Once upon a time, little cities like Alexander City were a lot like Mayberry.

There were low crime rates, well-paying jobs and a good housing market. Russell Corp. employed thousands as a successful industry for the city until its ultimate demise.

Everybody knew everybody; the police chief was a family friend and the pharmacist always sat next to you in church. 

Younguns respected their elders and wouldn’t dare think of doing otherwise. Women were always ladylike and men were always in a coat and tie. Fellas always grabbed the door for ladies and opened their car doors. Everybody left their cars — and even homes — unlocked and women weren’t afraid to take a stroll down the sidewalk or a trip to the grocery store.

I had the pleasure of running into Mr. Fred Dobbs one day this week and we got to talking, and hearing him reflect on times like these was special. 

He called his daddy, Darwin Dobbs, a handshake, coat-and-tie kind of man who never met a stranger. He’d do anything for anybody and he had strong ethics. 

Mr. Fred said his father was a never-quitter and there wasn’t anybody who could tell the man “no.” How many of us give up when things get a little bit challenging? A lot of us. How many of us succumb to defeat when someone tells us we can’t do something or something doesn’t work out the way we’d hoped? A lot of us. 

Mr. Darwin Dobbs died many years ago but is still influencing Mr. Fred, 79, and probably many others who knew him. 

I asked Mr. Fred, “They just don’t make them like that anymore, do they?”  

He nodded. 

That’s not to say there aren’t incredible people here in Alexander City because, I’ve said it a hundred times, the people are the best part of this little community. 

Just Thursday I encountered another amazing person here in Alexander City. It was a person who had been through a dangerous domestic violence situation. They called the police when they were in a deadly situation and the Alexander City Police Department responded in under two minutes. Because Thursday was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, this person wanted to get local eateries together to supply the night shift with some free food. They worked diligently and made it happen within a matter of hours, and it was all simply because they said their life had been saved by these officers once and they deserve appreciation all the time.

It was nice to be reminded there are incredible people in this world and this community.

But all in all, many things have changed since those good ole days Mr. Fred reminisced about. 

He told me at 12 years old, he was driving around town in a Crosley his daddy got him. Mr. Fred and the police chief had an understanding and as long as he didn’t speed and drove only where he was allowed, it was all OK.

Can you imagine that today? Mr. Fred probably broke the rules a time or two or three, but he was responsible and raised in a way children simply aren’t today.

Today’s front page features a news story about a 17-year-old being charged with attempted murder following a shooting Thursday evening in Camp Hill.

Now, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but it sure makes you think and long for the days when — for lack of better words —folks acted right. 

It was the second shooting this week in Camp Hill. Crime continues to increase around us, and across the nation and world the headlines we read are almost unbearable. 

Gun sales, especially those for women, have skyrocketed in our area recently and I’m now equipped with plenty of self-defense items myself. A women’s self-defense class is coming up in February here in Alexander City because local women are concerned for their safety due to recent headlines in the state. Women have been abducted then soon turn up dead. It’s sickening and just something that didn’t happen nearly as often decades ago. 

 As we start a brand new decade and reflect on bygone days, I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to get better or worse.

We may never get back the days of Mayberry, something must be done to decrease the crime across our nation, supply more jobs to citizens and boost our economy. Locally, I hope at least the latter two of those are underway.

As much as I wish we were living in simpler times where everybody called you a friend, I’m afraid all we can do is reminisce because, no matter how much I may love the folks in Alex City, I have a feeling we’re not in Mayberry anymore.

Santana Wood is managing editor of Tallapoosa Publishers’ newspapers. She can be reached at santana.wood@alexcityoutlook.com