When I was in Dothan briefly in December, I didn’t have a lot of time to explore around my old haunts downtown. Twenty years ago, Mrs. Boomer’s and Poplar Head Pub were the only two hangout spots in all of downtown Dothan. Back then, downtown was mostly empty abandoned buildings and a handful of old wig shops and ghetto clothing stores that would soon be abandoned as well. I always lamented the slow asphyxiation of downtown, and just as I was moving away for college, I considered the demolition of the building that housed the Book & Art shop, where I had worked that summer, the final death knell.
Now there’s a parking lot there. and dutifully, that’s where I left my car. I was glad to see that at least a couple of blocks of Foster Street have been drastically revitalized with a good selection of restaurants, bars, and shops. In December, I had also visited R.J. Saxon’s, the restaurant/bar that replaced the old Mrs. Boomer’s. Since I knew they had decent food, I met a couple of friends there for dinner. In addition, and not entirely surprisingly my old friend Tena was there with her husband and some other folks. We left just as the one-man acoustic cover band was getting started and walked three blocks (incidentally, the waitress at R.J.Saxon’s discouraged us from walking this distance, which all in our party found quite funny) down to Open Mic’s, a bar run by another high school friend Jay Heisler.
This is a really great concept bar. There is a stage with full band equipment always set up, and anybody can essentially get up and perform at any time. Someone takes the stage, and the bartender turns off the house music. And if the performance isn’t working, the person will be asked to leave the stage before too long and give someone else a chance. I played one song and promised to come back later to play a few more after the main event.
Finally, I headed over to District, conveniently located halfway between R.J Saxon’s and Open Mic’s. A cover band played in one room while 80s techno blasted in the next room. I shook hands with some people I didn’t recognize and with others who didn’t recognize me. It was especially good to see Wes Enfinger and Tim Metcalf (who wasn’t in my class, but showed up just to hang out with me–thanks Tim!). Of course, it was interesting to see who had changed a lot and who hadn’t, all that typical high school reunion stuff.