Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sunday Bar-B-Cue Alert !


Anyone who has read more than three of our postings or may have shadowed us for more than a few miles will testify that this vehicle contains a porcine magnet. The draw is so strong that it has caused us to swerve unexpectedly and forced us down roads we'd never known. Barbecue is a consuming passion for us and consuming barbecue is a passion for us.

There are two things about which we do not concern ourselves: 1) The nutritional downside of eating barbecued pork and 2) The amount of gasoline it takes to find it. Certainly it's not high on the whole earth organic politically correct list of approved consumables. We do not misapprehend the nature of such food and hash is an amalgamation of such things and we dare not research. We just love barbecue and everything which shares its table. We've sampled well over twenty variations of sauce and hash and have yet to find any which we would hesitate to fall upon in the future.

We wrote recently of the specifications which we embrace in order to consider any given restaurant a true BBQ joint. The one thing we did not enlarge upon is the most constant feature of almost all BBQ joints: Closed on Sunday. Chairs upside down on the tables, lot empty, pit cool and doors nailed shut. No BBQ on Sunday. We are not sure whether this is to allow the good folks who prepare these treats to have that day of worship or that BBQ is considered just a little too much fun to be having on the Sabbath.

Well, here at G & G Barbecue, 6622 Savannah Hwy., Neeses, SC 29107, they are open Friday, Saturday AND Sunday. We didn't get as much as a free hushpuppy for this plug nor are we likely to get one on our return even with a printout of this posting. Most folks in most BBQ joints are still a little suspicious of the internet and prefer word of mouth for puffing their wares. We just don't see many laptops parked on these tables.

We send out this alert not to discourage anyone from going to church, but to open the door to a world largely closed to all: Sunday BBQ. We're certainly not in the heathen making business, but we feel that all day on the road for a visit to one good barbecue joint is time well spent. Besides, we always have those wonderful " IN LIEU OF (CHURCH) ATTENDANCE " entries posted Sundays on Walk This Way. We let those take care of our souls and we let two Alka-Seltzers deal with our Sunday barbecue excesses.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Welcome to Bamberg

One of the many delights of traveling the circuitous back roads of our state is the joy of meeting and making new friends in all of the 46 counties. We are at times spotted by fans along the way. Bamberg, SC, is no exception.

We didn't think that we had earned much readership in Bamberg County, but as can be clearly seen, we are being hailed by a fan from his balcony as we chanced to pass his place. Our buddy insisted that we drop on in and directed us to park right behind his truck which he keeps in the garage below his stylish apartment. We did like the concept of off-street parking as a means of reducing the crowding such as we suffer in Charleston.

It's never too soon to begin planning for the regentrification which is growing in so many little towns in South Carolina. Sometimes, of course, the construction lags behind the imagination. We see primarily nostalgia portrayed on those painted walls which we love to discover. Our friend in Bamberg, however, is looking toward the future.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

We Have Company

We Don't Want No Racetrack HERE !

We're at the entrance to Francis Beidler Forest in the Four Hole Swamp section of Dorchester County, SC. For ten years supporters of the Beidler Forest and numerous conservation groups have struggled to keep a proposed racetrack from being constructed nearby.

A judge ruled on June 3, 2006, that he does not have jurisditcion to prevent the racetrack from being built. There is considerable misery over the prosepct that a racetrack may soon be built near here.

" And now for something completely different ", as went the popular Monty Phython ditty.
Please read the posting below which describes a community saddened over the LOSS of it's racetrack.

Neighbors Mourn Loss of Drag Strip


This is the Lowcountry Dragway in Berkeley County, S.C. If you happened to read the (Charleston) POST AND COURIER today ( 8/26/06 ) you would know that the neighbors and a great many citizens of Moncks Corner and the outlying areas of this county are upset at the prospect of losing this drag strip The article told of how families have been attending events here for several generations, interviewed folks who had met there and later married and of the general love which this piece of racing tarmac engenders.

The Dragway is being gobbled up by development, an event which is being greeted in the same manner as a proposal to insert a likeness of Osoma Bin Laden into the fire department's manger scene.

When you compare this community reaction to the one which greeted a proposal to introduce a raceway near the Beidler Forest, you begin to see a sweet sense of irony in these two stories.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ladies Wanted ?


