Archive for category Columns

Living on Purpose: When praying for rain, don’t forget an umbrella

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I’ve heard the old saying that “life is not a bed of roses” for as long as I can remember. I understand what it’s trying to convey but I’ve also thought that it would not really be all that great to lay down on a bed of sharp thorns. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say our journey will have its ups and downs and unfortunately, most of us will experience our share of hard times. Whether it’s a financial worry, a medical situation, family problems, a concern for the world, or just being discouraged from the relentless grind of our job, life can be tough. However, in the midst of all that is going on, we can always turn to God who is filled with an endless source of strength, hope, and love. We can choose to embrace the encouraging truth that God cares about our problems and how He has the power and the solutions to give us the victory no matter the size of our mountain or how dark the night. “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” II Corinthians 9:8.

Yes, there are bumps in the road that can help us learn about faith and patience but whatever the crisis it was not God’s intention for us to dwell in a state of defeat. In spite of being surrounded by negative forces, we have been given the opportunity through Christ to abide in His presence where there is an abundance of joy, security, and peace. In John chapter ten and verse ten and eleven we find the words of Christ, “The thief comes not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: but I (Jesus) have come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” Whatever the situation, He has promised that He wants to save you and bring you through your trials stronger and more confident than ever.  Read the rest of this entry »

Amending the agenda

By Jay Bender

Editor’s Note: This is a topic of general interest. Member editors can pick this column up and run it as they see fit.

I was in Mount Pleasant recently. It had been years since I had driven north of Shem Creek on Coleman Boulevard. My drive north in search of lunch put into context the Save Shem Creek movement and the desire of many residents to slow development in the town.

My drive was educational.  Low rise, lower density development had been replaced by high rise buildings at street’s edge and strip mall sprawl.  I could have been in Myrtle Beach except for the absence of T-shirt shops.

The conflict between development and preservation came to a head in a suit filed against the Town by a developer.  The suit named as defendants the Town of Mount Pleasant and members of town council in their individual capacities.  Council members were apparently told by town attorneys that they faced potential personal liability from the suit.  Court-required mediation resulted in the development of a settlement agreement that, upon approval by town council, would give the developer the right to higher density construction than might otherwise have been available.

The settlement agreement was on the town council agenda in July last year for an executive session discussion and possible approval.  As is often the case, the appearance of a controversial development agreement on the agenda drew a crowd.  The matter was on the published agenda under item XI.C.1. entitled “Executive Session.”

At the outset of the meeting a member of council moved to amend the agenda to move the settlement agreement Executive Session item, XI.C.l.a., to an earlier position on the agenda.  The motion to amend the agenda was adopted unanimously.  The motion to enter executive session for the settlement agreement discussion failed on a 4-4 vote.  One member, citing the potential for personal liability withdrew from the meeting. Another member citing potential personal liability recused himself from the discussion.  A public discussion was then held on the settlement agreement and the potential for personal liability of council members.  A second motion for executive session on the item was adopted on a 4-3 vote.  Two additional council members elected not to participate in the executive session.  Five members of council participated.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: The challenge to keep families together

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I am sure that many of you can remember when life was not so demanding and filled with anxiety or at least it seemed that way. I was raised in the city so when I had a chance to go to my grandparent’s house out in the country it was like going on vacation. They lived on a quiet overgrown road that came to a dead-end at the Kentucky River and their farm was so remote that when an occasional car would pass by we would stop and stare at it like it was entertainment. I will never forget helping in the garden, feeding the animals, playing in the fireplace and the sights and smells of country living that gave me a sense of love and security.

I have such fond thoughts of my grandmother serving huge delicious meals, eating homemade ice-cream, the joy and freedom of running through fields and forest and then catching lightning bugs in the evening. When I was young, I thought that going fishing on my grandfather’s boat was the ultimate adventure and going to the creek to help them wash their old car was such innocent fun. Looking for crawdads, throwing rocks, watching out for snakes and getting soaking wet on a hot sunny day were the perfect combination for thrills and excitement. And in the winter when the snow was deep we would go out and play then come in and hold our hands over the pot belly stove and listen to the coal crackle and pop. Spending the night was filled with such anticipation as we slept in huge feather beds with piles of blankets and I still recall the moonlight shining through the windows that made everything seem magical to a boy who dreamed this would last forever.  Read the rest of this entry »

Exceptional Palate Pleasers

Tom Poland

Palmetto State Specialty Foods

By Tom Poland

Across South Carolina appetizing fragrances drift from kitchens, farms, fields, kilns, and roasters. Fiery sauces … heavenly coffee … the freshest produce, and crabcake are but a minuscule sampling of South Carolina specialty foods. Year-round, specialty foods please palates across the state.

