Remembering Cale Yarborough

Remembering Cale Yarborough Tom Poland Posted 2/14/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThe breaking news alert held just 29 words.“Cale Yarborough, a NASCAR great, dies at 84. Known for his fierce toughness and grit, Mr. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times and the Southern 500 five times.”His death brought back memories...

A New Backroad Magazine

Backroad Portfolio A New Backroad Magazine Tom Poland Posted 2/12/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.net You cannot raise your ancestors from their grave, but you can appreciate how they lived. Just take a backroad deep into the countryside and perchance turn onto a dirt road. You’ll see old farms and their...

First Taste of Blackstrap Molasses

First Taste of Blackstrap Molasses Tom Poland Posted 2/9/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netMid 1950s, early morning on the farm, it was. Rivers of gold ran down the stack of pancakes on the old oak table. Butter pooled higher and higher and I expected it to spill onto the old table...

Broomstraw Brooms

Broomstraw Brooms Tom Poland Posted 2/7/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI call it broomstraw. Others broomsedge. Whatever you call it, it doesn’t kill my memories of my grandmother’s homemade brooms. About a yardstick long, they stood in corners throughout the house. That made them handy. They were simple. They were effective....

When the Border Boys Were Young

When the Border Boys Were Young Tom Poland Posted 2/5/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netBefore the photos, Robert Clark had been photographing architecture for ten years. I had been writing scripts for documentaries. Much earlier, during a teaching stint, I submitted a paper to an academic journal. That earned me an...

Bonham House—Last Of Its Kind

Bonham House—Last Of Its Kind Tom Poland Posted 1/31/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netIn Saluda County an old homeplace sits on brick piers. It’s as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar, but that wasn’t always the case. Some refer to the old homeplace as Flat Grove. Some the Bonham House. If...

Long Lost Lisbon

Long Lost Lisbon Tom Poland Posted 1/31/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.net“The oak was so big, five men could link hands and not reach around it.” On a clear December day I walked where about eight feet of water had retreated. Perhaps I walked where that oak’s roots reached deep into...

The Million Dollar Quartet

The Million Dollar Quartet Tom Poland Posted 1/29/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI go back now, back to August 1, 2012. That’s the day the University of South Carolina Press published Save The Last Dance For Me. Strange circumstances united me with the Society of Stranders, those dedicated shaggers. Together, we...

If A Photo Is Worth 1,000 Words …

If A Photo Is Worth 1,000 Words … Tom Poland Posted 1/22/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netWhy do we need cutlines? Simple. To better serve the reader. A cutline needs to be right. Long after the writer is gone, his work will be there for others to read. Come with me,...

Surprise At Surrender Rock

Surprise At Surrender Rock Tom Poland Posted 1/19/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netA Sunday before Christmas it was. With the gifts all wrapped, I had a bit of time. I wanted to see the monument where Mayor T.J. Goodwyn surrendered Columbia to Sherman on February 17, 1865. I set out for...

Running With Ghosts

Running With Ghosts Tom Poland Posted 1/3/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI dreamed I was in a football game again. Then I awoke. Such disappointment. Other than playing in a game again, the next best thing would be watching my old game films, an impossibility. Properly stored 16mm film can last...

A Way To Receive And Give Back

A Way To Receive And Give Back Tom Poland Posted 12/20/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netYou reach a point in life where you look backwards a lot. I recall my days studying Journalism at the University of Georgia. Turns out I chose the wrong discipline. I should have chosen Editorial but...

The Golden Gloved Artist

The Golden Gloved Artist Tom Poland Posted 12/18/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netDuring my not quite 10 years at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources I worked among talented illustrators, filmmakers, designers, photographers, and artists. I watched as they used pen and ink, paper, raw film, non-photo blue pencils and...

Bring Back Honest-To-Goodness Screen Doors

Bring Back Honest-To-Goodness Screen Doors Tom Poland Posted 12/13/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netWith winter knock, knock, knocking on their door, people are thinking of storm doors and weather stripping. Well, drafty old screen doors occupy my mind. Recent back-road expeditions have taken me across vintage screen doors—the original air conditioning—that...

There’s Just Something About A Barn

There’s Just Something About A Barn Tom Poland Posted 12/12/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netOn Highway 378 between Lincolnton and Washington, Georgia, stands a barn. I say a barn. It’s a home built to look like a barn. Or maybe it’s a barn converted into a home. I’m just not sure,...

