Many folks in the little City Beautiful grow up here their entire lives. Some have been here long enough to see two different downtown revitalizations. For others, life may have led them in a different direction and far from the confines of Jones County. But here’s the thing –– small towns are magnetic. Home will always be home, especially when it holds the memories of loved ones.
For Candace Keller, Laurel is vastly different than what it was before. Born in 1952, Keller was born at the Boone clinic, which is now a law office on the oak-lined streets of 5th Avenue.
“I lived there continuously until I left for college. The best part was going home for the summer and working for my dad’s office in downtown Laurel. Somehow, even after all these years, I always found my way home.”
For Keller, Laurel is the place that reminds her most of her vibrant childhood and teenage years. But Laurel mostly remains a beloved reminder of her late father, William R. Keller.
“My dad grew up in Laurel. He went to school here his entire life until he served in the United States Army. When he came back, he was an optometrist in Laurel on Magnolia Street for 35 or more years. His office was a staple of Downtown.”
Keller’s roots grow even farther deeper than her parents. Both of her grandfather worked on the railroad and were led to move to Laurel in 1905. At that time, Laurel was the goldmine of the railroad industry. Hundreds of families migrated to the City Beautiful for the booming, diverse industries that were bursting at the seams.
Incidentally, the Scotsman General Store is notorious for its surprising and deafening whistles due to its proximity to the track. It didn't seem to bother Candace much. She even did her decision scene there!
“It never fails. When I hear the train, I think of granddaddy.”
Laurel is a new start for her. While she travels in between seasons, she now has a permanent home to find rest and remember the good things about life.
“Laurel will always be my home and my resting place. I see my dad in everything. He was an amateur photographer as well and I love getting to see the places he would photograph me and my two brothers.”
Behind the doors of every beautiful home and every small town are the fondest memories that bring it to life once more. Thankfully, Candace's new home can collect loving memories of once was and create new anticipation and joy of what it is to come.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Candace! We sure are happy to have you.