|This Place That We Call Home Part
by Nat Self
This Place That We Call Home is a history of Dora and the surrounding
area as seen through the eyes of Nat Self. Nat has written a book
that can be ordered from his website.
In preparing for this feature, I took a ride to the old Main Street Dora and
shot a few photos which are included in this feature. Most businesses in old
Dora either went under or migrated to the highway. What was once a thriving little
town center is now a jumble of weeds and trash. Most of the old buildings have
fallen down completely. The ones that have survived are shells. The only two
functional building are the Mission of Hope which was once the Methodist Church
and the other is a home that I think was once a hotel. The home that remains
is beautifully maintained and looks out of place among the rubble.
(Above is Main Street Dora in the 1940's. Below, Main Street Dora and
the Masonic Lodge 2003)
Shopping in Style
In spite of the bad economic news, Dad was still working on a regular basis.
On a beautiful sunny autumn payday, Mom told us that we were going shopping and
then we were going to the moving picture show in Dora. She washed and dressed
us in our best clothes, and she and Dad washed up and dressed in their finest
clothing and polished shoes. Mom’s makeup and perfume had a pleasant fragrance,
while Dad’s shaving lotion smelled fresh and clean. Soon we were inside
the Whippet and headed toward Dora with the sun sinking in the west and a dark
cloud visible in front of us to the east. Dad drove about three miles past Dora
to G. May’s clothing store at old Dora junction near Sumiton, where my
parents had shopped for many years. After Mom finished her shopping, we traveled
back to Dora, and Dad parked the car in front of Palmer Mercantile Company.
The Moving-Picture Show
After buying groceries, we walked a short way down a crowded sidewalk
to the moving-picture show. Many people were in line buying theater
tickets, and they were in a jovial mood, talking, and laughing. Most
men in the crowd were smoking cigars. Practically all of the people
in town were neighbors, friends, or acquaintances. This was a big
event, especially for the families of coal miners who had been paid
After Dad bought the tickets, we walked and pushed with a crowd of people into
the lobby of the theater, where I breathed the aroma of fresh popcorn. Dad
bought several bags of popcorn, and then we moved with the crowd into the lighted
theater, which had a floor that sloped toward the large white screen at the
lower end of the room. Black people sat in the balcony suspended over about
a third of the main floor. We found seats in a side section near the rear.
Soon the lights were turned out, and everything turned pitch black before the
moving-picture show began.
After eating most of my popcorn, I fell asleep. The next thing that I knew,
Dad was shaking my shoulder. I had slept through the entire show, and the lights
were on. We moved slowly in the crowd of people leaving the theater, and I
couldn’t see where we were going with all those tall people in front
of me. Finally we reached the lobby. I heard someone yell, “Look, it’s
We walked out of the theater and onto the wet street where a misty rain fell.
Stepping fast we rushed to our car and scrambled into it while Dad hurried
back into Palmer’s store to buy our breakfast beefsteak.
When Dad returned to the car, he headed it toward home in Kershaw. The pavement
of Main Street ended before we started down the steep hill a short distance
past the railroad depot. From my place in the middle of the rear seat I watched
the steady oscillation of the wipers sweeping the windshield as Dad drove down
the steep slippery road past the little calaboose and toward the tunnel. Inside
the tunnel the engine noise drowned out the flapping sound of the windshield
The steady rain peppered down. I curled up on the seat. Listening to the rhythm
of the windshield wipers, hum of the engine, and vibrations of the car, I fell