South Carolina Road Trip

We said our goodbyes to Folly Beach at the Lost Dog Café, our favorite spot in this surfer-hippie run down beach shack meets modern, wealthy beach mansion town.  As the name suggests, dogs are welcome to join their owners, but only on the exterior porches.  Inside, the walls are covered with framed photographs of dogs.  Best of all, the food is delicious from the pancakes to the iced lattes to the lunches we had before leaving.  Vinny’s lunch sandwich seemed appropriately southern with fried green tomatoes, bacon, feta cheese, and mushrooms. (It was southernly good.)  An iced latte with espresso promised to fuel my sun drenched self with energy for the road trip home.


iced latte at the lost dog cafe

iced latte at the lost dog cafe

I prefer to think of all of our travels as road trips, even mini road trips.  We always enjoy the roadside scenery and we are doing our best to avoid interstates whenever possible.  The generated directions would send us on I-26 to I-95 in order to get home from Folly Beach.  However, too much of our lives have passed on I-95.  Aside from South of the Border billboards, there is no entertainment.  On this trip, we chose to drive only state highways for the ride south and the ride north. On this route we encountered no traffic, very few traffic lights, interesting communities and towns along the way, and we saved on gas mileage.  The trip only took 30 minutes extra, though we had expected it to take one hour extra, which we wouldn’t have minded anyway.

South Carolina Highway 41 to Highway 57 proved to be a more direct route to Folly Beach than the interstates anyway.  Highway 41 was the majority of our travels.  It takes you through the Frances Marion National Forest which means lots of trees, very few towns (and the few there are happen to be very small settlements), few cars passing by, and a pleasant drive. 


Driving through the Frances Marion National Forest

Driving through the Frances Marion National Forest

Some adventures can be qualified as a true road trip experience.  Stopping by Watford’s Grocery / Exxon Gas Station proved to be such an example.  On a road trip I’ll generally stop anywhere when nature calls or when we need a cup of coffee or some water.  I have been in many gas stations on my American travels. This gas station was marked pay first, so Vinny and I both went inside. Imagine walking in to a store with a plain poured cement floor, slightly smoky air, and a poorly lit atmosphere.  Refrigerators and freezers lined the back walls and the rows were stocked with typical on the go- gas station – convenience mart food.  Vinny figured he’d buy water and I looked around for the restroom. Without luck, I asked the woman at the counter and she directed me to go around the side, outside.  That didn’t bother me; many places have bathrooms from the exterior.

These bathrooms proved an exception to the rule.  One door was closed so I peered into the other one, immediately noting the disgusting, beyond old look of the toilet bowl, the lack of toilet paper and the worst smell I’ve ever experienced from a restroom.  It took a few seconds but I walked away and went inside to find Vinny.  I told him I could not use those bathrooms, they were the most disgusting things I had ever seen.  Very few locations in my life have convinced me not to use a restroom.  On family road trips, one of my sisters was terrified of automatic flushing toilets, but as for me, I didn’t mind. 

Watford's Grocert

Watford's Grocery

Vinny put the water bottles back in the refrigerator.  We started to walk out, Vinny saying that we’ll just stop at the next one.  Before we left, an old man in a white and red striped vertical striped shirt asked me if I needed a restroom. He apologized for the condition of the exterior ones and said I could use the one in the store. He pointed to a door in the nearby corner and kindly said, just go on through there and all the way back.  I was very grateful since the next stop in rural South Carolina could have been in the next county.   

I walked into a living room/kitchen of sorts.  One child was watching television in this large, dark room.  A woman stood at the yellow laminate counter-island separating the kitchen and living area. An older child stood near her.  They may have been cooking. Unsure of what exactly I was walking into, I didn’t dare stare so I said an appreciative thank you and walked to the bathroom. 

I have never seen such a scene as this bathroom. I closed the door and I may as well have stepped into a movie set.  This was not just any movie set either; it looked like something with good country western music tales about girls getting all dolled up, bright lipstick and big hair, either getting ready to perform onstage or going to the rodeo.  I wish I had my camera to photograph the sight.  Make-up, hair products, cleaning products, paper towels, all sorts of things lined the shelves high above the toilet.  An extremely large mirror hung above the counter sink, upon which also sat make-up and hair care products and lotions.  This bathroom clearly could suit all of your beauty needs of some decade, but it was not a modern glamorous place.  It held stories, dirt, and probably smoke lingering in the air.  When I turned on the faucet to wash my hands the entire faucet shook back and forth.   I was in awe.  Before leaving I said thank you, again, and silently marveled at the sight I had just seen.  Vinny bought water and gasoline and we were on our way again.

