Category Archives: Opinions

Summertime fun

For several reasons I always looked forward to summertime. The last day of school was greatly anticipated. Kinda like saying “Amen” to a six-month-long prayer or blessing, or eating the last morsel of cake or pie. A time of adventure, a time of discovery — and sadly a time to be Daddy’s slave or convict, at least in our minds.

I might add that a dad’s mind and a boy’s mind don’t work — did I say work, there’s that word again — the same. He’s thinking “look at the pulpwood in that pine,” while the boy is thinking, “this pine tree would make one heck of a treehouse.”

Speaking of treehouses, Joe McCollum and I constructed our best-ever treehouse in the pine thicket immediately above the yonder side of the lake. It had it all — a roof, floor, window and a hinged door, all of which were compliments of a certain George W. O’Shields. However, somehow we forgot to ask him if we could borrow all that extra building material.

The entry up to the house was via several small wooden boards attached to two spindly pine trees adjacent to the house. One afternoon, I discovered that No. 8 nails were not long enough to support oneself while climbing up and down this contraption called a ladder. One of the steps pulled free as I started to descend, and I vaguely recall examining it during the nanosecond it took me to fall the 15 feet to the ground, knocking

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It’s coming, and nobody can stop it

It’s coming, and nobody can stop it. We know it’s out there, just beyond the horizon. But we can already hear the rumble of the approach.

Can we stand another one? It isn’t a tornado, a hurricane, a typhoon, an earthquake or another world war. It’s the 2020 election looming.

There’s nothing wrong with having an election. We have had many in the past, and hopefully more to come, unless we regress and embrace a monarchy. I welcome the debates. They are often interesting, if somewhat predictable, unless we have to suffer a rogue candidate.

We have problems, and we need some thoughtful, practical solutions.

I don’t look forward to a blitz of negative political ads. And the blame game doesn’t take us far above third grade.

It essentially consists of grown-ups saying that it isn’t their fault things went wrong. It’s

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Courier Letters to the Editor 6-12-19

Dear Editor,

Last week, I wrote on obvious solutions for Hagood Mill. Those solutions included a $5-$10 admission charge for the third Saturday events, with children 12 and under getting in for free.

In addition to those options, they could set up a GoFundMe page to raise money. The animal shelter in Liberty did that last year, and it paid them the money they needed.

They could also apply for grants.

Diane Finley



CU, United Way studying hunger in Pickens County

Are people going hungry in Pickens County? Based on requests for United Way funding, calls from neighbors in need and anecdotal stories about hungry children, we would conclude, yes, hunger or “food insecurity” is an important issue in Pickens County. How do we really know?

In July 2018, Clemson University named Dr. Leslie Hossfeld as dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences. Her field of expertise? Food insecurity! As a new resident of the Upstate, Dr. Hossfeld also wanted to understand the needs of her community.

It was only logical that Clemson University and United Way of Pickens County would join forces to conduct an extensive community-wide food insecurity study in Pickens County. Under the leadership of Dr. Catherine Mobley, a leading professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, a

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On hamburgers and helium

Now that I have finished downing a delicious Mexican Burger from Serendipity Cafe in downtown Easley — which, by the way, was recently voted the Best Lunch in Pickens County by the readers of the Courier — I will sit back and purport to write a column for you.

Speaking of burgers, here’s some more news from across the pond that you may not have heard about. McDonald’s UK has just introduced the South Carolina Stack: “Two 100 percent British and Irish beef burgers with bacon, smoky cheese, a Carolina Gold BBQ sauce, onions and lettuce in a cornbread-style bun.”

Now if that doesn’t start your lips to smacking, I don’t know what to do for you.

What I’m wondering, though, is why McDonald’s is selling the South Carolina Stack in the United Kingdom but not in the United States — not even in the sandwich’s namesake state.

And I’m wondering if we South Carolinians ought to be getting some royalties or something out of the use of our state’s name and sauce to sell hamburgers overseas. Perhaps this is something our burger-loving commander-in-chief ought to look into. Forget tariffs — give us royalties.

While we’re at it, I think the Brits still owe us a lot for the grief they gave us back in the Revolution and the War of 1812, not to mention how we saved their royal hind ends in World War I and World War II.

But, blimey, all they want to talk about is breaking away from the European Union. Meanwhile, they’re gobbling up a variety of wonderful burgers from McDonald’s “Great Tastes of America” specialty line.

We’ve already missed out on the New York Stack, which was available from May 1-14. It was two beef burgers, bacon and chunky coleslaw on a sesame seed bagel. The Mississippi Stack, which featured bacon, onion relish and a “rich and sticky BBQ sauce,” and

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How the Doodle got its name

I think most folks know that the Pickens Doodle was named for some insect known as a “Doodlebug,” but I can find no record of anyone having ever specified just exactly which insect that was and why it would be associated with the train.

