Azalea

Dear Reader:

I know I find myself drawn back to the subject of azaleas but when you are blessed to live in a fairyland filled with them, it is hard not to immerse ourselves in their history and beauty during this time of the year.

Friday, my designated “uncomplicated” day of fun, food, and adventure, I began aimlessly driving around  “old” Summerville with its beautiful winding streets. I, abruptly, turned off Carolina Avenue onto Linwood Lane (or as I like to call it…”Miss Effie’s (Wilder) “E”venue.)

This winding, circular lane is absolutely gorgeous this spring. I was surprised to realize how long it had been since I had cut through Linwood. Now new homes intermingle with the old…but they compliment each other well…the little street is stunning.

“Out of Plumb” was the name of Miss Effie’s home and I remember her placing a marble on the floor to show me how it rolled to one corner that was “askew” with the floor’s lack of leveling…thus the house was “out of plumb.” It was the most enjoyable hour ever spent with such a warm personality during an interview for a history project.

Linwood drops right onto Salisbury where the remnants of the gates to the old Pine Forest Inn still remain. When I stopped to take this picture after leaving Miss Effie’s…I saw the beautiful azaleas still blooming behind one of the stone gates (possibly dating back to the days of the inn’s glory days?) and it still takes my breath away.

Talking about town pride…When I pass Azalea Park coming and going down Main Street, practically on a daily basis, the word “persevere” readily comes to mind. The idea of putting a park smack dab in the middle of Summerville, started back in the 1920’s, with a women’s civic community organization (today the Flower Town Garden Club.)

Sixteen acres were purchased and with the help of Mayor Grange Cuthbert writing and filing for New Deal projects during the Great Depression, he was able to get the W.P.A. on board to help with this project.

Two other instrumental people involved were natives George Segelken and his wife, Evelyn, who planted most of the azaleas themselves. George was quite the expert on them… producing the “Pride of Summerville” salmon-colored azalea for which Summerville is now famous for having in abundance.

If you ever take time to read the whole history of the development of Azalea Park… right up to the Sculptures in the South addition… a pattern quickly emerges.

Every time it looked like a natural disaster (Hurricane Hugo) or financial downfall might bring about the end of this gorgeous park (free for anyone who wants to stop and smell the azaleas) someone or a group of people refused to see it happen. Time and again, the park was, not only rescued, but improved upon for the enjoyment of all Summerville natives and visitors to our fair town. It has been the “perseverance” of its people that has reassured the existence of this park for years to come.

Now that brings me to my last Azalea…Summerville’s wonderful seasonal magazine! I, so enjoyed the last spring edition of our local magazine, that I felt a need to write its creator and innovator, Will Rizzo (and his lovely wife) to thank them for its existence. I got a response back within minutes! (*The whole magazine staff at Azalea is composed of the most friendly, accessible, warm, and talented writers and poets in Summerville.)

Here is what I wrote and the response.

With all the rapid changes in development in our beautiful “Flower Town in the Pines” it is easy to grow nostalgic for the “old” Summerville. To be truthful some days, while driving around town, if I blink or daydream for a second, I have to think where I am.

Every day seems to bring new shops and businesses to our fair town.( It makes me feel as confused as a pine tree in a parking lot.) That said, however, it is the people who make this town… and that has never changed. Innovators and creators like Will Rizzo and Azalea Magazine, preserve the essence and beauty of this growing “ville” through its pages filled with history, progress, and homespun lore. Summerville is my town and I love it…’Sho’Nuff!”

……………………….

Azalea Magazine Thank you so much for your kind words Becky! You are right, it is all about the people. And we are so blessed to be able to showcase all of the incredible folks that make our community so unique.

*I would encourage as many of you as possible to take a minute and make a comment back to the staff at Azalea Magazine. It only takes a second to make someone else smile. We all like to feel appreciated for hard work and effort…and Azalea Magazine, our town’s magazine, deserves that and more!

So until tomorrow…Take time to park your car and walk through Azalea Park…allowing time in to count our blessings for the history of the people, who came before us… who made a dream come true.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh.

*Caught yellow jessamine spreading over our street’s electric lines- sure adds decor to ugly lines!❤

 

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Azalea

  1. Honey Burrell says:

    Such a beautiful town! I so enjoyed the pictures and your words as well. Have a fantastic day. Looking forward to seeing you in a week😄

    Like

    • Becky Dingle says:

      Thanks Honey! Are you and Mike heading down from the mountains? We are praying we will get rain today…so far it has missed us…we are in short supply so far this spring.

      Like

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