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Cruising Main Street brings surprises

My daughter, Leighton, was visiting, and it seemed like a good idea to take her down Main Street of Rock Hill. She looked for the TownCenter Mall and the drugstore we loved so much and the watchmaker who fixed more old watches than I care to remember. She stood in amazement. "Why haven't we come here before?" she asked. My answer was not even heard as we moved on. "It is all different," she said. It is not a small-town Main Street anymore."

She admired the elegance of the Freedom Ministries Temple, and she smiled as someone told her about the new Montessori School being conducted there.

Then she darted across the street and saw the Overhead Station, a shop she had loved so long ago. She distinctly remembered that it was located near or almost under a big bridge, and now it is right at the beginning of Main Street, offering things that delight her matured sensibilities.

The Old Town Bistro makes dropping by to eat at any time easy. It is open seven days a week, and breakfast can be had at any hour. Thi's Place on Main offers the and exciting flavor of Vietnamese food. The Cookie Café is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and an early morning cup of exceptional coffee is guaranteed.

The Center of the Arts was the most exciting place we found. It was there that Katie Medlock, marketing coordinator, along with many other titles for the center, told me about the next important event coming to Rock Hill. On Aug. 20, more than 200 entries will fill the Dalton Gallery at the Center for the Arts. Local artists, along with regional and national talent, will be represented.

It is a juried exhibition and one that will offer art in all of the mediums. It's a perfect time to peruse the gallery and see all that a display of this type represents. You will see the best, juried by Karen Derksen, assistant director of the Winthrop University Galleries and professor of fine arts.

At 6 p.m. Aug. 21, the Arts Council will hold the opening reception and awards ceremony. All of the entries will be judged and properly honored. There will be a staggering display of artistic creation from photographs to oil, to sculpture in bronze and other mediums, portraits, landscapes and all that the wide world of art offers today. New ideas, new thoughts and new objects enhance the world in which we live, and viewing art is one of the greatest gifts of our time.

A juried art show of this magnitude is not a simple process. Rigid requirements must be met, and the Arts Council members and contributing artists all play a role in the presentation.

The Council for the Arts of Rock Hill should certainly be commended for the effort and the success of their organization. The 19th Annual Juried Competition brings a quality of culture to Rock Hill that makes it stand apart from other places of its size. We should be proud, but most of all grateful, that our children can be indulged with this type of artistic experience. The exhibit will be open to the public from Aug. 20 to Sept. 21, time enough to leisurely peruse all that a juried show of this magnitude offers.

On Aug. 21, people, who paint as a hobby and others who are professional artists, will fill the Main Street of Rock Hill. So after the awards ceremony, take 'the crawl' up and down the street and shop at the booths and studios. You will be rewarded for the effort.

We left the center, looked across the street and saw a bar and grill called McHale's. "Wow," Leighton exclaimed. "We knew a Nana McHale in Caldwell, New Jersey. I wonder if it is the same family.

"Let's ask," I countered, and we approached a man standing in the door. "Who owns this place?" I asked.

"A feller by the name of Brendan Kuhlkin," he answered, "but he isn't here and won't be in till later on this afternoon."

It took my breath for a minute, because age slips up on one. In my mind, Brendan must be about 16. But then, I no longer understand the passing of time.

"It is the McHale-Kuhlkin family," I said in a stunned fashion. Brendan is the great-grandson of Nana McHale and the son of Trisha McHale Kuhlkin. Can you beat that? I thought he was still in high school.

"Mother, wake up," Leighton said in a not-so-cool way. I am over 50, and I rode him on a skateboard when he was still wearing diapers.

"Do you think it is the same Brendan?" I asked in an astounded way.

"Of course it is," she answered, "and you had better write about him before you forget."

I met Nana McHale in the mid-1960s in Caldwell, N.J., along with her granddaughter, Trisha, her son-in-law, the late Bob Kuhlkin, and their two children, at that point, Kerry and Scott.

The thing I best remember about Nana McHale was the time she told me about shopping at a store she called, with great flare, "Bloomin-Dales." To this day, when we talk about New York shopping, Nana McHale's pronunciation is forever used, and we hurry toward that place calling it out the way she did in her rich Irish brogue.

We congratulate Brendan for living past 16, for owning two businesses, one in Fort Mill and the other on Main Street. However, the greatest praise is for his selection of names: Nana McHale would be proud.