Today would have been Dad’s 88th birthday. I thought I would be OK and brave it out on this first birthday without him, but that just didn’t happen. Everywhere around I see reminders, and it’s hit me harder than I would have thought. I thought holidays would be bad – the first Thanksgiving and Christmas, … Continue reading Missing Dad
Monday we learned that Laura’s uncle, Larry Plews, had lost his battle with kidney cancer. Uncle Larry was an aerospace engineer, having worked at NASA during the 1960’s, and eventually working at Edwards Air Force Base as a civilian contractor. Larry authored several books on aerospace design and testing. Upon retiring from Edwards AFB, Uncle … Continue reading Goodbye, Oregon Storm Watcher
A weird chain of events led to an interesting investigation into history tangentially related to my family. This morning I participated in a webinar on the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program, sponsored, in part, by the University of South Carolina Libraries. One of the presenters mentioned the possibility of doing genealogy research using the archive. I decided to try a few search terms associated with my family history to see what I found. I actually didn’t find much about my family, but I did find another tale, full of conflict, misunderstandings, racism, and corruption.
The newspaper archives are hosted on the Library of Congress website as part of their Chronicling America series. The newspapers cover all states from 1836 – 1922. Any family search would have to be within those target dates.
I decided to start with my grandfather, Rev. O. E. Taylor, since he would fit within the tail end of that time frame. I restricted my search to issues of the Laurens Advertiser. Unfortunately, his name didn’t return any hits, even when I expanded it to all newspapers in the state. It did return a Rev. E. O. Taylor, who was an episcopal bishop in the state at the same time.
I changed tactics and started searching for churches where I knew my grandfather had preached, and there I hit pay dirt. The first term I tried was “Long Branch.” I grew up in Long Branch Pentecostal Church, which was founded by my grandfather and which my father later pastored. My grandmother taught at Long Branch School, and I have lots of other relatives in the area. The term returned several hits in The Laurens Advertiser, almost all of them relating to an issue of religion being taught at the public Long Branch School. Continue reading “The Unknown Tongue”
And so it was only two of us left. Chip had to get back to family, and Stephen had to get back to church. Houston and I got up, had a quick breakfast, then packed up the mountain of remaining food and gear into our trucks. At the Devil’s Fork State Park store we checked out and each bought souvenirs. We both bought copies of Claudia Hembree’s “Jocassee Valley” book, and I bought two more stickers for my kayak.
Sometimes after weekend like this it’s nice to step back and do an overview. We decided to do that quite literally. We left the park and headed up Highway 130 toward the Bad Creek Project. We had taken Laura’s mom up here for a picnic sometime back, and it has fantastic views of Lake Jocassee. This time, on our way up, we encountered a family of turkeys.
At the overlook itself we had clear views of the places we had paddled the day before. We could see where the Whitewater River enters the lake, and even had a view of the Lower Falls. We could also see where we had stopped for lunch and other places along our paddle route.
As we suspected, after our long haul we were not going to be up for a late-night trip. Our nephew, Chip, joined us after work, and we set about the task of putting together dinner. It seems that each of us had brought enough snacks for all of us. There was more food than the four of us could possibly eat. Stephen had prepared venison spaghetti for us, and we followed that up sitting out on the deck of the villa telling family tales and enjoying the evening in general.
The next morning we took our time getting started. We fixed a huge breakfast with grits, eggs, bacon, toast, and more venison, this time in sausage format. It looked a little off-putting, but tasted fine.
With such a gluttonous start, it was hard to imagine another paddling trip, but we headed out anyway. Stephen, Houston, and I walked down to where our boats were chained and set out. We would meet Chip at the boat ramp, where he would have his boat and the rest of our gear for the day. Continue reading “Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part Three”
…or “Becoming One with the Water”
Houston and I got up early, thinking we might do an early paddle. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating. It started pouring, and I kept checking the weather radar app on my phone. It looked like it was going to clear up soon, though, and it did.
Stephen got an early start and met us at the villa. After greetings, pleasantries, and settling in, we were anxious to get on the water. We decided that rather than dragging the boats down the trail to the beach, we would toss them on Houston’s truck and drive around to the boat ramp reserved for the villas.
Down at the ramp we readied the boats, as low clouds hung over the mountains to the north.
For this trip we decided to do a route Houston had done before, and I had done several times. We were ging to paddle up to Wright Creek Falls first, then see where we could go from there. The weather was still iffy, so I didn’t know how far we might make it.
Out on the lake there were loons – and not just the ones in kayaks. There was the distinctive loon call, and the birds proved themselves to be amazing divers. Stephen and Houston thought one had drowned given the amount of time it was under. Continue reading “Brothers Retreat at Jocassee – Part Two”
It was Stephen who first suggested it. The three Taylor brothers needed to take some time away for a multi-day paddling trip. We would pick a long route and camp along the way. Then reality set in and the plan got altered somewhat. Having slept on the hard ground enough in our lives, we decided that renting a villa at Lake Jocassee would be even better. A weekend in March was appointed, and I called and reserved our villa at Devil’s Fork State Park.
Having to plan that far in advance can be fraught with unexpected peril. I had work issues that I was afraid would delay me. Stephen had pastoral obligations that delayed his arrival and Houston had…cats. I finally got all my gear packed and arrived at the park at about 3:30 for check-in.
The term “villa” was a better choice than “cabin” when the park named these things. They are quite nice (as well as being reasonably priced.) We had a full kitchen, two bedrooms, fireplace, and even satellite TV. This was a far cry from when I last stayed up here in a tent with Houston.
Houston and I had a day off in common, so it was time for one of our mid-winter photo treks. I really like exploring the area south of Abbeville, McCormick, and Edgefield. That part of the state is rather remote and rich in history, including our family history. Even though we’ve been down that way several times, I never seem to cover all of it, so it was ripe as another target.
Our exploration group was larger than usual. In addition to the two of us, Houston’s wife, Lynda, was coming along, as was our sister Glynda. The plan was to meet Houston and Lynda Sunday morning in the parking lot of Calhoun Falls Pentecostal Holiness Church. From there we would head south and see what we would find. Our route would take us past paddling venues, ghost towns, fire towers, and several important genealogy spots. It had the makings of a perfect day. Continue reading “McCormick County Photo Trek”
Another Christmas has come and gone, and again this year we’ve spent it in Florida with Laura’s sister, Amy. It’s been a busy week, with boat trips, paddling trips, and explorations of the area. Normally I would have done several posts, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it. So I’ve combined a few items in one long post. Here are a few highlights and photos…
We took a couple of trips to the beach. First was a trip up to Avalon Beach on North Hutchinson Island after a shopping trip to Vero Beach. The wind was whipping, and the waves were higher than usual. We didn’t stay long at the little park, but just parked so that Laura’s mom could look out over the ocean and we could walk on the beach.
It seems ridiculous to say that this has been a tough week. It most certainly has. Even having time to prepare, Dad’s passing was not easy for us, and his funeral on Saturday, while a celebration of his life and knowing he is now in a better place, was emotionally draining. The week began with … Continue reading Many Thanks