It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and as usual, I had no plans. Or should I say, no good excuses. So, I drove onto the Clemson campus, parked behind Sikes Hall, and headed for the downtown. I admit it, I was seriously tempted by all the activities happening on Bowman, but I do NOT play Ultimate in jeans. Either I overheat until my head explodes, or the absence of a belt prevents any running. Actually, last time I played Ultimate in jeans, my Aussie friends and I went swimming in the ocean… during their “winter”.
Besides, I had set myself a goal of going into the downtown to take photos, and I couldn’t allow myself to be sidetracked. Even for Frisbee. You may now “Ooh” and “Aah” over my self-sacrifice. : ) The weekend before, I had intended to go downtown, but the sunny skies were only above my house. By the time I was finished with lunch, the clouds were everywhere and a few flakes of snow were even falling.
And so, as you already saw, I passed Mell Hall and took notice of the statue in front of that building, before waiting for the light to change. Of course, during the whole walk past Bowman, I was debating what angle to take my initial photographs from. How to capture the Subway corner? Or Mr. Knickerbocker, on the other side? There are always cars streaming through the lights, and the best location to take a photo would probably be in the middle of the road. Since I’m not interested in dying for the art of photography, I had to take the next best option.
I didn’t end up taking a picture of the Subway corner until later, since I didn’t like my angle from in front of Mell Hall, with all the cars driving past. Once I’d crossed over, I paid more attention to Mr. Knickerbocker and the Zen Den. No, I don’t actually know what the Zen Den is, though I seem to remember seeing a sign with more details. It’s one of the “newer” places that I’ve never been into.
Mr. Knickerbocker, of course, is one of the many places you can get Clemson clothing and paraphernalia. You know, one of the places I never go into, because the only Clemson item that I own is the tiger paw decal on my car. : ) Which I might have bought at the grocery store, several years ago. Unlike friends of mine, who own nothing but Clemson clothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m always shocked when they wear clothes that aren’t orange or purple, because my dear friends TRULY bleed orange.
As I walked past the Loose Change eatery/restaurant, I wasn’t keen on taking pictures of it, because they have open windows with people sitting in them. I try to not take closeups of anyone, while on photo explorations like this. Instead, I took a picture of all the Clemson gear for sale, out in front of their next-door neighbor… and I’ve forgotten what place that was.
Below the Zen Den, you’ll find Hair South, which is a hair salon that’s been there for eons. Or at least, as long as I can remember. My mom and I used to go there to have our hair done (I had a lot of highlights put in, in my early twenties), and knew all the hairdressers, and at one point, I cleaned the place for them. You know, back when I had my own cleaning business, and shocked people by working in shorts, in the winter. And I mean the winters when it was actually a bit cold outside. Sometimes we don’t even have those.
If you had any idea how HOT people keep their homes and businesses, you would understand why I wore those shorts! It wasn’t because I was going through a phase like I did in middle school, when I really did wear shorts to school, all year-round. I never forgot the time I got sick and my dad picked me up from school on the motorcycle. Now, THAT was cold.
The Tiger Sports Shop… I always think it looks like a movie theater. Tigertown Graphics… I think that’s been there for a while, but I’m betting they’ve remodeled a few times, too. And, then there’s the Tiger Town Tavern. I’m trying to remember, but I think when I was in my mid-twenties, I went in there to give my brother his keys. And ran right back out again. No, I don’t frequent the bar scene in Clemson, and I’m perfectly fine with that. Not only does the taste of alcohol not thrill my soul, but there are too many strangers for me to handle in these places.
Judge Keller’s Store. I had to go look a few things up on the ClemsonWiki, as I wasn’t sure of the details. Most Clemson residents or students will just tell you that it’s been there forever. Apparently, back in 1899, the first Keller opened the store across the street from the present location, but in 1936, they built the present brick building. Three generations of Kellers have run the store, with the original selling cadet uniforms, and the present Keller selling Clemson clothing and other Clemson gear.
Across from Judge Keller’s is the Student Book Store, but since they sell stuff that only interests students, even a bookworm like myself doesn’t go in there. I haven’t been inside it since 1998 or some such year.
At this point, I crossed the street, and walked back up to Mr. Knickerbocker, looking for a better shot of the Subway corner. As I did so, I was reminded of the crosswalk rules all over Clemson (it’s probably state law) which gives pedestrians the right of way. You have to be careful that no student walks out in front of you, if you aren’t paying attention. But when I used to go to Bob Jones University to visit my cousin, I had to remember that cars had right of way. That’s why when I would stop and let them cross the road, the BJU students would look at you like you were either crazy or a miracle. It always struck me as incredibly funny.
Now that I’ve taken the photos of the Subway on the corner, with all the brick buildings that may have been there since Judge Keller’s was built (I can’t be sure of that), it occurred to me that there are other restaurants on that corner. I only glimpsed some kind of oyster bar, the other day, but I didn’t look too closely. So, even after this whole post, there are still places in the downtown that I know nothing about.
