Saturday, July 13, 2019

Gallivants Ferry on the Little Peedee

  Minnesota might have 10,000 lakes but I’m pretty sure more of the surface of South Carolina is covered with water than Minnesota’s is.  From the coast west, the land is covered with rivers and swamps that limit travel, isolating farms and communities.  Nowadays we zip over causeways and bridges to get from here to there, but those who were here in the 1700s and 1800s had to deal with the water at ground level.  
  Ferries were the only way to go.
The Little Pee Dee River at Gallivants Ferry

  The first ferries were simple flat-bottomed rafts or even canoes powered by paddles, 
oars, or poles.  Poorly constructed, manned by those of questionable skill, they commanded expensive tolls.  After all, what choice did a traveler have?

  Over the years, larger flatboats capable of ferrying a carriage, wagon, or freight came into use, and a pulley or winch system was used to move the boat against the current (photo below).  Costs rose accordingly, and in 1805 the toll for a carriage or team and wagon was $1.00 and a man and a horse 12.5 cents.  

 Cooper River ferry. (University of South Carolina collection).


Catawba River SC (photo from American Civil War Forum)


  Over time the location of a river crossing became a logical place to build a store ... a house ... an inn, and soon there would be a town, often named for the owner of the ferry business.  

  One of those places is Gallivants Ferry, west of Aynor on Hwy 501. A Mr Gallevans was granted the license to run the ferry there in 1795.  A store followed and the crossing became known by his name — sort of, as Gallevans apparently became Gallivants at some point.

  The store is still there today, as are other buildings that used to make up a community.  Happily, every building left today is preserved on the National Register of Historic Places.  

  When the cotton industry was demolished by the boll weevil, area farmers turned to tobacco for a cash crop. The variety grown here was “flue-cured tobacco,” which required a heating process in the barn before being sent to market.   The Pack House (left) was used to grade the cured tobacco and store it until it was taken to auction.

  Tobacco barns in the field were made of pine logs and equipped with brick furnaces to cure the tobacco.  Someone had to be at the barn around the clock to tend the wood furnace and control the temperature for a period of three days up to 10 weeks.  

  Behind this large storage barn a small village of 3-room sharecroppers’ cabins still stands.  In the 1930s and ‘40s, 1200 to 1500 men, women, and children were part of the sharecropping workforce in this area.  When the tobacco was sold, they received half the profits for their work.

  Powered by mules, the grist mill employed granite rollers to crush grain to produce flour, meal and grits to feed the community and livestock. The miller kept a portion of the meal as payment for the service.

  There are quite a few more historic buildings to see in Gallivants Ferry, some of them still in private use.  

  It is an unusual historic site to visit as there are no commercial shops whatsoever selling stuff, no people around, no traffic, no explanatory signs.  You are happily left to explore with only the quiet flow of the river and your imagination to conjure up the stories the place has to tell. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

What’s Your Impossible Dream??

“Purl’s Yarn Emporium”, Wall Street, Asheville, NC


  Simple sock monkeys made of men’s red-heeled work socks were popular when I was little.  Everybody had a grandma who made them.  But look closely at the details of these. This window display takes sock monkeys to a whole new level!  
I had no idea such a humble toy would be controversial, but get this:  

  In 1953, Helen Cooke received the patent for sock monkeys and then sued a man named Stanley Levy because he was selling sock monkeys that were not the same design as hers.  He contacted the Nelson Knitting Company hoping that they would declare her patent invalid. One of the most important pieces of evidence the company uncovered was a doll made by a lady named Grace Wingent for her grandson in 1951. Helen caved and settled the case against Levy when she was shown the evidence against her.  She sold her sock monkey patent to the Nelson Knitting Company for $750.

“The Impossible Dream” from “Man of LaMancha”

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Flat Stanley? ... Flat Granny!

  Flat Stanley was a popular children’s book series about a boy who gets squashed flat by a falling bulletin board.  Making the best of the situation, Stanley discovers he can now do cool things like slip right under a closed door and  his distraught parents put him in an envelope and mail him to California.  Thus begin Stanley’s travels around the world.  

  The books inspired a Canadian teacher to create a project where his students mailed a cutout of their own Flat Stanley, along with a story they made up about him, to a classroom in another state.  The recipient was to take a photo of Stanley somewhere in his or her town and include information about what Stanley did or saw while he was there and mail Stanley back.  When the Stanleys came back to the original school, the photos and letters were displayed, then the students sent them out again on another journey. 

Over the years the Stanley projects proved a fun way for students to learn geography and experience the wonders of the world.  
By 2011 the project included thousands of classes in 88 countries participating annually, including the schools I taught in!  

So, that’s Flat Stanley, there, riding an elephant in India. 

 Now, who is Flat Granny?

  Flat Granny is part of an art exhibit called Suspending Belief at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, SC.  We loved it!  

Jenny Fine grew up enjoying and photographing all kinds of adventures with her slightly eccentric Alabama grandmother.  Together they dressed up and acted out little dramas for photographs.   

After Granny’s death, there were many stories Granny told Jenny that she hadn’t photographed yet and Jenny missed the adventures they might have had had she lived on. That’s how she came up with the Flat Granny idea.  Constructing a larger-than-life-size head and hands from a photograph, Jenny used them to recreate Granny to photograph her as she had when she was alive.  

Life-size Grannies in the gallery suspended from the ceiling floated and twirled.

Daddy and Flat Granny Dancing in the backyard watermelon patch.  

Feeding Flat Granny

  My phone battery died so that was all the photos I  took, but you get the idea.  

  Jenny Fine’s Granny must have been a whole lot of fun and an amazing good sport.  Definitely someone fun to know!  

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Guess Where I Am

A couple hints ...

  They were babies, maybe six inches long not including the tail, and absolutely fearless.  

  I think I could have picked one up ... if I wanted to!  

Ibis, in the hospital parking lot.  

  Did you guess Florida?  If you did, you are right.  My mom had cancer surgery and I am here to help.

 Mom is 92 years old and she did great.  They discharged her from the hospital less than 24 hours after surgery.  As you can see, she was ready and waiting to go home!  

   She has a drain that has to be emptied — my job and I was very nervous. I’m getting used to it though.  We’re doing fine now at home with only a visiting nurse.  We both have a good supply of books to read and if we can figure out the Roku thing she got for Christmas, we can watch some movies.  

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Alllll Aboard! We’re Out to Lunch!

Remember these?

This one doesn’t go anywhere anymore, just sits in the station in Lake City, lookin’ pretty.

But you can still go inside and ...

order up lunch! 
If you use your imagination, you can pretend you’re traveling in the ‘50s and the train is moving slowly through town while you enjoy your dining car lunch. 
🧳 🧳 🧳
  It’s been a quiet week here in Georgetown, several days and inches of rain, followed by record cool weather, which I love.  
  On Thursday I noticed an injured young cardinal in the yard.  He was under the bird feeder trying to hop about so his mama could feed him and couldn’t remain upright, so pathetic to watch.  We knew of emergency clinics for all kinds of sea animals, including the famous one for turtles and even one for raptors near Charleston, but hadn’t heard of any place that took in songbirds.  We did eventually find a place about an hour away.  
  When we went outside to get the bird he surprised us by awkwardly flying into the azalea bushes and we couldn’t find him.  A couple hours later he was back flopping around under the feeder.  We were smarter, and we got him.  The Ark Animal Hospital in Surfside Beach assured us that they would try to fix him and humanely euthanize him if they couldn’t so we left him, along with a donation and a little blessing with hopes that someday he will fly free and strong.

  One more baby bird story.  This morning we were at a stoplight and noticed a parade of Canada geese, Mama, Papa, and a whole waddle of little ones out in front of them and all around them, on a mission to cross a road.  Then behind the Canada goose family came three very large white, honking domestic geese.   And behind them, four half grown mallard ducklings!  Maybe something had happened to the duckling parents and they had imprinted on the goose family?  Anyway, we changed our direction and followed them to make sure everyone made it to the canal across the road, which they did.  

Hope you are en-JOY-ing your weekend!  

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Bridge Covered With Flowers

We were in North Carolina last week and took the scenic route home through narrow mountain roads.  In Lake Lure we happened upon something interesting — an abandoned highway bridge over the Broad River beautifully landscaped with flowers!  It was raining, but we stopped anyway.

The plantings are all designed, planted, and cared for by volunteers.  Some sun would have made nicer photos but we didn’t mind getting a bit wet for such a pretty walk.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Blue Roads of SC — Ketchup Town

  In 1927 land for a small store at a crossroads in Horry County was purchased for $100 by   Mr Hub Small.  He built a home and a little store stocked with food, ice, clothing, and hardware for the farmers of the area.  Roads weren’t paved yet for many years and travelers passed by in wagons and buggies.  

 Tradition allowed farmers a bit of rest on a Saturday afternoon and the store was a convenient place to shop.  They tied their mules under a big old oak and families took advantage of the shady spot to “catch up” on the news.

  The store was tended by Mr Smalls, his wife, and four daughters.  When it came time to have a sign made for the store, young daughter Ruth lobbied for the spelling of Catch Up with a K, and the settlement that grew up around the store became Ketchup Town. 

  When roads were paved in 1949 and 1950, people began to travel to Conway and Mullens to shop and the Ketchup Town Store closed its doors.  Ketchup Town is still at the crossroads and is home to 75 people.  

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Conway’s Alligator Oak

  The Alligator Oak, circumference 18 feet, 7 1/2 inches, stands in the graveyard of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Conway where it has stood since 1537!  It’s a Live Oak, a tree used extensively in America’s history by shipbuilders.  The “knees” (where branches join the trunk) made incredibly strong joints that were used to brace ships’ sides for many years, until wood was replaced by steel.  

There are other live oaks in South Carolina that rival it in age, but if you look closely you can see the eye of an alligator in the bark on the left side, with a snout running down the tree and beneath the brick retaining wall. 

🐊 🐊 🐊

  (I want to assure everyone that we do know how to change a tire and we do have a spare tire! There are times it is not wise to do it yourself, and this was one of them.  The Writer had had recent surgery, it was 101 degrees in the shade, and I cannot lift tires like this up onto a jacked up wheel or back into the car over the tailgate.  We carry roadside assistance insurance and were grateful to the nice guy who came eventually and apologized for the long delay.)  

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Our Memorial Day Holiday Adventure

  McClellanville (population 543) twenty minutes down the coast has a farmers market on weekends. Just a few tables but they are local families selling what they raise themselves so we like to support them.  

  We made our delicious purchases, visited a little, tracked down some reasonably priced farm eggs a couple miles away and had an early lunch — grilled whiting, fried green tomatoes, and collard greens at the Seewee Restaurant in Awendaw (below). 

Then we meandered back to the McClellanville docks to check out the shrimping fleet. 

  The docks are among only nine commercial fishing docks left in the whole state and are used by fishing boats from up and down the coasts of North and South Carolina. (They fish down the coast, come into port at McClellanville to sell their catch, and then go out to fish again.)

  The fate of little McClellanville’s old docks is up in the air at the moment.  They need a couple million dollars to keep them open and with only 543 residents, nobody knows where that money is going to come from.  

  When I got back in the car after taking photos, The Writer said a warning light was on for a low tire.  Did I mention we were having record high temperatures and it was 101 sunny, humid degrees by now?!!  

  A back tire had a nail in it and was flat as a pancake! There was no one around to change a tire so we waited hours for AAA to rescue us.  The car was a sauna, the wait was several hours, and by the time the tire was changed and repaired, it was nearly 6 pm.  We had left the house at 10 in the morning!

  Oh well, I guess those fresh juicy peaches and strawberries, beets, carrots, and oyster mushrooms were worth all the bother.  

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Gladiolus Dalenii, Parrot Glads

  Rich rice planters on the Carolina coast showcased their wealth in opulent gardens in the antebellum period, introducing a variety of exotic imported plants to the American continent.  Among  them were bright parrot gladiolas from Africa.  

  Eventually the glads escaped their plantation homes to appear on the humble roadsides all along the coast.  At the end of May, they make a flamboyant show visible a mile away, free to rich and poor alike.   

  We found these all along South Island Road — a road once lined with wealthy plantations — near our house, and ends at the Intercoastal Waterway and the ferry to Cat Island.  

  I bet you can guess — hummingbirds love them!  

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Just Peachy!

  •   South Carolina peaches have been grown commercially in this state since the 1860s.
  •   South Carolina ranks second in peach production in the United States (California is first) and grows over thirty varieties of peaches.

For years each family orchard marketed their peaches in roadside stands that
dotted the backroads. Handpainted signs enticed motorists to stop and buy the makings for a snack or a mouthwatering peach pie. 

A few still stand, overgrown by weeds and time, like this one near Hemingway.  

  You can’t buy peaches at family orchards anymore, but you can find local South Carolina peaches at some weekly farmers markets.  And they are the best!  For the couple weeks they are in season, we eat as many as we can with our healthy morning oatmeal concoction.  But once in a while you just have to be decadent ...

  We love our South Carolina peaches!