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Archive for the ‘Gaffney’ Category

The Peachoid

Li’l Gaffney, SC, my home town, has unexpectedly found itself in the thick of the Republican primaries. Opponents of Mitt Romney are focusing on the closure of a photo scrapbook factory in 1992. It closed with 150 jobs lost after being acquired by Bain Capital, the private equity firm headed by Romney. But according to the New York Times, most people in Gaffney hardly remember the plant and are rather embarrassed by all the attention it has drawn.

Here’s a link to the Times article, and here’s their slideshow of Gaffney. I haven’t lived in Gaffney for many years and since my parents are no longer alive, I only get back occasionally for Vassy family reunions and Gaffney High School reunions. But I certainly know Henry Jolly and Cody Sossamon, who are in the slideshow, and I keep up with some old Gaffney pals via Facebook.

The photo is of the Peachoid, the world’s largest water tower in the shape of a peach, and a landmark to anyone traveling along I-85 in South Carolina. I took it on a GHS class reunion trip.

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This is what happens when you scan a half-tone, alas

An old high school friend of mine died last week after a battle with lung cancer. We had drifted apart after our college years and I hadn’t seen him in a long time, but prior to that Bill Wheeler was the unquestioned center of a group of friends that meant a great deal to me.

We started out a couple of years apart, but I skipped my 10th grade and he took 5 years to graduate from Duke, so we ended up as classmates after all.

Bill . . .

  • taught me about classical music (Pictures at an Exhibition, Appalachian Spring, Petroushka)
  • along with Norman Littlejohn, built a kick-butt set of “Sweet Sixteen” speakers (16 cones per unit)
  • taught me how to drive a Pontiac Bonneville using only your knees to steer (kids, do not try this at home)
  • inspired me to go to Duke
  • chided me (correctly) for being sarcastic to my sisters
  • showed me how to change gears on a stick shift without using the clutch (this is actually a very useful skill)
  • originated our Bastille Day parties, featuring cherry bombs inside scale model fortresses made of juice cans (they blowed up real good; Mrs. Wheeler was a saint)
  • talked their high school-teacher boarder into a midnight swim with us in their pond; totally innocuous, but she nearly had a heart attack when she realized we were high school students
  • probably thought up the phrase “crotch your can” (to hide beer if the cops were to stop us)
  • showed me it was OK to use your brains
  • could actually talk to girls

The first of the Sabachis to go. We’ll really miss you, Bill.

Update: there will be a memorial service for Bill Wheeler Saturday June 12th, 2010, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2233 Woodbourne Ave, Louisville, KY 40205.

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VassyReunion2009sm

June 14th, 2009 in Beaverdam community, Cherokee Co., South Carolina. I’m a Vassy on my mother’s side. This was the first time I had been to one in years. Visiting, singing old hymns, food — ham, chicken, barbecue, chicken salad, pound cake. . . .

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Gaffney cooling tower -- NYTimes

Gaffney cooling tower -- NYTimes

U.S. 29 Journal: More on Gaffney.

All right, my home town is famous for more than just the world’s largest water tower in the shape of a peach. It’s also the home of the world’s largest nuclear cooling tower that housed a major motion picture. Started but never finished in the 1970’s by Duke Energy (then Duke Power), the abandoned cooling tower became the set for underwater scenes in James Cameron’s The Abyss starring the estimable Ms. Mastrantonio, in 1989. (Wouldn’t it have been great if James Cameron had cast Andie McDowell in the part? She’s from Gaffney! Grew up around the corner from me!)

In recent years the growth of interest in nuclear power has led Duke to reopen the idea — of building the plant, that is, not remaking The Abyss — though not without some opposition.

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the Peachoid

The Peachoid

The Peachoid

One of the great things about my home town of Gaffney, SC, is the Peachoid, a one-million gallon water tower in the shape of a peach. I took this picture at my high school reunion in 2004.

It used to be that no one knew where Gaffney was. Now everyone traveling I-85 between Atlanta and Charlotte, NC (a very busy road) knows Gaffney.

At one time Cherokee County produced more peaches than all of Georgia. It was shown in the Albert Brooks movie Lost in America; however, it was used to indicate their entering Georgia! Cretins.

As part of my blogging experiment, I created a blog about US 29, which I-85 essentially follows. 29 runs right through Gaffney, and my two sisters still live within a few miles of it, in South Carolina and in Virginia. One day we may take a road trip and follow 29 from Pensacola to Baltimore. Then we’ll complete the blog.

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