On the Thursday before Christmas, the employees of the Easley Progress celebrated the holidays together, and as I sat at a table surrounded by my co-workers, I learned that we were all, to some degree, new to Pickens County.
Chris, our advertising manager, grew up in upstate New York, and Billy, my fellow reporter, although born here in Pickens County, grew up in West Virginia.
Rhonda, our mother-figure here at the Progress, was the daughter of a military man and grew up just about everywhere, and our general manager and editor, Lonnie, grew up in Alabama before working as a journalist and photographer in the mountains of North Carolina.
I was born in Indiana and spent most of my adult years in Greenville, South Carolina.
We are all the products of another town and another region.
What is called “a drink” here in Pickens County is called a “pop” where I am from, and what is called a winter day here in Pickens County is called a warm spring day where Chris is from. But we have all been welcomed here, and we have been absorbed into the tapestry of Pickens County life.
There are no strangers here, even the cold and distant perception of city government has been reduced to the point that our highest official, Mayor Larry Bagwell, is still referred to as “the coach” by most, and from the railway that divides downtown Easley to the courthouse along Main Street in Pickens, we have all become familiar.
This is our beat, this is our home, and this is where we will be tomorrow.