Damn. The famous travel writer Paul Theroux was in Orangeburg and I didn’t know. It wasn’t to speak or anything like that, who around here would go? He was doing what he does, this time in his own country. My husband has been talking the past couple of days about an article he is reading in Smithsonian Magazine. Flipping through the article backwards this morning with coffee and hummingbirds, it is so long. Finally reaching the first page, there was his name. Of course! Only a guy like Theroux could command that much space in Smithsonian.
This article was long overdue. Other than the famous interchange from some years back between Bill Cosby and a woman from North, SC (Noo-ath), in a remake of the old “You Bet Your Life” show, this part of my South is pretty invisible.
We have our roadside curiosities. I love the little old now vacant restaurant on 301 that is crowned by a large coffee pot. I have tried to buy it before. No luck. Through the windows Edward Hopper and men in fedoras can be imagined.
The UFO Welcome Center on the other side of Orangeburg is popular.
Or the home of our Govette is in Orangeburg County, for what that counts as. Some think she is the next Sarah Palin.
Theroux does talk about the Orangeburg Massacre, a locally famous event, which gets more to his “soul of the South” topic. It was what was happening here when the rest of the country was focused on Kent State. In the article, a Mr. Johnson, the man who told Theroux about the Massacre, to whom Kent State was mentioned, said “But you know those kids that died were white”. “People here understand how it is to need help, to be neglected”. So we do.
Finding some pictures from the event, it was pretty amazing, and pretty tame to have had three students killed.
Above is the bowling alley where it all started. The building looks just the same now, but vacant. It is in a part of town that boasts lots of vacancies, and has since I have been around here. The alley is about six or eight blocks from SC State University (College then). That was the destination of the march. Back home after being rejected service in the bowling alley.
Look at the marchers, how well dressed they are and marching in a line! Kent State did not break out like this. For two days peaceful demonstrations called for integration of the business so students could use it. For sure, there was not another place where they could. They were turned away by an owner who did not want to integrate, and the third day of demonstrations got dangerous.
Here is the front page of the local paper for Feburary 9, the day after the violent night. There is a building named after the three on the SC State University campus.