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Camden’s the right place for me

Posted: August 3, 2012 6:35 p.m.
Updated: August 6, 2012 5:00 a.m.

I enjoyed your article in the Chronicle’s June 25th edition entitled “Camden Is The Right Place To Be.” It was very refreshing to hear someone else preach the attributes of our wonderful community. I could not agree with you more. As did so many of my contemporaries, I left Camden in the early ’70s seeking fame and fortune. I could have chosen the path of least resistance and found permanent employment here My desire for adventure was a larger driving force than money. My intentions were always to one day return to the Wateree River Valley. Since returning I have been asked countless times why did I give up the likes of Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Miami, and Chicago to return to Camden. My answer has left many with a very perplexed look on their faces. My answer simply is: “I never really left.” From my very first breathe taken at the corner of Fair and Union, until the one that I just exhaled, my mind, heart and soul have always reeked that of a Camdenite. Camden is the right place for me.

How could this be so? Well, unless you have had a lifelong love affair with your native soil, simple explanations are trite. For many years, my “everyday” connection was a subscription to the Chronicle. Weekly, sometimes biweekly telephone conversations with Mother were routine. Three to four trips back per year were not uncommon. The internet changed everything to the point that, with my morning coffee, and a view of Lake Michigan, I would read the The State newspaper every day. This did not stop the return trips home. The Carolina Cup, “The River” and the Carolina-Clemson game were a yearly must. Camden is the right place for me.

Chicago was a great place to live The city was broken into distinct neighbors, each with a character of its own. Every weekend there was a cultural festival of some type across Chicagoland. The “Windy City” had all of the major professional sports teams, and there was always concert or convention in town. But Camden has something that only Chicago could dream of… mild winters. When the temperature does not rise above zero for thirty days, it’s time for a visit to Mother’s. If I never see a snowflake again I will be fine. Camden is the right place for me.

Miami was a wonderful place to live. As with Chicago, there was always something going on. A road trip to “The Keys” was just hours away. However, Camden has something that Miami can only wish for… a change of seasons. Seventy-eight to 88 degrees year round makes it quite difficult to get into the holiday spirit. Especially when you hear from the shopping mall music system Bing Crosby singing, “I’m dreaming of a ‘Styrofoam’ Christmas. When you hear that, it’s time to schedule a holiday trip to Mother’s. Camden is the right place for me.

Atlanta, Birmingham and Charlotte are all great southern cities. But most of the people who claim to live within the city limits only work there. Bedroom communities wrap around each and every one of these cities. These “communities” resemble the likes of Camden. However, Camden has something that these communities do not have. In Camden you do not have to commute 20 to 30 minutes through tons of jammed roads and short-tempered drivers to get to work, attend a ball game, eat at a decent restaurant or buy a loaf of bread. Camden is the right place for me.

Living in our family’s homestead places me within walking distance of everything I need. There is something very special about raising my voice in the church of my youth. I get a special thrill being associated with the Community Band. I love Boy Scout Troop 303. I relished Friday nights in the fall when the silence gives way to the shouts of “Go Bulldogs.” Traveling familiar streets reminds me of good times pasted and helps me dream of good times to come. But the main reason that I moved back here to stay was “the smell.” Take a deep breath early in the morning and you will agree… Camden Is the Right Place For Me.

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