desk in the heart of Cloverdale, I hear the sound of marching band music reverberating from the grounds of what was once Cloverdale Junior High School (and before 1929, I understand, Montgomery County High School). The parking lot is filled with school buses from many counties in central Alabama; and the grounds are full of kids in band uniforms, toting instruments, along with their drum majors and majorettes. There must be some kind of competition underway.
The sights and sounds transport me back in time to my childhood and our home in a small town. Our home backed up to the junior high school, and the sound of band practice was a regular occurrence, as was the sound that I considered the harbinger of spring — the crack of a baseball being hit off a wooden Louisville Slugger bat as teams prepared to compete in many different kinds of league play.
Speaking of baseball, earlier today I happened by Huntingdon College where I saw the Huntingdon Hawks conducting what must have been a fall practice. On the streets and sidewalks nearby were bicyclists, runners and walkers, most of whose faces I recognized. In fact, the challenge when one walks or runs around here is that of maintaining the pace as it’s tremendously tempting to keep stopping to chat and catch up!
From my desk, I can look out onto Fairview Avenue and see people coming and going to the Cloverdale Shoe Shop and the boutique M. Bagwell on either side of our office, joining friends or family for lunch at Sinclair’s or Tomatino’s. On Sunday morning when I come to feed our office cat, Halle, I always see folks I know at Café Louisa enjoying their pastries, coffee and newspapers … along with a healthy helping of neighborly conversation.
All this reminds me of what I often tell Montgomery newcomers about life in Midtown: It’s like living in a small town inside a mid-size city. Whether a patron chooses the Pine Bar in Cloverdale Village, Sinclair’s or Bud’s in Cloverdale Five Points, or Down the Street on Zelda Road, he or she enters a Cheers-like atmosphere where “everybody knows your name.”
Montgomery is said now to have approximately 225,000 people inside the city limits. But in Midtown Montgomery, the population count is a much more manageable (and knowable) 8,500 households. I guess this translates into about 25,000 adults and children, just about the size of the tiny hometown of my youth. And it’s the perfect size for truly getting to know folks and develop meaningful relationships.
Midtown Montgomerians are passionate about our quality of life. We care deeply about what goes on in our midst. A great example is the proposed rezoning of the aforementioned a“Cloverdale Junior High” frontage. As soon as the zoning signs went up, my telephone lit up — as did those of many neighborhood leaders. Folks wanted to know what was being proposed and whether it would it be good for Midtown. (I happen to believe it is a positive step.)
You can easily get from one end of Midtown to the other in less than 15 minutes unless you are caught in morning or afternoon “drive time.” Downtown and the Capitol Complex are only minutes away. We have everything one needs in the way of shopping except a major clothier. And the merchants are, for the most part, local folks who live here, so our dollars stay right here in our tight-knit little community.
All of this is to say that life in Midtown is good … so good, sometimes, that I feel a bit sad for folks who have somehow opted out (or not opted in). If you agree, help spread the word!
Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 29 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.