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Down on Main Street co-owner Juanita Hillard shows off a vintage coffee box lid to Alexandria resident Allison Morgan in the new Alexandria antique and home decor shop on East Main Street.

Campbell County’s historic Alexandria courthouse is reflected in the window of new women’s clothing store Trouvaille at 8351 E. Main St.

Down on Main Street co-owner Juanita Hillard displays an antique metal shoe form inside the Alexandria antique and home decor shop on East Main Street.

New shops revive Alexandria ‘Old Town’ row Chris Mayhew

ALEXANDRIA – Vacant storefronts are almost all gone from East Main Street’s old town business row. New shops, four of them, have popped up in the cluster of retail buildings across from Campbell County’s historic 1840 courthouse in Alexandria. The southern Campbell County town has grown by more than 500 people since 2010 to just over 9,000 residents. Home decor and antique seller Down on Main Street’s opening Jan. 14 at 8361 E. Main St. put an exclamation point on the steady resurgence of the area many people in Alexandria refer to as “Old Town.” “Now everything is full,” said Down on Main Street co-owner Juanita Hillard about Main Street. Vintage antiques and eclectic home decor are the

focus of Miller and co-owner Cecilia Miller, of Alexandria. “We literally bring something new in here every day,” Miller said. Next door to Down on Main Street is a church thrift shop opened in 2016 called Good Samaritan Thrift Store. Cross & Crown Community Church runs the thrift store at 8357 E. Main St. as a way to raise money for the homeless and drug treatment. The church hopes to eventually open a drug treatment program for addicts in Silver Grove. At 8351 E. Main St., boutique woman’s clothing store Trouvaille started out as a temporary “pop up” shop around Thanksgiving. The shop is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday with no plans to close. Main Street’s newest building at 8339 E. Main St. will be the new home for Kids Consignment Shop this year. Kids Consignment Shop will move from its

current location at 8109 U.S. 27. Longtime East Main Street antiques merchant Bonne Winters said Main Street is back. A lack of parking isn’t a problem because the businesses have niche clienteles, Winters said. Serendipity Antiques at 8345 E. Main has been in business for 16 years. Having more antique and thrift shops builds synergy, she said. “I feel like the more the merrier,” Winters said. Alexandria resident Allison Morgan has become a regular shopper at Down on Main Street. Morgan said she likes the idea of several used and antique stores in one area. “I love that it is local,” Morgan said. An old wood Pepsi bottle crate has become a centerpiece decoration in Morgan’s home. Morgan keeps coming back to Alexandria to find what she calls “authentic treasures.” “There’s a lot of reproductions out there,” she said.

A FAMILY’S IMMIGRATION TALE Ramonaitis family sought refuge in United States Melissa Reinert

FORT THOMAS – Twelve-year-old Bernadetta Ramonaitis’ sandy hair flows in sync with the gently rumbling ocean waters beneath the Queen Mary. Her soft eyes grow wide as the Statue of Liberty – and a new hope for her family – inch into sight. “Oooooo, America,” whispers Bernadetta, now 80 sitting in the Fort Thomas home of her daughter Cyndi Jordan, 60. Surely this is a similar whisper to that made in March 1949. Although she’s much older, well settled and going by her married name, Harney, Bernadetta vividly remembers the journey to the land of the free. “I was young,” she said. “But I knew what it meant.” In 1949, she and her father Joseph and mother Ann, seven months pregnant, were relocated from a German refugee camp following World War II to the States. Bernadetta can’t help but wonder

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how her life would have been different had today’s ban on immigrants been in effect all those years ago. “I hate that this is happening now,” she said. “I hate it.” Originally from Lithuania, their country fell to Russia during the latter portion of the war. They were forced to give up their home, their jobs, and the only life they’d ever known. “In some ways, as a child, it was easier going through this than it was for a grown-up,” Bernadetta said. “The only time I was scared was when sirens would go off and planes would fly over and drop the bombs. Whether it was nighttime or daytime, we’d drop what we were doing and go to the shelter. I’d sometimes wake up shaking at night.” At that time, school children were quizzed on what their parents were saying about the Soviet government and communism. Any unsettling reports from the children could lead to the killing of the entire family. That’s when Joseph and Ann decided to leave, hoping for a better life for Bernadetta. In summer 1944 thousands of Lithua-

nian refugees left their homeland ahead of the advancing Soviet Army and headed west, according to The end of the war brought a sense of relief to most Europeans, but not to Lithuanian and other Baltic refugees. They suspected they were in danger of being forced into the Soviet Union. Joseph, who was 68 when he died in 1977, worked for the underground during World War II. He was separated from his family for weeks during their escape. He was forced to dig foxholes for the Germans who had captured him, Bernadetta’s sister Violet Ramonaitis Lichtenstein said. Seeing an opportunity to escape one night, he took it and was eventually reunited with his wife and daughter who were living at a displaced persons or refugee camp in Germany, operated by Americans. They stayed there for five years, living in “an abandoned industrial building,” or so it has been described to Bernadetta’s niece Sonya Lichtenstein. “They lived with hundreds of other See IMIMGRANTS, Page 2A

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The Ramonaitis, Joseph, Bernadetta and Ann, meet with a nun from Catholic Services in 1949 upon their arrival to the U.S.

Vol. 12 No. 19 © 2017 The Community Recorder ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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