Are You From Around Here?

FAIRFIELD COUNTY – The old saying, “I didn’t grow up here, but I got here as fast as I could” holds true for many people in the town of Winnsboro, which longtime residents regard as a little slice of paradise off the beaten path. But if you are a newcomer, you can quickly catch up on Winnsboro’s local lore by following the Facebook group, “Growing Up in Winnsboro, S.C.”

Full of memories and photos, old friends there reminisce about people, places and events from their Winnsboro childhoods and young adult lives.

Many posts garner a huge amount of responses, sometimes numbering into the 200’s.

Some are sweetly nostalgic.

“Growing up in Winnsboro was wonderful,” Pat Styron posted in March. “We would play kick the can in front of my house – all the kids on my block – and there were a lot! We had a nice pool beside the ball fields and tennis court, and a Junior Teen Club every Friday night at the Y, which is now the Sheriff’s Office. What times all of that was. Such wonderful memories and wonderful friends.”

Other posts turn into threads about things that are floor-rolling funny.

Bowling Alley

Someone asked, “Does anyone remember the bowling alley behind the town clock?”

David Brown: “The little duck pins were interesting.”

Wayne Courtney: “15 of them.”

Pamela Shaw: “And the small balls. When I got to Carolina I had no idea how to bowl with a regulation ball with finger holes.”

And others, a little hair-raising.

Chemistry Lab

Sheryl Martin: “Didn’t someone blow up the chemistry lab at WHS? I think it was when my oldest brother Robert B. Martin went to school there, or maybe Richard.”

Robert B. Martin: “I set off a stink bomb in the girls’ bathroom!”

Tony Hill: “[Someone] blew up the toilet with a cherry bomb at the high school.”

Sheryl Martin: “That might be what I’m trying to remember!”

Benjamin Edward Drew: “I don’t remember anything very noteworthy in our class, but I do remember two incidents. One classmate squirted an eyedropper full of liquid at another classmate. They realized it wasn’t water when the spots where it hit the jacket started smoking.  It was hydrochloric acid. Another classmate, during an experiment involving phosphorus, jerked his applicator back from the experiment when the paper he applied it to started smoking. When he jerked it back, he accidentally touched his hair and it started smoking.  Apparently our teacher was pretty stressed out by the time our class started, because he would often excuse himself to the chemical closet and start smoking.”

Debbie Lewis: “I remember that!”

Samuel Clowney: “[Someone] blew the bookshelf off the wall in the hallway just up from the lunchroom – never got put back up either – nice bomb!”

Some recalled events, both unusual and common.

Lady Bird Johnson

Mary Croft: “I’m really telling my age now. How many of you remember when Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson came through Winnsboro on the train? I remember standing on the railroad bank on Golf Course Road. I was little but I do remember that. She was outside the train on the back waving!”

Belks

“Every year,” member Darlene Tate posted, “the Belk uptown would have 6 dresses for $24.”

Horse Show

“The horse show…” member Brett Collins posted. “Never had a horse but I was there each year!”

“Me too!” Vonda Harsey Jenkins replied. “Dreaming! Took me 30+ years but I finally got one!”

“It was one of the ‘social events’ for all ages in Fairfield County when we were growing up,” Teresa Grice-Ginn wrote.

“I rode in several shows,” Mary Ann Gunter recalled fondly. “My sister was the barrel racing queen back then.”

Who’s on First?

Christianandjosh Moore: “How many people shopped or worked at the A&P or the TGY?”

Grover Branham: “My buddy was the assistant manager there at TGY. Terry Heglar. George Pudance was the manager. Terry’s daddy was the manager of A&P, Mr. Braska Heglar.”

C Gail Heiner: “When was Terry at TG&Y? He was at the A&P when I was working at TG&Y. And the manager was Mr. Blackman.”

Grover Branham: “Terry’s daddy was manager at A&P, Mr. Heglar. Terry was assistant manager at TGY while George Pudance was manager, I think that was before Blackman.”

The Facebook group was created by former Winnsboro resident Marie Shafer, who remembers at age 4 or 5 being allowed to wipe the tables on a Sunday afternoon at the old Lamp Post Restaurant run by her grandmother, Christine Waters, and her Great Aunt Jean.

Winnsboro page create Marie Shafer | Contributed

Shafer grew up in Winnsboro but left to join the Air Force, then worked as the assistant director of the Wayne County Museum in North Carolina. She moved back to Winnsboro a couple of times, but settled down in Greenville, NC where for 10 years she has worked in cybersecurity.

One day her mother, Sandra Humpries, a lifelong Winnsboro resident, reminded her about an online group that Shafer had started while at the North Carolina museum, and suggested that Winnsboro needed one. Shafer agreed and set up the Facebook group. Her effort caught on quickly, displaying in hundreds of posts the community spirit and rich memories of Winnsboro.

“Back when I was a Pine Tree Player, acting in A Streetcar Named Desire,” Shafer said, “if I needed to know how to light an exhibit or some history fact I would call Pelham [Lyles, director of the Fairfield County History Museum],” Shafer said. Lyles, herself, is a frequent contributor to the Facebook group.

“My mother helps a lot too,” Shafer said, “always calling with something she’s heard around town, maybe a little gossip or something that’s happening.”

The group becomes more active every day, filled with posts that draw together a warm sense of fellowship and love for the town as well as a wistful longing at times for a past, simpler life.

“Who remembers Hoots uptown?” Darreyl Davis posted. “I can remember my mom taking me up there to get the best ham and cheese sandwiches in town. It came with chips and a pickle. I really loved that spot.”

“Josephine cooked,” Jeff Spires recalled.

“I bought her [Josephine’s] cheese and chicken salad by the quart, so good,” Lou Anne Brigman Atkerson wrote.

“That was the ‘place to be’ for lunch with the ‘cool kids’,” Shannon Cooper Ransden recalled.

“I miss Hoots so much!” Stephanie Seibles chimed in.

The group also serves as a great connection between different generations.

Darlene Tate recalled how her dad, Buck Loftin, always had a big garden.

“I picked six bushels of butter beans for $4 a bushel. At that time, I couldn’t stand that garden. Sure do wish I had appreciated it then. I had everything I needed and most of what I wanted. Times were so much easier then… and they were good.”

“Winnsboro was a great town for me to grow up in,” Ben Woodruff posted. “I would not trade it for anything.”

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: To read more posts, click here.


Ashley Ghere contributed to this story.