Sunday, March 21, 2010

Calhoun Falls State Park, S.C. Part III. Sunday Morning Drives in South Carolina.

Click here for the first post in this series.

A short note on Sunday morning drives through South Carolina. This has nothing to do with the homogeneous SuperHighways that criss-cross the state. They, for the most part, are no more South Carolinian than Atlanta is Georgian!

Rather, this is about South Carolina’s more interesting secondary – and even tertiary – roads. The roads that pass through the abundant Natural and Social scenery described in these pages.

I normally begin my RV camping adventures on Sunday mornings, and return home on Friday afternoons. That routine allows me to avoid weekend rushes, and to reserve more attractive, quieter, campsites.

It also means I get to see a lot of Sunday morning South Carolina road traffic. Which itself is interesting!

The overwhelming majority of Sunday morning South Carolina drivers are either going to church or going fishing. It’s easy to differentiate the two groups. By their costumes and by their vehicles.

People dress up to go to church in South Carolina. They even wash their cars! Both Black congregations and White congregations. Well, a few churches encourage more casual dress. But they’re only found in metropolitan areas, where they employ guitarists rather than organists to accompany their services. Definitely not mainstream here, judging from Sunday morning traffic.

Around 11:00 a.m. this morning I was following Route 1 through downtown Columbia. The parking lots of several large churches had begun to fill with the cars of the faithful. Suited and hatted families poured forth from shiny automobiles, bibles and hymnals in hand, greeting each other with genuine friendliness. Here and there a choir robe added color to the scene. At times I was tempted to stop, just to soak up some of that good feeling, from a respectful distance.

Well, at one corner this morning I had that opportunity. There an enormous SUV was parked smack-dab in the middle of the turn lane of a six-lane intersection, at the corner of an impressive church property.

I pulled to a stop just behind it, of course. And watched as a tall, elderly man, carrying what must have been a very large bible, was escorted to the passenger side door and helped inside. Could he have been the Pastor? The Pastor Emeritus? [I know all about this “emeritus” status!]

The sidewalk was packed with well-wishers. All dressed in what used to be called “Sunday best.” Seeing the elderly man off. It was a nice scene. Nearly everyone in the group gave a smile and friendly wave as the enormous SUV eventually pulled away, and traffic resumed around the busy corner.

Once outside more populated areas such as Columbia, Lexington, or even towns the size of Saluda, churches and their surrounding parking lots shrink in size. The more established usually include a well manicured cemetery nearby.

The same sort of scenes, on a smaller scale, can be seen here too of a Sunday morning. Families dressed in their Sunday best exiting well-washed cars, bibles and hymn books in hand, exchanging friendly greetings as they move slowly toward the steps of their church.

Communities of faith, large and small, are an important part of South Carolina’s social fabric. Including its synagogues, and, more recently, its mosques. Perhaps not as important as they were fifty or one hundred years ago. But still important. More important here than in states outside the Deep South. I hope to write more about the role of those communities of faith in South Carolina’s society.

Fishermen, of course, are more casually, but no less carefully, dressed. Camouflage patterns dominate jackets, pants, even boots and hats. I wonder if the fish are so easily misled by those camouflage patterns …. Those folks aren’t headed to church. They’re driving somewhere to fish. So they needn’t be especially clean. Even on the way there!

Their vehicles too are quite different. Few appear to have been recently washed. Indeed, streaks and spatters of mud appear to be a definite plus. It makes me wonder. Car and truck washing shops do a good business in South Carolina. Maybe a truck dirtying place would do almost as well.

Think of it! “Bring your suburban-garaged sissy-lookin’ truck to Harry’s Truck Dirtier and Detailer. Choose from Three Colors of mud and grime. Two flavors of genuine Fish Scent. Big Ladies Day discounts every Wednesday. NRA Membership discounts Every Day. Spray your own for half price. So, come on down to ‘H T Double-D’s. We’ll treat you right.” This might catch on!

Many of those fishermen-driven trucks tow boats. All shapes and sizes of boats. Some smaller craft have been decorated with that same clothing camouflage pattern. Which makes a little more sense than on boots and hats, I guess. The bigger boats, though, are nearly always white. Shiny white, at that. No market, it seems, for a boat dirtying service….

Now, pickup trucks dominate as the tow vehicle of choice. Many have had their mufflers modified to produce a sound like the most muscular Mack or Peterbilt has to offer. Making you expect at least a tandem car hauler or moving van when you hear them riding the bumper of your travel trailer.

OverHome, we used to call those throaty mufflers “glass-packs.” Every teenage daughter’s father knew no good would come of a sound like that in the driveway! The views of mothers, of course, were more diverse.

Mile after mile of South Carolina’s Sunday morning roads are filled with these two classes of vehicle and their passengers. Enriching South Carolina’s diverse natural and social scenery.

But enough of Sunday morning South Carolina drivers. Stay tuned for more on Calhoun Falls State Park and its surroundings.

Click here for the next post in this series.

Click here to return to the Carolina Considered website.

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