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A thank-you note

Charles Rowland
Columnist for The Colletonian

It was 20 years ago this month that I came to live in Colleton County. Because those two decades have turned out to be the best years of my life, what could be more appropriate than for me to write a thank-you note to you Colletonians? And it’s a genuinely heart-felt thanks because when I moved here, I had nothing of value to offer.
At the age of 50, penniless, divorced yet again, and having failed in virtually every significant way, I came here from Colorado to hunker down, out of sight if possible, with no loftier aim than to somehow keep treading, day after day, the turbulent waters of manic depression.
Bennetts Point seemed a good place for such a non-plan. It was relatively out of sight and I had family there. After all, families tend to look after their own, even the weird strays who show up out of nowhere. You Baldwins did that for me.
Jerry and Lee, thanks for renting me a place to live and for hiring me as a deckhand on your shrimp boat. That was an adventure. Emerson Baldwin, thanks for giving me a job a couple of years later operating your shrimp boat. Richard Baldwin, thanks for all the advice that kept me from running aground, colliding with other trawlers and tearing up more nets than I did. Uncle Frank and Billie (passed on now, but ever alive in my heart), thanks for a hundred helps. A special thanks, Billie, for connecting me with the good shrink who put me on the way to getting past the worst of my craziness.
And thank you, Annette and Cindy and Tadpole Baldwin, Mickey and Boyce (also gone, but still here) and all you people of Bennetts Point, for your accepting friendship. Bootsie Brown, thanks eternally for all our little talks about the Lord and His ways.
To you people of Walterboro, I can’t name and thank every one of you who have done so much for me. There aren’t enough pages in this newspaper. But there are some — the quick, the dead and the absent — who I must mention.
Bernard Warshaw, thanks for selling me the first suit I’d owned in years, on credit, and for all your insightful advice on the social, political and economic landscape of Walterboro. Anne Warshaw, thanks for, well, being Anne Warshaw. Bettylene Moyland, thanks for recommending the name of Sylvia Rowe to my mother when she sought your advice about a nice girl for me to meet — even though I wasn’t looking for a wife at the time. Karla Daddieco, thanks first for your generosity and your good heart and, second, for teaching me enough about county government so that I could do at least a passable job in my coverage as a newspaper reporter.
To all of you with whom I’ve had the privilege to serve on various boards and committees, thanks for your help and friendship.
To Tay Smith, now up in Illinois, thanks for talking me into and helping me become a newspaper writer. The greatest favor you did for me was to tell me to to start writing a column — on anything I felt like, a rare freedom for a columnist, a freedom that has kept it from being toilsome.
And now (I’m sure the rest of you knew this was coming) to Sylvia, my heart and soul, I can only say “thank you.” To tell you all the reasons why, I suppose I might as well try to describe all of creation. But you gave me purpose and comfort and belief in myself. You always give me more love than I can fathom. And Lord knows you’ve given me a lot of what I write.
To Sylvia’s children and grandchildren, thank you for treating me as your own. The same for you, Papa Toad. And to Sylvia’s friends, who, one after another, told me when we became engaged that if I ever hurt her I’d best leave town, thank you for the warning and for accepting me as a friend since then.
Near the beginning of this thank-you note, I said I’d come here with nothing of value to offer. After 20 years, I now have one thing to offer and it’s largely because of you readers. Your many kind comments over the years have been like food and drink to me. You’ve been patient when I’ve offered gibberish, forgiving when I’ve offered offense, and loyal even when I’ve offered recycled stories. These words are all I have to offer, but they’re enough to make me feel I contribute at least something to the life of this blessed place I am so proud to call home.
Thank you so very much.

Special to The Colletonian (1440 Posts)