It was hard not to smile last week, reading a bit about one of my favorite places on this big, blue planet.
On Tuesday, I was at my fulltime gig in the wonderful, drafty old office building of the Columbia alt-weekly Free Times, helping put together our latest edition. I was proofreading the week’s cover story -- a multi-page spread on the craft beer boom in Capital City and across South Carolina -- when I came to a section penned by April Blake, one of the state’s top food and drink writers.
“Around the state, breweries are popping up in farther-flung locations that might inspire the question, ‘Really? Greenwood has a brewery?’” Blake wrote. “And indeed it does. Good Times Brewing is associated with Mill House Pizza.”
She goes on to give a very favorable review of the Greenwood brewery and its Flower Child Kölsch, which she called a “good October afternoon porch drinkin’ beer.”
When I was done proofreading the page, I circled the word “Greenwood” in red ink and made a mark: “Damn right.” I always make such a mark when the Emerald City shows up in our Columbia paper.
A bit later, our managing editor at Free Times, Eva Moore, grabbed the page to take a look and laughed when she saw my remark on the Mill House/Greenwood entry.
“I knew you’d have something to say about Greenwood,” she said.
“I told you, we’re not going to stop,” I replied, referring to a joke I’ve often made of a cabal that will see onetime Greenwood residents infiltrate Columbia at every level.
We’re making headway: I’m at the Free Times, Index-Journal alums Matt Walsh, Cassie Cope and Ben Breiner work for The State newspaper, Index alum Kate Hruby just took a gig with the state Office of Regulatory Staff, Davis & Floyd did engineering work on the Capital City’s sparkling new $37 million baseball stadium and John Cannon Few, the newest justice on the state Supreme Court, grew up in Greenwood and graduated from Greenwood High.
So the takeover is coming along nicely. We hold secret meetings at state Sen. Floyd Nicholson’s office once a month. (No, not really.)
But I do enjoy seeing items about Greenwood in the news down in Columbia, if only because it gives me a chance to reflect on a place I love dearly.
It’s interesting, but in the more than two years since I’ve moved from Greenwood to the Midlands, I’ve found that it’s the little things I miss.
The deeply inky smell of the Index-Journal’s ancient office building on Phoenix Street. Cheeseburger pizza at the Mill House. That garish wood paneling in City Council chambers. Memorial Day hash from Northwest Fire Department. County Councilman Robbie Templeton voting on multi-million dollar annual budgets with a pair of sunglasses perched on his head. A bagel with cream cheese from Howard’s in the morning. Sitting on the front steps watching my daughter play and hearing the music roaring at Uptown Live.
Like I said, the little things.
And I miss the Old Greenwood Village, a neighborhood I’m convinced is the heartbeat of the city, though admittedly I’m biased. I miss it most this time of year, when the neighborhood’s soaring trees create a leafy, autumnal canopy, a perfect backdrop for Halloween, when kids from the village and from nearby Grendel pour onto the streets in search of candy and mischief. We still own a house in the village, over on Blyth Avenue. I’m having a tough time letting it go.
Alas, time rolls on. And Greenwood does, too.
I couldn’t help but notice last week that the Greenwood Promise has launched, bringing to fruition an idea long discussed. I remember talking with then-Partnership Alliance boss Mark Warner about it years ago.
Frankly the program, the first of its kind in South Carolina, could be a game changer. Essentially, city, county, economic development and business leaders in Greenwood are committing to providing significant college tuition assistance for all academically eligible Greenwood County high school graduates.
Now THAT’S taking the bull by the horns. There’s a lot of lip service paid to having an educated workforce. With the Greenwood Promise, local leaders are putting some substance (and money) behind that talk.
Greenwood is a hardworking town. A blue collar town with white collar tendencies, one that has reinvented itself multiple times. With the Greenwood Promise, it’s making an investment in the next reinvention.
I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Chris Trainor is a contributing columnist for the Index-Journal. Contact him at ChrisTrainorSC@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisTrainorSC. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.