Shared from the 2017-05-07 The Virginian-Pilot eEdition




ADVERTISING COMPANIES would have you believe everybody wants a home with no less than three baths, granite in the kitchen and an entertainment center with at least an 80-inch television and super comfortable and adjustable lounge chairs.

Everybody supposedly wants gourmet food for every meal and a super wine list. And, of course, they must have the latest phone that does everything – whatever that is.

Let’s just hope that the city doesn’t succumb to these notions when it builds a new Portside to attract people to the downtown waterfront.

Some people have already sneered at the idea that anything can be built for the $730,000 the City Council has allotted to the project. Presumably, that money would be used in part to provide electricity, water and some simple benches and chairs.

Since the first Portside had a tent-top that fell victim to a storm, it’s good that the city is considering putting a solid top on the vending area at a very reasonable cost.

It doesn’t need a polished wooden floor for dancing because for years people enjoyed dancing on concrete and grass if the music was good. They sat on simple wooden benches – if they sat at all. Most ate finger food standing up because that encouraged conversation with others, including many they didn’t know. If you got into a serious discussion, you could find a place to sit and talk.

People drank beer out of cans and bottles and most didn’t drink a lot, which made Portside a good place to take children to enjoy the music. Often when people left the outdoor venue, they headed for downtown bars and cafes for another drink, which was good for businesses.

A new version certainly should have a vendor serving good, fresh seafood of all sorts. A place called Dave’s in the first version of Portside was booming almost every minute it was open and was a favorite for people who worked downtown.

And it would be good to have a vendor of homemade desserts. That really would attract people.

Portside doesn’t have to be fancy and it certainly shouldn’t be expensive if we want to attract “all sorts of people,” as the song “Portsmouth Is For People” says.

People came to Portside from all over the region. They loved the down-home atmosphere, everybody talking to everybody whether or not they knew each other. There were people in dark suits and ties, others in cut-offs and T-shirts. Nobody was trying to impress anybody. They simply enjoyed relaxing in a pleasant and safe environment.

Thinking about it, I still marvel at the mix of people. As I often have said, they were young and old, rich and poor, black and white – a real potpourri of the region. It always was good to see military folks there – from admirals to recruits.

Times certainly have changed over the years, but I think inside all of us is a little bit of humanity that doesn’t need an elegant place to relate to each other. I hope we keep Portside simple – and fun.

Ida Kay Jordan,

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