An only child raised by a single mom. Most of the adults I knew seemed to like me reasonably well, which was remarkable considering what they were up against. Not that I was a bad kid, because I wasn't. I just wasn't nice. "Be nice." I heard that a lot.
Circa '55. If I only knew then what I know now....
Moved to Spartanburg in time for the 3rd grade. Southside Elementary. Mr. Powell was the principal and, as such, was far removed from my world. At some point early on, he was placed in my personal pantheon of the immortals, right up along side Superman, The Lone Ranger, and Claude Dunbar, Esq. If I look closely, bet I could still find him there.
My neighborhood of choice was centered around Irwin Ave. At the top of the street lived Mrs. Irwin in her Victorian mansion, while halfway down was my great friend, Tommy Barnett. There were a lot of guys on that street who were fun to hang with.
Ms Irwin's house, May 2002. Can you see the stone steps in front next to the street? Useful for climbing into carriages.
After Southside came Jenkins Junior High. Tommy did well there and often said later in his too-brief life that the 9th grade was his best year. It was. Man, I almost didn't know the guy. Most valuable in football and basketball, voted most popular. Seemed to me, he had every girl's attention in a basic, primal way, if you get my drift. I mean, some of them even took to stealing his letter jacket. Not having anything remotely resembling a letter jacket, I would've gladly surrendered my gym shorts but no one ever asked.
SHS. Spartanburg High School. Mr. Rhodes, Miss Guess, Dr. Rice, Mr. Humphries, Mr. Tucker.... Couldn't afford to buy my clothes from Price's or that other cool haberdashery across the square -- what was that, Greenwald's? Well, anyway, for a number of reasons those weren't my best years, yet in some way I'd kinda like to do them again. Hardly possible, but I might be amenable to a deal.
After graduation in '64, I left Spartanburg. Mother moved away, and for a long time I fancied I was too busy to pay a visit to the scene of so many of my youthful indiscretions. When I did get back, downtown was about the spookiest place I'd ever seen. Must have had something to do with the way Main Street, from Belks down to the Palmetto Theater, was laid out -- long, with no parking. Guess shopping at the malls was too easy and less of a hassle.
SHS changed, too. Now their mascot is a Viking. The Spartan Vikings. That has all the hallmarks of a compromise reached in committee. I understand the need for change, but why not the SHS Fighting Millers, or the Conquering Peach Pits, or Morgan's Mighty Morphin Marauders, or the Spartanburg Serial Chillers, or ....