Here's a nice little restaurant which isn't a great deal larger than the GT, but seats many more. This is Mia's on Hwy 17 South, just south of the intersection with Main Road. It is just beyond the " Busy Belt " of ever so popular, ever so crowded eating places in the area west of the Ashley.

The food is usually very nice, the service cordial, the interior attractive, but they are short of one item on the menu: women. On stopping here during the early lunch period, you can find a ratio of 10 to 1 men over women in the place. There are an abundance of gentlemen from the building trades most of whom are swinging the hammers, a lesser number of whom decide where the hammers land.

The parking lot is usually filled with work trucks, but few pleasure craft. These fellows are dining in groups, eating fast and laughing out loud at what is likely a series of jokes which probably aren't designed for ladies. The furnishings are quite lady friendly as is the decor, but it's always full of men.

We post this notice as a public service in the event that any ladies out there might want to meet some fit men with jobs. If that's the case ladies, this is the place. It would seem that most of the men are here from the job site, but it could well be that clusters of men may be meeting for lunch grateful for the peace which comes from the woman-free lunch.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Prop Department


We got an anonymous telephone call inviting us out here to meet our fan club and this is all we found! What a blow to the ego. Or, would you believe that we ordered a heavy duty fan for the GT and this is what came ?

We're not saying where this photo was taken because a local magazine is running a contest in which entrants will attempt to guess that very fact. By saying this we do not mean to brag as it's not TIME or ROLLING STONE, but it is a nice one which covers our local islands and flatters us with this attention. Their readers will actually win a prize if they manage to guess where we snapped this one.

OK, here's OUR little contest. Look carefully at the photograph. Yes, click on the picture because Blogspot renders very poor resolution. Here's the question: Is the Mustang the real one or that detailed model which found its way to Ireland? Is the prop real or just a prop prop? Is one real and the other a model ? Are they both real or are both models? What do you think?

Anyone who cares to guess the answers or comment on the absurdity of this proposition is most welcome to post accordingly. There will be no actual prizes, just our undying gratitude for taking the time to write.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The IDLE HOUR at an idle hour.


This is East Montague Avenue, the heart of old North Charleston's business district. North Charleston grew from a mill town beginning around 1920. The Raybestos-Manhattan Company largely built the town. To the north of East Montague Avenue were built the cottages which were to house the workers and to the south of the Avenue were the houses for management.

When hard times hit North Charleston, many of the businesses along the Avenue either failed or moved. The loss of the Charleston Naval Shipyard and the Navy Base brought about the final slump. It was pretty grim around here.

Today a great restoration of this old business district is well on its way. The plan is to save as many existing structures as possible, renovate those buildings and encourage new businesses to move into them. In the photo, on the left, a refurbished building is made ready for a new tenant. The building in the center, literally sandwiched between the other two, is the Idle Hour Restaurant.

The Idle Hour at 1065 East Montague has been in business for a little over 60 years. It is one of very few to have survived many years of economic downturn and decaying real estate values. It's a nice little restaurant which is without pretense or inflated pricing. It is more accurately described as a "short order" restaurant rather than a fast food place. It is also quite in keeping with the traditions of the street.

The Idle Hour is operated by a team of very nice ladies who greet customers like old friends since many are. They seem to know a great deal about the goings on of the Avenue and if you listen carefully you can, too. There is a warmth and ease about the place which is seldom felt in most modern restaurants. You do not get that sense of manufactured hospitality which the younger transient employees display these days. If the East Montague Avenue business district makes the comeback which we hope, there will not only be a place, but a need for the Idle Hour in the emerging prosperity.

Monday, August 21, 2006



Our discovery of that interesting Swamp Fox mural was a by-product of our search for this place. This is D&H Barbecue in Manning, SC. Our targets were D&H and a place called McCabe's in the same town. McCabe's was closed ( at 3:00PM on a Saturday !) so we made it over to D&H.

While there seem to be few legal definitions of a barbecue restaurant in South Carolina, we have our own preconceived notions as to what components are required. Generally, it begins with a concrete block structure ( CBS ), weathered and stained about the exterior walls. As to signage we like to see something a bit old, faded and with a little information as to ownership, date of founding and, of course, operating hours. A notation of specialties and a bit of boasting are not unwelcome upon the sign which is usually painted on wood either nailed against the building or hanging independently.

It is a special treat to have the restaurant situated on a dirt road or at least having an earthen parking area. A paved lot is not a great idea, but the oil stained asphalt at D&H at least indicates that not all customers arrived in new Jaguars. Valet parking would be a hanging offense for a BBQ joint.