Further north on Highway 41, this time near Centenary, I noticed something that caught my eye on the way down.  Luckily I had been looking out the window and I quickly asked Vinny to pull into the next dirt road.  However, slow reaction times on both our accounts called for a U-turn and then pulling into this dirt loop off the highway.  I had noticed these buildings that appeared to be a collection of store buildings, abandoned and neglected, leftover from an earlier time of local commerce.

No name road off Highway 41.

No name road off Highway 41.

It’s not often that you easily see a collection of buildings from the highway, but I had seen a few while traveling Route 66 and now such things pop out to me.  What we found were three buildings and nearby visible houses that appeared inhabited.  (Had there been no houses nearby I would have gladly jumped out of the car and peered in the windows of these buildings. However, I do try to avoid trespassing, especially there are possible witnesses.)  We snapped a few photographs from the car and continued on our way.


B.F. Davis, a mystery building

B.F. Davis, a mystery building

One week later, I’m still thinking about these buildings and still wondering who the Davis Brothers were. Preliminary internet research looking for the Davis Brothers or B.F. Davis near Centenary, SC has yielded no results.  The records are likely in the Marion County Courthouse and just not digitized yet.  I would like to know if they were part of a family business, the nearby railroad, or the main street of a small rural community.  I don’t know if these buildings are related to the houses nearby or with which community they were historically associated.  Information would make this find all the more meaningful, but for now it will have to stay in the collection of roadside mysteries. I hope somebody knows the stories to these buildings; they must be great.  I love these buildings.

Davis Brothers. What could this have been off Highway 41? How old is it?

Davis Brothers. What could this have been off Highway 41? How old is it?


Old Memories, New Memories: The Evolution of My Favorite Place

I grew up in a beach town.  My mother pulled me in the wagon to the beach and we played on any sunny day in any season.  My father held me under a crashing wave before I knew how to swim.  My uncle taught me how to ride the waves (body surf) and I have a beautiful scar on my shoulder from that incident, getting trashed by the waves.  My cousin taught me what little I know about actual surfing.  My sisters and I lived for the beach.  I have salt water in my veins and salty air in my lungs.


As children we spent hours on the beach digging holes, just digging. Hands, shovels, buckets, shells: anything could become a useful digging tool. Our efforts often attracted jealous attention of nearby children who marveled at a hole so wide and deep that four sisters could sit comfortably.  We guarded our hole with pride and asked our parents to not let anyone cave it in while we ran to the water to rinse off our sandy bodies.  Waves kept us in the chilly water for hours at a time.  We ran along the breaking waves and turned cartwheels.  We rode wave after wave after wave, perfecting our body surfing techniques.  Sometimes the waves tossed and turned us under water, pulled us from the surface, and dropped us from our place on top with no warning.  The waves never scared us; we thrived on the excitement.  Our father and his brother stayed with us after the lifeguards had gone home at six.  We’d occasionally use a boogie board, but that never seemed as true as body surfing.  The afternoon and evening brought warm water and an easy sunny sky.


Now, years later, I do not live near the beach.  Here, it is hours to any beach and people take vacations to the beach.  I never fathomed such a thing.  I miss the beach and try to take my vacations in the summer to go home and return to the beach with my sisters.


Playtime on the beach is different.  We dig fewer holes and tolerate the cold water just slightly less than our younger selves.  We love the beauty of the sand and the ocean, but some things changes.  Recently, I have felt guilty and suddenly too old.  How could I not want to play like that 10 year old girl I used to be?  This is when I realized that our favorite places can evolve with ourselves.  My memories never leave; I love everything about the beach and the games my sisters and I would play. 


As we’ve grown, I’ve adapted myself to the beach. Instead of running from the beach blanket to the waves and back, I run miles on the beach.  On these miles, barefoot and in the water, I show my love for the beach.  There is no place I’d rather run and no place that I’m happier to run.  When I run on the beach, it feels like I’m playing.  They are always my favorite runs with stops in the middle to jump in the waves.  I’ve never appreciated cold water more than during a sunny run. 


Now I have a melding of my childhood and myself.  We still ride the waves and turn cartwheels and jump off lifeguard stands. Digging holes may have to wait another generation.  But, I have added an older version of myself and my activities to the beach.  Without this, the beach (or any favorite place) risks fading memories.  Every time I run I remember.  Every time I run on the beach I’m adding to those memories. 


