Every area that has people in it, from schools to cities, has odd stories tied to the land and the generations that have occupied it. This of course remains true for states, and our own is no exception. “Strange South Carolina” by Sherman Carmichael is a collection of these oddities found in the Palmetto State.
When thinking about the “strange,” it is easy to conjure ideas related to ghostly phenomenon.
However, while Carmichael does include plenty of reported hauntings and other spooky manifestations, his book isn’t centered on horror, nor is it meant to invoke fear. Some stories are certainly creepy, but “strange” covers everything from the unusual to bizarre to downright scary.
Accompanied by cartoons drawn by Ben Fortson to add character to some stories, this assemblage of the weird and unexplained is an interesting look at South Carolina. Some accounts are fairly recent, like a mysterious explosion over Greenville back in 2012, while many others dip into the state’s past.
For instance, there are many tales focused around what we now know as historical landmarks, from plantations to parks. Familiar to our area are the Litchfield and Wachesaw Plantations, both reporting ghost hauntings and unusual happenings.
From more recent times, Carmichael describes reports surrounding a “Lizard Man” making appearances near Bishopville and a mysterious flying bat creature startling many drivers in Pickens County. Other less dramatic but certainly no less “strange” accounts of our dear state include details of Pirateland’s struggles and South of the Border, which is certainly a place that makes South Carolina stand out.
Much of Carmichael’s writing style involves listing facts, especially when it comes to describing areas with local history and lore. He also uses this matter-of- fact tone when it comes to the reports describing the weird places or events, no matter how puerile they might sound.
In keeping with his writing style, Carmichael rarely offers his own opinion on the peculiar stories he’s collected. More often than not, he is inviting the readers to ponder with him the reality of the tales. In effect, he is encouraging the audience to feed their curiosities and imaginations by wondering what other possible truths there might be.
A lot of history is involved in the quirks of our state, and Carmichael has pulled stories from so many different time periods. He has put a lot of research into this “strange” collection, and even points out when his attempts lead him to a dead end. All in all, “Strange South Carolina” is certainly a loving peek into the palmetto state, and everything that makes it unique.
Emily Smith, For The Sun News.
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At A Glance
Title | “Strange South Carolina”
Author | Sherman Carmichael
Publisher | The History Press
Length | 169 pages
Cost | $21.99