Feathers Fit For A King

Feathers Fit For A King Tom Poland Posted 11/29/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI wanted to hunt birds when a boy. Problem was no one would take me hunting. Dad tried but hunting wasn’t in his blood. And so my hunting adventures lay between the covers of magazines and books where...

Capture A Country Store Christmas Feeling

Capture A Country Store Christmas Feeling Tom Poland Posted 11/27/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netSigning back-road books at Mast General has become a tradition. For four Christmases now, I’ve signed books at Columbia’s Mast General. This Christmas makes five. This store, rich with memories, is down on Main Street, as Bob...

One View, Two Civilizations

One View, Two Civilizations Tom Poland Posted 11/22/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netOn a November Saturday, I drove to the geographic heart of Georgia. The cool breath of autumn and a blue-sky day had pulled people outdoors. I rolled past yard sales and a classic car show into my first stop:...

The Luck Of The Draw

The Luck Of The Draw Tom Poland Posted 11/20/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netDecember 1, 1969, was no ordinary Monday. It was a day when your birthday was your destiny. In Athens, Georgia’s Benton Apartments my roommates and I were glued to the TV. CBS correspondent, Roger Mudd (His name really...

Ordering Please, One Big Boy

Ordering Please, One Big Boy Tom Poland Posted 11/8/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netDaddy set me straight. “If you want some spending money, get a job.” Thus did I work two jobs while going through college at Georgia. I delivered flowers for Carolyn’s Flowers, where I learned a bit about that...

Folk Artist Leonard Jones—Giving Old Tin New Life

Folk Artist Leonard Jones—Giving Old Tin New Life Tom Poland Posted 11/8/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netDuring my school days the yellow bus rolled me past chicken houses. In 1972, when I taught creative writing in Lincolnton, Georgia, I’d pass those houses each day on the way to class. At the...

Clawfoot Tubs Hold Memories

Clawfoot Tubs Hold Memories Tom Poland Posted 11/1/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netWhen I see a clawfoot tub, which is rare, four memories surface. First, I go back to my grandfather’s old homeplace. Next I go back to an abandoned home once magnificent. Then I go back to a farm in...

Ageratum, Wood, & Water

Ageratum, Wood, & Water Tom Poland Posted 10/25/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netOn a Sunday walk I spotted a splash of blue. Blue wildflowers. They say blue flowers are sometimes difficult to grow in gardens. “They say.” That was Dad’s go-to validation when he shared news back home. He’d come in...

Conifers’ Fragrant Pull On Memory

Conifers’ Fragrant Pull On Memory Tom Poland Posted 10/20/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI read that fragrances stimulate recall more so than any other sense. I knew from experience that it had to be true. You and I, we’re scentimental creatures … See what I did there? Think about your favorite...

Workplace Friends Best Come Naturally

Workplace Friends Best Come Naturally Tom Poland Posted 10/18/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI stumbled across an old magazine feature of mine and it made me recall stops I’d made along that long, winding road called “Career.” Some memories were good; some not so great. Let’s be honest. Is there anyplace...

Like A Scene From An Old Western

Like A Scene From An Old Western Tom Poland Posted 10/16/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netIt was 1985 when I spent three days in Reno. I didn’t shoot a man just to watch him die, Johnny, but I conjured up images of Old West gunslingers. And when I drove from Reno...

Your Special Tree

Your Special Tree Tom Poland Posted 10/13/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.net When I was a boy, come Thanksgiving, we observed a tradition that’s decidedly different today. Dad would mix some two-cycle gas, sharpen and oil the saw chain, and we’d scour woodlands and pasture edges looking for a red cedar....

My Father’s Razor

My Father's Razor Tom Poland Posted 10/4/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netNovember 15 my father will have been gone twenty years. Twenty years. Seems like yesterday when he lay in a bed at MUSC in Charleston. Seems like last night we were back home changing out his pajamas during all those...

The Morning Routine

The Morning Routine Tom Poland Posted 9/27/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netCome daybreak, my preferred time to get moving, I check on my neighbor’s flag. I check to see that his place is ok after another night of living in America, (thank you, James Brown), and to see if the wind’s...

