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Bluestein's Wholesale Dry Goods, 933 Gervais Street: April 2014   5 comments

Posted at 10:27 pm in historic,landmark,stores

The date was, I think, 1983, at about this time of year, and pretty much everything was right with the world. The Carter years were over, I was at USC and had, after a bit of flailing around, found something I liked and was was good at that I figured I could spend the forseeable future doing. It was springtime and I was taking a fun elective, "Introduction to Cinema", or some such course title.

I can't now recall the professor's name, but he was quite entertaining and well versed in the material. I remember in particular one of his theories, probably not 100% serious, that people in the first few decades of the 20th century lived their lives much more dramatically than we do now. This would explain, he said, why silent movies look so over-acted to us, but yet when he went back to the original period newspaper reviews of the features, he invariably found praise for the naturalness of the performances. At any rate, we screened many of those silent classics as well as more modern flicks into the French New Wave period and beyond. The kicker for the course was that for the final project, we would split into groups and make our own short films.

Well, as it happened, one of my Computer Science friends was in the course with me, so we formed a group of two for the project. I had, from somewhere, a Super-8 camera with an attached flood, so we were good on the technical side -- all we needed was an idea and script.

Now, one of the films we had screened was Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. I don't know what I would think of it now, but at the time, I believe we both thought it a bit pretentious, and more importantly, a good subject for parody (which could only be helped by the fact that everybody in the audience would have seen the film recently too). I recall very few of the details, but the key fact is that a robed avatar of DEATH was going around taking lives with visual metaphor of a candle going out. We figured that with modern medical technology and life support, HIS job might be a bit less easy. We kicked it around a bit and figured we could get a usable 10 minutes from the idea easily.

Since I had the camera, and there were only two of us, it was obvious that my friend was going to have to be DEATH. It was a bit of a problem that she didn't look at all spooky or dangerous, but she had some ideas for that. Now, she was from North Augusta, so I have no idea how she knew more about this piece of Columbiana than I did (other than I rarely paid attention to anything outside of a book in those days), but she walked us down to the Vista (which was not called that at the time) and into Bluestein's Dry Goods. I had only a vague idea what a "dry goods" store was and certainly would not have automatically included sheets in that category, but she easily found a good sized, inexpensive sheet, and we were out the door. Next we stopped at the grocery for some black Rit dye, and mixing that up in my mother's washer (I have no idea how the next load of clothes came out), we dyed the sheet black.

Wound in black sheets, and with a bit of white makeup, my friend was a perfect DEATH. Next we made some cardboard signs saying "Life Support", and got some trick birthday candles. We put the signs up over the end of hall double doors in LeConte College (the CSCI building at the time), and our tracking shots had DEATH wafting through the corridors of that building and through the doors into the "Life Support" ward. At that point, the idea is that we would cut to the trick candles, and that everytime DEATH would snuff one out, it would re-light. Finally, he would be so frustrated he would break the 7th Seal (on a bottle of Seagrams 7..) We planned the shoot for well after hours (there was no building security in those days) and everything went perfectly without a soul present to ask what in the world we were doing. We got enough footage that we figured we were golden and wrapped up.

Next, I had the film developed, and it was time to edit the movie together. At that point I was suddenly stricken with pollen season allergies like never before and never since. It was non-stop sneezing, and my eyes were watering so badly I literally could not see to use the Moviola. In the end, my friend had to take it and set it up in the downstairs computer remote in the (as we called it at the time, Physical Sciences building) and she edited the movie together completely on her own during her late night shifts as the computer operator there. She did a great job of it, and the film was a hit with the class, we got good grades and moved on to the next semester. As far as I know, she still has the reel somewhere, but I'm sure it's better in memory that it would be watching it again now...

And that's my Bluestein's story!

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Written by ted on April 13th, 2014

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Columbia South Carolina, 34.0008° N 81.0353° W: 12 February 2014 (temporary)   2 comments

Posted at 10:18 pm in commentary,events,historic

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Well, it's not 1973, and it's not 1979 (for one thing I have power!), but it is one for the record books.

