Today I had occasion to travel the brief fifty miles back to my hometown. I live in Greenville, SC firmly planted midway between Charlotte and Atlanta along Interstate 85. I grew up in Greenwood, SC and lived and worked there for almost 60 years. Greenwood is sort of in a Bermuda Triangle of north-west South Carolina.
Greenwood is south of Greenville and Anderson, also along Interstate 85. Greenwood is north and west of the capital of South Carolina, Columbia and thus in the middle of nowhere. People often say, “It’s a nice town with friendly folks, but you just can’t get here from any where else”.
Greenwood has four lane access to Greenville, but it’s not interstate. You can look at all of this on Google maps. Access between these two cities is by way of US 25. US 25 was designated an US Highway in 1926 and originally ran from Brunswick, Georgia to Port Huron, Michigan. Currently it terminates in Covington, Kentucky at the Ohio River.
Having said all of that. The drive from Greenville to Greenwood this afternoon was one I had not made in several months. It started as a partly cloudy day and was mostly cloudy by the time I arrived in Greenwood. I was meeting a new friend to retrieve a valuable family heirloom found in a thrift store.
The drive down was not congested at all and I was able to reorient myself with several landmarks along the way. Throughout my lifetime there have always been two places along this highway that made and sold concrete yard ornaments. You know what I’m describing here, right? Birdbaths, squirrels, horses and bears. Things we here in the south proudly were once known to use to decorate our yards.
Today, I noticed a new addition to the concrete statuary competition. An old single story farm-house with a collection of concrete statues within a former chain link dog pen. And there they were. Lawn jockeys. Not just raw, freshly poured concrete statues, but those painted in black face, with orange, yellow and red overalls ready to take home and proudly plant in your new flower bed. Really?
I haven’t seen those in years. They have become a rare sighting. I mean if you live in South Carolina you’re more likely to see pickup trucks with dual flags in the back. You know – “Don’t Tread on Me and the Confederate Stars and Bars” mounted in jacked up trucks flapping in the breeze as they speed past you. But black-faced lawn jockeys? Where is the market?
I was really flabbergasted to see these on the side of the highway today as I journeyed to my hometown. Based on what we have seen in Charlottesville and other cities besieged by hatred this year, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Anyway, the reason for my trip was to retrieve the previously mentioned family heirloom. After a delay, the lady with this treasure arrived. She knew me from earlier life, though in all honesty, I didn’t know her. Soon she drove up with the portrait of my daughters that she had bought in a thrift shop simply for the frame. She didn’t have any idea who the two girls were but had put out word on Facebook that she would surrender the portrait to the rightful owner.
We talked for a few minutes about our past lives, hugged and shook hands. She had the portrait wrapped in a baby blanket and insisted on showing me that it was in perfect condition. She was so happy that she had found the rightful owner and it showed in her eyes. I was tickled and repeatedly thanked her for her kindness and loaded the portrait in my Blazer and headed back to Greenville.
On the drive home, I passed the black-faced lawn jockey statues again. My thoughts going back home were different from they were on the way down. Going down, I was almost incensed by the presence of the lawn jockeys. Headed home, I thought hopefully there are at least two people looking to return treasures to their rightful owners for every one that’s looking to purchase back faced lawn jockeys.