Monday, April 4, 2016

Boll Weevils and Topiary

We seem to move pretty fast. Again, we need to slow it down but circumstances just seem to keep us “movin on”. We move on to a small little town called Bishopville. There must be something in the water because this town has quite a few rather “different” sights to see.

We started off with the South Carolina Cotton Museum. You could touch cotton, all the way from the seed cotton to bales of cotton to cotton yarn. The museum explained the growing process – showing planting tools through the centuries; the harvesting process – weighing the cotton, bills of sale; carding and weaving the cotton. I was especially interesting in the looms that were there – everything from an old barn loom to looms that were used in the mills to produce thousands of yards of cotton in a single day.
Of course they needed mules to plant and harvest cotton

Of course we all know what Guano is - who knew it was used as a fertilizer

And of course the dreaded boll weevil - the cotton scourge.  The actual size of a boll weevil is only 1/4 inch

Of course the highlight of the museum was the Lizard Man. Back in the 1980s, a young man was driving along the backroads outside of Bishopville. He got a flat tire and stopped in a rather deserted area to change the tire. While changing the tire, he was attacked by a seven foot tall Lizard Man with glowing red eyes. He lived to tell his tale and local law enforcement officials took his story very seriously. They had casts of Lizard Man's footprints to look at and also Lizard Man t-shirts to sell.

We also tried to go to the Button King Museum. Again, back in the eighties, this man had a terrible case of insomnia. To pass the late night hours he started sewing buttons on things. Then he started gluing buttons. He glued buttons on his casket and also glued buttons on a hearse so he would be ready to go when the time came. Alas, after driving way out in the country and finally finding a metal Quonset Hut , there was nobody home to let us into the Button Museum. A missed opportunity.

I think something strange happened in Bishopville in the eighties. We have Lizard Man and the Button Museum happening. 1980 is also when Pearl Fryar bought a cornfield and after a three minute topiary demonstration in a garden center started going nuts with topiary. I walked into this garden and was awed, amazed and just filled with joy. Everywhere you looked was something to make you smile.

Most topiary gardens that you see are in the shapes of animals or teapots. Not Pearl's garden. His topiary is free flowing and surprising. He also branched out and started creating metal sculptures to add to his garden. As we were walking around the house and garden, Pearl himself came out and talked to us. He told us that he grew up in a sharecropper family where he would get beaten for being creative and making things out of found objects. He now gives lectures at universities and has a positive outlook on life. Bishopville is sort of out of the way – actually it is way out of the way, but Pearl's garden is something really worthwhile to see.  These pictures are just a small sample of what he has in his ex-cornfield.


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