It’s a weird thing when home changes, just a little bit at a time.
I’ve lived in Greenwood for almost nine years now, and I like it quite a bit.
It’s a town that can take a punch and keep growing, a town full of contradictions and aspirations and progress.
Greenwood always has kind of had a chip on its shoulder, which I like. It has a unique energy, and I love living here.
But, it’s not home. Abbeville was, and always will be, my home.
It’s only about 15 miles away, but sometimes it feels like a million.
Every time I ride over there to visit family or to have dinner at the Village Grill or go to a football game at Hite Stadium, I feel oddly at ease. It’s as if I’m tethered there, and being anywhere else in the world is like pulling in the opposite direction.
I know that probably sounds strange. Or maybe not. Maybe you feel exactly the same way about your hometown.
I’m in Abbeville often, as my family lives there and my wife is employed there. Still, I feel oddly removed from the day-to-day rhythms of the little town.
I can still remember when the restaurant on the southern end of the Square, near Tommy Hite’s law office, was simply called Dendy Corner. I used to love their loaded baked potatoes. That restaurant is long gone now.
Remember when Poliakoff’s store was on the northern corner of Court Square? My mom used to take me there to get shoes when I was a kid. I used to hate getting sized up for shoes. I can still recall the way the store smelled, the way the wood floors creaked when you walked.
In Greenwood, we publish the Index-Journal every day. We update indexjournal.com throughout the day, especially during the week. We have numerous reporters, news and sports, and all those reporters are on Twitter and Facebook and all of that stuff.
In Abbeville, the newspaper — The Press and Banner — comes out once a week. When someone says “Have you seen the paper?” they mean THE paper, the only one that came out that particular week.
Virtually the entire Press and Banner is written by a single man: legendary reporter Henry Green. I hope Abbeville residents appreciate what they have in Green: A dogged, dedicated reporter who is well-respected by his peers.
Henry Green is a newspaperman in every sense of the word. One of the old-time newspapermen. It’s because of his diligence that I look forward to reading The Press and Banner every Sunday when I go to eat lunch at my grandma’s house.
That, and the fact I’ve got to keep up with all my Abbeville gossip.
YOU’RE PROBABLY WONDERING why Abbeville is on my mind today.
Really, it was on my mind all week.
Abbeville is Old South. Everyone knows that. The Birthplace and Deathbed of the Confederacy.
But, as I watch from just outside the bubble, things are changing there in subtle ways.
Court Square received a facelift not too long ago. Some people didn’t like it. Personally, I think it looks great. Love the decorative lamps. As long as they leave the bricks in the street alone, I’m good with it.
The town — old, set-in-its-ways Abbeville — even elected its first female mayor, Sarah Sherwood, in 2012. And she’s a transplanted Yankee at that. Wonders never cease.
She’s doing a good job, too, from everything I’ve seen. I like some of the ideas I’ve heard from city leadership recently.
But, sometimes a town can change in a way that tugs at the heart. What once was constant suddenly comes to an end.
Such was the case with the recent passing of 62-year-old Tommy Mabry, the longtime town fixture. Mabry, who had been sick with cancer, died Feb. 1 at the McCall Hospice House in Simpsonville.
As you might have read in Index-Journal reporter Frank Bumb’s piece in Thursday’s paper, Mabry was afforded full fireman’s honors during his Wednesday funeral. As well he should have been.
Mabry long ago was named an “honorary fireman” by the Abbeville Fire Department. He famously rode his bicycle — with a set of keys jingling from one of the handles — everywhere he went, including to various fires around town.
When the trucks tore out of the fire station on Main Street, Tommy would be right there with them on his bike, his legs pumping like pistons.
He had a sort of bow-legged gait — one I always assumed came from riding that bike like a demon for all those years — and a deep voice, and he smoked like a chimney.
Everyone knew Tommy. He was beloved by the town. He was an actual part of the fabric of the town. The town protected him, in many ways. And, in his own way, he protected us.
Every small town has characters. Characters that are unique to that place. In Abbeville, Tommy Mabry was one of those characters.
Now Tommy’s gone, and he took a piece of Abbeville with him. He will be sorely missed.
Rest in peace, Tommy. I hope you are up there riding that bike to your heart’s content.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 864-943-5650; email email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.