Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Anchor Tenant


Developers tend to drive us to distraction in their compulsion to sprawl new blight upon unspoiled ground. We think it a compound fracture of logic to leave a perfectly sound building behind, abandoned, unoccupied when the innards are transplanted to a newly built structure which happens to be in a more favorable flow of customers.

It's a wasteful molting, shedding a perfectly good skin which no other snake wants to occupy. In this process they gobble up some green space and leave behind a white elephant. We don't want the snake to suffocate, but we'd certainly like to see some new life in old buildings. The trick is in finding a use and tenant for the discarded one.

When developers market a new shopping center, they seek the draw and security of an " anchor " tenant, a well known enterprise likely to attract other tenants as well as shoppers. The Anchor above is located on upper Spruill Avenue, North Charleston, SC, decidedly not unspoiled ground. It's the only decent available building above or below this spot for some distance. It may be a bit ambitious to look to the Anchor to be the anchor for the renewal of these few blocks, but it catches our eye. The exterior seems quite sound with a practical layout. It has a nice sallyport to keep customers dry and adds an aura of formality to their coming and going. There's a stout planter outboard of that and a wonderful old sign which radiates 70's glitz. The "grandfathered-in" illuminated sign panel can promote any enterprise, but we rather like the idea of installing a restaurant with an eye toward fine dining in the future. After all, as the sign reveals, they're already a 4 Star facility with 2 Stars in reserve. Good omen.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006



Off the road, in the woods, out of sight, on the high ground of a Low Country barrier island, the GT comes upon the "LIL' BOUNTY". This is not an abandoned drug smuggling vessel, it's not even abandoned. The "LIL' BOUNTY" is being held in abeyance for future use. It waits not for a Godot, but a manifest more likely to show, a call more likely to come.

Most local TV weather actors can barely wait for the June 1 drama season to begin. They champ at the bit like eager players awaiting the opening ceremony for Spoleto, restive in their dressing rooms, sweating their makeup runny. One of the local bottom feeding beacons prematurely broke water and interrupted the Masters Golf Tournament, THE MASTERS, to stop lowcountry hearts with a chilling report that yet another seasonal thunderstorm, a THUNDERSTORM, not a nuclear attack, was in the offing.

The Weather Channel is frothing at the mic to unleash their troupe of performers upon the fright stage. They have large back up fans stationed on selected beaches in case the actual winds disappoint the on site reporting. Local ( certified ) meteorologists are practicing stern faces before mirrors, but that fellow with the big hair on the WC is practicing his smile which broadens the closer a hurricane comes to any land mass, the stronger it blows.

Well, the Bounty has no window to such dramatics. It sits patiently on station waiting for the rising waters which won't be far behind the decamping island folk. Once afloat the BOUNTY will become NOAA's Ark.

They also serve who only sit and wait.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Between Oil Changes


Oil is, of course, the life blood of any engine so you never want to go too long between oil changes. Here we are between two very large oil containers. This is actually a tractor trailer rig of the larger variety. With a capacity of 40Ft x 8Ftx8Ft, there's room for a few cases of motor oil.

We ran up on this trailer parked at the former US Naval Base at Charleston, SC. Someone's apparently planning on getting well oiled in the near future or reglarly oiled for a very long haul. We were also taken with the sale pitch. Certainly, the right kind of oil can add life to your car, but in some cases a car can add more life to you. This we find to be the case with us.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Yard Art for Life


In our travels through the Low Country we have tried to define the nature of the region. In so doing we've answered some unasked questions and provided some unsought information.

This is the community of Rockville, SC, the Edge of the Maybank Highway. The marsh, moss and tabby are consistent with most of the early occupied sea islands at the Low Country coast. We find no untoward topographical formations and few non-indegeneous plantings are tolerated or survive here, but we did find something.

It is often the rural way to leave articles, implements and automobiles where they last saw use. When a car no longer runs there is always someone who vows to have it up and running in short order. Country logic holds that if the lame vehicle lays in place long enough to have the grass cut around it, that vehicle will never suffer itself to be moved. It becomes yard-art-for-life. That logic further states that after three months or five yard cuttings (whichever comes first) such yard art becomes invisible to any and all who have the ability or responsibility to remove it. Now, if they can no longer see this stuff, how can they tell us what it is ?

