Banks County Opinions...

SEPTEMBER 29, 2004


Column

By: Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
September 29, 2004

The historic site I go out of my way to avoid
I am interested in history and learning about historical sites, but I’ll admit it, there is one historical site — no make that two sites — in Charleston, S.C., that I will go out of my way, way out of my way, to avoid.
The old Cooper River Bridge and its “sister,” the Silas N. Pearman Bridge strike fear in me — giant expanses of high, criss-crossing steel — truss bridges — atop what looks surely to me like rotten wood (although logically I’m sure it’s not), spanning the Cooper River and connecting Charleston to Mt. Pleasant.
Of course I had noticed the structures during visits to that wonderful old Southern city. How could you not notice them against the skyline? In the distance, I mean.
Who knew those bridges could cause such sudden panic?
During a trip a few years ago, we made an accidental turn when trying to find our way back to Folly Beach and found ourselves headed directly toward one of the dreaded bridge pair. I was driving and I was fine, but suddenly, as the cage of the bridge closed in and I noticed how low (and, in my state of panic, how unsturdy) the side rails appeared, I experienced a strange and unpleasnt phenomenon.
Bridge fear.
My hands began to sweat, my heart set off at a gallop and the car in the lane right next to me, heading along with me toward Mt. Pleasant, seemed unbelievably close. There was nothing to do but, sweating bullets, continue the (slow, slow, slow) drive across the endless bridge.
In a near panic, as we exited the bridge, I turned the car to head back to Charleston, only to be faced with the inevitable twin bridge. The same, only worse, because I had already done it once. Nowhere to turn around or pull off, so Zach watched worriedly as we made our shaking way across.
“I had no idea,” he said in a quiet, somewhat awed voice.
Well, guess what, I didn’t either.
I had a milder experience years ago when, after college, a friend and I decided to drive up to Maine. Along the way, we encountered all kinds of waterways and bridges. No problems with the long cement bridges typical of interstates and highways. No panic with the draw bridges or even with the bridge-tunnel which passes under water and up into Newport News, Va., although, admittedly, it was somewhat disconcerting to see water dripping down the tunnel walls.
But there was something about those suspension bridges and those cagelike structures that gave me a sense of uneasiness. And I wasn’t the only one. My friend and I tried to talk each other into being the one to drive over those spans. As we neared our destination, we looked out the window to our right and saw this unbelievable suspension bridge seemingly miles above a ravine. Whew. Thank goodness we don’t have to cross that. The road curved around and, suddenly, the bridge was in front of us. Beyond that, Bar Harbor. No choice, we had to do it. Even then, I didn’t have that sweaty-palmed panic I felt when faced, irrevocably, with the cage of the Cooper River Bridge.
Now I know better. And now we’ll sometimes go all around the city of Charleston when we visit, taking twists and turns just to make sure we don’t face those twin horrors.
We visited Charleston and Folly Beach over the weekend — in between storms, as it turns out — and Zach teased me about doing whatever I could to not cross those bridges. I was very aware of them whenever we made our way to and from the beach, careful to maneuver us away from them, whether I was driving or not. My heart sped up as we drove near them and there was even the slightest chance I might get trapped on them.
I’m just looking out for your safety, I said.
That’s the wrong way to go, anyway, away from the beach, I added.
And it was.
Now I notice that a huge new bridge is being built, and I’ve read that the eight-lane “cable story span” bridge will replace the old trussed horrors and will be North America’s longest of its type.
But that bridge doesn’t fill me with alarm. I’ve looked at pictures of it and it has high, airy cables and what looks like plenty of space. It should be traffic-ready by the summer of 2005.
I’ve also learned about the existing bridges — best to know about your fears, I suppose. The Cooper River Bridge was built in 1929 and has long been viewed as one of the city’s significant landmarks, since it was a help in pulling the city out of the Depression era doldrums as a direct link to the north. The second, larger bridge was built in 1966. A book has being written about the two — The Great Cooper River Bridge — and includes lots of photographs.
A summary of the book says: “The two original bridges have become true emblems of Charleston, much like the Eiffel Tower of Paris or the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. With their removal, Charleston will lose two of its most significant landmarks.”
An “architectural icon,” a “grand symbol,” a “great bridge.”
The story is interesting and it’s true, I can recognize the old bridge pair as quite an architectural feat. I’m just sorry that I can only appreciate that historical landmark from a distance, a safe distance.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.

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Column

By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
September 29, 2004

Classic Center offers top notch entertainment
When traveling, I always look forward to going to a Broadway play, concert or other cultural event. I have programs from all of the plays I have been to in Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, Boston and other large cities.
While I love to travel, you don’t have to do so to find some great entertainment. The Classic Center in Athens is a real crown jewel for the city that provides a wide variety of top notch entertainment just a short drive away.
The Broadway season will kick off in less than two months, and I’m excited about the shows planned. The season will kick off Sunday, Nov. 14, with Fosse.
Bob Fosse is a legend in the world of music theater. In Fosse, his choreography is featured in the musical that includes such hits as “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity, “Steam Heat” from Pajama Game, “Mein Herr” from Cabaret and “Take Off With Us” from All That Jazz.
Next up is Miss Saigon on January 13-14. Miss Saigon is the story of a young couple “torn apart by the fortunes of destiny and held together by a burning passion and the fate of a small child.” It is an award-winning classic love story.
The Full Monty, which has been a hit in New York and across the country, will take to the stage on Feb. 3. This smash hit musical is about six friends whose desperation to survive leads to a unique business plan. This play is suggested for “mature audiences.”
The Broadway season will end with The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas on March 5. This comedy became well-known after the movie starring Dolly Pardon and Burt Reynolds. The play includes plenty of country music and dancing.
Season and individual tickets are already on sale. To order or for more information, call (706) 357-4444 or check out their website at www.classiccenter.com.
MUSIC
The Classic Center also offers concerts throughout the year. The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas show has become a tradition in the area, and it will be held on Nov. 26 this year. The show features some of their classic country hits, along with holiday music. Tickets go on sale Oct. 1 and range from $33.50 to $38.50.
TV TAPING
Blue Collar Comedy TV, the television series featuring Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy, will be taping four episodes in October. Tapings are set for Oct. 7, Oct. 12, Oct. 13 and Oct. 19. Tickets are free and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. To get a voucher, to be exchanged for a ticket the night of the performance, go to www.classiccenter.com.
The Classic Center has 2,053 seats in the house and there really isn’t a bad one. I’ve been in the orchestra section and balcony, and the view is great in both places. Be sure and catch some of the great entertainment planned in the coming months.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.


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