I had gone to the Wednesday practice round of The Masters golf tournament; an event with tickets so scarce that you have to win a lottery to be able to pay a hefty fee to just watch the guys practice. My friend Tom was gracious in inviting me to this event. Driving the four hours down to Augusta, Georgia also gave me a day to bicycle around South Carolina on the way home.
There are never hotel rooms available in Augusta during Masters Week, but I found a very low cost space that Wednesday night seventy miles away at the Super 8 Motel in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Now that I have lived in North Carolina for 28 years and can comfortably call myself a North Carolinian, I can seriously start giving South Carolina a hard time.
It was early April, but the evening was already steamy as I sprinted across the wide but lightly traveled highway between my motel and the Original House of Pizza. I had biked around town a little before dark, and searched on the internet, and this Eye-talian place seemed to be the safest bet. And it was really quite nice; the menu had a lot more than pizza. They even offered “chableese” by the glass.
The next morning I spent about four hours bicycling around Orangeburg and its vicinity. I guess they do not see a lot of tourists here. “The Garden City” (population 13,964) has some lovely gardens along the Edisto River. I do not take too much offense that separation of church and state is apparently not taken seriously.
The rich people in Orangeburg choose to live out of town in what looks like a flood plain along that same Edisto River; new houses in a new neighborhood, mostly in a traditional style. Golf always adds panache to any address; what seems to be the toniest street in town is called Putter Path. It is right down the street from the Orangeburg Country Club.
Relatively close by, on a different street, there was even a piece of modernism.
I guess some people do not realize that other people may take offense at the idea that the wealthy and white want to live on a plantation!
Back downtown there is a Confederate monument.
Despite this monument, the heart, soul, and current economy of Orangeburg seems to be with the African American community. Orangeburg is the home of two predominantly African-American universities; South Carolina State, and Claflin University. It is the site of the “Orangeburg Massacre” of 1968, where three African-American students were shot and killed by the state highway patrol in a demonstration over the integration of a bowling alley.