Memory and use are funny things: combining them makes the place stronger and more meaningful.  People and communities should consider what they love (buildings, landscapes, open space, etc) and when it’s out of date, find new ways to keep the past and the present connected, assuring life for the future.  It’s the basic foundation for human existence; our memories, our lives, are connected by the past, present, and future.  We wouldn’t want to let any of that go, so why should we forget our surroundings?      


Carolina Tales Coming Soon

As mentioned in previous posts, I am in the process of moving.  In typical fashion, moving is interrupted by a road trip!  The downside is that the cats get ditched in a new house full of stuff (though that is probably to their delight).  However, the upside is that you can soon expect a good road trip tale with photographs to match!  Please pardon the absence of posts, adventures, and preservation issues – I’ll add something this weekend.  (This week I am without internet access on my computer.)

Overhills by Jeffrey D. Irwin and Kaitlin O’Shea

Aside from our responsibilities at Fort Bragg, Jeff and I thought that an Images of America book with Arcadia Publishing would be a great way to tell the story of Overhills because we have hundreds of images available.  The process involved a proposal, sample text and images, and upon earning a contract, months of hard work and Overhills thoughts for about ¾ of our days.


The book will not be on sale until October 6, 2008, but now that is finished, edited, and officially on Arcadia’s website, I am ready to tell the world.  Click below for the link to Arcadia Publishing.  (You can also google our names and Overhills.)


Overhills on Arcadia Publishing



Here is the back cover text:


Book Description: In the early 1900s, Overhills emerged as an exclusive hunt club hidden among the longleaf pine and wiregrass forest, sandy roads, and rural solitude of the North Carolina Sandhills. Soon becoming the Overhills Country Club, this rustic retreat featured a clubhouse, horse stables, dog kennels, train station, post office, and a golf course designed by the legendary Donald Ross. At its height, Overhills boasted fox hunting, bird hunting, polo, and golf with personal cottages on the property commissioned by William Averell Harriman and Percy Avery Rockefeller. By the era of the Great Depression, Overhills evolved from a country club to a country estate for the family of Percy and Isabel Rockefeller, lasting well into the latter decades of the 20th century. Throughout its history, the resident employees and tenant farmers of Overhills contributed to a unique community in this private southern arcadia.

Author Bio: Archaeologist Jeffrey D. Irwin and historic preservationist Kaitlin O’Shea have studied Overhills through the Overhills Oral History Project, conducted on behalf of the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg. The photographs featured in this collection date primarily to the 1920s and 1930s; many of these rare images have been provided by former residents and employees of Overhills.


Email me with any questions about the book and if you live near us, stay tuned for book signings once it is released!


If you would like to see a larger version of the cover, click here for pdf version: Overhills by Jeffrey D. Irwin and Kaitlin O’Shea




Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The travel posts shall continue since summertime inspires road trips. And after Preservation in Pink issues are complete, I tend to step away from it for a bit, giving everyone time to read the latest issue. However, traveling is always fun to think about and plan.

Keeping with summer fun and road trips, here are pictures from the St. Louis Gateway Arch, or more appropriately, the National Park’s “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial” in St. Louis, Missouri. Back to summer 2006, when my mom, Sarah, and I visited South Dakota, we also traveled through Missouri. Having been to St. Louis earlier in the summer with Vinny and Elyse (who hails from near St. Louis) I knew that the St. Louis could not be missed. Unfortunately, the first time the tickets to the top were sold out and I had not been in the arch. We knew to get there early to buy tickets because taking the ride to the top of the arch is definitely worth the $10, particularly because you are not on a stringent time limit once you reach the top.

Elyse (no-so-secretly an unofficial spokeswoman for St. Louis tourism) can most certainly give you the details of St. Louis far better than I can, so maybe she’ll do that. In the meantime, here is a photograph from the ground.

Gateway Arch from the ground

The Gateway Arch sits next to the Mississippi River, which divides Illinois and Missouri at this point. A parade of steps brings you down to the river from the gleaming arch. It is an amazing architectural feat to visit. The Museum of Westward Expansion is underground, underneath the arch and free (for those on a budget.) It is also worth your time, as you can see beautiful murals of American western landscape, learn about Lewis & Clark, pioneers, and buffalo, among other subjects. A section of the museum is devoted to Eero Saarinen, the designer of the arch and you can attempt to construct a mini arch from the pieces Saarinen used (on a smaller scale of course.)

Of course, there is a museum gift shop and National Park gift shops are always fun, educational, and your purchases support the parks! A “general store” sells pretzels and good coffee, among other “olde-fashioned” treats.

