Orangeburg, South Carolina: Occasional Vignettes of my Hometown

I Remember Orangeburg

occasional vignettes of growing up in a very small Southern town. As an adult people always ask: where’s Orangeburg? I respond: “That amusing. When I grew up there although it was in the middle of no where people spoke of other towns in the county by saying, ‘it’s not far from Orangeburg.’

And we were the County Seat of Government! I think we still are.

Charles McCain age 8 or so in the sideyard of my grandfather's house

author Charles McCain in the side yard  of my grandfather Livingston’s house on Green Street. I caught these fish at Pinetop which my old Orangeburg friends will know where I am talking about. 

I remember:

When the Carolina Theater was in City Hall. It cost thirty-five cents for a movie ticket. A Coke was fifteen cents, popcorn was a dime. As kids we went to the movies every Saturday afternoon. (Most of us were not allowed to go to the movies on Sunday).  Often times people were working in the offices, all of which had glass doors. We’d put our noses up against the glass to see what they were doing.
When the movie was over, I would go over to Fisher’s Rexall on Russell Street and Middleton Street, go behind the counter and use their phone to call my mother to come pick me up. (Mr. Fisher’s son, Bert, was in Troop 45, our Boy Scout troop run by a great man, Lawrence Garrick).

The Stevenson Auditorium has taken the place of the Carolina Theater, I think but maybe the auditorium is a completely new building. I knew Mr. Stevenson who was the City Administrator for decades and went to our church with his family. He was a very, very nice man and had been a submarine officer in World War Two in the Pacific and had gone through some tough times being depth-charged by Japanese destroyers.

I was in Berry’s on the Hill one night with my Mom and Mr. Stevenson was there with Mayor Pendarvis and they were having dinner with Governor West who was a fine man. Mr. Stevenson came over and got me and brought to their table and introduced me to the Governor which was very thoughtful. He asked me if I was going to go to Carolina and play basketball.

“No, sir.”

(I was sort of a juvenile delinquent and smoked cigarettes and after my mother died I started drinking and smoking dope. Occasionally Trippy who reads my blog was a companion in these adventures along with…………”

If you grew up in Orangeburg with me you will remember Trippy who was a great guy and now is a respectable citizen with a beautiful wife and two beautiful little girls. I don’t think Trippy will mind me mentioning his name. We used to cut church occasionally and walk up to the laundromat in the Red and White shopping center and buy cigarettes from the machine).


BTW, Ned Pendarvis looks at my Facebook occasionally and so I wanted to say that Mr. E.O. (as my late brother called him) was the only person who was Mayor in all the years when I lived in Orangeburg. He was a very fine man and had a great deal of dignity while being very friendly. Quite the old fashioned Southern gentleman of the very best type.

When my brother became an adult moved back to Orangeburg and was on the City Council and then represented Orangeburg in the Legislature for two terms he told me he used to go by and sit with Mr. E.O. who I think had stepped down from being mayor after 40 years or something. They would talk about the old days in Orangeburg.

My later brother only won his campaigns for the legislature by less than 70 votes each time so naturally we called him “Landslide Will.” I think Mr. Mirmow ran his campaigns. He was an attorney and a very nice man.

Mr. Stevenson’s  son, Doug, went to high school with us and is a very nice guy, too. I hear from him occasionally. He was in the Peace Corps and lived in Melanesia or some God forsaken place in the Pacific for a long time. Married a beautiful woman from there and last I heard from him he was living in Manhattan.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: