Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why Honea Path is always first

I sat in stunned silence and in correct politeness. My father hammered into me in my teen years to always respect another man’s home and never start any trouble in another man’s home. Yet, deep down, I was seething. I was in Columbia, at an otherwise festive occasion, and was enduring ridicule about the town of Honea Path.

Chances are my hosts meant no disrespect, but the words from them and their other guests about the small town I call home again hit me the wrong way. It was summed up when someone asked, “Why in the world would someone like you ever move to place like that?”

I kept silent upon the question, remembering my father’s lesson about starting trouble in another man’s home. Of all the lessons my father has tried to teach me, that one resonated more than any other. I held my tongue.

But, I am not in another man’s home now, so I feel free to answer to one and all. First, I will address the “someone like you,” remark. Who is “someone like me?” I thought about that when it was asked. While it is true I lived in Columbia for over a decade and saw the state through politics and work, I always held Honea Path close to me. My brother and parents lived there. I kept a portrait of its downtown on my wall. Indeed, there has never been a day when I have not been proud to be from Honea Path. In fact, being from a small town made life easier for me when I sat in small town living rooms over the years.

“Someone like me,” remembers being able to walk or ride my bicycle all around town to places like the library or Wilson’s Dime Store to buy baseball cards. I remember small town legends like the late Sheriff E.E. “Duck” Cooley, coming into the barber shop and putting his gun on the sink as he got his hair cut and we boys looked wide eyed at him and the gun. I remember Bill Ashley, that old marine who fought in the Pacific, teaching me how to stack hay and telling me, “I am going to show you this one time boy and one time only.”

“Someone like me” hauled hay, cut grass, and worked in the local mill. No politician I ever worked for or any big client ever taught me as much about life as growing up in Honea Path did. In Honea Path I found heroes. My neighbor growing up, Tom Moore comes to mind. He had polio as a kid, but that did not keep him from teaching me the game of basketball. His grandson carries on the family honor flying helicopters in Iraq today. There was Dr. John Taylor, who taught me how a professional ought to be and conduct his career. There was the before mentioned Bill Ashley and so many others.

Honea Path is as much a part of who I am as the stories from my family about our family in the other small town of Saluda. If someone has to ask why I choose a small town as home, they do not know me at all. I tried the other way. It does not work. The small town values of hard work, a bit of honor and doing what’s right do better than the big time ways. Besides, Honea Path has the best of high speed internet access, some great local restaurants, great people, and is a high traffic area. Honea Path is a great place to live and has great people living and working in it.

So, you see, someone like me finds it easy to call home a place like that. That is why, when it comes to raw politics, I will always put Honea Path first. It is home. It is South Carolina.


  1. motorcycle manMarch 26, 2009

    Oh Shit, dude, you just pissed somebody in Columbia off. I like, though. Great writing.

  2. When Honea Path gets a an art museum, give me a call. Until then, enjoy life in the sticks, redneck.

  3. anon, call this cracker for what he is, a pale ass cracker.

    that town should change its name to cracker path. because only crackers want to live there.

    my president will deal with their cracker path asses.

  4. McCarty, do you pretend that you can have a culturally rich life in such a backwoods place? I do not care how good the internet there is, there is always going to be something subhuman about a place like your little town. Rednecks with internet access are still rednecks.

    Perhaps an educated man like you can at least find some limited culture in Greenville. But Honea Path? Please.

  5. Where the Hell is Honea Path?

  6. I live in Greenville & have always found HP to be charming. I suppose one really nice thing about HP is that the sort of people who don't live there, don't live there.

  7. What's wrong with life in a small town? Geez, some people really think a lot of themselves, don't they?

    Let's flash back to the Revolution, when the high society types of Charleston surrendered their city to Lord Cornwallis and chose to spend the next couple of years socializing and wining and dining with the powers that be. All the while the little people of rural South Carolina were fighting and dying in the woods and swamps to free the state.

    The final insult was when the men under Francis Marion, the few remaining Lowcountry and Pee Dee men who kept fighting, were told to not even enter Charleston after the British had left.

    The small town boys, the heroes of South Carolina, were not welcomed by the city crowd they had liberated. Even basic things such as liberty mattered less than keeping their fine city clean.

    The moral of this is that the people in the big cities depend on the small town country boys, not the other way around.

    Brian, your town is just fine in my book.

  8. Great article, Brian... I am a small-town boy myself... while I may live in the suburbs now, the small town will never leave my heart...

    And, I know exactly where Honea Path is... by the way, you forgot to mention that Honea Path is home to a great greasy spoon restaurant called "Lou & Perry's"... and I believe that cool little coffee shop is still on the corner in downtown...

    As for the haters... Those who never grew up in a small town will never understand the appeal of a small town...

    The cultural, pace, and excitement of the city is great... art & history museums, professional sports, speciality shopping, and the nightlife

    But the city just can't touch life in a small town... people are nicer and kinder... people take the time to befriend their neighbors... people go out their way to help other people... you don't find that as easily in the city...

  9. I like this one. It seems from the heart. You seem to really love that little town, don't you?

  10. Great blog, Brian.

    Much like Ninety Six, Saluda, Honea Path, Abbeville, etc., small towns define all that is good with the world.


  12. Honea Path sucks.

  13. HP ResidentMarch 27, 2009

    Mr. McCarty:

    Since you think Honea Path is so great, what do you plan to do about the old Chiquola Mill sight or the ugly trains cars parked in town.

    I hear you are going to run for Mayor. Could you please tell us how you plan to deal with those eyesores? The current mayor can not be reached.

  14. working momMarch 27, 2009

    Brian McCarty for Mayor? You gotta be joking. But, you folks down there did vote for that idiot Cindy Wilson.

    Railroads rule, rednecks drool.

    Get that, McCarty, Mayor or not.

  15. HP resident, I will work as best a private citizen can to make sure Honea Path gets the money it needs to not only deal with those eyesores, but with the public safety issues we face. I am like you, just a resident of this town. I hold no political power whatsoever, but I will do all any private citizen can to make Honea Path an even better place to live.

    You can email me your private concerns at, and we can work together to solve problems.

  16. I remember some of the stuff you mention from when I grew up in Honea Path, but I also remember when the feds investigated Duck Cooley, tons of narrow mindedness, bigotry, racism, corruption, extreme religious intolerance and more. A realistic view is that Honea Path, like most places has (and has had) some serious issues.
    I should also point out that Columbia isn't exactly the French Riviera either. Everywhere sucks in it's own unique way, even if it's mostly nice.
    Maybe you should listen to your friends a little more closely and have a little thicker skin.
    I'm sure Honea Path has progressed greatly just as the rest of the country but a nostalgic attitude has caused Honea Path to decline greatly. Maybe you should be looking ahead instead of back.