From Anderson to Charleston, from Blythewood to Columbia to Wadmalaw Island, Mt. Pleasant, and points in between, specialty foods bring joy to many. Specialty foods—unique and high-value food items made in small quantities from high-quality ingredients—enhance South Carolina’s stature as a state known for fine foods.

Providing specialty foods is demanding. Suzy Ellison, executive director of Specialty Foods for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, applauds specialty food providers’ courage and entrepreneurial sprit. “South Carolina Specialty Food Association members have a true passion for their products,” said Ellison. “So much is involved in starting any business, especially in the food industry. Blood, sweat, tears, and desire are among the first requirements.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: When parents and children disagree

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Children are a wonderful blessing! How exciting it is to hold a little baby and imagine the person they will become along with all the great things they will experience and accomplish. These feelings of expectation and happiness are amazing and hopefully will continue as we watch them grow throughout our lifetime, however, as children develop beyond their formative years and into their teens, our excitement often turns to confusion and discouragement. No one is perfect or has all the answers, and we might as well face the reality that even with our prayers, sometimes our offspring will not always go the way we thought they would.

When children are young, they are subjected to the influences of their parents. As they grow older, they begin to explore and absorb what everyone else has to say about everything. In this process of comparing what they have been told with all of the new information they are gathering, it’s only a matter of time until they start forming their own opinions and worldviews about what is right and wrong. Often, these ideas and belief systems are different from their parents and of course becomes an agonizing disappointment as they watch their child evolve into someone they never imagined. Proverbs chapter 22 reminds us how important it is to teach and raise a child according to God’s principles and we are grateful for His promise that as they grow older they will remember and embrace these truths.  Read the rest of this entry »

Across The Savannah

Grandma’s Petunias

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Vintage petunias. I had forgotten them, those flowers grandma loved. Surely I saw them in youth. As I sort through my mental album I think I recall them. Pale colors, pastel petals of white and pink, possibly lavender, and a delicate softness. Seems Grandmother Walker grew them on her porch, a wide, columned porch destined to burn. There, on that doomed veranda, they grew in pots, over-spilling, upside down, their blooms a bit like inverted antebellum skirts. In the flowers’ throats, dark veins converged, a floral case of perspective.

How long ago did I forget about those old timey petunias. A lot of time passed, then suddenly I couldn’t escape them. A woman down Florida way spotted them in my photograph of a country store along old US 1. “Did you notice the old timey petunias by the store’s steps?”

I brought up the photo and there they were, a cluster of ten or so, frozen by the shutter, flowers dancing in an old Disney cartoon classic. For some reason, all faced away from the sun, gazing at their own shadows. And then I discovered vintage petunias a week ago at an old homeplace. Discovered them in person in a large field adjacent to the ruins of an old tenant home.

Just this week I worked on a story about a woman who loved trains and the trainman who visited this woman who waved at the trains said this: “I walked through Miss Johnnies’ fragrant purple old timey petunias; the perennial kind our southern grandmothers grew in their yards.”

Yep, that would be correct.

Photo by Tom Poland

Old fashioned petunias, what I refer to as Grandma’s petunias are still out there, straight from childhood. This hardy, aromatic heirloom flower hints of old home places, and indeed that’s where I stumbled upon them. Think of them as vintage flowers. I recall my late Mom talking about old-fashioned petunias and a flower that has a beautiful name, delphinium, oh, and plumbago too. Finally, I saw old petunias in person and this time recognized them for what they are, vintage flowers.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Go ahead and ask – God is listening

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We know that people pray for all types of things and many times I wonder if God takes every request seriously or if He considers some of them unreasonable. For example, I’m sure that at sporting events both sides are praying for victory over the opposing team but I’ve always thought these types of prayers generally fall into the category of the non-spiritual variety. The Bible actually mentions unsuitable attitudes behind our prayers and uses the word, “amiss” which means, flawed, incorrect, harmful, and inappropriate. James 4:3 explains, “Ye ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.” We find other connotations related to this way of thinking such as mistaken, and inaccurate intentions related to wrong and impure motives. So, along with other reasons why our prayers are not answered, we can add this one to the list. We realize its difficult to understand the difference between a legitimate prayer and one that falls into the classification of being selfish, but this does not mean that God is not listening and carefully considering each one.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: A closer look at the Great Commission