Back down the street towards the Tiger Town Tavern, and you can see across to the Pita Pit and Firehouse Subs, which are relatively new. I remember when Moe Joe’s Coffee used to be where Firehouse Subs is, and I haven’t figured out where Moe Joe’s moved to, as I think it’s still in Clemson. Somewhere. But you can see where the “high-rise” starts, which was built a few years ago, and includes the Downtown Parking Garage. I think they had to change some city laws to allow it to be built that high. Yes, two stories used to be as high as it went, I’m pretty sure.
The Burger Joint is just up from the Hallmark, which are just down the hill from All In Coffee and McClure’s Book Shop, if you remember them from my previous post about the downtown. I had just paid some bills, so I decided against visiting the coffee shop, though I was sorely tempted. The Burger Joint is relatively new (I think), while any student knows that the Campus Copy Shop has “always been there”.
The First Baptist Church, followed by Fort Hill Presbyterian, was built on the location that housed a Real Estate Agency for most of my childhood. It was in a shack, as I recall, and they held out for a huge asking price, being the last hold-outs before the big downtown fixer-ups.
And after a bit more of a walk, I finally reached the Astro III. It looks so dilapidated and abandoned. Since I have four brothers and taking five kids to the movies isn’t cheap, we spent quite a few hours there, when we were growing up. Sometimes, I would take my baby brother to see a kids’ movie while the older boys went to an action movie (hey, I like action movies, too, don’t freak out on me). When the shorter movie ended, we would go play on the playground, next door, until the other one ended.
I crossed the street and checked out the shops behind the ‘Stro, but The White Rabbit was no longer there. That was a fun little shop that used to be owned by acquaintances of ours, but I guess things didn’t work out. The little clothing place that is there now, it was nice, but much too trendy for me.
After passing the Astro again, I wanted to know what had happened to the old playground. Did it used to be named Jaycee Park? I don’t remember. What I do know is that it used to be about five times the size of the thumbprint playground that’s there now. No, I’m not exaggerating. When they fixed up that whole section, they moved the road, and put in some sort of amphitheater and fountain walk on the other side of the road, while leaving the teeniest playground.
Of course, with no Astro anymore, maybe it’s useless, but I’m still miffed about it. We used to play on the swings, the jungle gym, several other playground mainstays, and even in the creek. There was plenty of room to run around and a number of picnic tables for me to sit at, with a book, if I didn’t feel like chasing after my cousins/brothers, at the time. The present Jaycee Park is not the park that we grew up with.
I should’ve crossed back over to see that new Palmetto Shades place, next to the Campus Copy Shop, but by then, the sun was really beating down and giving me a headache. Can’t wear my sunglasses until I get my new stash of contacts to wear. And yes, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit leery about wearing my Akubra into Clemson. It would definitely stand out, and I don’t like to be stared at, especially when I have something else to concentrate on (like taking photos).
When I reached the parking garage, I headed up the hill to take a look around. I found another church behind it, too, and began to wonder how many churches we have packed into the downtown of Clemson. I mean, I know that we have them everywhere in the South, but I didn’t know the downtown had ROOM for 4 or 5 full-size churches. And I mean in the DOWNTOWN, not just somewhere around the campus, to serve the students. Maybe my definition of what the downtown consist of is incorrect. I suppose it could go all the way down to the Mellow Mushroom, across from Fike, but I really thought it stopped at the Subway corner.
While shading my eyes from the sun, and squinting hard, trying to make out the Bronze Tiger and Sassy’s, a mini-van pulled up next to me. The passenger asked me if I knew where Spill the Beans was, but I wasn’t any help. Another coffee shop? Had I missed it somewhere? When I emerged from behind the Pita Pit, I veered around the Student Book Store, curious to see if the bike shop was still there, as well as a magazine/book store. Yes to the first, no to the second. And I found Spill the Beans, while I was at it.
I watched a sturdy toddler climb the steps determinedly, with her mother following her, and wished I could find that mini-van again, and correct my directions to them. Instead, I went and attempted to take some artistic photos of the fun-looking yellow fire hydrant (why is it yellow, instead of red?). When I walked back around the corner, the mini-van passed me again, and I directed them to the proper location. I’ll have to go there sometime and try out both the coffee and the ice cream. Preferably when I have some money. : )
As I looked up the road, towards the Subway corner and Bowman Field, I remembered that there used to be a barber’s shop with their striped candycane-looking pole inside one of those doorways. I think it’s somewhere behind Judge Keller’s, now.
When I was waiting for the light to change again, I finally noticed one of the restaurants that is next to Subway. I have never been into TD’s and have no idea what they serve. My older brother would know, of course. He knows everyone and where everything is, in Clemson. But what fun is getting a tour, especially from someone who would find it a drag? It’s much more fun to look around and discover things on your own. Or with a friend, if you have one that is interested in such things.
And as I walked past Bowman, again, I noticed again the blue, blue sky (that picture is untouched, except for the vignette around it). Guess what else I saw? Future Clemson students, running after that soccer ball.