Some of the things that interested young boys at Clinton Mills

Some of the many things that interested long ago would not catch the attention of boys today. A treasure to me and my friends was a discarded red rubber inner tube that we would find at a filling station, now called service, station. These inner tubes provided the power for sling shots that virtually every boy on the mill hill owned. I think owning or making a sling shot was something of a” rite of passage.” And then, there were pocket knives. I well remember, Daddy taking Charles and me to Rose’s Dime store to buy the first ones we owned. We bought ones with fake pearl handles that Daddy advised us against but he let us to buy them anyway. They were not much compared to the Bucks and Cases that I have today. I have several that are unused and that were given to me by friends and children. These things were a necessity. Possessions were not nearly as important to us as were our buddies. We played ball all day long on many days in a vacant lot beside 15 Gordon Street. If there was anything like a YMCA in those days it surely was on the “other side of the tracks” or on another planet. Sometimes we just played but I think at one time there were two loosely organized teams. One belonged to Truman and Sam Owens. It was called something like the Red Eagles, I think. Then there was the rest of us on a team that could have been called, the Red Raiders. Games seems to be continuous and sometimes there were arguments about whether a team was given its fair number of “outs” or “at bats”. Aside from playing ball, some of us had an interest in fishing. We fished with fly hooks at the pump house, this was a mile or so on down the road from the last house on Sloan Street. A fly hook was so small that you could catch fish that were hardly larger than minnows. These were used as bait in crappie fishing. On a few occasions, we did get to go to Lake Greenwood for an afternoon. And then, there was the matter of frog gigging. Our best times of doing that were at the swimming pool, at the State Training School (Now known as Whitten Center). An uncle of mine worked there as a night watchman and he would arrange for us to go there and catch all we wanted. A friend named Wayne got into the business of gigging, dressing and selling frog legs. I do not know a lot about the success of his endeavors. I do know that he did his gigging in the mill branch and his customers were unlikely aware of the origin of his wares. The mill branch was the outflow from the primitive sewerage treatment facility at the mill. One night two friends and I went frog gigging at the pump house that was situated on what is now Forrest Road. The little house is gone now but it was the pumping station for the Clinton Mills water system. I don’t remember what success we might have had but I do remember that as we walked home up that dark dusty road we walked right up on a parked car. The car was a convertible. It was so dark we really could not see in it but we heard voices and people scrambling around. A man and woman were there. In a moment the man tried to start the car. No luck. The battery must have gone dead. Anyway we pushed the car and the man was able to get it going. We hopped in and rode back to the mill hill. We recognized the gentleman but not the lady. It really was none of our business. Now do you know what? If we had been like teenagers today; we could have been somewhere fooling around with an x-box, cell phone, or some other electronic device and that gentleman would have had no one to come to his rescue. Even after so many years this still gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. (Bobby Meadors is retired unit administrator at the Clinton armory of the SC National Guard. He lives in Clinton.)

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