Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Mentor Library, Elloree, SC


In December 1886, Elloree, South Caroloina, was incorporated under the name Harlin City for Gen. John Harlin, a northern railroad man. In 1892, Mrs. Elizabeth E. Wells Snider, second wife of W. J. Snider, the town's founder, decided to call the community Elloree, which is an Indian language means The Home I Love. The legislature officially changed the name to Elloree.

The Mentor Book Club was organized in 1951 by several women in Elloree who were interested improving a public library. The club organized a town library in January 1953 after developing a book collection. Many fundraising events enabled the group to purchase an old ice house to house the library. Club members still own the library building and promote reading programs in the library and in the community. In 1972, The Mentor Library became a branch of the Orangeburg County library system.

A cookbook, compiled by members of the book club, includes recipes from their children and other family members. All of the original recipes of the Elloree Cookbook published in 1964 by The Mentor Book Club also are included. This cookbook is designed using pen and ink sketches of old buildings, schools and houses in the town for divider sheets. Other sketches of local interest are scattered throughout. In a related development we discovered that there is a china pattern called Elloree China produced by Noritake. Interesting stuff, but not our cup of tea exactly.

Sometimes researching these little towns is like some of the roads we take: convoluted, long and little to show for the trip. We didn't dig up any events of great moment, stunning facts or the kind of scandal so many folks long to know. Elloree and it's Mentor Library have certainly not been the hinge of fate in the history of the South, but it has a tradition of dedication to the enrichment which books bring to the lives of its citizens.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Calhoun County Library & the WPA

It looks like we need some remedial reading courses. We thought the sign read " NO BARKING " since libraries require quiet for their readers. We're also here on the wrong day, Saturday.

The Calhoun County Library is one of the more charming buildings we've seen put to this purpose. Calhoun County Library is located in the County Seat at St. Matthews, South Carolina. It receives its funding from the county and from the S. C. State Library, with some grants and private funding.

In Calhoun County public library service began in 1912 with the organization of the Calhoun County Public Library by the St. Matthews Literary Society. The library operated from 1913 to 1926 at which time it was absorbed into the library of a newly completed public school.

In 1935 the Works Progress Administration ( W.P.A.), a cornerstone of President Franklin Roosevelt's despression recovery strategy, set up a library project to demonstrate over a five-year period what a free public library would mean to rural communities. This project provided the opportunity that the people in Calhoun County were looking for to revive the Calhoun County Free Public Library. The Calhoun County Public Library was reopened on June 1, 1936.

We will follow the W.P.A.'s " Guide to South Carolina " in future postings as well as taking a look at some of the more unusual library buildings.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Five Points - Columbia , SC


We're at the intersection of 1952 and 2006. This is Columbia, SC's "Five Points" section which has become one of the most popular centers of activity in the Capital City. We are looking down the hill on Devine Street toward its intersection with Harden Street which forms part of the Five Points area.

The sign for The Goody Shoppe represents a diner which was a legend in Columbia. It was once an all night eatery which saw many a late night reveler stumble in from fraternity or cocktail parties or post game celebrations when the Gamecocks were winning football games or remorseful drunks when they were not.

This mural depicts the scene as it likely looked in the early 1950's. Pure and Gulf were two of the leading petroleum companies in the US at the time with stations on every other corner in every town in the country. The mural is painted on the north side of what is now Harper's Restaurant in today's Five Points. It is a skillful continuation of a trend begun in 1975 by the artist who painted as "Blue Sky". Nostalgic and often historically accurate murals appear from time to time all over the Columbia area. Columbia once stood for nomination as the new Atlanta. Thank every lucky star that it failed to become that urban horror, but in the process Columbia tore down a lot of buildings both historic and sentimental.

Once an attractive distraction for blank ugly walls, these murals are increasingly prized as assets for commercial structures. They give Columbia a window to its past and tend to mourn the casualties inflicted on its road to prosperity. It reminds us that the funky, the seedy, the low fashion of the day will in time have value to us down that road

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Vanity Mirror

Most automobiles come with a vanity mirror tucked over the passenger's sun visor which allows the person in the copilot's seat preen and groom themselves. They may be making a strategic makeup move, trying to uncross their eyes or searching for that ever embarrassing remnant of spinach in the teeth. Chances are, however, they're only admiring the thing of beauty in the mirror.

Luxury automobiles come with a lighted vanity mirror which flatters the viewer in similar fashion as their dressing mirror at home which is encircled with more soft white round bulbs than a 1950's movie theater marquee. The lighted mirror eradicates those dark circles under the eye and bathes other time flaws in soft uniform light. Older folks buy luxury cars which is why they're so equipped.

Some car lovers believe that their vehicle has a soul. While that's a fanciful concept, there's no denying that many automobiles have personalities which are defined by their stylish lines. Some animal lovers pretend that their pets have a soul which is even more fanciful a concept. This leads them to believe that the critter "loves" them. Nonsense. Animals simply learn to follow the hand which feeds them and associates the sight, sound, smell of that human with mealtime and structure. The Mustang GT doesn't love us or any person, place or thing other than gasoline. We do, however, feel that if it does have a personality then it must have some vanity. So, we drove all over the state and finally found a suitable vanity mirror for this little blue car.