Of course, with the onset of the festival, Spoleto feels that yard junque is the new site specific art. On this note we wish to ask more knowledgeable souls just what in blazes IS that thing next to the Mustang ? If anyone would hazard a guess, we'd be mighty grateful. We'd know Elvis if we saw him and we're up on our alien spacecraft and the full directory of UFO's, but this one's got us stumped.

What the heck IS that thing ?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This, too, is the Low Country


The South Carolina Low Country is a theme which hitched a ride last week and travels with us yet. We've driven through an album less of the classic tourism promotional sort and more of the roads not usually taken. We feel that there is beauty in the rustic and remote spots no yet fully underfoot. We seek the unbroken spots which have not yet been fixed by development.

If we were broadcasting this web log, the FCC might insist that we give equal time to some of the less picturesque, less "SANDLAPPER" quality images of our Low Country. The photo above should put us into compliance. When you cross the Wando River on Hwy 41, this is the first thing you see on your left upon entering Berkeley County. It was U-turn material.

The house is neither here nor there, but holds up the sign which is the object of our affections. This is a good quality professionally rendered sign which commemorates a fresh felony upon the wounded and rightful owner of one boat trailer. Now, we've seen all manner of boat toting equipment, but even in today's market and the Sucker Belt in which we live, Five Grand will fetch a very nice new trailer. So, it would appear that the above captioned " SOB " made off with a valuable rig. So angry is the lawful owner that only God's help could equal the wrath which will be visited upon the thief. We wonder whether an "SOB" is a "That" or a "Who", but that's splitting hairs where splitting heads may be more to the point. The sign, alas, does not tell us where to collect the money, but you can bet that we ain't knocking on THAT door to find out.

Oh, backing up, we've presumed that the maker of this declaration is a man. This is not the auto reflex of a sexist mind. No, we figured that if the owner had been a lady, she'd have either stowed the trailer in safer spaces or would certainly not warn anyone of her plans for revenge.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blogger Roll


Here they are, the Low Country Bloggers. Before anyone got more than a full sip of suds they agreed to turn out for this group photo. We've got bumper to bumper Conovers, our friends who've led us to the meeting of the blogger minds. Janet and Dan deserve much credit for forming this group under the "POSTSCRIPTS" umbrella. Their work is appreciated and we enjoy the regular round up which highlights passages from each of our blogs. Meeting Bill Hawkins of the POST & COURIER was a pleasure and suggests that the paper has continued interest in our blogging community.

Joan of "Walk This Way" had a considerable hand in preparing for the party and encouraging bloggers to meet. She's probably got the highest readership of the group. Can over 80,000 readers be wrong ?

We thought it was great fun and enjoyed meeting all these fine folks. Reading their blogs was like listening to a radio program for weeks at a time then finally seeing the performers. It was nice to put a human face on blog titles.

The Toucan Reef gave us a nice discount on refreshments and food as well as a fine view of the harbor. Roper-St. Francis gave us fancy chapsticks with the possible thought that there might be unbridled kissing at the party. We managed to control ourselves, but did have a great time with friendly folks. Thanks to all of you for making it a success.

Monday, May 15, 2006



It seems we're always backed up to gates which are not open to us. We are likewise not invited inside of this adorned gate. There can, however, be no question as to were we are as it's spelled out right on top of the gate's header:

H O N D A R O S A !

Doesn't it roll nicely off the tongue ? It fairly resonates in the chest when you belt it out. We think that Rogers and Hammerstein missed a great musical opportunity on this one. They would almost certainly have chosen us for the lead. Can't you just see us in first gear cruising the furrowed ruts of a corn field and singing, " Oh, what a beautiful morning, Oh, what a beautiful day, We've got a beautiful feeling, HONDAROSA is going our way ". " Our sign is as high as an elephant's eye and it looks like it's growing right up to the sky ".

