This has been a summer of disappearances in downtown Knoxville. Vagabondia, which was a Market Square staple, disappeared. I was told it was all good, the business was fine, but the offer to purchase the building was better. Fizz is coming in its place. 10,000 Villages, also a long-term tenant on Market Square disappeared. Again, I was told all is good, that the concept continues online and in other markets. The people who were running it were doing so as volunteers and they were ready to move on. Swagger took its place. Manhattans closed and that building and the one across the street housing Patrick Sullivan’s are for sale. Both are Old City institutions.
On a personal level, Hector Qirko, who many of us assumed we would have forever, has moved to South Carolina, taking his quirky guitar licks and jazzy stylings to other markets. The clincher was a full-time teaching offer. That one hurts for those of us who have enjoyed his music and his smile for years.
Taylor behind roses and a young woman
Having moved downtown last fall, one of the people near the top of my get-to-know list was the Rose Guy. When I got an opportunity to introduce myself and ask his name, that was what he told me, “Rose Guy.” It was a while before I learned his name was Taylor. When I asked him about the rose petals I found scattered around downtown, he said something to the effect of the universe placed the petals where they needed to land. In the following months I learned his name is Taylor and we developed a system of getting roses into the hands of people who looked like they needed one. It was great fun.
I’ve seen Taylor downtown forever, but never until I moved here did I make the attempt to get to know him. He’s cryptic, soft-spoken and on a mission to sell roses, so he doesn’t linger for conversations. I also learned he is very private. He does not particularly like to have his picture taken, so you won’t find many pictures of him if you do a search. Cynthia Moxley has a good one on her Blue Streak blog, but I’m not sure if she took it. After a little cat and mouse, I managed to get these couple of photographs with Taylor being, well, kind of like Wilson on Home Improvement. I decided it suited him.
Sadly, Taylor has suggested that he, too, will soon disappear. He says this is the worst year he’s ever had for rose sales and that the universe calls elsewhere. His voice trails off and he looks into the distance and that’s all he’ll say. Knoxville is losing a kind spirit and another person who makes the texture of life downtown richer for his presence. Hopefully he’ll have a change of heart. If not,we’ll miss him. Someone else might step in to sell flowers, but it will not be with the same style and grace and the flowers could not possibly be more beautiful.
Flowers on the sidewalk among the cigarette butts outside Pembroke