I’m from where the hammer’s rung, New’s cameras never come /
You and your man houndin’ every verse in your rhyme
An excerpt “Where I’m From” by Jay-Z
My name is Wu Young, and I am a product of my environment! All of the good and bad things about me were created in tiny Allendale County, SC in and around the town of Fairfax, more specifically in the community of Barton, and I’m a better man because of it.
Allendale County and the words paradise are seldom never used together. That’s just the way it is. Allendale has the uncanny ability to be both rural and ghetto at the same time. For the last year and a half the unemployment rate has been over 21%. The schools systems aren’t up to par with South Carolina’s standards, so thusly they aren’t anywhere near the national standard. The population is somewhere near or around 10,000 people according to the last census. Allendale is in so many words is the blackest, poorest, and most bleak county in the blackest, poorest, and most bleak region of a state that is bordering on third world. Still the tiny little village of Barton is still important to me
I don’t care where he may be from, a man who doesn’t have just a tad bit of fondness for his place of birth is akin to a man who doesn’t love his mother. Doesn’t matter if it’s Mogadishu or Hanoi there’s will always be something to make you smile about your home town. Last week I spent two days back home and during that time I reflected about both the good and bad things that Allendale County instilled in me. There is in fact no place like home. Dorothy nailed it! During my two days at home with my parents I stepped back and took a look at the woods that I grew up in. Somethings are still the same and some things are vastly different from when I was a permanent resident. In spite of what Allendale has become only the fond memories of home came to my mind.
I can remember a time when my grandparents were my only neighbors who were actually people. (The other neighbors were fields of whatever crop my pops and grandfather planted that season and forests.) My brother and I would spend way to much time playing in places in the woods that we probably shouldn’t have gone into but what the hell, I’m still here.
I remembered the time when my father was filling our big red International tractor with diesel and I decided to press the pump handle one more time after he took the nozzle out of the tractor’s tank and the fuel just covering him from his feet to his torso. I also remember him taking off his belt and putting on a clinic that only Pootie Tang’s daddy could appreciate.
I remember thanking God after catching a ricochet from my Daisy 880 bb gun (Screw Ralphie’s punk a** and his Red Rider, the Daisy 880 is the M-1 Garand of bb guns.) in the neck after I shot a piece of tin. I also remember thanking God even more when my parents didn’t find out.
I remember discovering hip hop through my littlest, big sister’s music collection, the various radio stations we could catch from Savannah, Statesboro, Columbia, Augusta, Charleston, and the two local stations that played “black” music at night and on Sundays. 93.5 WDOG’s “Rap Attack” with DJ Hollywood was taped on a weekly basis.
Even today many of my actions and thought are dictated by what I learned and saw in Allendale County. I still want to go fishing on nice warm days. I still carry a pocket knife just like my daddy and his daddy. I still look out for snakes when I’m near bushes, even when I’m in downtown Charleston. I still crave bbq (Not grilling, bbq. There is a difference.) on the July 4th, and I still think that leaning on someone’s car or sitting on a tailgate drinking Budweiser with your big brother and best friends listening to Wu-tang is a good way to pass a hot afternoon.
I could go on forever talking about ish like this but I’ll spare y’all the bulk of my memories, but what fond memories make y’all all warm and fuzzy when you think about your home towns? Is it food and drink? Your parents telling you to either stay “in or out” of the house in the summer? Let your friendly neighborhood Agent of M.E. know what’s up.
Thanks for listening.