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Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Southern Weather Radar


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  • Writer Login


    Tom Poland

    Tom Poland
    Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of twelve books and more than 1,000 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Tom grew up in Lincoln County, Georgia, where four wonderful English teachers gave him a love for language. People first came to know Tom’s work in South Carolina Wildlife magazine, where he wrote features and served as managing editor.Tom’s written over 1,000 columns and features and seven traditionally published books. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, and his and Robert Clark’s latest volume of Reflections of South Carolina. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground in 2011 and 2012.He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks often to groups across South Carolina and Georgia.Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina. Visit my website at www.tompoland.net Email me at tompol@earthlink.net
    Number of posts: 224
    Email address: email
    Subscribe to my RSS Feed: http://likethedew.com/author/Tom Poland/feed/

    By Tom Poland:


      on the refrigerator

      An American Tradition

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jun 20, 2014
      An American Tradition

      The inventors of the components that make a refrigerator didn’t mean to build a museum and art gallery, but they did. I bet you cover your refrigerator with photos, mementos, and a few magnets that include everything from pizza parlors to emergency numbers to call. By far, the most popular images, I’ll wager, are those of loved ones, in particular, grandkids, and for many, pets. Consider the refrigerator a photo album, Rolodex, museum, and gallery all rolled into one…

      discerning preservation

      City Of Dust

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jun 8, 2014
      City Of Dust

      “The lost and wondrous wreckage of America. The ceaseless road to nowhere. Yeah, that’s my home.”

      That’s how John Mulhouse introduces visitors to his blog, City Of Dust. His blog (A term I can never bring myself to like) documents in words and photographs places abandoned, crumbling, stuck in the middle of nowhere, and to be blunt places few people have the intellect to appreciate. His work resonated with me as it is much like what Robert Clark and I do.

      scary 1950s stuff

      Quicksand, Hookman, & Man Eating Plants

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 5, 2014
      Quicksand, Hookman, & Man Eating Plants

      Scary Stuff From the 1950s: I’ll take adventure in the wilderness over television shows any day. One great disappointment today is how little there is to watch on TV despite there being more channels than ever. Was just the opposite when I was a child of the 1950s. We had few channels but plenty good shows to watch and some shows scared us pretty good. Horror shows and science fiction series gave me a jolt. What kid of the 1950s doesn’t remember quicksand.

      churchill enjoyed the show

      Elvis Comes To The Wilcox Inn

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 24, 2014
      Elvis Comes To The Wilcox Inn

      Early Easter morning on the running trail, 53 degrees and windy. It’s cool and damp from the previous day’s rain and dogwood petals, leaves to be truthful, fall like snow. Elvis Presley is on my mind. Running through falling dogwood flurries makes for an odd time to be thinking of Elvis but that’s what happens when you’ve just seen an Elvis impersonator. And it’s a strange time to be thinking of Winston Churchill too, unless you’ve just been to the Wilcox Inn in Aiken.

      do so with caution

      Ravenous? Sick? Eat Some Good Georgia Dirt

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Mar 30, 2014
      Ravenous? Sick? Eat Some Good Georgia Dirt

      Once again a memory from my boyhood days working at Clifford Goolsby’s store digs its way to the surface. That store was a portal to a sometimes-strange world, and one of the stranger things I heard came out of the mouth of Bill Goolsby, a true character. Bill ran the register at Mr. Clifford’s. He was a good-humored fellow and a prankster who soldered a quarter to a nail and drove it into the wooden floor near the register. How many laughs …

      lap of luxury

      The Finest Hotel You Ever Saw

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 18, 2014
      The Finest Hotel You Ever Saw

      What a sumptuous hotel the Ocean Forest was, described by one writer as “the finest hotel between New York and Miami.” From NYC to Myrtle Beach it’s 558 miles. From Miami to Myrtle Beach it’s 554 miles. Slap dab in the middle as we say around these parts. Built in the late 1920s the hotel’s price tag came in around $1 million. The “million-dollar hotel’s” goal was to create an East Coast haven for well-heeled folks in New York and Miami. They built it and the rich they did come. The location and the hotel’s grandeur, many insist, made Myrtle Beach the tourist destination it is today.

      atomic paradise sequel

      How To Break A Town’s Heart

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 14, 2014
      How To Break A Town's Heart

      During a recent trip to Savannah River Site I toured the ghost town of Ellenton. Since I wrote “Atomic Paradise” Ellenton, an apparition, haunts me. An entire town … moved. In researching “Atomic Paradise” I examined the unexpected exodus of Ellenton’s residents and two things caught my attention. One involves nature; the other human nature.