The interior should have a few picnic tables with the balance being four seaters some of which wobble just a bit. Mostly non-matching chairs are a good touch. A space heater and a window air conditioner are standard fare. The posting of strict rules as to how customers may be served and in what proportions and in what order and for specified ages is essential to good BBQ joint management. While no fool alive should have to be told that there are NO takeouts from the buffet line, there's always the chance that someone from an uncivilized section of the world might wander in. Cover all the bases.

Frankly, the interior should not be so very clean. This is to say that nobody wants to eat off the floor so it need not be that clean. It's OK, even better if it's a little dirty.

So, how does D&H stack up according to our rules? Well, we were a little taken aback buy the cleanliness of the place. It's just a little too clean for a traditional BBQ joint. The building's relatively new with wood siding and all in surfaces freshly painted and in good repair. We were also a little let down to find no stern rules posted, but very upbeat and positive folks behind the counter. It looks like they could only find nice folks to work there, but that can't be helped. Even the manager or perhaps he was the owner was cordial and friendly. What gives!

We just can't pretend to not like the food. D&H offers what we consider to be the " Willaimsburg County " style of BBQ pork with a vinegar based sauce. It's a very nice variation on the standard mustard based BBQ which predominates elsewhere. The hash is also a bit different and very good. It may have a liver base, but we're not speculating any further. It's good and we'll leave it at that. All the side dishes were quite nice and displayed in well maintained bins. They forgot to order flies for the buffet line.

Even though the place is clean, neat, well lighted, comfortable and well organized, we enjoyed the visit very much. Their excellent food causes us to place them very high on our preferred list of BBQ joints.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Swamp Fox at Ox Swamp: Manning Mural

We always seek and glady receive suggestions for interesting places to visit. When we get a tip on a good barbecue restaurant, we take note. When such a tip comes from a State Trooper, we follow up at maximum legal speed with high hopes. We found one of his two recommendations and will report on that at a later date. In the process we found another one of our favorites: a roadside mural, in Manning, SC.

Manning is the seat of historic Clarendon County. We figured that we could cover the town in a few minutes on our original mission, but in the process we ran up on the mural. We can't claim to have known of it in advance and the background on the mural we had to research after the fact. This is part of a series with the other murals located at Paxville, Summerton and Turbeville, SC.

This one is painted on West wall of the Manning Fire Station at the corner of Boyce & Boundary Streets in Manning. Artist, Will Anderson of Statesburg, SC, painted this dramatic mural in 2001. It depicts the South Carolina Revolutionary hero, Francis Marion confounding British troops at Ox Swamp. It was here that British Colonel Tarleton had pursued Marion for six hours only to lose him in the Ox Swamp upon which he reportedly said that even the " Devil himself couldn't find that old fox " . Thus did Francis Marion receive the nickname, " Swamp Fox " at Ox Swamp.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How about a Fountain Coke ?

How about a fountain Coke ? That's the old expression for Coca Cola on draught as it were. At Guerin's Pharmacy, 140 South Main Street, Summerville, SC, they still have an original working soda fountain. The unit from which fountain drinks were dispensed roughly resembled the housing of an early 1960's outboard motor. Neither that nor anything in the store is a mock up or some retro marketing gimmick. Guerin's is an ongoing active old fashioned drug store.

We recently wrote about the declining country stores along the back roads and how they seem to have their own distinctive scent. When you walk into Guerin's you know that you're in a real drug store. You must, however, be over forty to have experienced the original scent. When you walk into today's convenience stores or franchise chain pharmacies, all you smell is some sort of masking agent, not really a smell in itself, but a cover up.

Certainly, they can fill the prescriptions for all of those compounds with which we medicate ourselves against modern life, but they also have products which date back many decades that can't be found at the big chain store pharmacies. It isn't a case where such items are no longer made. It is that they don't have mass appeal, they simply don't sell very well so the big stores don't stock them. It is the availability of those obscure, but effective preparations which has nearly passed from the scene as much as the quaintness of traditional soda fountain drug stores which we shall miss.

South Carolina ETV recently made a documentary on such surviving enterprises including Guerin's recently. They had wanted to see how many of these old places had survived. When interviewed, the director expressed shock that so few were still around. Perhaps he doesn't get out much. Anyone who takes the time to look over any community can certify that these places are all, but extinct. We can't preserve many of them much longer and it is certain that we cannot recreate them.

