TEAM SOUTH CAROLINA

 

state flag

Above is the flag of the State of South Carolina.  It features a crescent moon and our beloved Palmetto tree.

pray-for-peace

Often our state flag is modified to make a point.  Its design lends itself to this kind of thing.  Credit to Gil Schuler Graphic Design (gilschulergraphicdesign.com).

A huge rebellion against the Confederate Battle Flag posted on the front grounds of our state house is brewing.  Again.  This is old news, of course.  One Republican governor recently occupied his office only for one term, and his support to take down the battle flag was a big part of his defeat.  Today, Saturday, the state house will be the site of two demonstrations.  At 1:30, a group organized under the idea of “let us vote” (for or against the idea of taking down the flag) and at 6 PM, a demonstration, as far as I can tell, sponsored by no one will demonstrate for taking the flag down.

flag

 

Above credit:  ABC7News.com

I think the taking down of the flag may be achieved this time.  But probably not without violence.  I lend my physical self to demonstration anytime I can.  It is a right, and a powerful feeling to be part of a mass that believes the way you do.  But these days, one has to think twice.  If this event has no sponsor, will there be security?  This week in South Carolina, although almost nothing is being spoken about other than the tragedy in Charleston, there is the dangerous fringe element, one of which now sits in jail.  Should we go?  Should I subject my family to this danger?  If nine people could be murdered in a church while studying the Bible, my choice seems like a no-brainer.

In the 80s during the beginning of the AIDS scare, I sent my children to daycare.  It was the right thing to do even though kids bite and blood could be exchanged.  Some here pulled their kids out. Not in favor of stigmatizing anyone, or acting like Chicken Little, we trusted that nothing would happen.  Nothing did.

If it weren’t for the guns that are everywhere, I would trust this time.  Can I?

THE SOUL OF THE SOUTH

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.

coffee pot

 

The UFO Welcome Center on the other side of Orangeburg is popular.

another ufo

Or the home of our Govette is in Orangeburg County, for what that counts as.  Some think she is the next Sarah Palin.

nikki

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.

all star bowling alley

 

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.

marchers oburg massacreLook 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.

the t and d oburg massacre

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.

FERGUSON, MISSOURI

This small city is my husband’s home town. Who would have known it would become so famous? Figuring what you must be seeing on television, let me tell you about his Ferguson, my Ferguson. Some of that information can be gained by contrast.

The next suburb north in St. Louis County is Florissant. This is where I grew up. Kids from Florissant and Ferguson merged together in 10th grade and attended the same high school, named McCluer High School. The school gained some fame in 1967 when a small airplane hit the old gym, just as modern dance students left it to change. The pilot was killed. The school was just beyond one of the major flight patterns for Lambert Airport. That would change. It was the middle of the boomer experience and kids were everywhere. Our school was the biggest high school in the state.

1-mccluer yearbook picture

Ferguson and Florissant represented two different ways to live, and I noticed it immediately when we were looking for houses, just having come back from a stretch in Japan. Ferguson had little streets and trees everywhere. The houses on each street were mostly unique; periodically a builder would create two or three houses on one street. Glenn’s house was one of those. In that area it was hilly and there were many parks. The neighborhoods were heterogeneous looking but there were better neighborhoods, and lesser neighborhoods. There is a distinct downtown area that most could walk to. I still remember one two story house my family looked at; I was so impressed because it had an intercom system between the front door and the kitchen. There were two like it on this little street in Ferguson.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/616+Superior+Dr,+Ferguson,+MO+63135/@38.753376,-90.296,3a,90y,94h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sTrz7ClcraI0CbKZ3SKAZIg!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x87df49e1473dc545:0x9c24a8df5ec32fd7

Glenn’s house

Unbelievably, Florissant was the higher end choice for those days. Acres and acres of farmland were scraped raw for the advent of subdivision houses rising from the mud. With each house you got two trees for the boulevard areas. One developer, Mayer Rasher Mayer (I think) developed most of the city. There was a downtown area which was more a cluster of strip stores. Not leafy like Ferguson. There was a small old part of Florissant that was older than any of the surroundings. That part of Florissant was like Ferguson.

https://www.google.com/maps/@38.797884,-90.294279,3a,75y,354.95h,89.77t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1shfKoHIR4Hn9jlLgIoTAjMg!2e0

My house

Florissant in the summer was as hot as you could imagine with those two toddler trees and cement streets. The sounds of all the air-conditioners made it seem the houses would fairly take off! We rode bikes or walked to friend’s houses in all that heat, counting blocks and streets with names of horses. You would see the same “model” house over and over again. That interested me for some reason; I would never live in a place like that again, although I knew no different.

Florissant had a park and a public pool, tennis courts and an A and W root beer stand, but it was too far for us to walk there. Ferguson, on the other hand, had the magnificent January Wabash Park where there was a pool and a bandshell and the old red brick Ferguson High School, to be turned into the junior high for Ferguson when McCluer was built. It also had a little lake where people fished. In the winter, the little lake froze and we ice skated. Nothing like that in Florissant. At January Wabash lake we spent much time during the Brownie years learning about nature. I remember seeing my first coiled up frog eggs on the edge of the lake. I remember one winter in ninth grade in my cheerleading get-up, crowding around a fire for warmth and then scandalizing myself because I smelled like smoke after.

During the summer of the Watts riots–there were black suburbs near us, everyone stayed calm.

The father of my life-long friend was the superintendent of schools for the Ferguson-Florissant R-2 School District. He came here about three years ago, and we spoke of the integration of the school district. This happened just after we were off to college. Dr. Brown said to the board “Give me a year for this”, and the board did. The integration was accomplished without drama.

Last summer we went back for a fifty year celebration of the opening of McCluer High School. These two suburbs are majority black now, but in riding by the houses, all looked neat and clean. So did the park, the tennis courts where Glenn and I first met; sadly the A and W is not anymore.

My heart is broken with Ferguson being in the news like this. And Florissant has its own problems. Turns out all those space-age houses were built upon a cesspool of a creek called Coldwater. And we have ourselves a huge cancer cluster there.