Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Allendale is the New Radiator Springs

Quaint Buildings on Main Street of Small Town

Quaint Buildings...
Walker  Evans
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(Preface:  This post was inspired by a special section in this past Sunday's Post & Courier newspaper.  Click HERE to see it.)

My grandmother grew up in a wonderful, thriving South Carolina town called Allendale.  I used to love the stories she would tell me from her childhood.  She drove herself to school in her mother’s car at age 12, because she could.  She enjoyed walking along the main street in town, having a cold Co-Cola at the drug store, and visiting friends.  She also got into all kinds of mischief, but that's for a different post.  Everyone knew each other, and it was a safe, happy place to live.

Then Interstate 95 was built.  Cutting through the middle of the state, it swept up all the travelers and traffic from surrounding counties (including Allendale) and redirected them in a straight, fast line that went up and down the east coast.  The streets of Allendale went quiet.  Slowly, but surely, most of the population got up and left for greener pastures.  Now, boarded storefronts, unemployment, and poverty are the trademarks of this once-lively town.  It’s heartbreaking.

If you have a child the right age, you have probably seen the Disney movie Cars.  If so, you know what Radiator Springs is.  It’s the town where most of the movie takes place, and it is situated on the old, abandoned Route 66.  It suffers the same fate as Allendale.  A new highway was built, and no one ever comes anymore.
By the end of the movie, famous race car Lightning McQueen decides to call Radiator Springs home.  Bringing his team there infuses the town with new life.  By the start of the sequel, Cars 2, we see that Radiator Springs is a thriving, bustling town again.

So, what will it take to turn things around for Allendale?  Who will be Allendale’s Lightning McQueen?  I submit that some brave souls ought to go in there and establish some type of manufacturing facility that will create jobs/income for the community.  

Simultaneously and more importantly, one must educate people on how to open and operate their own small businesses.  This will create more jobs, more commerce, more community pride, more life.  People will stay.  People will work their way out of poverty.  Allendale can come back.  There are hard-working people there; this fact is established.  Lots of them rise at four in the morning and take a chartered bus to Hilton Head, where the jobs are.  They endure 14 hour days to bring home a check.  They want to work.

Dr. Benjamin Carson knows that education will liberate a person, and I agree.  Statistics show that poverty and crime tend to go hand-in-hand with functional illiteracy.  Going a step beyond illiteracy, though, education can also mean you are teaching people a skill or trade.  It all must be ignited and maintained, however, by giving hope and encouragement.  If each person begins to believe and strive, saying, “I can do this.  Let it begin with me,” then it will happen.

I wish Allendale were unique, but it isn’t.  There are towns very similar across my state, and across the nation.  Each one of them needs a Lightning McQueen.  Would you go and be a dying town’s Lightning McQueen?  What do you think it would take to revive a town like Allendale?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

And in review . . .

"Here it is—my novel. I'll be interested to hear your compliments." - New Yorker Cartoon

"Here it is—my...
David  Sipress
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I write articles on a little website called Squidoo.  Okay, it's not little.  It's fairly huge.  I really enjoy it, and I can write on a variety of topics.  I'm not locked in to one or two things.  I write as much as I like, or as little.  I'm my own boss, which I enjoy.  Along the way, I have written a few "book reviews."

I use this term loosely (hence the quotation marks), because I don't necessarily use all of the conventional,  professional guidelines for writing book reviews.  No one is hanging over my desk, demanding that I produce such-and-so article by 5pm.  Sometimes I skip some of the technical publishing info, because I know most of my Squidoo readers will read right across it without stopping, or not care about it.  Oh, I give them the title and the author, of course.  Genre makes it in there, usually.  If I pique their interest in the book, they are welcome to click in through one of the ads and buy it.  When there is a link to the actual book, it seems a waste of time to give people the Library of Congress control number.

I think back to some of my former English teachers, professors in college, and other intelligent literary types I have known.  I picture them shaking their heads at my sloppy work.  "Well, she didn't say a word about the book's organizational structure," I can hear one of them saying.  "She didn't even attempt to properly cite this.  Year, publisher, edition?" another one asks.  "This book's title isn't in italics!!" (Well, that last one is because I am still learning about html and struggling with being an "internet writer," not because I don't know any better.)

However, the internet is a strange, new animal.  When you have a link to the actual book on Amazon, I think that eliminates the need for the literary chemistry equation.  Don't you?

Squidoo pushes for good, quality content.  I try to oblige, as do other squids- er, writers.  I think we succeed, for the most part.  But it's very informal and folksy and conversational over there.  I like it, personally.  I've learned a good bit about a variety of topics including cooking, gardening, sewing, home decor, and more.

So without further ado, here are a few links to some of my recent "book reviews:"
Judge me, if you will.

Lunch at the Piccadilly by Clyde Edgerton

The Blessed Woman by Debbie Morris

The Fireman's Wife by Susan Farren