Have Fireflies Left Us?

Have Fireflies Left Us? Tom Poland Posted 9/15/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netAmong sedges and along tree lines, across lawns and fields they’ll soon cease blinking. Maybe they’ve already ended their nights of miraculous lights. The experts say they left in August. They being lantern bugs, lightning bugs, or fireflies. I...

Coming Full Circle

Coming Full Circle Tom Poland Posted 9/13/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI felt like I’d been tied to the whipping post. I was as low as the proverbial snake’s belly. May 30 a tornado destroyed my Athens, Georgia, home. My marriage was floundering, and I found myself with nothing but the...

Glancing At Leaves

Glancing At Leaves Tom Poland Posted 9/6/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThis time of year I catch myself glancing at leaves. On walks through woods and bike rides along trails, I see the occasional red leaf. I glance again and see a few more leaves turning crimson. Soon red outnumbers green....

Catching Up With Lou Miller

Catching Up With Lou Miller Tom Poland Posted 8/30/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netNo. 87 lay on Buddy Bufford Field as still as a stone. Louis Miller, senior end, had broken ribs, but better days lay ahead. The undefeated Red Devils would beat Dade County to claim the 1960 Class C...

Learning Along The Estuary

Learning Along The Estuary Tom Poland Posted 8/15/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThe children of Sandy Island board a school bus boat for an eight-minute journey across the Waccamaw River to the mainland. There, they ride a traditional bus to public schools. A school bus boat brings to mind a floating...

Waterfall Country

Waterfall Country Tom Poland Posted 8/9/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netSeveral hikes proved easy. One proved tougher than nails. By the time we made it to the third waterfall of the day, an idea had firmly cemented itself. “Hiking to waterfalls is a grueling form of physical conditioning. Mountain terrain is...

The Miraculous Green Lizard

The Miraculous Green Lizard Tom Poland Posted 8/9/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netWe call it a lizard, except it’s not. It’s an anole, and it can re-grow its tail, “regenerate” in the words of scientists. Think about that. Something else to consider, the connection between a napkin holder I gave my...

The Ruins Of Chappels

The Ruins Of Chappels Tom Poland Posted 7/19/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netHighway 34. It’s my route east to places like Ninety-Six, Abbeville, and Greenwood. When I drive Highway 34, I’m in my element—the back roads, but some back roads don’t easily give up their secrets. I’ve written that you can...

The Air Collision Time Forgot

The Air Collision Time Forgot Tom Poland Posted 7/10/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI visit forgotten churches more than the church I call my own. I feel a haunting at an unfrequented church, a poignant peaceful feeling. I see pews, a pulpit, and the occasional piano. A hymnal now and then....

Outdoor Men Of Letters

Outdoor Men Of Letters Tom Poland Posted 6/29/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netBeing a native Georgian, I didn’t grow up reading South Carolina writers. Nor do I recall reading Georgia writers, but I read a lot. Hemmed in as I was by strict parenting and Georgia woodlands, magazines and books connected...

A Scrape In The Sand

A Scrape In The Sand Tom Poland Posted 6/28/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netSand washes away. Memories last forever.The year was 1982. That would have been South Carolina Wildlife magazines 28th anniversary. I worked in film then and I felt I was part of the magazine staff though I wasn’t. While...

The Beach That Was

The Beach That Was Tom Poland Posted 6/26/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netFrom afar the skyline looks like that of a city, and it is. Myrtle Beach’s skyline of hotels seems to dwarf the skyline of all other South Carolina cities. It even has a SkyWheel similar to Atlanta’s SkyView Ferris...

Lone Star, The Rambling Ghost

Lone Star, The Rambling Ghost Tom Poland Posted 6/14/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI’ve long felt that two of South Carolina’s prettier community names are Silverstreet and Lone Star. Silverstreet I’ve seen many times. Those names, evocative and atmospheric, charm the ear. One conjures up biblical streets of gold; the other...

My Father’s Failed Quest

My Father's Failed Quest Tom Poland Posted 6/12/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netDad had a saying. “I won’t let it whip me.” He prevailed over stubborn bolts, obstinate lawn mowers, welding projects, and just about anything that crossed his path, except one small, elusive critter. Hummingbirds. Oh he had no problem...