      Nature first. The afternoon I saw Ellenton brushy undergrowth grew where homes had sat. Where people once slept…

      savannah  river site

      My Atomic Paradise

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 14, 2014
      My Atomic Paradise

      Savannah River Site, the bomb plant, sprawls across the land near Aiken—a 61-mile drive from where I grew up. When I was a boy I discovered the woman next door, Miss Ann, made the 120-plus-mile round-trip five days a week. A peacekeeper of sorts, she’d gotten on at the bomb plant. For a long time I knew little about this nuclear reservation.

      Years passed. One July day in 1986, a self-assigned writing project took me to Savannah River Site…

      good intentions

      Culture Night

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Feb 23, 2014
      Culture Night

      In my outings around town I often see people in their thirties socializing. They run in packs and hop from bar to bar like fleas. They cluster up at festivals watching passersby, pointing, and laughing at others. They run together as couples and they break into male and female packs seeking adventure sure to banish boredom. This phenomenon is not new. We did it when we were in our thirties. Some of you did too. It’s been happening as long as men and women itch to escape the same old same old.

      gave gouthern boys a fine ski

      Florida’s First Theme Park

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Feb 11, 2014
      Florida’s First Theme Park

      Back in the 1960s when I hung out at Georgia’s Elijah Clark State Park, the cool guys were into water skiing. I got into it too and learned to slalom. That was a big deal. Learning to take off from shore standing on one leg was an even bigger deal, and I did that despite my most ordinary ski’s limitations. No matter how well you skied though, not having a big name ski rubbed a lot of luster off your accomplishment. A Dick Pope Jr. ski, however, carried cachet. A cheap ski? It might as well be a plank.

      life rises from the earth

      Somewhere Along The Catawba River

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jan 31, 2014
      Somewhere Along The Catawba River

      The day breaks gray, cold, and wet. Rain and mists swirl and shift like apparitions as winds whip them across the highway. Like twin metronomes, my windshield wipers lay down a steady beat … driving north, driving north, driving north. I’m driving to Lancaster, South Carolina, to interview a Catawba potter. To get there I drive up I-77 and peel off on SC Highway 200, a two-lane road running through pine-clad hills. It runs through hard times too.

      going viral

      Follow-Up: How A Mule Kick Killed Eight People

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 28, 2014
      Follow-Up: How A Mule Kick Killed Eight People

      If you didn’t read my column about how a mule’s kick ended up killing eight people, you are in the minority. Of all the columns I’ve written over the last four years none have generated quit a stir like this one. It began to show up on Facebook. People began to share it all over the place and Augusta radio personality Austin Rhodes came across it. He read the entire column over the air on WGAC. The floodgates opened up.

      physician heal thyself!

      Bring Back The Little Black Bag

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Jan 26, 2014
      Bring Back The Little Black Bag

      When I was in college, the hippie kingdom railed against the hated Military-Industrial Complex. The MIC, they felt sure, was more than happy to wage war in Vietnam and rake in beaucoups of money. Making bombs to make a buck. Oh the outrage. Well where are hippies when you need them?

      Today we have another MIC wreaking havoc on us: the Medical-Insurance Complex.

      every scar tells a story

      Remembering Dr. Weems Pennington Sr.

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jan 24, 2014
      Remembering Dr. Weems Pennington Sr.

      Back in a simpler, better time… In my case, five scars bring back memories of Dr. Weems Pennington Sr., a doctor who epitomized what a family physician should be. He was smart, kind, funny, and kept many of us rolling despite an excess of maladies, ills, and accidents. He had a way of teaching you to be courageous no matter what bedeviled you. He’s been gone for seven years but he lives on in the hearts and minds of many, and he always will.

      book banners be warned

      Pat Conroy’s Letter To The Editor

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jan 21, 2014
      Pat Conroy’s Letter To The Editor

      It’s a memory that refuses to die and it took place on the front steps of the old brick high school that overlooks Buddy Bufford Field back home. Angry classmates swarm around Skipper Hardin and me, furious because we had the gall to read Charles Darwin’s books on the theory of evolution. Even worse we were so bold as to talk about Darwin’s theory in class. Blasphemy! They thought Darwin’s books should be not just banned, but burned.

      quality of life

      Running For My Life

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 15, 2014
      Running For My Life

      From the time I was ten running and biking were part of my life and that led to football quite naturally. Like many Lincoln County boys, I played for the Red Devils. Ran track too.

