My road to Landrum

Monday, March 17, 2014

My road to Landrum

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2014

Landrum - Kens Meat Fish
By Claudia Geagan
Produced in cooperation with the HubCity Writers Project.

I used to be a city mouse, and by “city,” I mean places like Los Angeles or New York. Where, but there, I asked myself, could I find so much life? Where but there could I find so many interesting people and such great food to say nothing of the shopping? So what if they also provide plenty of crime and dirt. But now that I’ve become a country mouse, and I know the answer to “where.” Landrum, South Carolina, that’s where. And, with beautiful scenery to boot.

Landrum, founded in 1880 and incorporated in 1912, has 2,400 people and an area of 2.4 square miles. Within that small space and with that small number of people, Landrum satisfies not just my needs for food, clothes, banking and hardware, but most importantly, it provides a sense of belonging.

Landrum - PJ Fashions
Last week I took the short drive to downtown Landrum from my home, past pastures and peach trees and small family farms. Once there, I shared an iced tea with Suzanne Strickland in her restaurant, Stone Soup, where the dishes rely heavily on ingredients from local farms. It’s my go-to place for out-of-town guests, and seemed like a good place to start to dig a little deeper into the heart of my adopted town.

Suzanne calls the Landrum area soul nourishing, and I agree. Suzanne and her fellow businesspeople are succeeding in making Landrum a place to satisfy both our physical needs and our longing to belong. Plus it’s a fun place to shop.

Years ago, when I moved away from Los Angeles, I walked to the end of the TWA terminal, peered down at L.A. and wished the blazing sprawl of lights good-bye. I told the palm trees and the freeways, even the smog, that I would miss them. But mine was a fickle and restless heart. Not long after I deplaned at JFK, I’d fallen for Manhattan—hook, line and subway. But my love affair with New York didn’t last either.

Landrum - Horse & Home
In 1996, my husband and I were living in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, when he started to search for the perfect place to live. I was at work when he called from a bed and breakfast on Landrum’s Trade Street. “I’ve found it,” he gushed. “Our new town is called Landrum.”

“Okay,” I said dubiously, and hung up.

But once I got here, I found a love that has withstood the test of time. Landrum, along with the hills and horse farms that surround it, is the real center of the universe.

This year I ordered my all-natural Thanksgiving Turkey from Ken’s Fine Meats and Seafood on Main Street, and his fish is as fresh as anything I bought in all those years near oceans. If I want something special I can order it.

If I need my car serviced, I use Jimmy Ross’s Garage. He knows at least as much about my car as my dealer and is better priced.

Landrum - Quilt Trail
If I want to paint a room or an entire house, I call Tom Williamson at Williamson’s Paint Center on North Trade. He’s as fine a colorist as anyone anywhere. For home improvement, Landrum Hardware not only carries what I want, but helps me find it. I bank and buy food in Landrum (Dutch Country Foods carries the best deli meats I have ever tasted), but what if all I want is a little shopping fun?

Main Street is a gold mine of antique and decorating stores. Interested in 20th century cultural memorabilia? Try Carolina Antiques & More. Talk to Chris and Linda Howard, the owners. Chris’s family was in Landrum before it was Landrum. If you need a Pure Oil gas pump, you can pick one up while you are there.

Or visit Horse & Home for décor and gifts for the horse enthusiast and talk to Stephanie. While Chris Howard’s family has been here for centuries, Stephanie migrated from Pennsylvania a while back and never wants to leave.

For quilters or just quilt admirers, Landrum has Elaine’s Attic, which provides a sophisticated array of quilting materials as well as instruction. The town of Landrum founded the Foothills Quilt Trail, and you can see the colorful squares on buildings all over the area.

Landrum - Pure Oil Pump
What if you need your hair done or an outfit for a special occasion? Landrum, of course! Patti Lynch at Headlines on Poplar Street creates sophisticated but easygoing styles for her customers, and PJ’s on Main is what my friend Marybeth Trunk calls her “home away from home.” PJ’s is a mother-daughter enterprise offering fashions for women of all ages. (Pictured here are avid customer Marybeth Trunk and shop co-owner Kelley Steinman in chic fall coats.)

Landrum is where my sister wants to stroll when she visits from Los Angeles. It’s where my daughter likes to roam when she drives over from Chapel Hill. Landrum has dozens of shops and restaurants: Foothills Amish Furniture, Covington & Company Jewelry, Sissy’s for gifts, The Hare and Hound Pub, El Chile Rojo, Southside Smokehouse & Grille or Zensara, among them. I wish I could name every one. I’m missing so many.

When I leave, I know I’ll be back. It’s as though the gravitational pull of my life has been leading right here. Everywhere I go in Landrum, everywhere any of us goes, we can expect to be treated not just like customers, but like friends. And that, my friend, is why Landrum is the center of my universe, why it’s soul nourishing just to be here.

Claudia Geagan, Produced in cooperation with the HubCity Writers Project.

Claudia Geagan lives and writes on a leafy hillside near Landrum. She was formerly the Retirement Plans Manager for Kmart Corporation.

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