My Good Friend, Steve Blackmon

My Good Friend, Steve Blackmon Tom Poland Posted 6/5/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThe writing life introduces me to some memorable people. Steve Blackmon found me when his daughter, Myra, read my feature, “Remembering Danburg,” in an online journal of Southern culture. She told her father about my story and Steve...

Chasing The Ivorybill

Chasing The Ivorybill Tom Poland Posted 5/30/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.net“Chasing the Swamp Ghost” caught my eye, and I read Garden & Gun’s feature about photographer Bobby Harrison’s quest to capture irrefutable evidence that the ivorybill woodpecker still lives. As I read, I came across a vague reference to the...

My SC Wildlife Dream Machine

My SC Wildlife Dream Machine Tom Poland Posted 5/25/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI grew up in a large hardwood forest in Georgia, and I rambled in woods every chance I got. I saw deer, wild turkey, ducks, and coveys of quail. When they flushed, it sounded like a bomb going...

The Day The Sky Fell

The Day The Sky Fell Tom Poland Posted 5/23/23 By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netA beautiful blue-sky afternoon it was. As I walked back from my mailbox a freshly killed squirrel with half its head missing fell right in front of me. What a shock. I looked up to see a red-shouldered...

A Favorite Place

A Favorite Place Tom Poland Posted 5/23/23 By Tom Poland A Southern Writer www.tompoland.net tompol@earthlink.net Each spring I write of three places, three beautiful places where colonies of rocky shoals spider lilies bloom. One is quite accessible; one is perhaps the world’s largest colony, and the other, though difficult to...

When A Church Dies

When A Church Dies Tom Poland Posted 5/4/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netSome linger in woods. Some stand, for now, at the end or side of a dirt road. Some hide behind other buildings, and some haunt the edge of hamlets and villages.Abandoned churches. How does a church die? I know...

Making The Sea Bountiful

Making The Sea Bountiful Artificial Reefs & Memorial Fishing Grounds Tom Poland Posted April 26, 2023By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netEarly 1980s, it was. We put out to sink a ship. Waves tossed us about as we headed seaward to document the sinking of a Liberty ship. Seems it was the...

Moody Spring

Moody Spring Tom Poland Posted 4/25/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netRounding a curve on Highway 107, I saw water spurting from handsome stonework set in a mountain. Moody Spring, I knew we’d stop. I had no qualms about drinking the spring’s water. It had no taste. That’s what made it great....

Your Continental Divide

Your Continental Divide Tom Poland Posted 4/18/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netSomething trendy comes along that’s annoying and you resist. Some manager at work decides to implement a new work procedure. You don’t like it. “C’mon now, just go with the flow.” It takes courage to resist others. In going with...

Life’s Healing Elixir

Life’s Healing Elixir Tom Poland Posted 4/11/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.net A Sunday sojourn found me at Healing Springs near Blackville, South Carolina. There I stood on Gods Acre, property deeded to God. Palm Sunday it was, and processions came to be healed. Some came to slake a thirst driven by curiosity....

Drumming Up White Feathery Memories

Drumming Up White Feathery Memories Tom Poland Posted 4/4/23By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netLong before I moved to South Carolina, family vacation trips took us over Charleston’s “New Cooper River Bridge.” To be accurate, we drove over the Silas N. Pearman Bridge to Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island—destination surf and seafood....

Highway 61 Revisited

Highway 61 Revisited Tom Poland Posted 4/4/2023By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netFrom 22,000 miles high, a satellite dropped an uncanny merging of highway and music into my path. XM Radio played the comedic ACME siren whistle that rose, then fell smooth as silk. The second that whistle kicked off “Highway 61...

Memories Of Zebco Reels & Red Wrigglers

Memories Of Zebco Reels & Red Wrigglers Tom Poland Posted 3/30/2023By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI drive west, Georgia bound,and pass it yet again, a place that pulls at my heart. My father had a worm farm, and my grandfather’s country store had a minnow tank. Fishing meant everything to me...

Behind the Lens

Behind The Lens Tom Poland Posted 03/20/2023By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThirty-seven years ago I wrote “Worth The Wait,” a feature on photographing wildlife. South Carolina Wildlife magazine photographers Ted Borg, Robert Clark, and Phillip Jones gave me tips on seasons and subjects, cameras and lenses, film speed, light and color,...