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


Years ago, coming to South Carolina to teach at Columbia College was the beginning of my education about the American South in all respects.   My image of it at that point was fairly close to the old “Andy Griffith Show”.  Never had been to the South, and had only been to a beach in various big Japanese cities.  No Atlantic.

I had a lot to learn, and it was pretty much based on the political philosophy of the South:  State’s Rights.  The place looked inward, and this view was very different for me.  School children had to memorize all the counties in the state.  They knew a lot about “honor” and called women something between Ms and Miss.  With new acquaintances, one would verbally search around until you found common kin.  It was an interesting ballet to a foreigner like me.

And since the natives knew so much about their native sons, they kind of generalized that proposition.  I was a wet behind the ears new college instructor, wondering all the time about what I did not know,  so I was always punting.

Robert Mills was the first guy that the proud students knew more about.  He designed the Washington Monument, the White House and many other federal style buildings in DC.  He was a big fish locally being educated in Charleston.  But unless as a student (outside of SC) of American architecture, one does not run into him all that much in survey courses.  It is Thomas Jefferson who set the style and who is studied, not the (dare I say?) followers, although Robert Mills may have been the first American-made architect and worked under seven Presidents.

mills house

Credit: © Katherine J. Trimnal, Columbia, South Carolina

What is called “The Robert Mills House” sits in the heart of Columbia.  It is associated with him by name, not the owner because the man died before it was finished.


Photo: AgnosticPreachersKid

Above is the White House.  Notice the similarities.  And you can find many expressions of this style in county buildings all over the state and in DC.

And then there was Carl Blair.  A generation older than me, he had taught in at least three major institutions in South Carolina.  He is a favorite native son, a very unassuming man.  Associated mostly with Bob Jones University which has a collection of art well beyond its otherwise influence, he helped to forge the profile of the arts in this state.  His brilliant oils and acrylics are like visual poetry.  He speaks in a well-honed language.


blair 2

I re-met Carl again last weekend at The Manor House  in Greenville.  We have been in at least one exhibition together:  “A Hundred Years, a Hundred Artists”, mounted by the State Museum in Columbia, I don’t know how many years ago.

Carl “hangs with” the beautiful and brilliant owner of the bed and breakfast.  It was a treat to talk with him, and to be in an environment that features exquisite art eclectically mixed.   He wears a ball cap that says “Koren War Veteran”.   He makes a quiet statement simply in that gesture.  He has done us all proud!


Janet Kozachek created and gave this painting to me in 1993.  The artist in her studio, but not making art.


Glenn and I hung her current exhibition of small works at the Orangeburg Art Center last week.  What fun!  The following is Janet’s description of the show.  It opens February 11, 2014 through March 31.  Read about it in Janet’s own words following:


Glenn gave me a painting done by our friend Janet Kozachek for Christmas this year.  Had seen it a couple of times in her Etsy shop, and in the flesh at her home.  It is a wonderful painting.,-80.869052&spn=0.007158,0.009645&sll=33.488346,-80.869858&layer=c&cbp=13,337.26,,1,9.81&cbll=33.488155,-80.869803&hnear=282+Boswell+St,+Orangeburg,+South+Carolina+29115&t=h&panoid=5z27rV5Qu-NHoF0NAVGmrA&z=17

Click on the link above and wait until a single image of a house appears.  To readers not in the Deep South,  I imagine difficulty in comprehending this kind of shelter.  This is the house on Boswell Street.  Wish I could have captured a straight on shot from this site, but my skills are not high.

It has been a while since she completed the painting.  She told me that part of the stunning gate in the painting has fallen away now, and you can see it in the Google image.

Janet is a Renaissance painter in terms of her medium.  She often paints on wood, and the wood for this piece is almost an inch thick.  She prepares the surface of her support with material that includes marble dust.  She creates and mixes her own paint.  In some of her work, the surface of the painting shimmers like a Northern Renaissance detailed jewel.  The description, in paint, of the shapes and masses in her compositions are deep and layered, complex with under painting, gutsy and refined at the same time.  Color has not the simplicity to stay local.
We are going to make our own frame for it:  hardwood, fallen-away, with the wooden painting mounted in a box rather than framed with a box. There will be a “moat” around it.  It will have room to breathe.
(We just had a pique of excitement.  Janet told me the house on Boswell Street was for sale for only a couple thousand dollars, and that of course would only be the land.  Any house is an “improvement” on the land.  We could have moved the improvement and resold the land!  What a fine addition to our acreage it would have been.  Oh, well.  Turns out the sign was for the house across the street, and it is only for rent.)
If you want, give.  Janet wrapped up a little gift for me when Glenn went to pick up the painting.  Referred to this ocarina in a former post: