FLORENCE, S.C. — “I’d rather be in Carolina, ain’t no place finer…”
General Norman Johnson
A week ago today I was sitting on the steps of the Florence County Judicial Center, attempting to break the cold wind from the north, listening to the Chairmen of the Board perform on the main stage at the Pecan Festival.
As I tapped my toes to such toe tappers as “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” “Dangling on a String,” and “Carolina Girls” (the youth of America would be much less angry if they had those songs on their playlists), I watched people pass by.
The Pecan Festival is a people watcher’s paradise. Short people, tall people, black people, white people, young people, old people — just a lot of bundled-up people.
Parents were pushing babies in strollers, older toddlers in wagons. Some parents sent down from heaven were pushing their handicapped children.
From where I sat I could see the food vendors advertising turkey legs of course, but also fried Oreos and fried Snickers and fried Reese’s Cups. I’ve never had a fried candy bar and couldn’t decide if it sounded tasty or disgusting.
Soon all that toe tapping and people watching got me hungry and I moseyed over to the Bar-B-Que vendor with the longest line. Believe me, the people of the Pee Dee know good pork products.
I was in the cash line and it started to rain. Everyone huddled under a few umbrellas. Short people, tall people, black people, white people…all laughing, all sharing a few umbrellas and a few stories because, after all, it was a long line.
I laughed to myself when I saw Bob Juback from WBTW. My dog, Holly, and I watch ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption each night in my bedroom and when it ends at 6 p.m., I say, “Let’s go watch Bobby Juback” as we head to our living room.
I didn’t see anyone from CNN or FOX at the Pecan Festival last Saturday. No need for them to come, I guess, unless they had a hankering for a good turkey leg. The scene certainly didn’t fit their respective narratives.
But the scene did emotionally move me. For this is the South I choose to remember from my youth and the South I choose to believe exists today. When it rains I believe we still huddle under the same umbrella down here.
And we all should bundle up, protect each other if you will, from the cold winds that sometimes sweep down from the north.