The GT is taking a nice long broadside view of itself. There are several other vehicles in the lot which seem to be mooning themselves. We know that automobiles are incapable of love, but could they be disposed to self-loathing?

Blake Mitchell won't be here on Saturday

For the benefit of anyone who hasn't been in the state for more than twenty-four hours, this is Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC, the home of the "Fighting Gamecocks" of the University of South Carolina. This GT has a better chance of being on the field this Saturday than their quarterback, Blake Mitchell.

When the Gamecocks meet Wofford on September 16 at home, Mitchell won't be there. He was suspended by Coach Steve Spurrier today after being charged for allegedly punching someone in the nose at a Columbia bar on Tuesday evening. We're not excusing anything even and in fact we're not really Carolina fans. We freely admit that Clemson has had more than their share of players arrested and some on far more serious charges.

We're not suggesting that being on the football teams of major state universities should excuse even alleged misconduct. We're not encouraging fist fighting since that seems to comes right naturally to a lot young fellows without our help. We're just so tired of reading about shootings over a pair of shoes or a wrong look or any other pointless reasons for pointless killings. We're more than glad that the alleged incident was not a dope deal or a shooting. We're almost happy to hear about (alleged) fist fights in these dreadful days of carnage and misery. We hope that nobody's going to jail, but ever so grateful that nobody's going to boot hill either.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Killers on the Road: This Bud's for You


We caught up with these killers in St. George, SC. We were rolling down Hwy. 78 and there appeared to be something going up at the pumps other than the prices. No, these aren't real Killer Whales, but they're genuine eye catchers.

We met the fellow who makes these things. He's in the metallic gray truck which is pulling the Bud wagon. Since he had a nice, normal dog riding shotgun we figured he'd be a decent sort himself which he was. He explained that he hauls his work all over creation or evolution depending upon where you stand on that matter. We don't think that his whales will become extinct any time soon. "Kill a few beers, not whales" might be a working slogan.

The whales are downsized and those kings of beers are upsized so the emphasis seems to be on the royal bottles. Budweiser stays on the throne because they keep their product in the public eye in effective ways. This little red wagon should do for the moment. We don't think that it will cause an increase in the consumption of beer by whales, but it should keep humans interested.

Some may wonder why Killer Whales are being used to promote a famous beer. We're not PR experts, but one thing we DO know is that whales will sell a lot more beer than Sting Rays could these days.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wayne Carrington's Barnyard Barbecue


Wayne's got his regulation sign posted on the building just as we like, but he's got a secondary sign which is a nice addition. It's on an old sign provided by the local Coca-Cola bottler with " Barnyard Barbecue " still readable on the otherwise faded facing. What's even nicer about this sign is that it's hanging from a section of radio tower. We wondered what was sent out over the air from here. It seems absolutely wrong to deliver BBQ so this was not for dispatching drivers. Perhaps they sent out Gospel programming or maybe it was used as a CB tower to lure truckers into this North Georgia pork palace.

Inside there was that nice sort of elderly lady we enjoy seeing behind the counters in these places. She was quite kind and most accommodating. After taking our order she had fixed a plate which she took over to an even older soul whom she required to eat the presented goodness. The older soul seems to have been one of those typical holdouts who often comes across with such lines as, " Ain't hungry, ain't gonna' eat, got nothing to life for ". We think this sort of drivel is little more than a means of extracting free food from good hearted folks. It worked nicely in this case.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Any (Car) Port in a Storm ?


On any given day when we are lucky enough to find ourselves out on the open country roads, we often pause to photograph unique sights. We love to find the rare, the quaint, the odd and especially the bizarre. One roadside item which is neither rare nor quaint has become all too familiar on our rural runs.

The item pictured is sold as a carport and appears to be constructed of what the Brits call Al-you-min-e-yum. We'd like to call this something other than a "carport" , but we don't use that sort of language here. The things are everywhere and often with price signs posted which makes us wonder whether the landowner is either getting a price break or a free carport in the bargain. Many years ago the promoters of the tourist attraction, Rock City, went around the rural South offering to paint barns for free if the farmer would allow them to also paint " SEE ROCK CITY " on the building. Those were hard times and a free paint job was most welcome. It was often seen as crassly commercial by folks who didn't need any free paint jobs. " SEE ROCK CITY " became a sentimental classic in later years to the point where people now buy model barns which bear that slogan.

We don't see collectors seeking models of these carports at any time in the future. We're not turning up our nose a these prefabricated structures which seem useful and perhaps cost effective. We usually reserve judgment on items which are priced " As Low As ". This means that it ain't getting any cheaper and will likely cost you a good bit more once rendered in a useable configuration.

Nice old wooden garages and carports develop a bit of character or at least age with the same grace as the houses they serve. They need sanding and painting, patching and repairs over the years. They tend to lean or bend a bit over the years not unlike their owners. When they reach the end of their service life or if neglected enough, they just collapse like an old person, a bag of bones at the end. At least they don't generally become airborne in gusty gales and get blown into the road or the next county.

