Thursday, June 30, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Independence Day has special meaning here in Summerville

I knew something wasn’t right last year on the Fourth of July when my daughter quietly walked into the living room and interrupted me to say, “Um, Dad, there’s been an incident.”

She and her college-aged friends were out on the street in front of the house celebrating with fireworks. I know this because the TV show I was trying to watch was interrupted every few seconds by artillery fire that she and everyone else in the neighborhood were blasting well into the night.

No blood was drawn, but the neighbor’s cedar fence had a sulfur burn, as did the neighbor’s garage door across the street, as did the neighbor’s rose bushes around the corner. In fact the errant aerial sent blasts everywhere except into the air.

Everyone was a little shook up, but otherwise OK.

My garden hose put a quick end to the fireworks for the night. Friends went home and my daughter reluctantly went to each neighbor to apologize for “the incident.”

The Fourth of July has been a day to celebrate since the earliest days of our nation, but like many of our holidays, the reason we celebrate has been diluted amongst the many celebrations.

Here in the Lowcountry, we have a connection to the Revolutionary War and the cause of independence that many of our fellow Americans enjoy only by proxy.

As one of the 13 original colonies that united to fight against tyranny, South Carolina and its earliest residents will forever hold a place of honor to all who still today call themselves South Carolinians.

As a recent arrival, I’ve come to understand the significant role of South Carolina in the formation of our nation.

Just last weekend I found myself on a guided tour of Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.

What a treasure we have just minutes from downtown Summerville.

As most longtime residents know, the town of Dorchester was one of the earliest settlements in the area, providing a center for commerce and civilization in the wilderness that still surrounds much of the area.

Little remains of the original settlement – a brick bell tower and a tabby-walled fort protecting the remains of a brick powder magazine. The fort was built during the late 1750s and fortified in 1775 to provide protection from invading British forces.

Several archaeological digs as well as remaining maps have provided clues about what Revolutionary War-era life was like for our earliest residents. The solid brick homes and walled fortress tell us that defending against invading forces was always on their mind.

The war that granted America its freedom – as well as the changing economy and improvements in transportation – ushered in the end of the settlement of Dorchester and beginning of the town of Summerville.

Although Summerville didn’t become an official town until 1847, we owe our development to the settlers that moved to this area to find freedom, prosperity and opportunity.

Now more than ever we should honor the vision and sacrifices of our town’s earliest forefathers. To them celebrating the cause of freedom was much more than an incident.

Enjoy a safe Fourth of July holiday.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

Friday, June 17, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Fathers day gifts come in various packages

David Kennard

Fathers Day is upon us.

That means a new tie, perhaps some new socks and maybe a card from the kids – perhaps a phone call, or a mention in a Facebook post.

Despite what Home Depot would like you to think, Father’s Day isn’t really the same holiday as Mother’s Day. It’s really more along the lines of Secretary’s Day – worth a mention but otherwise it’s just another day, with perhaps an excuse to grill some steak and watch some baseball on TV.

At least that’s the way it is in our house.

I’m not complaining. I’ve received some pretty nice things over the years – lawn equipment, electronics, most of the socks in my drawer – but some of the best gifts have been more subtle.

As a father of four, now mostly grown children, I’ve prepared a list of the Best Father’s Day gifts – both given and received.

No. 1 on my list: A game of catch with my oldest son, Nate. He played Little League baseball growing up, which meant we often spent time in the back yard throwing a baseball back and forth. Working on form, aim, distance, whatever. There’s something really satisfying to a father about the sound of a fast ball thrown by his son as the ball smacks the sweet spot of a leather mitt.

No. 2: Bamboo pole fishing with your children. Any lazy Saturday afternoon is a Father’s Day gift if you can catch a ton of sunfish on a bamboo pole baited with a simple red worm.

I’ve got some pretty cool fishing gear that has mostly not caught much, but the most enjoyment I’ve had is watching the excitement on my children’s faces when they latch onto a wriggling blue gill.

No. 3: Eating burned hot dogs. My children will tell you that I am a hot dog snob. They must be all beef; they must be cooked until they plump and they must be topped only with ketchup and mustard, maybe some sauerkraut. My children, on the other hand, all like them blackened. The blacker, the better. I don’t get it, but at least they’re easy to cook that way.

No 4: Packing for your first Boy Scout trip. One of the fondest memories of my own father was the days and days he spent gathering all the equipment I needed for my first 5-mile back-packing trip with my Boy Scouts troop. I had a brand new 6-pound external frame pack, a new 4-pound folding trench shovel, a new 2-pound aluminum mess kit, A 13-pound two-man tent with rain fly, a new 3-pound D-cell flashlight, at least 5 pounds of canned beans, sardines and beef jerky. A sleeping bag, sleeping pad rain poncho and assorting clothing, fishing gear, and miscellaneous other odds and ends.

