Carolyn Roberts Freeman loves antiques and she loves her adopted hometown, Piedmont. She spends a lot of time trying to sell both.
Carolyn and her husband, Dan, own six buildings downtown – four on South Center Avenue and two on North Centre Avenue.
She converted one of the buildings they bought, the former Fair Store, into The Antique Corner. Carolyn stresses the fact that it’s antiques that are sold there and nothing less.
“We have antiques and nice things,” she said. “It’s not a thrift store and it’s not a junk store.”
Carolyn said her other stores also have vendors, antiques and crafts.
The 27 booths at Antique Corner are currently filled. However, Carolyn has more room available in her other stores, and she invites anyone interested in renting space to call her at 256-283-4943.
“We’re the sole owners of all of these stores,” she said. “I charge $30 to rent. Most other places charge from $115 on up to $180. We’ve been trying to get more people from Piedmont to come and see us. We would love for them to come in. It’s not just helping us, it’s helping our town. We’ve been trying for years to build Piedmont back up.”
Carolyn said she’d never even thought about being a merchant.
When she turned 19 she began working at Interstate Mapping where she was trained to be in cartography. She worked there 31 years making maps.
“All of this is new to me,” said Carolyn. “But it’s something I really enjoy.”
Carolyn said she and Dan bought the buildings in 2008, when the economy was spiraling downward. The Freemans had two reasons for making the purchases.
“At that time we had sold our house in Maryland, and we decided to invest our money in something because it slips away from you,” she said. “We decided we’d do that so we’d know where it was. We bought the buildings to resell, but the economy kept going down, and we weren’t able to do that.”
Carolyn said their second reason for buying the stores is even closer to her heart. All of their children and grandchildren, with the exception of one granddaughter, live in the Washington, D. C., area.
She and Dan want them to move to Piedmont so they can be closer, but she wants Piedmont to be a thriving town when they arrive. She wants them to be able to secure jobs here and make a good living.
Right now, the most important thing to Carolyn is seeing the town she has grown to love prosper.
Carolyn was born in Jonesville, Va., near Bristol. Her family moved to Maryland when she was 8 so her father could find work.
She met Dan when she was 14 and he was 16. They married when she was 16, and she was 16 when she had her first baby.
“We grew up with our babies,” she said. “I’ve always loved babies. In church, I would hold them every chance I got. But, I just didn’t have enough arms.”
They’ve been married 48 years.
Dan wanted to move to Alabama from Maryland. She was reluctant at first. She didn’t want to leave her family. Dan moved to Piedmont in 1999, and six months later she joined him. They had been here six years when they purchased their buildings.
“I’m a mother at heart, and I do miss my children,” she said. ‘I miss the seven grandchildren we have. We do go back home quite often. I think my children and grandchildren will be here eventually because you can’t live in Maryland when you retire. A one bedroom apartment rents for between $1800 and $2500 a month. There are a lot of jobs there, but the cost of living is higher and the pace is so much faster.”
Their children are Tom, Tim, Tammy and Tony. They have seven grandchildren.
Carolyn said although she and Dan aren’t rich, they want to Piedmont to be a town the younger set doesn’t want to leave. That includes her own younger set, once they get here.
“I hope we’re helping the economy here, and I think we are,” she said.
“We’re helping vendors who sell their merchandise here. We don’t make millions, but if we could make this little town an antique town, we’d all be better off.”
Carolyn said when it’s possible, she encourages everyone to shop all the local stores, rather than opting to go out of town.
“It’s not just helping us, it’s also helping the other merchants,” she said.
Carolyn said she was a terrible cook when she first married.
“My mom was a great cook, but she didn’t teach me how to cook,” she said. “I had to learn on my own after we married.”
Her grandchildren and children like it when she and Dan visit them.
They get to eat the kind of cooking they grew up with. Carolyn prepares their favorite dishes.
(Contact Margaret at email@example.com)
1 lb. spicy sausage
1 lb. ground beef
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1can diced tomatoes
1t. Cajun seasoning
Head of cabbage
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook sausage and ground beef together until no longer pink. Drain well then spoon into bottom of crock pot. Add Rotel tomatoes, diced tomatoes, onion, Cajun seasoning and cabbage in order. Do not stir. Cook for three hours on high. Add butter, salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 1 hour.
2 cups self-rising flour and 2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, melted
4 T. cocoa
½ c. oil
1 c. water
Pour over dry ingredients. Then beat 2 eggs, ½ c. buttermilk, 1 t. Coke, and 1 t. vanilla. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minute.
Heat in pan:
1 stick butter
4 T. cocoa
1 T. butter milk
Bring to boil remove from heat than add:
1 box powder sugar
1 cup nuts(if desired)
Pour over warm cake.
1 box elbow macaroni
1 small onion
Mayonnaise (as much as you desire)
Drain macaroni salt mix all together serve warm or cold.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
Large can sweet potatoes
3 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter
Cup of coconut
½ c brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
Mash sweet potatoes, then combine everything together pour in casserole dish
1/2 stick butter
1/2 brown sugar
1 c. cornflakes, crushed
Mix topping together pour on top bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.