Well, I have done a fair amount of research on the subject, and I can say with some confidence that in the 1890s, when the Pickens Doodle made its historic maiden voyage down the tracks, it came to be known for its similarity to the larval stage of the antlion.

The larva of the antlion, known to generations of children, is a little bug that feeds on ants and captures them by making a conical tunnel in sandy soils. The tunnel is rimmed with a mound of loose sand, and when an ant approaches, the doodlebug waits in the bottom of the hole for the ant to lose its footing on the edge of the sand trap. The antlion, with its wicked-looking mandible claws, clamps down and then pulls the hapless ant into its lair.

Children (including myself) have for time immemorial obtained some amusement by taking a blade of grass, a small twig or a pine needle, and sticking it down in the doodlebug’s tunnel, which the bug grabs and holds on tight. The child then pulls out his catch and

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Who do we stand up for?

Americans fought, died, were wounded and were captured in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.

The North Korean ruler, Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current dictator, secured supplies and training from the Soviet Union and a steady supply of soldiers from communist China. Grandpa had been a major in the Soviet army during World War II and joined the Communist Party.

Korea had been ruled by the Japanese since 1910. After the war ended, America and the Soviet Union agreed to divide the country at the 38th parallel, forming North and South Korea.

Kim Il Sung, an ambitious dictator, wanted to unite the country under his dictatorship.

With help from the Soviet Union and China, he fought against the United States and other United Nations forces for three years. At the end, more than 1 million people were killed, and the country was still divided.

Approximately 36,000 American soldiers died in Korea during the war, and about 100,000 were wounded. As of April of last year, according to data from the Pentagon,

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Never shoot a skunk in a barrel

One blustery and cold November day, I headed to the barn to milk the cow. I had to stop first at the corn crib to get the sweet feed. Sweet feed was used to get the cow occupied with eating so she would hold steady while being milked.

Just as I opened the corn crib door, I heard something in the sweet feed barrel. Ever so carefully, I peered over the top of the barrel and saw a striped kitty or pole cat — some call it a skunk — in the bottom of the barrel helping himself to sweet feed. Well, the furry intruder didn’t know who he was messing with.

I promptly headed to the house and came running back with my old .22 rifle. In those days, you shot varmints with no questions asked. Well, I did just that, and he did it right back.

Actually, he may have shot first, because I was covered with his skunk perfume. I didn’t realize to what extent until I went back into the house.

Mamma was in the kitchen preparing supper, and there was no need to announce my presence. She promptly ordered me to get back outside and strip to my undies. As I recall, she brought me a jar of canned tomatoes and instructed me to clean my entire skinny little body with tomato juice.

It was quite cold there on the back porch mostly naked covered with tomato juice. A valuable lesson in life was learned that evening — never shoot a skunk in a barrel.

Paul O’Shield is a local native who enjoys writing about his time as a youngster growing up in Pickens County.


Courier Letters to the Editor 6-5-19

Suggesting a Hagood Mill solution

Dear Editor,

I am very upset, like a lot of people, that the director of Hagood Mill was fired! He obviously needs to be rehired.

I trust Betty McDaniel’s judgment, and when she resigned, I knew this shouldn’t have happened. I trust Danielle Yother and Dean Watson’s judgment as well.

That being said, I have an obvious single solution to this financial problem. They should charge a fee of admission of $5-$10 to the mill on their Saturday events, with children 12 and under being free. This way the people benefitting from the events will be paying for it.

As Olivia Fowler said, a nonprofit group is not expected to be profitable. If all else fails, add a 1 cent sales tax in Pickens County to pay for it. Also, groups like Blue Ridge Electric that raise money for charity can pay for the mill as well.

Diane Finley


Ungrateful  school board?

Dear Editor,

As a retired first grade teacher with a master’s degree in early childhood education and 29 years under my belt teaching, as well as

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Memories of homemade ice cream

As Grandpa slowly finished cranking the old wooden ice cream churn, the grandkids, drooling in their cups and bowls, eagerly awaited to devour the frozen contents much like lion cubs waiting to get at the entrails of their mom’s fresh zebra kill.

This was often the scene on many summer afternoons on our back porch when I was growing up on Shady Grove Road in Pickens.

One of my sisters, after marrying in the 1960s, moved with her new husband to the high mountains of North Carolina. After having two boys of her own, she would bring them down to visit their grandparents. Living in the relative coolness of the mountains, they found the Palmetto State a might hotter than expected. They delighted, however, in our summertime tradition of making homemade ice cream. It helped them cool off, as one of them said.

Sometimes on Saturday, but usually on Sunday after church and the big Sunday dinner, it was time for some ice cream.

There were always an abundance of grandkids around to help make the ice cream. “Help,” in this case, was a synonym for “get in the way.” Momma was the one who usually mixed the ingredients for the ice cream. She always used whole milk with three inches of cream on top, along with real sugar

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