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Sunday, January 6, 2008

On living in a real-life Mayberry...

I've often mentioned that my wife and I live in a small town (actually a Village) in Michigan called Milford. We moved here in 1999 and wouldn't leave it for anywhere else. It's the upper Midwest epitome of the town in the TV show "Mayberry RFD" that stared Andy Griffin. We have one main street through town (see the header above for the "flavor" of our downtown, which makes up our "business district". Not surprisingly it is called Main Street, and from start to finish is only about 1/2 mile long, with three traffic lights. There are other streets and other business locations, of course; but all of the more modern shopping center type stores and fast-food places are arrayed around the outskirts of the Village (by design). So, we have a quaint little downtown. You can still find the equivalent of Floyd's Barber Shop right in the middle of downtown and there is the expected family restaurant at the edge of downtown; where, undoubtedly, a waitress named Irma dreams of someday making it to Paris or Hollywood.

We have three major parades (with bands, floats and fly-overs) a year - Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and the Christmas Parade (the weekend after Thanksgiving). Then, there are several minor parades - the Little League teams parade down Main Street every year before the season opens and there is the High School Homecoming Parade and the Halloween Parade (the kids in costume get candy from the Main Street merchants) and likely 1-2 others that I'm forgetting. For each of these, plus 2-3 other community events each year, Main Street is closed off and traffic routed around the downtown area. We also host one of the largest street fairs in the area each year - Milford Memories - which attracts arts and crafts booths from all over the country for three days every August. The locals always grumble about the inconvenience of the downtown detour, but we wouldn't give up any of these events, since they help keep the community vital.

The Village has an eclectic mix of housing available, ranging from some wonderful old Victorian homes that were built in the mid to late-1800's (I live in one of those, built in 1885) to brand new homes that are being built in small "in-fill" developments within the Village boundaries. Of course there are major, new subs and developments just outside the Village and a few upper-end luxury developments not too far away. There are still also quite a few horse-oriented properties in the township and even 1-2 horse farms within the Village limits. Probably the last large scale building boom took place after WWII and the Korean War when several neighborhoods were built to accommodate returning soldiers and their families. It's likely, about 1/3 of the housing stock (by count) in the Village was built in the 1950's and 60's.

At one time in it's history, Milford had a hotel downtown and a movie theater, both long gone. We do have a great, new library and a wonderful, new YMCA to provide lots of activties for families. The Village is now a restaurant destination for many in the area, with 2-3 well known eateries headed up by very good chefs. There are over 20 places to eat in the Village, ranging from Coney Islands to fine dining. We also have a Starbucks downtown, which is considered a requirement anymore.

One of the appealing things about the Village is it's "walkability" (see my post of August 2, 2007 about walk scores). About 1/2 of the Village housing is within easy walking distance to downtown and there are sidewalks available in most areas. For most local events, the Villagers walk down to them and back. I get lots of requests from Baby Boomers who are looking to downsize and retire to Milford to find them a place from which they can walk downtown. That's not hard; but, when they ask me to find them a ranch style house with all of the modern amenities that is close to downtown, that is difficult (but not impossible).

For more on my little home town, including virtual tours, visit my Web site and for more on the history of Milford go to the Milford Historical Society Web site or you can visit the Milford Historical Society Museum (see it's virtual tour on the Web site) when it reopens in the spring. It's open from May until December on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1 PM until 4 PM.

William Wendim had a TV show called "My World and Welcome To It" that was on for the 1969-70 seasons. I guess this is my version. This is my little world and you're welcome to visit it or to come live here. If you want to do the later, give me a call, I know the place fairly well. I'll find you the perfect home within easy walking distance to downtown.

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