We enjoy the documentaries, but we intend to visit as many of these very special surviving places as we can in the time they have left. We stop often on the road to drop into places like Guerin's. We don't usually need anything, but we always buy some little something or other in return for the pleasure of being there.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Is This the SAMSON FOX ?


Anyone who has read the Charleston (SC) POST AND COURIER will know about the controversy over the Samson Fox. There were several alleged sightings of the very rare and seldom ever seen fox. Later last week the paper carried a similar story with a picture of some frozen creature which they think might be the Samson Fox. As the controversy grows we predicted further sightings. The photographs were in keeping with the tradition of UFO's: fuzzy and " provided " as the credits indicate.

Accordingly, we wanted to find the creature in question, get a good clear photograph and present an orderly and documented account of this increasingly mysterious saga. So, today we combed the rural areas of Orangeburg and Dorchester Counties, excellent creature catching country. We ventured on to the grounds of a former agricultural processing facility and look what we found....or rather what found us!

This doesn't look like any fox of our acquaintance as it came upon us suddenly. It is said that such creatures were unable to adapt to changing times, but as can be clearly seen it is riding a skateboard. That IS adaptability. The incident gave new life to a phrase we heard in the film " PULP FICTION ": " I'm gettin' prehistoric on your A** ".

We don't think that the DNR will be attempting to get any DNA from this fellow.

Saturday, August 12, 2006



We love those all day road trips, those miles of country roads, but sometimes our run can be as short as three city blocks. It is our protective policy to refrain from revealing the addresses or exact locations of certain sites we visit. It's the same spirit in which those folks who have sighted rare (imaginary) animals locally do not share locations where their hallucinations occurred. So....somewhere in 2 9 4 0 1 we have taken it upon ourselves to prevent some nice friends from escaping our neighborhood.

Grumbles and groans, complaints and caterwauling from downtown Charleston resonate throughout the low country. Perhaps this bickering is not resonant with folks in the Tri-County area, but the letters to the editors on this subject are frequent. The sum of these sentiments holds that we have too many new faces coming into town and too few familiar ones remaining. Rather than joining the eviction parties which march in torch lit groups through the night, we prefer to embrace those folks we want to keep.

As seen in the photo we have pinned in their car, blocked the discharge of large items from the ground floor and occupied the moving van's moorings. We have, therefore, placed a blockade upon the house in order to retain these good folks. Actually, a blockade is an act of war so we'll just call it a quarantine. We'll let the air out of their tires, but send in food. We'd certainly like to keep them around. In reality these folks aren't moving far, the realtor is a great gal we all like and she's found other old friends who will be moving into this house.

A neighborhood is in a way like a corporation, you do everything you can to hold on to your key people. When enjoyable old friends ebb from the neighborhood it's like the brain drain from a company. With our windows painted shut and central heat and air we are more isolated, less incorporated with our neighbors. These are small impediments which should not prevent us from getting to know our neighbors better so that we will want to keep them around. It is almost better to miss friends who are leaving than to have never known who lives next door and not give a damn if they go.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Woodlands Inn


The fellow coming down the steps is about to ask what this automobile is doing by itself with no one checking in at the desk. He is probably wondering why this is not a Bentley, Rolls or better. An overnight stay at this very nice inn would cost more than the typical monthly payment on a modestly priced domestic vehicle such as confounds the gentleman on the stairs.

This is the Woodlands Inn, a gem of place and far more enchanting than it appears in the photo. We decided to check it out before it checks out itself.

In 1906 Pennsylvania Railroad baron Robert Parsons commissioned the building of what would become The Woodlands Inn as a winter home. It was built in something approximating a Neo-Georgian style. Summerville had become popular with wealthy Northern executives and industrialists as a wintering spot. There was, of course, no air conditioning in those days so even the very wealthy were at the mercy of climate.

The Parsons family sold the property in 1939 to Alain White, a botanist. There developed some theory that Summerville was one of the two best places in the world for victims of pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis to recover. That theory was promulgated at a Paris medical convention around 1888. Today we'd spot such a claim as garden variety hype, but in the early 1900's it was certainly just another medical misconception. There was some fantasy about the quality of the air which wafted through the pine trees. Perhaps it was thought that folks were breathing airborne turpentine, the thought of which just makes you feel good all over.