Come to think of it, another way it's unlike those two is that I have absolutely no urge to go outside and play.

UPDATE 13 February 8:30 -- And now it's snowing again..

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Written by ted on February 12th, 2014

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TELEVAC 86000 / CENTAURI-68000, South Carolina State Fair: 2012   37 comments

Posted at 11:32 pm in attraction,historic

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Once upon a time, computers were magical devices, "Electronic Brains", spoken of with tinges of awe and fear. See for instance the classic Hepburn / Tracy movie Desk Set. Nobody, in their day-to-day lives would expect to see a computer, and few people had any idea what they actually looked like. Everybody was sure, however, that they involved lots of blinking lights (and tape drives moving forever back and forth).

That first actually wasn't far from the truth. Early computers did have many lights, often signifying bits in various registers and program counters. They also had toggle switches (like the much missed computer in the old Columbia Science Museum) for setting all those bits.

The illuminated front panels of early computers loomed large enough in techie culture that you often found variations of the following sign posted in a computer room:


ACHTUNG!
ALLES TURISTEN UND NONTEKNISCHEN LOOKENPEEPERS!
DAS KOMPUTERMASCHINE IST NICHT FÜR DER GEFINGERPOKEN UND MITTENGRABEN!
ODERWISE IST EASY TO SCHNAPPEN DER SPRINGENWERK, BLOWENFUSEN UND POPPENCORKEN MIT SPITZENSPARKSEN.
IST NICHT FÜR GEWERKEN BEI DUMMKOPFEN. DER RUBBERNECKEN SIGHTSEEREN KEEPEN DAS COTTONPICKEN HÄNDER IN DAS POCKETS MUSS.
ZO RELAXEN UND WATSCHEN DER BLINKENLICHTEN.

and the portmanteau word blinkenlights permanently entered the hacker lexicon.

So people were interested, a bit awed and a bit scared by the idea of computers, and had only a very general idea of what they could do and how they looked. Thus: The TELEVAC 86000.

This amiable faux computer has been making the rounds for as long as I can remember, which is to say, at least since 1965 or so, and probably prior to that. Every year, it would set up shop in the Steel Building or the Ruff Building and dazzle the passers by. How could you possibly doubt a handwriting analysis from the TELEVAC 86000? IT'S A COMPUTER! IT'S SCIENCE! IT HAS BLINKING LIGHTS!

While we never did spring for the analysis when my parents took us to the fair back in the day, I have the feeling that at the time, this wonder of technology dispensed pre-printed cards dissecting your penmanship -- certainly there were no portable printers available for such a travelling roadshow.

As the years went on, the TELEVAC did add a printer, and astrological predictions as well as handwriting analysis, but the basic blinkenlights front panel stayed fundamentally unaltered, even through the name change to the less antique sounding CENTAURI-68000.

By the time I actually dropped $3.00 in 2012, the whole concept was not too credible. Whereas in 1965, nobody had seen a computer, much less had a computer, and the blinkenlights represented (to this 5 year old anyway) the apex of science, by 2012 most everybody (including lots of the 5 year olds) had a computer, and everybody knew what one looked like.

Sad to say, the TELEVAC / CENTAURI did not make an appearance at the 2013 State Fair, and I'm afraid it is the end of an era.

Written by ted on October 21st, 2013

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Fire, Front Street Georgetown: 25 September 2013   2 comments

This is about the only good news to come out of Georgetown in the last few days.

I have been in a number of these businesses, and they are right in the heart of the downtown boardwalk.

The State has the initial story and several followups, including the Governor's visit.

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Written by ted on October 1st, 2013

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SEAYCRAFT Boats / Diamond's Liquor Store, 3132 Two Notch: 1950s/late 2010s   no comments

Posted at 12:16 am in business,historic,stores

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Facebook is a weird animal. I get a lot of hits from there, but unlike a normal website, I can't check to see what people are saying when they link here becuase you have to be a facebook member to access almost anything. Likewise there's a lot of content on Facebook that's probably interesting to ColumbiaClosings readers, but in general it is not accessible outside of Facebook and never gets indexed by google. The exception is that for some reason or another, content often leaks out of foreign language Facebook subsidiaries.

