I’m Back…


“Why, hello there. My, it’s been a long, long time.”

So sings Willie Nelson, and indeed a long time it has been since a “Marlboro Musings” saw print. Publicly, that is. But I digress; that’s another story. Regardless, long-time Herald Advocate readers may recall my columns from what is now more than a decade ago, back in 1998-2001, when good ol’ solid Cliff Marcengill, under the watchful eye of then-Editor Bill Kinney, Jr., was the day-to-day architect of the Marlboro Herald-Advocate. Back in the day of ding-ding-ding-ding dial-up America On-Line, and “You’ve Got Mail.” announcements and four-minute load times for 30 second videos.. Back before Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all the other social media we have today. Back before Smart Phones. Back before 9/11, when everyone’s world was altered

Yeah, more than a few things have changed since 2001. Foremost, for me personally, as I sit at this keyboard tonight resuming this effort, I’m reminded that Cliff is now gone, God Rest His Soul. And so, for that matter, is a lot more of my hair. Back then, Dale Earnhardt was still winning races. Then died making sure one of his own cars did. In fact, to quote another old country tune by Lonestar, “Everything’s Changed.” Everything. Change is, indeed, the one constant in our lives.

Anyway, these columns started simply because I had some things I wanted to say or get y’all’s opinion on, and we’re cranking ‘em back up for the same reason. But now, thanks to the Internet and social media, everyone knows that THEY have a voice, too. So this time I hope to encourage the people smarter than me (that’d be most of ya) to offer their opinion on an issue – I, and many others, would enjoy hearing your perspective, or write in to make public note of something or someone they’ve encountered that was worthy of recognition. We’re not talking about creating a public message board, but we – all of us – do want to hear what you have to say.

And on that note, I want to encourage others to consider participating in the Herald-Advocate’s Community Columnist Team that was recently announced. What a chance to share your experiences or knowledge, while showcasing your writing skills. If you’re a sportsman who relishes bagging that big buck after a couple years of stalking, or wants to tell about the big bass that kept getting away, or can pass along a new technique that your brethren might enjoy, share it with us. Or if you’re a garden hobbyist pass along the latest you’ve learned about new plants or flowers or fertilizing, or what to do and when to your favorite flora. Are you a kitchen master? Write and tell about your favorite recipes – or your newest, or pass along serving tips that you’ve discovered and enjoyed. Is technology your thing? Write about the latest developments or shortcuts or hardware or software and let us all in on the latest and greatest. Knowledge is power and should be shared, and a monthly submission is plenty, so give it some thought. Then give the Herald-Advocate a call.

Moreover, the Herald-Advocate is actually recording the history of Marlboro County, week by week. Get on board and participate. We want you and, truth is, in order to truly make this “Your Newspaper”, the Herald-Advocate needs you.

Because you see, our county, our community, is “us”. You and me, and him, and her. Us. And it is “US” who is going to have to make the decision that our future is going to be bright, and plan a course of action to ensure it. Then work together to make certain that we make Marlboro County better every year, if for no other reason than our kids.

I sense a renewed sense of togetherness in our community. Maybe it was losing Marlboro Park Hospital that forced us to look more inward, or maybe it was an internet video that garnered a few million views that showed a Bennettsville police officer taking a break to play a little football with some neighborhood kids. Not a white cop or black kids, but OUR cop and OUR kids. Or perhaps it was social media itself at work, since it’s allowed us to share our concerns and joys so much more easily.

Regardless of the reason, personally, I think we’ve thrown the dirt on little ol’ Bennettsville and Marlboro County just a tad too soon. Maybe the worm has turned and it’s soon to be our turn to see better times. Significant steps have been taken, measures are in place to encourage progress and we’ve even seen new families relocate to our area. Perhaps our size and low cost of living are making us an attractive rural bedroom community; maybe that will be our niche.

But the bottom line, folks, is our future is up to “us”. As blessed as we were to be spared the worst of the storms that drenched South Carolina to the point or record flooding and widespread devastation, what we did get to see through the actions of others is what WE would be like given similar circumstances, how we would have responded. We can pull together. We’ve done it before and I’d bet we’ll do it time and time again, if necessary.

However, at the end of the day, communication is key, absolutely essential, as it is the critical first step to generating actual action. So pass on posting to Facebook and spread your opinions beyond your “Friends” and on out to your actual neighbors, folks who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to read them and give them thought in any other forum. Despite the benefits of fostering connectivity between old – and new – acquaintances, Facebook is simply too momentary, too transient…it’s here today and, for all practical purposes, gone tomorrow. So help us – and “us” includes “you” – better ourselves and our neighborhoods and our county, OUR Home, by moving that dialogue to the pages of the Herald-Advocate by voicing your opinion via a Letter to the Editor. Or pen an Op-Ed and submit it for consideration. Or become a Citizen Columnist.

Because most importantly, we’d also be most wise to note the observation of Mr. Nelson, who further wrote and sings: “Gee, ain’t it funny, how time just slips away?” And THAT, my friends, is the key: Time. Time is our most precious commodity. And it is far beyond merely transient or fleeting, it is stone-cold now or NEVER. Literally. Every second. And nobody gets ANY time back. So use yours wisely; live and laugh and love. Just don’t let another day, or opportunity, pass without making a difference, in the life of your mate, your family, your neighborhood and, for the sake of all of us, your community.

We need each other; let us hear from you. But, please, please, don’t let time just slip away.

Catch ya later.

One thought on “I’m Back…

  1. Gray, I am so glad that you and your musings are back! I have always believed in you and in your God-given talent for writing. Your “human interest” stories can cause tears of laughter to pour from my eyes and tears of sadness to fall from my heart! I believe that God gives us challenges in life, he slows us down so that we can see the path that he has cleared for us. Sounds like you are taking a few walks on that path these days 🙂 Excellent job! You are the best! Hey, and don’t you ever forget that this little sister of yours can probably still make you say “uncle,” so make sure that you take me along on this beautiful walk that you are just beginning to encounter… Love you….Sandy B.


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