Saluda one of 10 places in UNC-TV documentary on ‘Vanishing Americana’

Published 3:00 pm Monday, November 3, 2008

&dquo;This is part of our cultural history, especially the 20th century, that&squo;s rapidly vanishing,&dquo; said Lassiter as he stood outside Pace&squo;s store while filming took place.&bsp; &dquo;The younger generations aren&squo;t going to remember going to soda fountains in drug stores, going to full service gas stations where they cleaned your windows and going into these old general stores with personalized service. The CEO of these stores is right there behind the counter.&dquo;

Lassiter&squo;s book provides a pictorial guide to North Carolina&squo;s old commercial buildings, including general stores, hardware shops, corner drug stores with soda fountains, blue-plate diners and hot dog stands, filling stations, barber shops, and&bsp; single-screen theaters.

Lassiter, a Statesville attorney, says he always had an interest in old storefront and commercial signs, and he took notice in high school when stores in his home town began to disappear. First it was two corner drugstores, then a hardware store and later the local theater was torn down.

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&dquo;We&squo;re going to sort of a homogeneous society with Lowe&39;s, Home Depot and CVS in every town and they all look the same across the country,&dquo; he says. &dquo;There&squo;s nothing unique with daily living and that&squo;s a shame.

The college history major says he decided to document the buildings of a rapidly vanishing era before they&squo;re gone and he set out to visit all 100 counties in the state. His book, which he says will be available at Pace&squo;s store in Saluda, includes hundreds of photographs from each county, including pictures of the stores in Saluda.

Lassiter adds quickly that the book is not about just the buildings and structures.

&dquo;There&squo;s more to it than taking pictures of the old storefronts and signs,&dquo; he says. &dquo;The people inside these places have a story to tell.&dquo;

Lassiter say the documentary will help tell that story, although it will challenging to condense places featured in the one-hour documentary into short segments.

&dquo;We could do a whole hour on just these stores here in Saluda,&dquo; he says.

The documentary is expected to air on UNC-TV sometime later next year, according to Lassiter.