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I love to write (and talk) and all who know me will agree that I am not a man of few words. As a windy minister, it only seems logical that I would be involved in the world of communication. For the last few years I’ve been writing “Living on purpose” and it’s truly been a pleasure. I just want to say that I sincerely appreciate all of you that take the time to read the column and the many thoughtful and encouraging emails that I receive each week. I’ve been writing sermons, articles and music for a long time which eventually branched into a weekly blog. From there it evolved into being accepted as a regular weekly columnist with my local newspaper two and half years ago and has now expanded larger than I could have ever imagined. Just like shooting basketball or playing the piano, God’s grace works together with our faith and diligence. However, I also realize that sitting in front of the computer everyday can only take me so far which is why I must listen and daily depend on Him to somehow use me to relay what He wants to say. It’s amazing how the Lord can use our gifts and talents for His glory even if it’s something like the gift of gab!  Read the rest of this entry »

Life Without Fathers

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

There’s something about being a writer that makes people confide in you. Why tell a writer, who uses life as raw material, your deepest secrets. But tell me they do, and sometimes their secrets break my heart.

I’ve known women who confided how much they hated their father. They had reason, they say. Several told me how hard life was with an alcoholic father. Others talked about how abusive their dads were, and some felt their father never gave them all they expected.

The extent to which these women vilified their dad shocked me. One woman changed her name legally so fervent was her hatred. She made up her mind to never speak to him again and never did. She didn’t even attend his funeral.

A brunette with brilliant blue eyes told me she faked love for her dad her entire life. Another woman never missed a chance to put her dad down. No matter what you discussed, she would work the conversation to a place where she could insult him. That stopped when he died. Only then did she consider that life had been tough on him. After all, life shapes us as surely as winds shape dunes. Only after he died did she realize he had had a hard life. For the first time, I saw tears in her eyes when she brought her dad up. It was too late to say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you.” The train had run.

Today, none of the sad women have fathers. They’ve all passed on. I write about these unfortunate women and their fathers because I think about my dad all the time. He passed away November 15, 2003. Unlike the women who heaped scorn on their dads, I realize, more than ever, that Dad gave me a wonderful life. I look across the years with the knowledge that I was loved and that I loved and respected my father. And I still do. Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I’m sure that many of you remember the man who portrayed the friendly neighbor in the popular children’s program known all over the world as Mister Rogers. Who can forget the childlike song that asked the question, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” With the macho crowd, he was labeled a sissy and downright creepy but to children, he was always a nice, polite, and comforting role model. There have been many false accusations about him through the years like the rumors about him having to wear long sleeve sweaters to hide his offensive tattoos. But these have all been proven to be nothing more than overactive imaginations and a display of how cruel our human nature can be. How sad to witness the moral convictions of our society falling so far away from God’s standards that when someone is acting normal the world believes they are weird. This reminds me of the scripture found in Isaiah chapter five that warns, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that exchange darkness for light, and light for darkness; that trade bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Unfortunately, this is another example of how the harsh attitudes of the oppressors are always seeking to bully and criticize decent individuals who are trying to make the world a better place.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Wisdom and knowledge are two different things

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When it comes to having spiritual wisdom, it’s not how much we know but how much we understand. It’s one thing to have bags of information seeds stacked up in the barn of our mind, but more importantly, how many seeds have been planted and nurtured to take root within our heart? The devil and all of his helpers have worlds of spiritual knowledge but they do not allow it to penetrate their conscience and change who they are. Likewise, humans can also learn and accumulate information and then select what they believe because each person has been given the gift of free will. So, when it comes to spiritual knowledge, just because we read about how to live a victorious Christian life does not mean we will automatically be converted into a victorious overcomer. We must absorb His Word through our brain and into our spirit all the while learning how to surrender our will and discipline our flesh. Whew! These powder-puff sermons about strolling through life enjoying the overflowing storehouses of blessings are deceiving, to say the least. In reality, the true Christian life is not easy, in fact, the more serious we become the more difficult it will be. If we are genuinely born again, our spirit is connected with God’s Spirit and we have a wonderful opportunity to channel His energy into our being. If we can prevent our old corrupt nature from talking us out of it, we can be saved from ourselves but it’s going to take a burning passion and a total commitment. Being a follower of Jesus means we are accepting a golden opportunity to transform the way we think which will literally change who we are.  Read the rest of this entry »

