state flag

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


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 (

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.



Above credit:

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?


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.


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.


Glenn saw this truck at the Bi-Lo last week. It reminded him of a place we wanted to take our outlaws, who would be visiting.  It seems that every time Mr. Pendarvis gets a new truck, it is painted up for advertising.  You never know when an alien might be hovering over the Bi-Lo, needing a place to stay in the area.

ufo truck

middle truck ufo

older truck ufo

As they say here, we “carried” our outlaws over to Bowman to see the Center and proved to all the old familiar statement made by James Pettigrew long ago. You know, the one about South Carolina being a large insane asylum. The insanity goes well beyond our local politics, which is the darkest part of the dark side. But this curiosity seems light years more positive than SC politics and even trumps the work of “SETI” ( ); we are welcoming visitors. Southerners, if nothing else, are gracious.

ufo 10

ufo 9

The  creation resembles the 1950s profile of an alien ship, silver-like, decomposing, with signage.  As you can see in comparison with the more recently built ship in the photo featuring the orange truck, this alien motel is on the decline.

ufo 4

ufo 11

ufo 7

The rocket-like shape that points to the front entrance of the ship is now painted over.  An older picture says “UFO-MAN”.

ufo man

And sometimes the outdoor furniture has to be replaced.

blue couch

Visitors are guided out to I-95 which is how everybody gets out of here.

ufo 5


Still thinking about Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson mo 1978-3

I grew up a stone’s throw from there, in the 1960s, and there were no blacks to speak of. We were all middle class whites and were trained with middle class ideas. Most of us went to state institutions, middle class schools, for college. We knew the program.

ferguson mo 1978 -1

After graduate school at a second middle class state institution, I came south to take my first college teaching position. The only person I knew in South Carolina was the person who hired me.

Landscape, behavior, attitudes were all unfamiliar to me. And true, I lived (still do) in a county that is majority minority. There was some kind of political plan to make this county the way it is, and its shape is huge, and far-reaching to attain that goal. Both whites and blacks were confusing.

I was truly in a different pond. Could not understand why strangers spoke to me. What did they want? Someone was to pick me up “after church” and I thought, “Which service?”. Overwhelmingly, there is only one here, and it is at eleven. The details of life became unfamiliar.

Having later married into a local family, it was very early on that I realized they were playing a game for which I would never know the rules. That is a cultural difference. Neutral, not bad, not good. It got me in trouble sometimes. That description stayed with me; it exactly depicted my emotions. I meant no harm, was simply confused. My antennae did not work well here.

People, black and white, do what their parents and grandparents did; they are the models. Those traditions may seem very strange to the other. Cultures are different ponds. Should know better, but last weekend was sort of shocked by the organization of a local Democratic Party campaign event.


The fish fry and meet and greet was to start at four. We got to the event at that time, there was not a soul around. We sat in the car until we saw some movement in putting up a tent in the parking lot. My oldest, with us, is always embarrassed by my activities. We walk into the building behind the line of signs, against his advice. There was a meeting in a glass office taking place, and about 40 black people sitting in chairs around the perimeter of the office quietly and politely.

williams one

It reminded me of the above event from last year when all staked out their seats in a covered picnic area, loaded with railroad collectibles hanging from the ceiling. The people were glued to their seats, and were not going to give them up until fed. Same thing for the fish fry last week. They had all evening, they would listen to all the speakers, and then they would eat. Never mind how slow the start was. We, starving, left to go eat pizza as the event had yet to be born. Should have learned this stuff by now. It made me think of the Old South and the new black voters and getting out the vote. And generations of black families doing as they had seen done before.


Misscommoncents nominated me as a versatile blogger, for which I am very grateful.  This characteristic is antagonistic to being a clear and easy voice on the web. Trying not to be, there is this thing though.  Some idea rises to the top and it will not be discouraged.  Even when there are other seeds of ideas, the purging of the dominant one just must be heard.  Exorcism.

This is my experience in visual art as well.  Often, it wastes a lot of time.

For this award, the obligation is to tell seven things about myself.  Since my writing is all over the place, hence the award, past blog posts might do the trick.

1.  Love art history…otally-the-guy/


2.  My digs are a composition, too.


3.  Love cats.



4.  South Carolina politics are simply absurd.

joe wilson

mark sanford

5.  I have the gene for colon cancer.


6.  Families have “stuff”.


7.  Love to garden.  All the time.


Many thanks for understanding my various interests, Miss Common Cents!


Vince Sheheen, second time candidate for Governor of South Carolina, again running against Nikki Haley, visited a Democratic party fundraiser in Orangeburg last night.  Candidates for various state offices cooked southern food, and at the end of the evening all (almost all) voted for their favorite.  It was down home South Carolina politics.