      Not long after graduating from Georgia youth-induced laziness set in. Why exercise when you are young and weight gain is no big deal? I went through a stretch of seven years where I did nothing as exercise goes. Then one afternoon a couple of guys asked me to run with them.

      overcoming primal fear

      The Last Great Snake Man Found Salvation

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jan 13, 2014
      The Last Great Snake Man Found Salvation

      Few animals arouse primal fear like snakes and yet as citified as we are we seldom see ’em. Other than a green snake scooting through the lawn few people encounter snakes, and even fewer cross paths with industrial-strength venomous snakes. The kind that can send you to the next world.

      you can't make this up

      How A Mule Kick Killed Eight People

      by | 9, Add your Comment | Oct 27, 2013
      How A Mule Kick Killed Eight People

      You can drive by a place 1,000 times and be unaware of its history. Such was the case for a small country store on Highway 378 in Edgefield County. Over the years I’ve passed the little store you see with this column 1,000 times and not once did I stop. That changed Sunday, October 13. I did pass it but I turned around, curious to see what the price of gas was on the old rusty pump, leaning like an old man with a cane.

      oops

      It Fell From The Sky

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Oct 8, 2013
      It Fell From The Sky

      I must have been around eight when Uncle Carroll handed me a shard of metal. I couldn’t believe what was in my hands. That jagged piece of silver metal, the skin of an aircraft, was about the size of a postcard but in my mind it was big. Really big. A jet had crashed in northeast Georgia and Uncle Carroll had retrieved a piece of it. Holding a remnant of a fighter jet in my hand was one of those moments I’d carry the rest of my life. That torn metal might as well have come from an alien spacecraft. I held it and marveled. “It came from a wing,” I thought.

      the night life changed

      The December 1, 1969, Draft Lottery

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Oct 2, 2013
      The December 1, 1969, Draft Lottery

      People talk about life-changing events and most of the time it’s a dramatic event: An accident, a religious conversion, marriage, the onset of illness, the birth of a child, and such life changes generally affect people right away. Sometimes, though, it’s an event whose life-changing implications lie far off in the future. You just can’t know the path fate has chosen for you. And sometimes the change targets a select group of people.

      old-time religion

      Time Honored Faith & Fellowship At The Campground

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 14, 2013
      Time Honored Faith & Fellowship At The Campground

      I had heard such places existed but had never seen one. Now I was just two miles from seeing one. Just off I-26 near Ridgeville, South Carolina, I began to see signs. I followed them, took a side road, and the place came into view. Time for a deep breath. Old photographs of Nazi concentration camps came to mind. It was an illusion, of course, created by the way the old cabins sit shoulder to shoulder. Dark clapboards, rusty tin roofs, and stark chimneys strengthened the impression.

      weaving life

      Down By The Sweetgrass Highway

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Sep 2, 2013
      Down By The Sweetgrass Highway

      Charleston’s sweetgrass basket weavers are legendary. They are as much a part of the Lowcountry as she crab soup, Spanish moss, sea oats, and a crashing surf line. Their baskets please the eye with their symmetrical lines and khaki and tan patterns. A princely sum will buy you a basket but if you think spending $1,195 for a hand-woven basket is too much, hold on for a bit. There’s much to know about that basket and all that goes into it. For starters a rich history attends sweetgrass baskets.

      saving a species

      Along The Dune Line

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 26, 2013
      Along The Dune Line

      In 1980 I wrote a fifteen-minute film script about a subject most people give little thought to: sand dunes. The stars of this natural history documentary were sea oats, pelicans, shorebirds, and loggerhead sea turtles. The goal? Show people how important sand dunes are to wildlife and man. Because of scheduling issues and bad weather, however, a vital part of the film never got shot. Sand Dunes: Guardian of the Coast hit the screen without its true stars, child prodigies you could say.

      pit cooked over hickory

      Down Home BBQ

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Aug 13, 2013
      Down Home BBQ

      One day when you’re starving for traditional pit-cooked BBQ make the drive to Jackie Hite’s Barbecue just off Highway 23 in Leesville, South Carolina. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you park by the tracks and smell the delicious aroma emanating from hogs sizzling over hickory coals. Look for plumes of smoke back of Hite’s wide white restaurant. Inside look for the patriarch of pork, Jackie Hite

      a half-day off.