The tram ride to the top feels somewhat space-age as five people squeeze into little cars and ride up through the arch. The ride takes about four minutes and passengers can see the interior of the arch. Read more here,, from the National Park Service.

Once you’re at the top, you feel like you’re in an airplane. The view is amazing. Here is just one image from the top.

Gateway Arch from the top

If you have the chance to visit St. Louis, definitely go (and ask Elyse for St. Louis suggestions, including the Cardinals.)

South Dakota

South Dakota is my favorite state.  Considering my attachment to the east coast (i.e. ocean) I probably couldn’t live there, but it shall remain one of my favorite states to visit.  It is so incredibly gorgeous, even along I-90 (and I am not one to agree with interstates).  I-90 or above, highway 14, stretches east to west across the state.  Along the way you pass signs for the Corn Palace and Wall Drug.  Beginning from the east, South Dakota is pretty much corn and sunflowers with a big blue sky.  It’s so pristine and peaceful even with the fact that the speed limit is 70 mph. 

Upon reaching Chamberlain, SD the topography changes.  All of sudden you come over a hill and you’re in the badlands.  There’s the Missouri River and the corn disappears.  The great land of brown mountains appears.  It’s incredible and totally unexpected.  The next town is Oacoma, SD and there you can stop at Al’s Oasis to get a 5 cent cup of coffee. 

Down the road you get to Wall, SD and there’s Wall Drug, a famous tourist stop that started as a small operation offering free ice water to travels.  Eventually you come to the Black Hills and it’s a green forest (this is where Mount Rushmore is and Custer State Park).  The photograph below is from the Black Hills. My mom, my sister Sarah, and I traveled across South Dakota in summer of 2006.  We loved it and will return the next chance we get. 

Black Hills, SD

Black Hills, SD

Most people think of nothing when they think of South Dakota or they just don’t think about South Dakota.  In my opinion, if people had the opportunity to travel the United States and ventured to rural, small populated places, then they would care more about open space preservation and the beauty of the United States rather than living the immediate satisfaction lifestyles that we have created.

Next time you get the chance, visit South Dakota.  And if you’d like to see more photographs from South Dakota, let me know.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

My town sort of recycles.  What do I mean by that?  Well, we can recycle plastic, magazines,  newspaper, glass, and cardboard, but the town won’t pick it up from the curb.  Instead, we drive to the recycling center and toss it in huge bins.  This is not a problem, but I’ll bet anything that it prevents many people from recycling because it’s too much of a hassle to drive to the recycling center, which, by the way, is right near downtown and many baseball fields. 

What bugs me about this system is the lack of recycling office paper!!  I get so much junk mail and just acquire random papers that I would love to recycle, but cannot because I’m not allowed.  I cannot bring myself to throw paper in the garbage. It feels like a sin.  I have been recycling every piece of paper imaginable my entire life.  Notebooks after classes finished for the year? I would rip out the spirals and recycle the paper. 

The good news? Tomorrow Keep Moore County Beautiful is sponsoring a mixed paper recycling drive!  I’m psyched because this means that I don’t have to throw out all of my paper.  It coincides nicely with my downsizing efforts as I get ready to move.

I know this is more recycling than preservation, but we all know it’s connected.

Ace Hardware

(This post is inspired by Elyse).

Ace Hardware stores provide a great option to the typical Lowe’s and Home Depot stores (and insert other big box retailers here).  These stores, although national, are individually owned by the local store owners.  Corporate shares are not publicly traded.  See the faq page on the Ace Hardware site.

And come on, how many times have you been in Lowe’s or Home Depot and not been able to find help with what you need? My experiences have always been better in smaller hardware stores like Ace.

The next time you need a hardware store, skip the big boxes and support your local community by going to Ace.*  As an added bonus, as pointed out by Elyse, Ace Hardware offers national gift cards.  This means that if you want to give a gift card you can buy it from Ace in your hometown and your friend can spend it elsewhere.  (Just be sure to indicate it needs to be nationally accepted).

Thanks, Elyse, for the “how to live as a preservationist” tip!

*I would suggest visiting a hardware store that is 100% local, but that is not always an option so Ace would make a good second.

July 2008 Issue

Click below for the latest issue of Preservation in Pink! (Volume II, Issue 1).  I know it’s been a while, but the good news is that this issue is bigger and has more travel photographs!  Topics include Penn Station, Going Green, Living as a Preservationist, Travel, Media, and Third Place. Enjoy and send any feedback my way.  Thanks!


 Preservation in Pink July 2008