A case in point is this posting which leaked through the Korean site:

Pat Seay Garvin다음 장소에 게시Georgetown Wooden Boat Show (Georgetown, SC)
2010년 10월 10일 오후 2:22 ·

Looking for any old SEAYCRAFT wooden boats made at 3132 Two Notch Rd. in Columbia, SC in the 50's. My uncle Tom Seay owned a boat shop and made several models of wooden powerboats. My father worked for him when I was little, and I remember those boats well. Would love to see an original still alive.

It's an unlikely little storefront for a boatwright, but I suppose they may have had the whole building at the time, and probably a back lot.

Long after that, during the era when the other part of the building was Mr. B's, 3132 was
Diamond's Liquor Store.

Written by ted on January 19th, 2013

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Marion Burnside Chrysler Plymouth, 7201 On The Sumter Highway / Jim Hudson Cadillac Sabb 7201 Garners Ferry Road: January 2012 (moved)   11 comments

Posted at 12:42 am in business,historic,stores

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Marion Burnside Chrysler Plymouth was a constant breakfast-table presence while I was growing up due to their memorable commercials on WIS Radio. At this remove, it a little cloudy what the exact lyrics to their jingle were, but clearly they spelled out the word "Marion" and drove home the fact that they were at "Seventy Two Oh One on the Sumter Highway!". Here's the way several people recall it (as first seen on the Ads & Jingles page:

Mar-i-on is the name to remember,
7201 on the Sumter High-Way!
M-- "More Service"
A-- "Able to Serve You"
R-- "Real Value"
I-- "something something!"
O--"something something!"
N--"something something!"
Today!

(me)

M A R, I O N,
Marion Burnside Plymouth in Columbia
M for Marion Burnside Plymouth in Columbia
A at 7201 the Sumter Highway
R ready to serve you
I integrity
O opportunity
N now go!

(commenter Dennis)

M- Marion Brunside Chrysler Plymouth in Columbia
A- address 7201 Sumter Highway
R- ready to serve you
I- Integrity
O- Opportunity
N- Now Come

(commenter GB)

It's a bit hard to conceptualize now, but before I-77 and the growth of the metro area, this lot was way out in the boonies, or at least that's how I considered it. It was something we would pass on the way to the beach, and not something I considered as being "in town" at all. In the event, we were a Ford/Mecury family in those days (something 1970s' Mecurys cured us of), so I never actually paid a visit to Marion Burnside, and am a bit hazy as to when it closed. I'm thinking the late 1970s, but I could be wrong.

Jim Hudson moved into the Marion building sometime later, and had been there quite a while by the time they got caught up earlier this month in the general flight to Blythewood that has already taken Dick Dyer Toyota, Lexus of Columbia and a surprising number of other dealerships.

After a long series of days when I could only take pictures as the sun went down, or when the day was completely overcast, I had some hopes for these pictures. In particular, the sidelot with all the little plastic flags strung up was quite photogenic as they glittered in the early afternoon sun. Of course, the instant I got out of the car, the sun went behind the clouds, and I got yet another gray set of pix. The only partial benefit was that shooting against the sun as I had to do for most of these was a little less bad (Less bad, but still *bad*).

(Hat tip to commenter Frank)

Written by ted on January 15th, 2013

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WECO Billiards, 750 Meeting Street: 2000s   4 comments

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I really like the sign here at the former WECO Billiards. It has a similar aesthetic to Varsity Billiards and Red Wing Rollerway.

This site for the current owners of the building (note the clever URL) says it was built originally as a grocery. It was still operating as a billiard hall in the February 1997 phonebook, but by the time of the next one I have here at home (February 2007), the listing was gone. Since then it appears to have been a thrift store, and now houses a number of operations as detailed at the previous link.