He lost last time against Nikki Haley by 4.5 percentage points.  Had Sarah Palin not come at the last minute that special November,  casting her automatic weapon upon those that would receive, he might have won.  Since then, we have had much interesting activity as the Govette marches on with the Republican thinkers.  “I have to live my philosophy”, she replied to my friend who questioned her about people in this state who needed food stamps to feed their children.

All of the pertinent information about SC taxpayers has been stolen from the department of revenue, and she was forced to buy protection for all of us for a year.  Only a year, Govette?  How about for the rest of our business lives?

And then she tried to close down our fine Arts Commission and SC public television and radio.  “There are lots of channels to watch”.

Don’t get me going.  Can you find Vince below?

1-williams one

This blog is about collecting, not politics!  We were not disappointed in this venue.  Hanging from the roof of this large party shed is everything “transportational”.  Located here were most of the railroad lanterns in the free world, deer antlers, old license plates, railroad signs, blasting horns, you name it.  Our host is a real collector.  He even had an old caboose on premises.

1-williams two

The underside of this roof was amazing.  More is more in this case.  And my person won the food vote,  Congrats to Brad Hutto!


There is a lot to look at as I wind down Scott River Road on my four mile run.  The run is especially nice now that the road is getting re-graded.  Currently only loose stone is applied and cars using the road are helping to push it into the base of asphalt or something like it.   I wonder if this was how it felt to run on cinder, the old low tech surface.


There are stoic cows, marked in the ears electronically or not, stating who they are, where they will go.  Branded.  I used to think they looked cute and silly with earrings, but these symbols are so much about their future.  Uneasy about this.

Cows love jazz. 

Cows like to look nice and wear earrings.  They are curious and non-judgmental.  Often, I am running by as they cross Scott River Road.  They have their minds on that destination of new green grass across the road,  and are mot much interested in me.  They are huge and very tolerant beings.  The babies are wobbly.  One day, all crossed the road but one cow.  My friend was closing the gate and I asked why she didn’t come.  She had just dropped a baby, just then.  I had the feeling that if it had been even an hour before, that baby would be walking across the road too.


Over the road, often I see enormous cargo planes that seem to be just over my head.  It is always strange to see them.  They are so big that your mind tells you that they are much closer than they are.  Strangers to the area get upset that the planes are getting too close and are moving way too slow.  These planes are from a so-called “secret” air base at North, SC, very near here.  When Strom Thurmond was still alive and  pushing his power, there would always be three cargo planes doing maneuvers in the sky, then the base closings started in the 80s? 90s?, and the planes would only travel in twos.  Now only one at a time.

The image above is a still from a video of a cargo plane crashing.  However it records exactly the feeling one gets when running or driving around here.  About five years ago, maybe ten miles of US 321 was widened to four plus lanes near North, leading to here.  Some say this is for emergencies related to the (secret) North air base.  My daughter had a science teacher who told her it was planned to be an auxiliary landing site for the shuttle.  Strom Thurmond/the Senator/ Columbia?  It was after Columbia, SC that that  shuttle was named.

This is new on my route.


In a field that has always had cotton, this year peanuts were planted.   Don’t know if this is normal crop change so as to not delete the soil too heavily from any one nutrient, or if this is change related to our wet spring and summer.    They are turned out on the ground now, laying like this.  I have wondered about peanut farming ever since Jimmy Carter was elected.

Way back when, my stepfather, Sidney, was flying by air from St. Louis to NYC.  The man next to him said to him,  “Hello, my name is Jimmy Carter and I’m running for President”!


We saw Mick this morning at the flea market.  It was Mick’s fine barn that we saw and loved and parts of which we incorporated into ours.  Mick lives off of a dirt road and so do we.  We have had such an amazing amount of rain this summer that the county boys cannot keep up with all the repairs.  Glenn called our councilman for help.  They have to first fix roads that won’t allow people out of their homes with their cars.  Then we will come next.  Our road has been destroyed down to the “crush and run” under the sand.  But it can wait.

space shuttle

Upon seeing Mick recently, our councilman asked Mick how he was doing. Mick said he was sending his resume to NASA.  What?? said the councilman.  Mick said that if those county boys could drive a road grater, he surely could fly the space shuttle!  Mick moves dirt for a living.  Boys with their toys;  this has got to be a dream job.  When we moved our house from three miles down the road to its current location, the old man we hired to move it with his ancient truck proved not to be up to the task.  Mick came with one of his crawlers and pulled the house AND the truck into their final positions.