Chinaberry’s Rise & Fall

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

A lovely shade tree, I played beneath its canopy; rolled its berries in my palm. It stood seven yards beyond an old hand-dug well. I sucked nectar from delicate tubes in yellow-green tangles of fragrant honeysuckle just beyond the tree. Little did I know Mom and Dad considered that perfumed vine a pest. They tried and tried to get rid of it. Nothing worked until Granddad Poland brought in goats. They chewed it right to the ground and into oblivion.

Circa 1956, unlike today’s digital-dependent kids, I lived in a green world of trees, vines, and grass, and of all the trees in my boyhood, that shade tree, an old chinaberry, looms large, and now, lo and behold, I hear it’s a pest. My chinaberry’s an invasive? A nuisance?

“Oh shut your mouth, Little China Girl.” Say it ain’t so.

Well, it’s so. Like a bank robber in the Old West, it’s wanted. Bugwood Blog of the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species requests we report chinaberries’ location. Times sure do change; once upon a time Southerners rolled out the welcome mat for chinaberries. I mentioned this to a Southern woman, Dreamcatcher, and days later she sent me a message.

“Every old Southern homeplace boasted at least one chinaberry tree. But like most old Southern cultures it has been erased from our history. Why? The answer is surprising. We are mandated by our government to not only be tolerant of but to embrace cultures and ideas that differ from ours. Yet our government dictates that plant species that are not native to our area are inherently evil and must be eradicated. Life in the backwoods was tough to say the least. Everything had a purpose. The chinaberry tree, aka poor mans shade tree, aka umbrella tree, was very important to a working farm. It provided shade around the homesite. The leaves were used in the dog pen to prevent fleas. The pulp in the berry was used to make a healing salve for sores on cattle. Berries were fed to hogs to prevent worms. The ladies of the house would string the berry seed to make jewelry. You, my sweet chinaberry tree, worked hard for us in the backwoods but now you must die. Such is progress.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Remembering those who gave all

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Memorial means to “remember” and every year on the last Monday in May, we honor those who sacrificed their lives in the line of active military service. On Memorial Day we stop and pay our respect to the ones who were willing to stand in the gap between freedom and tyranny! The First Amendment was not only signed into existence with ink but with the blood of over 1.1 million Americans that have died in U.S. wars along with many more that have suffered from physical and mental difficulties. Over the years, numerous families have suffered loss from war including my own and we have a deep appreciation for the men and women that have served to protect our country. My uncle, Kenny Maye was killed in Korea and I have his tags, casket flag and a rare picture of him. He was only 20 years old in 1950 and his body was never found. Sadly, his existence is nearly unknown and I often wonder about the life he could have had.

We are only a few miles from Camp Nelson National Cemetery and from the highway you can see many rows of the over twelve thousand perfectly lined white marble tombstones. At times I’ve often driven past without hardly thinking about how each of these individuals at one time or another accepted the call of duty. And what is that call? To defend and protect our liberties – whatever the cost! Each one of those brave soldiers was willing to give their life for their country and many did. It is said – “All gave some and some gave all.” Truly, the cost of freedom is beyond the imagination. In March 1775, Patrick Henry said, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” I am convinced this is the heart cry of all the heroes that have given their lives for our country.  Read the rest of this entry »

Money laundering made easier

Jay Bender

By Jay Bender

Money laundering had its origins with crime syndicates.  Former SLED chief Robert Stewart said that one of the dangers of South Carolina’s legalization of video poker was that it provided a state-wide network of money laundromats.

A video poker operator would report receipts for a poker machine, pay the taxes on the money received, and the money would be cleansed of any taint related to the source of funds.  Stewart said in some instances the receipts reported for a machine would have required feeding large denomination bills into the machine around the clock every day.

Where did the money being laundered come from?  Most likely from the drug trade or other criminal enterprises that dealt in cash.

