We are merely driving through South Carolina this time. No time for more than just a cursory glance. We probably should stay longer. This is not your average state. None really is.
It’s late, so we opt for a meal in a chain restaurant. As chain restaurants go, this particular one is lower upper shelf. The nice thing about chains is they are familiar. Nothing really changes anywhere. Or so we thought. The greeting lady welcomes us asking ‘two for non?’. Huh?
You see, they speak differently south of the Mason-Dixon line. Very beautiful, slightly slower, slightly more rounded accent. Sometimes takes a while to get it, especially if you happen to be a non-native speaker. Taken aback I ask ‘two for what?’. The lady repeats the question ‘two for non-smoking?’. This is the first time in a couple of years when we hear this. New England states have no smoking at the workplace laws now, which mean no smoking at any restaurant or a bar. But you cannot grow tobacco in New England. In South Carolina you can grow about 65 million dollars worth of it a year. Which makes a difference.
Things take time in South Carolina. The state got around to certifying 19th amendment in 1973. In case you are wondering: this is the one that gave women the right to vote.
The state capital - Columbia - got incorporated as a city in 1854. Only 60 years after it was chosen to be a state capital. It’s touted as a great example of downtown revitalization so we stop for lunch. It’s noon in subtropic, which may explain the lack of crowds. Wide streets are part of the original set up. People believed that mosquitos cannot fly from one side to the other without starving. Columbia has been burned during civil war, so we try to be forgiving, but it’s obvious that once you let suburbs encroach on the downtown it’s hard to push them back. There are however several impressive and interesting buildings along the Main St.
Back on the highway I can barely keep up with a huge trucks which have no qualms overtaking you if you drive at the speed limit (70 mph here). Passenger car drivers seem to have strange notion of personal space squeezing just in front of us. Maybe it’s a result of couple of leisurely days on the parkway. We vow to avoid interstate highways from now on.