      Wednesdays, Closed At Noon

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jul 30, 2013
      Wednesdays, Closed At Noon

      For a long, long time most stores down South have closed at noon Wednesdays. Mexico has its siestas and we have Wednesday afternoons. Closed at noon Wednesday. It’s a custom praised by insightful folks as a more civilized way to live, a way to give everyone a half-day off. All my life I’ve known that Wednesday afternoons were sacred in towns of all sizes. Round about noon places close and the infamous old slow Southern life style crawls to a stop.

      small town america is dying

      The Onset Of Dust

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jul 25, 2013
      The Onset Of Dust

      The small town is hailed as a place where values and virtues die with the greatest of reluctance. Mayberry comes to mind. It was a sleepy little town where good people and memorable characters lived. The Lincolnton and Lincoln County I remember from the 1950s and 1960s had the Mayberry touch. Folks who long for the Lincolnton and Lincoln County of the 1950s and 1960s can still have it. “Vintage Lincoln County,” a Facebook page shows familiar places and people long gone. Its creator, Garnett Wallace, refers to it as a “community scrapbook.”

      that southern classic

      Let Us Praise The Tomato

      by | 11, Add your Comment | Jun 27, 2013
      Let Us Praise The Tomato

      Like the red poinsettia, the red, ripe tomato comes to us by way of Mexico by way of Peru … except that it starts out green. And it’s not a vegetable. It’s a berry, a beloved berry. Botanical correctness mandates that you refer to the tomato as a fruit and being pulpy with edible seeds classifies it as a berry.

      Dad's Day

      Feuds, Fathers, & Forgiveness

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Jun 15, 2013
      Feuds, Fathers, & Forgiveness

      There’s something about being a writer that leads people to confide in me. Think about that. Why tell a writer, a person who uses life itself as raw material, your deepest secrets. But tell me they do, and sometimes their secrets break my heart.

      Through my writing and books, I meet a lot of people. Some become friends. I’ve come to know women who confided in me just how much they hated their father. They had reason. So they say. Several told me…

      Shoals, Smoke & Spirits

      Down A Graveled Road, Part II

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jun 11, 2013
      Down A Graveled Road, Part II

      Early Thursday, May 30. Robert Clark and I strike out on day two of our western South Carolina explorations. As I drive into Carolina we’re both quiet, thinking.

      “Her sun went down while it was yet day,” Jeremiah 15:9. I couldn’t get that epitaph out of my mind. Nor could I forget the photos a woman showed me on a bluff overlooking the Calhoun Mill damn the evening before. Wearing a two-piece yellow swimsuit laying bare the requisite tattoos she walked over, more than a trace of beer on her breath.

      Rendezvous with History

      Down A Graveled Road, Part I

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Jun 7, 2013
      Down A Graveled Road, Part I

      With a few holes to fill in our new book Robert Clark and I headed to western South Carolina Wednesday, May 29. We went directly to Lincolnton where we used sister Brenda’s home as a base camp. After a visit with my mom we set out for McCormick. As soon as we turned off Highway 220 onto 378 the sky turned a menacing yellow. Soon the smell of burning woods filled the car and Robert spotted a cloud a bit different from the rest.

      Southern Places

      The Past, Price’s Mill & Polk Salad

      by | 6, Add your Comment | May 27, 2013
      The Past, Price’s Mill & Polk Salad

      It Was Good Enough For Folks Like Annie

      I left the Empire State of the South the day after Mother’s Day and headed to the Palmetto State. The border, mere minutes away, brought to mind the Allman Brothers’ “Blue Sky.”

      “Goin’ to Carolina … won’t be long til I’ll be there.”

      Interactive Journalism At Its Most Delicious

      Summer Sensations

      by | 3, Add your Comment | May 19, 2013
      Summer Sensations

      Last Thursday, just before I took my daily two-mile run/walk hunger struck. A few bites of watermelon did the trick. When I bit into that cold sweet watermelon a flood of summer memories rushed in. I recalled the great tastes of summer and with those memories came warm images of youth in the Georgia countryside. I saw stacks of dark green, striped watermelons, red, ripe tomatoes, and heard the beautiful grinding of a hand-cranked ice cream churn. Recalling the great tastes of summer I thought will make a good column.