Money laundering in South Carolina has not been limited to criminal enterprises.  In the late 1980s the Carolina Research and Development Foundation received $2 million from the sale of the Wade Hampton Hotel which was owned by the University of South Carolina.  The Foundation also received a $16 million grant from the federal government and almost $6 million in grants from the City of Columbia and Richland County.

The Foundation resisted requests to disclose how it was spending its money, arguing that it was a private corporation.  The Supreme Court of South Carolina, in a 1991 opinion disagreed, and said in essence, “Follow the money.”  Since the Foundation received public money, it was required under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose how the money was being spent.

Once the Foundation’s records were retrieved from the City of Columbia landfill where they had been “mistakenly” deposited, it became clear why the Foundation wanted its expenditures kept secret.  The Foundation was engaged in activities beneficial to the University of South Carolina, but its treasury was also serving as a slush fund to provide gifts and speaker fees to politicians—gifts and fees that might have been considered unethical or illegal even under our state’s lax standards for public officials.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Nothing can be done without hope and confidence

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We spent some time at Cumberland Falls State Park this past week. It’s always refreshing to get away every now and then and behold the breathtaking beauty of nature. The earth is His masterpiece and with all of the magnificent places on the planet, we appreciate the privilege to enjoy His wonderful creation. The trees and flowers are now blooming and we were fortunate to catch a glimpse of many types of birds, a family of deer, squirrels, ground hogs, raccoons, and chipmunks along the trails. The roaring falls is always a spectacular sight and reminds us of God’s amazing power and majesty. After spending a day breathing in the fresh forest air and enjoying the peace and quiet, we ate dinner at the lodge and then retired to our room. Out of habit we turned on the television and discovered there had been another deadly school shooting. How suddenly we were snapped back into the sobering reality of more heartache. Evil can only be stopped when it is removed from the conscience of mankind. Until then, we are faced with the consequences of sin.

The serious Christian is troubled by what is going on in the world but they also realize that God is not panicking or surprised – He is in total control. We also know the Bible predicts that before the return of Christ, the days will become more perilous. So, what can we do? Well, we can make ourselves available to help those in need but there is a condition that many Christians tend to forget. Most people do not really want help. They do not want to hear about God and they do not want to change the way they live. The old saying is true, “You cannot help those who will not help themselves.” Next, we need to learn how to remain calm. The flood of daily negativity can cause fear and anxiety if we become more focused on the chaos than the hope and peace of God’s presence. Yes, there is much wickedness and demonic influence in the world which is why it’s so critical to keep our mind and heart focused on God’s still small voice. This is the only voice that really matters. He is our rock, our refuge, and our anchor that can keep us from being overwhelmed with worry and discouragement. Charles Spurgeon said, Let this one great, gracious, glorious fact lie in your spirit until it permeates all your thoughts and makes you rejoice even though you are without strength. Rejoice that the Lord Jesus has become your strength and your song and has become your salvation.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: We are the caretaker of our thoughts

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I read a book years ago by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale called, “The amazing results of positive thinking” and I recommend it as an inspiration and encouragement to your spiritual life. He explains that our mind is filled with all types of thoughts and persuasions but everyone is held accountable to manage them. We have the ability to resist and ignore the negative influences that hinder our life and to also embrace the suggestions that are positive and encouraging. I remember after studying about this principle, I had an interesting dream. I do not always place a lot of credibility in dreams because sometimes I think they are related with late-night pizza binges, but on the other hand, the Bible reveals that some dreams have been used a legitimate way that God can communicate. Anyway, here was my dream.

I found myself on a dusty construction site and as I looked around, I noticed workers with shovels and they were busy digging up small trees and bushes. Some were driving trucks and others were using chainsaws and in the distance, I noticed a bulldozer was pushing over large trees. They were obviously clearing the land but I was not sure for what reason. I approached one of the workers and asked who was in charge but he just kept walking. For some reason, I sensed in the dream that Jesus was overseeing this operation and so I started searching for him. I was expecting any moment to see him in a white tunic, sandals, and hard-hat, but I never did. Finally, I saw a man that was writing on a clipboard and he appeared to be a supervisor. I went over to him and said, “excuse me, sir, can you tell me where to find the project manager?” As he started walking away he turned his head and calmly said, “you are.” This is the last thing I remember.  Read the rest of this entry »

Work Paths

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Ever stood on Holy ground? Read on.