In our ongoing roll call of Low Country gems, HONDAROSA ! answers loud and strong. This, too, is the Low Country, folks.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Cherry Point


This is Cherry Point Seafood Company on Wadmalaw Island, SC. It's an old family business on old family land. The shrimp trawlers pay Cherry Point for dockage, ice and fuel. Many are transient boats which depend upon such facilities for support during the shrimping season. There is a sorting room with packing and storage accommodations available to them. There is also a huge icemaking machine on top of the building as shrimpers must ice down their catches since spoilage happens quickly to neglected shrimp.

This is a cozy spot with a very rustic appearance though quite clean where necessary. The tempo is informal and relaxed. The building is functional, but there is no window dressing. The fellow who owns the property and runs the operation is an island native and frequent missionary to destitute Latin communities. We have no idea what this business brings him because he lives a sample life of modest consumption and isn't a bragging sort. He is the kind of neighbor his neighbors like.

It takes no professional appraiser to quickly see the colossal development potential. Our friend doesn't want the millions he could make on the sale. He likes the life he has and his property the way it is. He's wise enough to know that once he cashes out of this place, the game's up. A lot of Wadmalaw Island's waterfront acreage is preserved in similar fashion for which we're grateful. Few like minded landowners are young folks. We worry a bit about what is ahead when ownership and attitudes might change. What will become of such places?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Beautiful Bucolic Bluffton


In yesterday's posting we spoke to a question raised by Lisa, the Blog Scout, regarding Beaufort, SC, and its place in the overall scheme of the Low Country. Today our friend and fellow LC Blogger, Agricola, dropped us this comment and suggestion:

"Perhaps, Windviel, a future trip might include a visit to the bucolic town of Blufton (at least it was when I last visited), which, if memory serves, is geographically located between Hilton Head and Beaufort. Spiritually, I don't know where Blufton lies, but I do hope its soul still resides in the Low Country. "

No sooner said than done, Ag and thanks for the suggestion. Here we are in front of The Church of the Cross ( Episcopal ) on Calhoun Street in Beautiful Bucolic Bluffton. This historic church dates back to 1857. When the Union Army burned the community in 1863, they spared...or overlooked this church. Houses of worship are the last and often only spot out of the developer's reach. What fresh hell might sit upon this choice waterfront property had the church not endured?

The Bucolic Index doesn't climb much higher than this.

We welcome comments and suggestions for future rolling.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Speaking of Beaufort


This is one of many breathtaking spots in Beaufort to which the Mustang rolls. We could leave you with just the photo and you'd get the message, but we'd like to run through all the gears anyway.

The topic of Beaufort was raised with Lowcountry Bloggers as to it's role in the Low Country, the definition of which was explored as well. Certainly Charleston is the center of the Low Country, but Beaufort is decidedly a kindred spirit. While no one has yet copyrighted the term " Low Country ", it exists as much as a state of mind as a set of county lines drawn in the sand. Perhaps you can't define it, but you certainly know it when you see it ( to paraphrase Mr. Justice Stewart on the vexing Constitutional issues of pornography ).

Georgetown is certainly within this realm at the northern limit. But, Pawleys Island, just inches above Winyah Bay, is on the cusp of the " Grand Strand " and damned by the tar of that same brush. Hilton Head Island has a geographical presumption to membership in the LC, but spiritually it's all resort, the development of which has displaced every trace of Low Country pathos. It's the Astro Turf of the marshlands, This leaves venerable Beaufort to guard our southern flank of the LC.

We have to recognize that every coastal community suffers from industrial tourism, vulgar trinketeers and insufferably cute boutiques run by retirees from whatever away place you don't like. Beaufort has its share, but if a community has managed to preserve its indigenous architecture, vegetation and vistas, then joy abides. Beaufort has done this with early preservation efforts. They've lost some nice buildings, but saved many. Fine old buildings are like teeth: when you lose them the replacements never quite fit.

Their Open Land Trust has preserved many lovely views of the wetlands from blockage by developed clutter. Beaufort retains almost every virtue which we associate with the Low Country. People will often cite Savannah as the sister city to Charleston, but if you take a good look at the City of Beautiful Squares, it ain't. Beaufort is our rightful kin.