      Enough Is Enough

      A Public Service—Business Writing 101

      by | 5, Add your Comment | May 15, 2013
      A Public Service—Business Writing 101

      None other than the Harvard Business Review reports that the ability to communicate is the number one trait top executives possess. The ability to communicate trumps ambition, education, sound decisions, and a capacity for hard work. It’s too damn bad the folks on top can’t delegate their talent.

      Way too many business people cannot write. How well I know. My eyes glaze over at their attempts. Check out most corporations’ mission statements and you’ll need a café latte with an extra shot of espresso. Here’s a snoozer for you:

      SC Writers' Essays

      A New Book—Favorite Places

      by | 7, Add your Comment | May 9, 2013
      A New Book—Favorite Places

      Your favorite place … For many it would be home, that safe harbor we have shaped to our own needs and likes, that refuge from the world’s ills, stresses, and bothers. Home makes for an easy choice. Suppose, however, an editor asked you what your favorite place is other than your home, and what if she said, “Write about it and we’ll put it in a book.”

      That’s precisely what happened to me.

      Pass The Rice Please

      Carolina Gold Conquered The World

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 30, 2013
      The "Avenue of Oaks" approach to Mansfield Plantation (Thomas Namey) http://www.nameydesign.com

      “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” —William Faulkner

      Early this spring I spent two days in ricefield country over near Georgetown. Working on a new book, Reflections Of South Carolina, Volume II, (USC Press) I went to Mansfield Plantation to time travel. Turning off Highway 701 onto Mansfield Road I hurdled three hundred years into the past.

      When Folks Made Do

      Genuine, Original Survivors

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Apr 27, 2013
      Genuine, Original Survivors

      A crisis or two from disaster … That’s how most folks live. Modern conveniences have spoiled the self-reliance right out of us. Thanks to stores like Kroger and Publix you can get most anything you need. Ease, however, extracts a price.

      We’re nowhere as self-sufficient as our grandparents were. They lived in an era when folks made do. Not us, we drive to the big box grocery stores and plop down a credit card or sign a check. That’s how we keep life moving forward. It’s a tenuous way to live.

      Southern Food

      Saturdays Meant BBQ

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Apr 23, 2013
      Saturdays Meant BBQ

      And that meant a trip to Bud Hawes … I can’t quite place exactly where Bud Hawes’s pit-cooked barbecue operated when I was a kid but I still see the place. I know it was close by the telephone office off South Peachtree. My sister, Deb, tells me a parking lot covers the spot. What a shame.

      When I was a boy Saturdays were special and not because school was out. No, they were special because…

      Nostalgia

      Hung Out To Dry

      by | 10, Add your Comment | Apr 14, 2013
      Hung Out To Dry

      You didn’t have to plug it in but it worked like a charm… all you needed was sunshine. Who can forget the clothesline? Starchy, fresh, and sanitized by sunlight, the blue jeans, shorts, T-shirts, and sheets of today hang out with the clothesline no more.

      Today’s jeans, Ts, and sheets tumble round and round. Throw in some synthetic fabrics and static electricity glues the whole mess together. Clothes hiss, pop, and cling as you separate them. Sometimes it’ll make your hair stand up on end.

      Old South of Long Ago

      Down In Rice Plantation Country

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Apr 8, 2013
      Down In Rice Plantation Country

      Last week I spent two days in rice plantation country over near Georgetown, South Carolina. Photographer Robert Clark, friend and co-author, and I went to several old rice plantations: Mansfield, Weehaw, Millbrook, and Estherville. If you’ve never explored an old rice plantation you owe it to yourself to do so. Glimpses of the South before the Civil War are yours for the taking. It’s like walking back two- to three-hundred years.

      Time Marches

      Give Me That Old Time Religion

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Apr 1, 2013
      Give Me That Old Time Religion

      Take Me To The River… I was down home for Easter with my family. We went to our church, New Hope. As I sat listening to a special music program it was hard not to stare at the church’s baptismal pool looming over the choir. As hard as I try to accept that pool as part of the church’s interior I cannot. While staring at it my thoughts turned to four pivotal days in a church we can never forget: the day we accept Christ, the day we’re baptized, the day we get married, and the day we lay a loved one to rest…

      1916

      The Great Augusta Firestorm

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 25, 2013
      The Great Augusta Firestorm

      When I was growing up life found all kinds of reasons to send us to Augusta. Then as now we found it necessary to make many a pilgrimage to the big city but we weren’t unique. In the CSRA all roads have always led to Augusta. The city of Masters fame has long represented the center of civilization as smaller outlying communities go.

