In the spirit of celebrating our 20th anniversary all year, we're resurrecting an old series, Day in Little Rock, where various central Arkansans reflect on their memories, pastimes and adventures in the capital city. Up this month is Sarah Thomas. Take it away, Sarah.
I grew up in Maumelle, Arkansas. It was a true bedroom community with very little commerce or mixed-use neighborhoods. To make a living, my family would make a daily trek across the river to downtown Little Rock. This is where my father had his bakery, where he would make glorious cakes and gooey cinnamon rolls, and sometimes special cookies just for me. Occasionally, I would sneak just one too many cinnamon rolls, and my parents would take me for a walk along the river to run off some of the sugar.
At that time, the area was mainly businesses and warehouses. My mom and I would peek through the windows of LaHarpe's Office Furniture. We would make up stories about the old crumbling buildings that looked like they had seen better days. We would sit and watch the different shapes, sizes and colors of people bustling about. If it was a good day at the bakery, we would go down Main Street for cheese dip at Juanita's and do more people watching. It was a far cry from the sleepy residential area of my neighborhood.
Over the years, I would frequently return to the area where my dad’s bakery was. Maybe it was for Riverfest or a dance recital at the amphitheater. Each time I went back, there was something new and exciting popping up — the CALS Main Library, the Museum of Discovery, the Clinton Library, the River Market dining hall with its offerings of new and different international foods. And then came the restaurants and the people. It was the same energy that I felt as a child, but bigger and brighter.
In a way, it seems like destiny that I would return to downtown Little Rock when it came time to buy my first house and start putting down roots. I still love walking through the neighborhoods and seeing the new and exciting restaurants and businesses popping up. I love sitting on my front porch and visiting with all my neighbors. I love the convenience of having everything I need down the street, a stone’s throw away.
And even now, when I walk down by the river, I can smell my dad’s cinnamon rolls, and I feel like I’m home.