Some years back there were reports of a Neutron Bomb, a gadget which would take out all of the people, but leave the buildings standing. We don't know if it really worked that way and appalling prospect that it was, it did catch the eye of some preservationists.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Breaking Bread with Smokey


We're in Eutawville, SC, on yesterday's stormy Sunday and drawn up next to you-know-who. We figured that we were unlikely to get keyed here and if lightning was bold enough to hit a Highway Patrol car, then we were done for anyway.

Eutawville is famous for their Revolutionary War battlefield and, therefore, significant in South Carolina history. Recreational fishing is the current attraction with considerable lake access for boating as well. Rocks Pond campground is just a stone's throw from here and provides ample area for campers, recreational vehicles on long or short stays. Collectors of eclectic yard art will suffer envy at the hand of Rocks Pond's long term guests who display statuary from miniature lighthouses to ceramic youngsters with fishing rods in hand to windmills so small that miniature Don Quixotes are brought in for tilting matches. We hear that they are the tossed midgets from Myrtle Beach here in the off season.

Under darkened skies in the driving rain the " OPEN " neon of the Alpine drew us in as if an electromagnet had been turned toward our way. This was a reverse oasis phenomenon: finding a dry spot in a wet culinary wilderness. It was a good find. Watching the empty road through the sheeting rain upon the plate glass window was hypnotic. There was no sense of rush inside or out.

Absent from the " Guide Michelin " is the Alpine Restaurant, just about only full scale eatery open in Eutawville on this rainy Sunday afternoon. We consider " full scale " to mean a place offering food not ordered via an external squawk box, providing actual tables from which orders are taken, to which the food is brought. We consider plastic utensils to be part of the virtual world of dining and were happy that stainless goods were on the table

They served a very real and nicely rendered T-bone steak with great trimmings and a crisp salad absent of either trendy wilted greens or brown lettuce, but with blue cheese dressing which has been evicted from the fashionable tables. While the mashed potatoes seemed to be supplemented in some way, they contained none of the contaminants invented by tort seeking customers of fast food chains in the news.

The Alpine has a nice homey ambiance which is supplemented by a cheerful staff. The presence of the SC Highway Patrol was encouraging as well. Who's going to serve THEM bad food ! While we didn't get to share a table with Smokey, we did share a parking space. When someone hands us a piece of paper, we'd certainly prefer it be our bill from the waitress than from the gentleman who drives that car on the right, but each case they're usually pleasant and we've usually asked for it.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Zip Code 29426 by the Numbers


The tiny building which houses the U.S. Post Office at Adams Run, S.C., is barely room enough to shelter the GT. It comes up a little short on the elbow room, but manages to parcel out every mailable item to a population of 1,834 in Zip Code 29426. The building evokes the simplicity of sweet rural charm, but it is in fact the eccentric iron boot of the Federal Government in this hamlet.

The Feds have sliced and diced the town into every known ethnicity and subphylum of humanity with dazzling specificity yet they list 5 persons as " some other race " as if Martians might be hunkered down in Adams Run. No one there, however, admits to being foreign born. Only 14 Hispanic/Latinos show up in the tally which is only 0.8% of the town's population. The national average is 12.5% or 15.6 times that of Adams Run. We did notice a high percentage of owner operated riding lawnmowers with much yard work being done in quaint fashion by the property owners.

The government loves nothing so much as statistics. Adams Run has more stats than you can fit into this little building. There are 69.9 square miles of land, 0.2 square miles of water area. There are 895 men, 939 women, living in 735 houses of which 597 are owner occupied, 242 without mortgages, having an average size of 3.26 persons per household. 643 persons over the age of ...15 are married. The median age is 37.8 years and only 45 of the lot speak a language other than English in those homes of which 217 are single family dwellings. The median family income is a bit better than one half the national average with exactly twice as many below the poverty line.

Those 16 and older with jobs have an average commute time of 36.4 minutes to work. The national average is 25.5 minutes. Clearly they need faster transportation such as displayed in the photo. Now the government has a mission.