What chills us a bit is the tempting ease with which such cheap replacements appear in the yards of nice old country homes. If folks can casually sweep aside their real wood ruins and install one of these, what's next?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Rolling the BBQ Roads

Most folks don't want to read postings on the same topic unless they happen to be about sex or food. MUSTANG ROLLING is largely a sex free web log, but it is not exactly low fat. We have an old Clemson buddy who is fond of the performing arts as longs as the venue is a road house and the stage has a single brass pole around which the actresses perform their gymnastics unfettered by garments. That old boy can watch the same set of gals go through the same paces time after time all night.

The only brass poles we're familiar with are those in the fire stations which we've visited and photographed. The only stripping we know of is when the cooks pull the meat from the bones after the slow pit cooking process.

We should be clear that not all barbecued pork is slowly pit cooked the old fashioned way. Some places simply buy the meat from suppliers, but many do the cooking in a real pit on the property. Here at McCabe's " Old Fashioned " Bar-B-Q in Manning , SC, they do everything the old fashioned way.

To the right of the restaurant is annexed a long series of old weathered buildings in which the entire process takes place. We didn't snoop at the windows or take pictures back there since they all have their secret ways of preparation and we consider that to be the intellectual property of the individual BBQ joint. Copying McCabe's methods is certainly not as easy as cloning a CD. There's nothing fast or easy about the process.

McCabe's has pretty negative curb appeal to those who value a cafeteria's gleaming tubular stainless steel runways for their troughs or brightly lit gleaming Formica surfaces over which cheerful coed faces greet and serve them. It's located in a dismal section of North Brooks Street and recessed slightly from the neighboring frontage. We had to cut a sharp U-turn as we nearly missed the place even though we knew its location.

As to our specifications for BBQ joints, McCabe's is flirting with a fourth star. First, it's a bona fide concrete block structure with vaguely colored paint just now peeling. They have a simulated hitching post type of railing and it appears that some conscious effort was behind the faux western motif. Their sign is well posted and weathered with just the type of homestyling we love.

On entering we found the usual dedicated family team which manages the place with a quiet courtesy. They've received every sort of clumsy complement and fielded so many predictable questions that they usually smile in unmoved ways regardless of what is said. You know that they are family because such places cannot afford or won't pay or tolerate outside help. There is a serenity in the fatalism which has cast them in these roles.

Once inside it's all there. It is everything we have come to expect from such a place. The tables and fixtures are aging nicely. The walls are adorned with several fading pictures and a host of casually framed articles and awards which probably puzzle them more than those who visit. There lemon juice is in that usual green bottle which has a little something left over in the threads of the neck. No fresh lemon has been seen there. There is Texas Pete and several yellowed plastic squirt bottles of their wonderful vinegar and pepper sauce.

This is not the mustard based BBQ, but that old Williamsburg County style which has sauce cooked into the meat. The pork is penetrated with the sause rather than being coated as with the mustard variety. They have traditional side orders the best of which is their uncommonly tender tiny butter beans. The hash is darker than most, very tasteful and mysterious of origin as we want it to remain.

The food at McCabe's is very, very good.

As an extra treat we spotted a UFO at about 10 O'Clock high over the roof. The Air Force will not allow us to show such objects in full focus so just take our word on that.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

To Everything There is a Season.

At the foot of Spring Street in Charleston just before the Old Ashley Bridge and on the corner by the Police Station is Crosby's Seafood. The building is neither historic nor architecturally significant, but the business has occupied this choice piece of real estate for well over twenty years. We were drawn to Crosby's for more than their pleasing application of blue coloring.

Crosby's sells only seafood and such condiments as might be used in its preparation. This runs counter to the trend of ever larger supermarkets which sell an ever growing variety of foods and durable goods.

Just a few blocks up Spring was Carl Harley Meats. Mr. Harley was a butcher by trade and sold every kind and cut of meat, but only meat. A few blocks east was the Avenue Meat Market on upper Rutledge Avenue. Near that was Bullwinkle's Bakery, just one of many on the peninsula not so many years ago. The supermarkets have absorbed those markets, have their own butchers and bakers. Candlestick makers cannot be far behind.

The supermarkets don't do so very badly with their meat and bakery departments, but it's certainly not the same as those independent stores. The butchers and bakers might put their entire lives into their trades and gather a wealth of friends and customers in the process. Those trades were their identities of which most were quite proud. They were components of the community and not merely transients within departments of commercial giants.

Supermarkets also sell seafood these days. We worry that independent seafood stores like Crosby's or Simmons Seafood in Mt. Pleasant or Carrig's on upper Rivers Avenue might follow butchers and bakers down the dusty road to extinction. We worry, too, that local folks seem to have lost all sense of season. Today we want everything regardless of the season. It reminds us of using credit cards to grab something now rather than saving for such treats. In the old days you had them fresh in season or frozen later, but we didn't get shrimp from Ecuador or fish from Chile. So, it's not simply the feared demise of the independent seafood houses, but our loss of seasonal orientation which robs us of things we look forward to. To everything there IS a season.