      Lincoln County was home, of course, but the late 1950’s Augusta was much more—Sears, cinemas, car dealerships, and great hamburger joints in the days before Ray Kroc and his cookie-cutter McDonald’s took over.

      Otherworldly

      Carolina Bays—Nature’s Mysterious Landforms

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Mar 16, 2013
      Carolina Bays—Nature’s Mysterious Landforms

      During World War I, aerial photography sent in-flight artists scurrying to the breadline. Overnight, aerial sketches were old hat. Following the war, aerial photography, needing new markets, turned to non-military purposes and that led to a remarkable discovery. In 1930 the Ocean Forest Company of Myrtle Beach contracted Fairchild Aerial Photography Corporation to survey Horry County. Droning along, drawing eyes upward, Fairchild’s FC-2 Cabin Monoplane crisscrossed the coastal plain. What its photographer must have felt when he focused on the mysteries below.

      Connections

      We Called Him Kilgo

      by | 12, Add your Comment | Mar 12, 2013
      We Called Him Kilgo

      Does Life Have A Secret Plan? … Is one’s destiny planned all along? After one too many consequential coincidences you get the feeling that something mysterious is at work. Call it fate. Call it predestination. Attribute it to God. Whatever the force it reveals your true path. Such was the case with my most memorable teacher at the University of Georgia. It was mystifying how the man kept coming back into my life … even after he died. And writing was the connection.

      Before Cell Phones

      Breaker, Breaker, Heartbreaker

      by | 9, Add your Comment | Feb 18, 2013
      Breaker, Breaker, Heartbreaker

      What A Blessing A Simple Radio Was … In the mid 1970s I made long lonely drives up to Charleston, West Virginia for several years. A town called St. Albans to be exact and more precisely a home at 55 B 10th Avenue. My daughters, mere toddlers, lived there and once a month I made the eight-hour drive up to Wild Wonderful West Virginia to see them.

      It was Woeful Woebegone West Virginia back then because my youngest girl didn’t know who I was for a while. Those trips about killed me. The visits were bittersweet: a mix of joy and heartbreak. Leaving work early around two on a Friday, I’d arrive at 10 p.m. or so and stay in a roach motel.

      Unvarnished History

      Boom Along Baby Boomers

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jan 27, 2013
      Boom Along Baby Boomers

      Who We Come From … What We Truthfully Remember

      A Note To Baby Boomers: My daughter, Beth, is building a family tree using Ancestry.com in part. The other part involves questions to family members and independent research. She seeks to better know family members from the past. Her work will be of great worth to those who follow. She emailed me. “Can you tell me the birth dates, full names, and death dates of your grandparents?

      Swallowing History

      Ghost Towns: Petersburg, Lisbon, & Vienna

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jan 22, 2013
      Map of the Upper Savannah River in 1795 (public domain via wikipedia.org).

      Lake Waters Bury An Unparalleled Political Record

      Growing up I watched old cowboy movies about ghost towns out West and even went to Ghost Town in the Sky up in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Tumbleweeds rolling through Dodge City kept me glued to the television. Well, I was a clueless lad. Little did I know that if you grew up in Lincoln County you lived in an area with ghost towns nearby and they were real, and what politics and history once lived there.

      Moments

      The Power Of A Photograph

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Jan 6, 2013
      The Power Of A Photograph

      The young daydream of exotic careers. Something far from the ordinary. A calling that perchance will elevate them above the masses. For me that career would have been that of a photographer. I can’t say what started this desire to capture images but I can tell you it never materialized. My good fortune, however, was that life kept throwing me around people who are photographers, and I would learn to appreciate a photo’s ability to tell a story.

      Reading List

      The Dead Of Winter

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Dec 30, 2012
      The Dead Of Winter

      About two weeks ago in a macho moment I told a friend that in a way I enjoy getting the flu. I explained that the flu is about the only time I hit the bed for days on end and sleep, that otherwise I go full speed day after day. I went on, too, to brag that I had made it through 2012 without having to see a doctor. The problem was 2012 had two weeks to go. Well be careful what you wish for and never brag about good health. The flu found me. I missed Christmas with my family and have been flat on my back since Christmas Eve.

