(no stop lights!)
As a commercial center, Fairfield had little to offer, but perhaps as much as modern America has: Two groceries, a restaurant (off and on) and a gas station. Another gas station on the south end of town gave us plenty of choices for "stuff" to put into our tanks. Boob Thackrey sold bootleg beer at his gas station, which got me into a bit of trouble. Ah, life. You couldn't really get your car fixed at either place but the grease made it seem like mechanical work was going on someplace. Air was free. I think old man Waltz ran the Ashland station on the south end of town.
Willie T. Davis, who hailed from Harlan, Kentucky, ran the grocery on the left. The other, next to it, was owned by Bert Luker. Willie outlasted Bert. Both men gave credit. Both were genuinely wonderful men. Click HERE for photos of Willie and Bert and HERE for more about the Luker family.
What could you buy at the Fairfield grocery? Same stuff you could get anywhere else. Did I mention Donald Duck orange juice? Willie also sold shoes, dry goods and kites. Willie's wife was named Nanna. They lived behind the store. Bert and Bessie Luker were among the town's most enduring families.
In various incarnations, downtown Fairfield had a pool hall, a Masonic Lodge, and a few other out-of-the-way businesses that never thrived.
The brick structure in the center of the photo is the Town Hall. It was cold and creaky, probably full of unique critters and certainly not close to modern standards for wiring or plumbing.
The building to the right of that was many things over the years, including a pool hall run by my uncle Marshall Updike. I have vague memories of anything else that might have transpired there. I don't know who owned the building. Amzy Banning is a name I've heard. He's my step-dad's father.
For its part, the Town Hall served many functions, primarily as the school cafeteria. If you lived out of town and wanted to eat lunch, you walked … from the school to the hall, about a half-mile.
I lived in town and rarely ate lunch at the cafeteria. Don't ask what was served. Don't ask the price. Don't ask. Just ... DON'T ... ASK.
Most community events were held there because its kitchen was useful. Halloween parties, dances, the Christmas school play, to name a few. (I played Sam one Christmas in the blockbuster production of "Ousting Sam Grouch." My mother smiled.) There was an upstairs. I never went up there. Ever.
Most other events of town importance were held at the Methodist Church. The church had ample seating. Our eighth-grade graduation ceremony was held in the church. Some fairly intense ice cream socials were held on the church grounds, since it had a nice back lawn area and handy toilet facilities. Yeah, RIGHT!
The town square, a peculiarity in its own right, was infrequently used for community events. We didn't go there much. Trees weren't that exciting. Sometimes, dogs went there to visit.
According to history, the square was originally to have been the site of the Franklin County courthouse until the early 1800s when Union and Fayette counties were formed, leaving Fairfield at the north edge of the county. Brookville became the county seat. We're happy for them.
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