Publisher: That’s where I come from

By Brian Whitmore
 
“I’m proud as anyone
That’s where I come from.”
- Mac McAnally 
(Back Where I Come From)
 
Community used to grow up around a mill. Now it’s anywhere Dollar General locates.
I grew up in a small town (population 665), just 17 miles from Clinton — Enoree, South Carolina. Yes, it has a Dollar General. No, it doesn’t have a traffic light, although it does have a flashing caution light on a sign, so drunks won’t miss their turn and drive into the Enoree River.
At one point, Enoree was known for its mill. Inman Mills is still there, but not what it once was. Like most mill villages, the mill took care of folks. Nice sidewalks and lights still line the main drag in town (Highway 92). The mill operated a community center and in the old days there was even a movie theatre.
Growing up, there was a doctor’s office. I still fondly remember Dr. John Wieder. That doctor’s office is gone, but a town veteran’s memorial is in its place.
There also was a drug store. I remember my Mama, Nellie Whitmore, getting prescriptions filled, while I was looking at comics, and the family getting tickets for events at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium. That was a big deal. Remember, there was no Internet when I was growing up in the late ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s.
Now a beer joint is being run out of the former drug store. At one time, an auction and opry house was next door.
In my youth, we had a great place to eat, Sherb’s Drive In. It was within a mile of my house. It was a treat when Mama ordered me a cheeseburger with nothing but mayonnaise. That was the best burger in the world to me and cheeseburgers with nothing but mayonnaise still remind me of my childhood, although none can come close to Sherb’s.
A few restaurants have given it a go in that building, located right beside the Enoree Post Office, but none have had great success. A Taste of Home was the last to locate there, but now operates restaurants in Laurens and Woodruff.
Today, Enoree has the Clock Drive In. Greater Enoree (29335 zip code) boasts a Hardees restaurant, produce, vermiculite and chemical/consumer goods companies. The zip code stretches almost to Gray Court and to Ora in Laurens County.
Back to food, there once was a snow cone stand and a place to buy ice cream within walking distance of my home.
At one point, Enoree had an elementary school and Cross Anchor had a high school (my Daddy, Harvey Whitmore, graduated from there). But Woodruff took all the schools. The mill turned the old elementary school into a community center, complete with bowling alley, a playground and swimming pool. I learned to swim there and to fear the high dive.
That’s all gone. Fire destroyed most all of the old school.
In Woodruff schools, the Enoree kids stuck together. Scott Simmons was a playmate. I met Jeff Taylor in Cub Scouts (my parents led the Cross Anchor troop out of Enoree). Richard Henderson was right down the road. Michael Hughes also was part of that group.
Although I graduated from Woodruff High, I still have much more allegiance to Enoree. Guess that’s how Joanna and Cross Hill residents feel toward Clinton.
I grew up thinking there were only three religious denominations — Methodist, Baptist and Church of God. That’s because those were the only denominations represented in Enoree. I grew up at Trinity United Methodist Church, out of town. That was the “Whitmore home church.” I became a Baptist in Enoree. I love Jesus and that’s what’s important.
Enoree didn’t have a police station, but we did have Jack Owens, a Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Deputy, that was our sheriff.
Enoree didn’t have a mayor, but we did have Buster Lawson, who gave us our very own Christmas Parade.
Enoree didn’t have a paid fire department, but we did have Sandra and Bee Corley, who were always there in a time of need.
Enoree didn’t have a bank and that was OK, because most of us didn’t have money.
Enoree had two auto service stations, but not anymore. It still has two gas stations and a convenience store.
Hanna Heating & Air serves Enoree, as well as Clinton. The Chronicle appreciates Niles’ commitment to both communities.
Cannon’s Barber Shop remains. It once housed a Video King.
Enoree now has a winery, florist and flooring business.
Mountain Shoals Plantation sits at the intersection of Highway 221 and Highway 92 (Parker Road) and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in the 1800s and is privately owned.
Mill baseball was big in days gone by. Also historically, the name Enoree is thought to derive from a Cherokee word, meaning river of muscadines.
To this day, Enoree is known more for the river than the town. There was a USS Enoree (A0-69) during World War II, named after the river, and today there is a Miss Enoree River pageant. 
The mill made the town of Enoree and it employed most of the people, but many had long commutes since there were not a lot of places to work. My Daddy drove to Spartanburg and retired with 40 plus years at Kohler.
When I was coming up, “Whitmore” was a well-known name in Enoree and we operated a store at one time. Now the only Whitmore left in Enoree is my Aunt, Joann Burgess, on Long Branch Road.
I grew up on that road. My Mama had a salon — Nell’s Beauty Shop. Mama had a dorm fridge in the shop and stocked it with the best glass-bottled-Cokes and she had a Lance crackers rack. When she was doing hair, I was playing.
Scott’s Mom got her hair done by my Mom. We had a blast playing.
Mama’s shop has been gone for years. I turned it into a handicapped accessible bathroom after my Daddy died. Now Mama is in a nursing home, with no mobility.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I’m not sure that’s true. My Daddy and Mama did a fine job on their own.
My Daddy was the best. He had a bad back, but he always was there with me, even on rides at Carowinds. Now I look back and realize he was always my best friend. I miss him.
My Mama was the most giving woman I’ve ever known. She loved her family unconditionally. She put her family before herself. Dementia has taken her mind, but not my memories.
No memories of Enoree are complete without my parents. They were my world. They taught me to be proud of who I was and where I came from.
Once a vibrant mill village, now Enoree is becoming known for drugs. Many of those once immaculately kept mill houses are now low-income housing in need of repair.
That’s sad. But whenever someone asks me, where are you from? — I answer, “Enoree.” I’m not ashamed of that and never will be.
I moved to Laurens County in 2005. I live in Laurens County, but Enoree is where I come from.
My story continues. Just like Job in the Bible, God makes all things new. I have a new town to love — Clinton. I have the best wife, Jane, and daughter, Lydia. You know what, life keeps getting better. I’m blessed beyond measure.
Enoree memories will always be a part of me, but not all of me. You see, I don’t live in the past, I live in the now and look to the future.
“Boy, live your life.” That’s what my father would say. I will Daddy.
———
Brian Whitmore is the publisher of The Chronicle. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle. Whitmore can be reached at publisher@clintonchronicle.net.

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