People have forever sought relief from human ailments by going somewhere else. Many of the destinations were as bogus as the imaginary illnesses they were intended to cure. One indisposition which was not imagined was malaria from which Summerville had been seen as a refuge.

Upon Mr. White's death, the property was bequeathed to Mrs. Ruth Gadsden, who lived in the house for the rest of her life.

In 1986, the house became the Gadsden Manor Inn. In 1993, the property was sold to Joe Whitmore, of New York and underwent 18 months of renovation. In 1995 it became the Woodlands Inn. It had 19 guest rooms and 42 acres of wooded grounds.

In 2006, Woodlands Estates LTD., sold tracts A-C,121 Parsons Road, Summerville, SC, to Woodlands Village LLC for $5.25 million. Heaven only knows what's ahead for The Woodlands, but the term " village " gives one a chill. Perhaps it takes five and one quarter million US dollars to make a " village " in this day and time. This grand old building and its grounds may not long endure, but the five hundred dollar a night room will certainly survive.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

2 9 4 8 7 ( No Mail Today )


If this building had been built after 1963 it would have had 2 9 4 8 7 plastered on the front as this is the zip code for Wadmalaw Island, SC. This building dates to a bit before 1963 which is the year when zip codes were introduced in the United States. They were seen as something of a humbug back then and not widely used. It would be many years before the US Postal System would refuse to deliver mail without one. Back in those days people wrote letters, thank you notes, invitations, condolences, rather than calling them in or e-mailing them as is more often the case.

This was the Wadmalaw Island Post Office way back when. In those days, if you wrote a friend in Charleston from Charleston you simply put the name, street address then " City " and that, as they say, was that. Sometimes just the person's name on the envelope would land that letter at their door. Of course, a prominent name such as Jenkins or Townsend without further documentation might wind up in the dead letter office out on the sea islands.

Not only could you skip the zip code for many years after it became law, you could also skip the first two digits of all local Charleston telephone exchanges for years after they were established. Charleston grew enough that we had 5 digit telephone numbers in the late 50's and into the early 60's. Then one day, Southern Bell, a part of a nationwide telephone system which actually worked, told subscribers that they had to learn two more digits. The 7 digit telephone number had arrived. To buffer the assault on our brains, Southern Bell gave each exchange a name. This also gave us that big town feel like phone numbers in the movies. The first two letters of these names corresponded to the first two digits of the new phone numbers.

For example: all of the Charleston peninsula was RAymond so that if your full phone number had become 722-0000 it was called RA2-0000. Folly Beach was JUniper which made some sense, but the area west of the Ashley was called SNow for no apparent reason considering our climate. They could have used MOon. At least the folks in the Crescent would make sense of it.

Speaking of corrupted naming schemes, there is no such place as " Ashley " nor is there such named town as " Cooper " anywhere near Charleston, S.C. There are communities such as Avondale, Wappoo Heights, Moreland, Maryville, Windemere, Old and South, all of which are west of the Ashley River, but there is no such place as " West Ashley ". Likewise, there is no " East Cooper ". In the rush to expedite the reporting of news and weather, reporters save their valuable time by simply dumbing down the language. Corruption of geographical names is a good start on the road to debasing the language. The migration into meaninglessness furthers this process with expressions such as " intellectually challenged " for a the slow learner or the even less meaningful " native American ". The former hides from reality, the latter corrupts reality. These lies put us within reach of Orwell.

Television greatly accelerated this odious process, but the newspapers have come along quietly. Even the venerable POST AND COURIER shows some erosion of meaningful language in an effort to keep up with the dumbing down process of their competitors. When you debase a nation's currency, you wreck their economy. When you debase the language, you devalue the culture. If we continue down this garden path, we won't need any new post offices. People will in time lose the ability to write as pecking out abbreviated non-words on the keyboard will supplant valid written thoughts and ideas. So when the power goes off and it will be going off more frequently as time passes, most folks without their computers or TV will just simply languish in a stalled state as useless as that building in the photo above.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

In Lieu of Attendance

For those of you who made it through the Rockville Regatta without injury or incarceration and more for those who did not, we dedicate this picture. Here's an old church on Edisto Island which is known for the history of its Communicants as well as its obvious visual beauty.

A good-natured lady who posts regularly with the Low Country Bloggers usually provides such same inspiration, but in her absence we thought that this might cheer those who look forward to those images.