NOTE: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this column are those of Michael Goings, the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Dillon Herald. He is solely responsible for the content of this article.
The mega movie, starring Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh, Gone with the Wind, was adopted from a novel by Margaret Mitchell. Most do not know that the novelist gleaned that saying from a poet named Earnest Dowson. The term “gone with the wind” is a metaphor. It describes the loss or ruin of something that the winds of war, political and social upheaval, cultural revolution, and other occurrences and influences that bring about a drastic and often violent overthrow of something that once existed. I am going to consider a few things today that were in common use or were common practices that are obsolete, outdated, and gone with the wind in our locale.
Drive-in Movie Theater
Since the idea to write this column and to consider the things we will be considering came as I passed by the spot where the drive-in theater used to be on South 301 Highway, it is only fitting that this once frequently patronized place of entertainment be the first to be mentioned of the things that have gone with the wind. I, like many of you, who were born and reared in our locale and is 60 years old and beyond, have some memories of the drive-in movie theater. It was one of the few places of entertainment in our area that was in business year-round. I remember that before Jim Crow and segregation was abolished, there was a section for Whites only. In front of it and closer to the big screen, there was a smaller section for Blacks.
May Day Observance and the Minturn Picnic
There were three major events for Blacks that generated much excitement and afforded them much entertainment and attendance that have long since gone with the wind. I will present them in the chronological order that they occurred each year. First, there was May Day that took place the first part of May at Gordon High School. Actually, we had two major events at Gordon each year – Homecoming and the May Day observance. Homecoming, though it was a major event with a parade and football game as its climax, in my opinion, came in second place to the May Day festivities at Gordon High School each year. First, there was the gathering of the student body from 1st through 12th grade along with many visitors. Then, the seating of the May Day king and queen, who came from the class that had raised the most money. Next, the court herald would step forth with his proclamation of, “Hear ye, Hear ye! By the decree of Mr. H. L. Perry, we have gathered to enjoy our May Day observance. Let the festivities begin!” In my estimation, the greatest of the heralds in the history of May Day at Gordon High School was a fellow named J. D. Rogers from the class of 1965.
Then, there was the Minturn Picnic that occurred after the third Sunday in August. Of the major fairs that routinely came to our area, which consisted of the Minturn Picnic, the Skillet Fair, and the Bluff (that took place on the border of Marlboro and Dillon Counties in Marlboro County), the Picnic was the most popular. Many people who had migrated up north would plan and take their vacation time during the week of the Picnic. All of these times of fun, entertainment, and often the reuniting of friendships have for a long time gone with the wind leaving unceasing fond memories of yesterday.
Rotary Phones, Record Players, and Typewriters
There was a time when things like rotary telephones, record players, and typewriters were just as common to us as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. Few of us baby boomers and generations before us could not have imagined in the heyday of these things that they would one day be obsolete and merely a reminder of how much and how fast things have changed. I remember the late Ms. Leola Bethea. She was an excellent teacher. She was very empathetic and patient with me in her endeavor to teach me the skill of typing without chicken pecking on the keyboard. In respect and recognition of Ms. Leola Bethea, she certainly did not fail me as a teacher. I failed her as a student who never learned the keyboard and until this day, I am still chicken pecking. Both the rotary telephone and the record player have become like the typewriter. They are relics of the past that will never experience a resurgence, due to a lack of demand and usage.
Outhouses and Hand Pumps
With these final two things that I will consider that are gone with the wind, I will say good riddance. Perhaps many of you, who were fortunate enough to live in a town or be a member of a family who could afford both running water and a bathroom indoors, will not be able to relate to what I am considering in this section. However, there are some of you who will fully understand the joy I had when the days of the hand pumps and outhouses were obsolete. Of these two things that were once very commonly used in Newtown and much of the rural areas of Dillon County, the outhouse was the most detested. This was especially the case when it was not maintained and kept in a sanitized state, as a few were. Regrettably, ours was a place where spiders lived. Since it smelled of feces and urine, once you left using it, you carried its foul smell with you. Of course, you had to avoid being around people for a while until the odor was dissipated by the wind. The hand pump was not as bad to use as the smelly and often spider infested outhouse. It was pretty reliable, except when it needed a new packing on it to keep it primed. We had to keep a bucket of water near our pump to prime it when the packing had gone bad. Again, I repeat good riddance that neither of these things are in usage today. They have gone with the wind to never come back in general usage again.