Coming together downtown
Each Friday morning around 7, Jerry "Spud" Cundiff, a trim, white-haired gentleman who has spent his life in the family jewelry business, opens the sidewalk clock outside his store and cranks up its gearworks for another week of timekeeping - as someone has been doing here on Main Street in Walla Walla, Washington, since 1906.
The clock is an antique, but it isn't a relic reminding people that this used to be a bustling little metropolis, the place Theodore Roosevelt praised as making "the pleasantest impression upon my mind of any city I visited while in the Northwest." The clock has work to do, like the rest of downtown Walla Walla--which is thriving, thanks to a 10-year revitalization program.
Walla Walla, population 29,333, is set among the farms of southeastern Washington. In the 1970s, its downtown began a downward slide. Three of the four department stores fled, and a major landmark - the Marcus Whitman, a 12-story luxury hotel built in 1927 - went condo.