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.