Written by ted on October 16th, 2012

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Drake's Restaurant, 2436 Taylor Street: 1977   13 comments

Posted at 12:00 am in historic,restaurants

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DRAKES RESTAURANT
Columbia, S. C.

Best food on Highway One, north of Columbia. A spe-
cialty Restaurant serving good clean food. So duck in at
Drakes and enjoy a delicious meal.

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DRAKE'S RESTAURANT
Columbia, S. C.
Best food on Highway one, north of Columbia. A specialty
Restaurant serving good clean food. So duck in at Drake's
and enjoy a delicious meal.

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"Good Clean Food" -- I'm not sure I've ever seen that exact phrase used as a selling point before..

Over the years I've been running Columbia Closings I've gotten a number of requests for Drake's Restaurant on Taylor Street. I've never done much about it because we never ate there, and I really didn't remember the place, and because the building was gone.

Recently though, I was searching an online postcard site, and found two good postcards of Drake's. As fate would have it, commenter Dennis emailed me the same day with a copy of one of the same postcard images, saying:

This is Drake's Restaurant that stood on the southeast corner of Two
Notch/Millwood and Forest Drive. It's been long demolished and is now
a Church's Chicken. This view is from the south on Millwood. My family
ate there a lot in the early 1960s. It was a nice, quiet, "white
tablecloth" place that I truly miss. The Drakes ran a florist business
in the same building, no doubt doing a lot of business with Providence
Hospital patients across the street. And Yes, there is a connection to
Drake's Duck-In on Main Street, or at least there was originally.

I'm not sure what years these cards are from. I'm confident however, that the first card is earlier, as you can see that the roof air-conditioning units are the old wooden-slat type, while in the next card they are more modern.

I'm not sure when Drake's was started either. It *is* listed in the 1954 Southern Bell phonebook, the first one available at the RCPL. That, and subsequent phonebooks up to 1960 give the address as simply "Taylor Street". The December 1961 book is the first one to give the street number of "2436 Taylor Street". As far as I can tell, the place never bought a full yellow-pages ad. However, also starting in the December 1961 book, it did start buying a small box ad (pictured above) touting its "Go Service" wherein you could phone in your order and pick it up to go. This continued (with the same design and text) through the final listing for Drake's, which was in the January 1977 phonebook.

As Dennis mentions, the Drake's address is now a Church's Chicken fast food outlet, which is a completely new building.

One thing about the whole situation which blows my mind is that Drake's had (and Church's has) a Taylor Street address. If there was anything I thought I knew, it was that Taylor Street was West of Millwood and Forest Drive was East of Millwood. Full stop end of story. There's probably some sort of street re-routing story there...

(Hat tip to commenter Dennis, and a few others over the years)

Written by ted on September 13th, 2012

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Walsh's Columbia South Carolina City Directory For 1907-08, Columbia: 1907   3 comments

Posted at 4:48 pm in commentary,historic,products

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Here's one for you history buffs!

I ran across this 1907 City Directory when I was googling for "926 Gervais". As it turns out, Google has been working with libraries to digitize public domain books they might have in their holdings, and somehow or other this one was found at UV.

You can download the whole directory here. It is in PDF format, but you may need the latest version of Acrobat Reader to make it open correctly.

More sample pages after the jump. Also, remember that this is a historical document and that it follows the unfortunate mores of its times.

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Written by ted on May 25th, 2012

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The Beach Boys' 50th Anniversary Tour, Chastain Park Atlanta, 28 April 2012   7 comments

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[Front Row Bottom left-to-right: Brian Wilson-Piano/Vocals, Jeff Foskett-Guitar/Vocals, David Marks-Guitar, Mike Love-Vocals, Al Jardine-Guitar/Vocals, Unknown, Bruce Johnston-Keyboards/Vocals]

(Wanted to get this out last night, but my uploads didn't finish..)

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Written by ted on April 30th, 2012

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