Monday a fellow told me, “If it weren’t for work, I don’t know what I’d do.” I knew what he meant. For most of us life means work.

Last week I was visiting Aunt Vivian when I told her about the things I’d been working on. “Work makes you feel good,” she said. It does make you feel good. Work is a tonic.

Work was on my mind as I raked up limbs from pruning Mom’s tea olives the other day. It struck me that I was standing on the spot where my working days began. When I was nine, Dad paid me a dime for cutting the grass with an old manual push mower. Paid me right where I stand in the photo. My first “paycheck.” That dime taught me a lesson. You don’t get something for nothing.

As I pruned and raked, I formed a mental list of all the jobs I’ve had. I first worked around the yards and in Dad’s saw shop. Then I worked at Goolsby’s Groceries and later at Central Supermarket in downtown Lincolnton, Georgia. I worked a summer at Reed’s Poultry Plant, a summer at the Almar Rainwear Factory in Washington, Georgia, a summer as a reporter for the old Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation agency, and two unforgettable summers at Elijah Clark State Park.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Trying to make sense of it all

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

To be honest, I probably spend too much time watching and being saturated with the news. I feel the need to keep up with the latest developments so that I can at least have an awareness about current events. However, many times I find myself being absorbed in an ocean of information that is not only meaningless but is also negatively impacting my mental and emotional state of being, (especially when much of it is not true). I’m reminded that I have no power to prevent the moral decline of the culture, but I’m convinced that our passion to help make the planet a better place will always be centered on a relentless dedication to prayer and faith. In today’s stressful environment, the average emotional response is a hopeless sigh and to conclude that we are headed in the wrong direction, but nothing is too difficult for God. As Christians, we called to do more than express an emotional concern…we must have a burden to pray. We can and should roll up our sleeves and demonstrate our faith, but God is the only one who truly can help this world and our prayers are directly connected to His unlimited power and authority.  Read the rest of this entry »

Squatters

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Looking back, I realize they lived like frontiersmen. A squirrel-hunting boy who skirted their wooded encampment, I considered them bums. Looking back that seems harsh. Down on their luck some would say. Poor decision-makers others might say.

Today, a debris trail of bottomless chamber pots, broken bottles, glass Clorox jugs, and flotsam brings them alive one more time. Untangling the vines and clearing away the pine straw, I uncover artifacts of unusual people. We have hoboes, vagrants, and itinerants. And squatters named Tom and Yank. Yank carried himself with a bit of dignity. Tom seemed withdrawn.

I first saw these brothers in a local country store. They wore felt hats and rumpled, brown garments. They looked like the Darling family of the Andy Griffith Show. Yank had a grizzled beard; Tom was clean-shaven. What I remember most shocks me still: the first time I saw a man with a missing arm. That would have been Tom. Despite not wanting to look, I stared at his stump, the shirtsleeve dangling over it. And then later, Bill Goolsby, a character if ever, told me Yank had shot off his brother’s arm in a hunting accident. I could see the muzzle blast and buckshot tearing into flesh and bone. I winced.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Beauty Of Old Bridges

By Tom Poland

A familiar sight these days. (Photo by Tom Poland)

File this column under “Progress.” I guess. I remain a skeptic of much that is new and better and that includes the new bridges going up across Georgialina. Better is not always beautiful. On both sides of the Savannah you’ll see detour markers. Somebody found a big pot of gold evidently because old bridges have been razed to make way for new ones. Bridge rehabitation they call it. Bridge replacement too.

Going, gone, gone are the old rusty steel truss bridges. Up go the wide concrete bridges. The old bridges? Destroyed and removed. That hasn’t always been the case. If you know where to look, you can find old bridges and when you do, see if you don’t find them elegantly beautiful.

In my explorations of back roads I come across their remains. Ghostly, overtaken by woods and vines, they stand alone. No traffic, save a solitary fellow with a camera. The beauty of old bridges should not be lost so easily. The next time you’re driving down Highway 378 from McCormick toward Saluda look to your left as you cross Hard Labor Creek. Through the trees an old bridge materializes like a spirit. Surreal but real, it hosts a deer hunter’s hut-like stand where old cars and trucks once sped. Hard Labor Creek runs on as if nothing has changed, but it has. Icons fall like leaves.  Read the rest of this entry »