a drive through small town america

I’m in Georgetown, S.C. for work.  I haven’t updated my blog in quite some time and have been thinking a lot lately about trying to start working on this again.  I’ve had a crazy year or so since I’ve last been regularly posting my thoughts and events here.  Lots of things have occurred… happenings of which I will write more about at a later time when I feel better prepared to discuss them accurately and have had time to process all that I’m to process and learn about everything.

But today, I left my hometown and drove several hours to the coast of South Carolina in order to make a presentation at a conference.  About 6 months ago I was asked to come speak about the work I’m doing for my employer and so I answered the request today by packing up and heading out of town. 

I must admit, after all that has been going on in my life recently, I was actually looking forward to a four hour drive alone in the car.  The ability to have some time set aside for meditation and quiet reflection was very appealing.  Not only that, but I was heading to a place where I know absolutely no one and will be at a conference where I have no professional connections as yet.  There is something about hitting the road alone, heading to a place of strangers, talking about something I’ve worked on for a long time, and then heading back home with a little more time to just think once again that seemed to provide everything I’ve been needing for quite some time.  Even if my total time out of town is only about 36 hours or so.

Driving down today though, was just the ticket (fortunately not the traffic kind of ticket).  Since there is no direct access via Interstate to Georgetown, S.C., my drive got interesting when I ventured off I-20 and turned right onto Hwy. 521 South.  I quickly went from a hum-drum type of drive to a drive that took me back in time.  It was a drive through small town America.

I passed by the standards, things like fields of cows and horses, red barns and signs posted on anything that stands still reminding all passersby that “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus Loves You.”  (I am in the Bible belt after all).  I passed roadside vegetable stands and convenient stores.  I passed through open fields and pine forests, and cute main streets of small towns with names like Greeleyville and Chiggertuck.  Each small town had a church on every corner, there was the typical Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist church trifecta but also ones like The Fellowship of the Holy Comforter (how delightful that sounds).  I saw the town grocery and general store and the Uncle Papa’s body shop.  I saw roads named Cooter Crossing, Pickle Street and Lazy Daisy Road (who wouldn’t want to live on Lazy Daisy Road?). 

I drove past the local movie theater… showing one movie only and the marque reading instead of the movie title, simply “Welcome Home Troops.”  Yellow ribbons were tied to light posts and hanging on doorways of local businesses.  A simple reminder that a great many of our brave men and women serving in our military come from places just like this.  Places that may have limited opportunities for our young people and so they make the sacrificial choice to join an honorable branch of our military.  It’s amazing to see these towns that have been hardest hit by our economic downfall still showing an everlasting support for their own fighting for our freedoms in places far away…

It was quite humbling, driving through.  That while I wouldn’t say I live in a big city, it is still a very different world than what I passed through today.  A place that hangs yellow ribbons in the doorways of their local businesses… I can’t even remember the last yellow ribbon I’ve seen around my hometown.  Have the troops been forgotten there?

Seeing more homes in disrepair than homes I would even consider living in left me to think about how difficult it can be for places like this… places far off from any decent interstate access, places with no strong industry, places that rely heavily on mom-and-pop small businesses just to carry out basic functions like food supply…

But then, the wide-open spaces and tallest buildings in town being only two stories high, the small store on the corner that’s not only the town grocery but also the town hardware store… well, there’s just something charming about that.   

As I drove from the upstate to the low country, the landscape changed too.  I went from rolling foothills dressed in leafless trees, brown grass and red, rocky clay dirt to flat, wide spaces covered in sand and pine needles with Spanish moss hanging gracefully from the beautiful oak trees that grow along every inch of the roadside of the two-lane highway.  It reminded me of my childhood actually.  Growing up in Charleston, S.C. provided wonderous playgrounds of sandy, pine forests and oak trees arched over roadways as the moss swayed sweetly in the breeze… the memories…

But I digress, my drive through small town America provided a reminder to me that I should be thankful for all the comforts and conveniences of home.  It reminded me that this great country is successful, in part, to the little towns that build small businesses, give their men and women to the armed forces, share the gospel whenever and wherever they can, and despite hardships… they maintain some level of simplicity to their existence.  Their homes, businesses, and towns may look a little dilapidated and broken down, but their spirit sure isn’t…

It was a great reminder and a great lesson learned as I drove through small town America…

One thought on “a drive through small town america

  1. This sounds like my Jennifer. I believe that whirlwind trip did you a world of good. It is important for us to remember these small towns and the people that live in them. You have such a beautiful way with words. I am still waiting for that book that I know you have within you. I love you!

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