      North v. South

      Jingle Bells

      by | 4, Add your Comment | Dec 20, 2012
      Jingle Bells

      The Song That Started A Feud

      It’s one of the more popular Christmas songs. It’s also a song that lends itself to all sorts of versions and lyrics. Back in my boyhood school days, classmate Carl Ivey would sing “Jingle Bells” come Christmas time. He’d alter the lyrics to go “Jingle bells, shotgun shells,” and from there memory fails me. Carl, however, was not the first fellow in Georgia to experiment with the words of this popular Christmas song.

      Southern People

      An Afternoon With Artist Jim Harrison

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Dec 16, 2012
      An Afternoon With Artist Jim Harrison

      Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of joining eleven authors at a holiday book signing the Preservation Society of Charleston hosted. The Society’s bookstore and gift shop sits at the corner of King and Queen Streets, a royal location. There we convened from 1 P.M. until four to sign books and meet people.

      The event coincided with “Second Sunday,” an event where the city cordons off King Street for blocks and people fill the streets. Musicians do their thing and restaurants set tables in the streets so people can dine with views of the Holy City’s steeples.

      Southern Places

      Remembering Danburg, Georgia

      by | 12, Add your Comment | Dec 12, 2012
      Remembering Danburg, Georgia

      Ecologists love remnant habitat: places where time has yet to ruin what nature so carefully assembles. Generally we can thank isolation for pockets of remnant habitat. The self-centered modern world builds highways far beyond them and then forgets they exist. Here and there you can also find remnant habitat for man: communities of the past. Danburg is such a place. Glance at the map and you clearly see that Danburg sits off the beaten path. If you pass through the community of Danburg you are lost or you come there for a reason.

      Painful Insights

      How The News Lost Me

      by | 8, Add your Comment | Oct 15, 2012
      Talking Heads/News Anchors/Readers/Entertainment News

      In elementary school, Mrs. Murray Norman praised me one day for my ability to keep up with current events. As a kid I watched the Today show. I watched the Huntley-Brinkley Report. I watched local news on Augusta’s WJBF and WRDW. I knew what was going on and I could answer Mrs. Norman’s current event quizzes.

      I no longer watch the news. The news lost me by taking a long slow slide into a big puddle of ineptness. Never have we had so many ways to be informed but never have we had such a clueless bunch of faux journalists. Maybe the news has lost you too.

      Ophidiophobia

      The Short Sad Life of Snakes

      by | 11, Add your Comment | Oct 7, 2012
      The Short Sad Life of Snakes

      Back in the 1980s when I was the managing editor of South Carolina Wildlife magazine a lean, tall drunk staggered into my office one afternoon. He wore a big cowboy hat, fancy boots, and a string tie adorned by a silver and turquoise clasp. He looked like a Texan, an older version of Josey Wales. He was sun-and liquor-burnt and burning mad.

      “You got to do something about folks killing snakes,” he said, red-eyed, agitated, and smelling of Jim Beam. He had just seen a car swerve across a country lane to deliberately run over a rattler.

      Never Ceases to Amaze

      Making Memories Down South

      by | 5, Add your Comment | Sep 16, 2012
      Angel Oak, photo by Tom Poland

      My earliest memories of Charleston, South Carolina, go back to the mid 1960s when I would spend two weeks with my Aunt Vivian and Uncle Joe in Summerville. We’d make daily trips to Folly Beach and Charleston, and those trips made for memorable times. We’d hit the beach, crab in the marshes and creeks, and sometimes tour Fort Sumter and the Charleston Museum.

      Being a landlocked kid the chance to go to the beach excited me to no end. And crabbing was fun but filled with fears that the claws of a blue crab would nip me. The museum I remember as a dark musty place filled with oddities none of which I recall with detail. What was important however was that I remembered the overall experience.

      Notes From The Grave

      Dead Man Talking

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Sep 5, 2012
      Dead Man Talking

      You read where there was a forty-year celebration of the movie Deliverance this spring up in Clayton, Georgia, and Longcreek, South Carolina. It wasn’t all fun and games. Some folks didn’t appreciate the festival dredging up bad blood. Deliverance casts a long shadow along the banks of the Chattooga.

      If someone wrote a novel depicting the people of your county as toothless, murderous rednecks would you take it in stride?