He travels around the Southeast for work.  And I don’t think it bothers him.  But it bothers him as someone who knows about what the county maintenance team is supposed to do, and sees them not doing it.

He made an offer.  He told the councilman that he would take care of Pepsi Road and  Water Tower Road for six months at no cost.   He would keep detailed records of what he had to do as far as labor, what machines he used,  and what he spent.  Mick suspects that  much money is being wasted,  wrong over-sized and over-expensive equipment is being used.  Mick would use his smaller earth movers and whatever was needed and do this job for free.  After six months, and the comparison of the county figures with Mick’s figures, they would have something to talk about regarding road maintenance.  Mick would have a nice little job at home, and the county would save an ass of money.

The councilman never called back on the offer of six months of free maintenance on two long roads.  Why?  How can an elected official  change established situations and upset staff?  How do you fight those who follow the old adage about government money; the old “use it or lose it” syndrome?  Early one morning, I once ran down our long driveway in my robe when part of the road maintenance team had a giant rotary cutter on his equipment and he was cutting down all the overhanging limbs from trees I had nurtured for years.  The driver had dealt with people like me before.  He was very dramatic in the way he took his hands off the wheel.   He said he had to make the driveway wide enough to accommodate the new BIG grater.   I told him that his cutting work had never made results like this before.  He said the new rotary cutter attached to the current grater was bigger, and takes more of the tree.


Bigger grader, more of my trees?  Why?  Use more gas, destroy more landscape, piss off more people, and keep that government money coming in, which never seems to be enough.   We all want these services, but couldn’t we be smarter about this stuff?  Why does such a poor county in a poor state have to have such big graters?  To use on two lane roads and long driveways?

I am seeing a wild animal with his tail in his teeth whirling around here.


Ever since Joe Wilson upchucked his famous “You Lie” at Mr. Obama’s first State of the Union address (some say he added “boy” after it), good old James Pettigrew keeps coming up.

james pettigrew

South Carolina is too small to be a republic, and too large to be a mental asylum”.  I don’t know what event proceeded this remark, but it is never far from my mind weaving through life here in the prideful deep South.

Then there is the oft repeated  “Our headline is your punchline”.  Need I discuss our former governor, Mark Sanford, and his antics?  Most everybody knows the rough story of his fall from grace, his “soul mate”;  we all saw his tears.  But did you know before his re-election to congress recently he debated a full-sized photo of Nancy Pelosi on street corners in Charleston?  And he won?

Consider this sad domino theory.  Inez Tenenbaum is an acquaintance of mine, she and her husband Sam being huge supporters of the arts.  She ran against Jim DeMint for the position of junior senator from South Carolina.  She ran a great campaign and the national press loved her.  She appealed to Republicans very creatively :  “GRITS—Good Republicans for Inez Tenenbaum”.  But she lost.  It is really unbelievable that there is a Democrat left in this state.

Seeing Inez at a holiday party right after the election, she told me Jim was unhappy in Washington.  He resigned the first of the year to take a job at the Heritage Foundation.  RESIGNED?  After all the campaigns, all the hoopla, the people who voted for him, the people who voted for Inez, and he simply doesn’t want to play any more?  Who does this  (I know) ??

So DeMint resigns, Nikki Haley appoints a new senator from Charleston, there is an open congressional seat, the one Sanford used to hold, and now he is back in there like stink on shit.

Notice that I am holding off on the connection of Sanford’s opponent being the  sister of Stephen Colbert…or that the most prominent picture of Sanford debating the cardboard Pelosi was in front of the hospital in Charleston that his opponent worked for.   You cannot make this stuff up.

But there was something else I wanted to talk to Inez about.  It was one month beyond the election.  When I got into the voting booth, my choice for US Congressman was WRONG.  The wrong guy was listed, Jim Clyburn.  We get regular mailings from Joe Wilson, the “You lie” guy.  I have sent emails to him, as we all do when something we care about is forwarded to us in email.  He always responded saying something like  “I will proudly vote this or that way”—-no care about who or what he represents.  That South Carolina pride again.

How could this happen?  Inez has run big agencies in this state.  She was Superintendent of Schools.

Currently there is a bill coming out of committee that again wants to eliminate funding for public media.  I got an email, and I contacted my senator (only one was listed;  I suppose the new appointee hasn’t got his office running yet) and representative, the one I voted for, knowing it was incorrect.  Jim Clyburn’s office responded with a nice email, but saying that persons in his district were the only ones he could directly deal with considering the amount of email and requests he receives.

I found an interactive map of the South Carolina Congressional Districts.  It is so detailed, it practically has ditches enumerated.  It says we are in Jim Clyburn’s district.  So who or what to believe?  The map, the ballot, or the two US Representatives?