When I showed up to the church parking lot to load up with the other boys, I could barely lift the pack, which weighed something close to 60 pounds. At 11 years old, I think I may have weighed 90 pounds.

Most of the gear that Dad had gone to great lengths to shove into that new pack was left in the back of my scoutmaster’s pickup truck. Dad was great, and I believe I still have that old folding shovel somewhere.

No. 5-10: Riding roller coasters together with your children, watching Ohio State play for the National Championship, reading the Sunday Funnies together, daddy-daughter dates that include Peanut Buster Parfaits, building tree forts and blanket forts.

Father’s Day Life Hack: Finally here’s a secret tip for fathers that my father-in-law shared with me sometime around the birth of my only daughter. When she becomes a teenager and wants you drive her and her friends all over town, but doesn’t want you butting into their conversations, just adjust the car’s speakers so the sound fades only to the rear seat. It makes it a lot easier to eavesdrop.

Happy Father’s Day.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter

Friday, June 10, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: Sweet tea world record a good way to celebrate big move

By David Kennard

A new world record is expected to be broken today in Summerville when thousands will sample sweet tea from a 2,400 gallon “mason jar.”

The tea will be brewed using 210 pounds of local tea and 1,600 pounds of sugar. The newly constructed tea container - which is made from an industrial sized water tank – will be filled using a fire hydrant to dwarf last year’s batch of just 1,425 gallons.

The record will be set in the Guinness Book of World Records under the category of “World’s Largest Iced Tea” because there is no category for sweet tea. But because the event will take place in Summerville, birthplace of sweet tea – and the fact that it will be made with 1,600 pounds of sugar – there is little doubt that anyone will mistake it for anything other than sweet tea.

Tea will begin to be served at 5 p.m. Friday outside Summerville Town Hall.
This is the second year Summerville has brewed the world record-setting tea, but it will be my first time attending. Since I arrived in town in December, I’ve heard lots of build-up to the event and I am certain it won’t disappoint.

Last week, as I moved my family across the country to South Carolina, I got to see a few other “world’s record” things.

We began our tour at the southern Utah ghost town of Sego. The only thing that remains of the town now are a few roofless stone buildings and an old rusted car. In its day it was a coal-mining boom town, but the lack of a reliable water source doomed the settlement to be reclaimed by the arid southern Utah desert and red rock.

On the way to the ghost town, which is only about 10 minutes off of Interstate 70 just past the almost ghost town of Thompson, Utah – there is still a gas station there – we discovered some of the world’s oldest graffiti drawn on sandstone cliffs. Created by the Fremont culture sometime between AD 1 and 1300, these rock drawings included both petroglyphs and pictographs. Dozens of images of bighorn sheep and hunters with bows adorned the cliffs. The images also contained drawings of weird alien looking figures that no one has been able to figure out.

Further west as we traveled through Colorado, we drove through the world’s longest and highest elevation road tunnels. The Eisenhower tunnel was constructed in the early 1970s to allow traffic to travel under the Continental Divide rather than over the treacherous Loveland Pass, which also holds a record as the highest mountain pass in the world, (11,990 feet) that is maintained year-round for passenger travel.

For what it’s worth, Loveland Pass also is home to Loveland Ski Area where, at 16 years old, I taught my father how to ski when he was in his 50s. That’s not a world record of any kind, but still impressive in my mind.

As we moved into Kansas, however, well that’s where the world records began to really shine. We first stumbled upon the world’s largest artist’s easel in Goodland, Kansas. Because Kansas is the Sunflower state the painting on the easel is a version of “Three Sunflowers In A Vase” by Van Gogh.

This man-made wonder stands 80 feet tall and is the centerpiece of a local city park maintained by the local Rotary Club. Further east in Kansas is another obscure world record - the world’s largest ball of bailing twine sits majestically in a small roadside park under its own covered structure. I am not sure why, but like Goodland, the fine residents of Cawker City, Kansas, have latched onto this oddity, giving the house-sized ball of twine its own annual festival where visitors can add to the ball each year.

Our trip took us through St. Louis, world’s largest man-made monument, 630-foot Gateway Arch; Nashville, world’s longest-running radio broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry; Atlanta, world’s most aggressive drivers (my opinion), and finally Summerville.

Finally home in South Carolina, we were able to enjoy a rest from our weeklong road trip across the country. I’m now looking forward to settling in a bit and I can’t think of a better way to start than enjoying tonight’s festivities in Summerville. See you there.

David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.