      The Old-Fashioned Way

      The Broom Lady

      by | 2, Add your Comment | Aug 26, 2012
      The Broom Lady

      Some folks were talking presidential politics last Tuesday, that ugly subject that’s the new pornography. The economy and jobless rate came up, of course, and one fellow commented on the sorry state of affairs we have these days. “Americans themselves, as individuals,” he added emphatically, “don’t make useful stuff anymore. We got folks sitting around doing nothing.”

      He went on to say that the Chinese and big companies manufacture way too many things people used to make themselves.

      With A Little Help From The Jukebox

      Crossing The Race Line

      by | 1, Add your Comment | Aug 19, 2012
      Crossing The Race Line

      I went to high school in Lincoln County, Georgia, during the dwindling days of the Jim Crow era. I’m too young to remember Jim Crow’s salad days, that strange time of strange laws separating the races. I do recall that Elijah Clarke State Park was for whites and Keg Creek State Park was for blacks. I don’t recall separate water fountains and restrooms, and the only bus I rode was a yellow schoolbus, segregated until my last year of high school. No one cared who rode in the back. In fact it was cool to ride in the back. We wanted to ride in the back.

      We had our Jim Crow moments though…

      Teasing the Eyes

      Our Gentle, Rolling Land

      by | 0, Add your Comment | Aug 5, 2012
      Nature’s Topiary Artist Photo by Robert Clark Kudzu, the eternal opportunist, advances over a home long abandoned. This simple home was built during the days when a farmer might go to town Saturdays to shop for a mule. Those farmers and their way of life are gone and kudzu seems determined to obscure remnants of those times. This little shack shouldn’t feel picked on. This mile-a-minute topiary artist from southern Japan and southeast China covers the South, and the Piedmont, thick with kudzu-covered woods, is no exception.

      For five months I’ve been the first person to see the magnificent photographs Robert Clark is taking for our fourth book on South Carolina. Each day is long but good. For about nine hours a day, with breaks of course, I sort and evaluate images and place the ones with most potential in the appropriate chapter, Lowcountry, Upcountry, Pee Dee, and so forth.

      Hospice-tel

      Where Despair Lives

      by | 6, Add your Comment | Jul 29, 2012
      Where Despair Lives

      From the moment you’re born you begin to die. So the saying goes. It’s true in a way but life sure holds promise when you’re young. Everything is in front of you. And then the calendars come and go, each year passing faster than the year before. One day you look in the mirror and you’ve aged.

      How long must a person live to say they had a good run? How long is too long? Studies indicate we are living longer and longer but just how long do you want to live? It comes down to three words: “quality of life.”

      Rock of Ages

      Blue Granite

      by | 3, Add your Comment | Jul 22, 2012
      Blue Granite

      When I was a boy back home one thing that caught my eye was a pile of crushed blue granite, kindly deposited by the highway department along the shoulder of the road. Cone-shaped, the critical angle of repose at work, the pile of blue-white stones glittered like diamonds. I’d get a bag and load up on the smaller rocks, the ones that worked best in my slingshot. Then it was target time in the woods back home.

      Knowledge Comes In Unexpected Ways

      Save The Last Dance For Me

      by | 9, Add your Comment | Jul 14, 2012
      Save the Last Dance for Me: A Love Story of the Shag and the Society of Stranders by Phil Sawyer and Tom Poland

      My old girlfriend, Linda, emailed me recently. She had heard I’d written a book about the shag. “I am totally shocked that you of all people wrote about the shag and beach music. I just cannot believe it!”

      She had reason to be astounded. In the early 1980s when she and I hung out, the shag was beginning its comeback from the infamous Dark Ages and she and I mocked the older shaggers as they twirled, dipped, and slid across the dance floor. We had no idea how they had suffered and how they fought to rescue their dance. It was part of the story I would write.

      Recollection & Personal History

      Cooper & Poland

      by | 18, Add your Comment | Jul 9, 2012
      John Poland Embroidered Name Patch

      A woman acquaintance said something one afternoon that struck me in a bad way. I was giving her a ride to pick up her car. As we drove up to the shop, two mechanics were outside looking beneath a hood. Casually and icily she said, “I’ve got no interest in any man whose work requires him to wear a shirt with his name on it.” Had she known me better she would have kept her mouth shut, but she knew little except that I write for a living.

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