Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Welcome to Walhalla, South Carolina





Sharing a few signs I found amusing got me into deep trouble with the dour people of Marion, North Carolina.



And even though I got a laugh from some things I saw in Walhalla, there’s a big difference. I like Walhalla. In fact, Oconee County is one of my favorite places to wander and explore, especially this time of year. And nothing refreshes quite like a mouse popcicle [sic]. Which is something you can find on your way into Walhalla.


Is that cool or what?


Admission to Oconee Reptiles is only three bucks, and if you’re into mouse popcicles…or live snakes…I’ll bet it’s worth the money.




After I rolled past a few Confederate monuments, I parked in downtown Walhalla and went for a walk. It’s too bad that Wright’s Variety Store ("for all your Confederate, Rebel & Redneck Christmas presents") was closed, but window shopping was fun. Still, I wish I could have tried on a pair of those Confederate Lycra Hot Pants, or picked up some rebellious bumper stickers.






And I would have asked the proprietors of Wright’s why they sell Confederate Doormats.


To me, the idea of wiping your dirty boots on the Rebel Flag every you get home is disrespectful and unpatriotic.




I mean, who would purchase (and use) Rebel Flag Doormats?


Yankees?


But that's Wright's Variety Store for you. Something for everyone!




I did have an opportunity to spend some money in Walhalla. At $1.43 a gallon for regular gas, it’s the place to fill your tank, that’s for sure.

And if you’re hungry, Walhalla, SC – like Marion, NC – has a Bantam Chef. I did NOT find out how their BLT’s compared with those from the Bantam Chef in Marion, but I suspect they’re much better.

Everything’s better in Walhalla!

Tucked in behind the Bantam Chef is the Oconee Heritage Center, and it is not to be missed. Actually, I mentioned this place recently and had been looking forward to a visit. Here’s what I wrote back in October:

In June 2002, some Atlantans travelling the Chattooga River made a remarkable discovery. An odd-shaped log protruding from the riverbank was, in fact, a 32-foot long dugout canoe constructed in the Cherokee style, but with metal tools. Carbon dating of the yellow pine canoe suggests it was crafted around 1760. The ancient canoe is on display at the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla, South Carolina. Now that I’ve learned about the old canoe, it’s gone straight to the top of my list of things to see in Walhalla.

As an extra treat, they have a similar canoe recovered from the Keowee River just this past summer.

It’s a really fun, and free, museum where I plan to spend some more time soon.

For another jewel in the Walhalla crown, I highly recommend the Oconee County Public Library.

It’s an impressive, if not beautiful, building. The staff is friendly and helpful. And it’s open on Sundays.

Just a short drive from Walhalla, heading back toward Cashiers, is the Falls on Yellow Branch



…also, Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls:



Way back in 1880, Rebecca Harding Davis wrote about her travels through the southern mountains in a series of articles published in Harper’s. Sometime soon, I want to share her impressions of Highlands, NC, but for now, I’ll call on Ms. Davis for an account of her next stop after Highlands. She came down from the mountain and was just as impressed with Walhalla as I was.

And that was even BEFORE you could buy mouse popcicles there. If only she could see Walhalla today.

WOW!

The last word is yours, Rebecca. Take it:

From Highlands they followed the mountain road down to Walhalla, about thirtv miles distant. This is a settlement of Germans, who have built their new home among the flat South Carolinian fields in imitation of some well-remembered Prussian village left behind them long ago. 'I'he queer, gabled, white houses are half hid by roses and hollyhocks. An exquisite neatness and comfort pervades the whole place.

Along the centre of the immensely wide shaded streets are placed the town wells, weighing stands, and platform for public meetings. The old women sat on their porches knitting tranquilly in the hot glare of the sun, and pretty blue-eyed girls peeped coquettishly out of the vine-covered windows at Farjuice and his load of battered adventurers, who found the thrift, cleanliness, and homely beauty thus suddenly opened to their eyes a violent contrast to all the grandeur, the dirt, and appalling laziness which they had left behind them in the mountains.

They remained in this village a couple of days, to shake off the dust and fatigue of travelling. Farjuice went on eight miles farther to Seneca City, to see, for the first and probably the last time in his life, a train go thundering past. He planted himself by the side of the track, his legs firmly apart, and when the Northern Express rushed toward him, clutched his wide-brimmed hat with both trembling hands.

When it was gone, he nodded gravely. "Ah’ thank Gord ah’ don't belong to these flats," he said; and mounting his wagon, drove straight back to his native wilds.

Our travellers, when they had rested, procured horses, and rode back into Rabun County, in Georgia - a region of steep cliffs, striking valleys, and tumultuous water-falls. Along the Chattooga River lay many farms of a few acres, worked as often bv black owners as white. Indeed, all through the mountainous region of the South may be found the comfortable little cabins and "own patches" of the freedman, which show that, like all other human beings, he puts more intelligence and energy into his work when it is for himself than for others. His one ambition is to own ground, simply because that was heretofore the strongest mark of difference between himself and the white men about him.

The cotton fields of the plantations were red now with their blood-colored blossoms, and the tender shoots of the young rice tinged the bottom-lands with pale green.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

How come the floor mat is $22, the same price as the Sarah Palin Southern Heritage wear? Clearly more material in the mat and the Stars and Bars are less distorted.

I'm putting Walhalla on my vacation planner this year. Depression or not Rupert is taking me someplace nice! And with Mousicles!

Anonymous said...

Git yer Stainless Banner bikinis rite cheer, yessiree.

Horrifying. My grandmother's long-lived mother referred to the War of Northern Aggression as "The Late Unpleasantness". And yes, you could tell it was capitalized.


Class of '74