Archive for the ‘Postcards’ Category

Postcard #138 (Pulse)


6/12/17 I drove by Pulse this morning, one year after the terrorist attack in Orlando

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©2017 Scott W. Smith

That little sliver of land at the bottom of the frame is Cumberland Island in Georgia. I took this shot on a morning walk on Jekyll Island last week. Little did I know that today’s New York Times would have a full page spread on the travel section on Cumberland Island. The print version is called Almost Out of Reach, and the online version is called On a Georgia Island, a Lot of Good Food and Plenty of Nothing. 

That Times article by Kim Severson talks about how you can only get to the island by ferry, only 300 visitors a day are allowed on the island, and except for limited camping sites the only place to stay is the Greyfield Inn.

I’ve yet to visit the island, but I hope to one day to see the feral horses that roam the island. Cumberland Island is also where John F. Kennedy Jr. married Carolyn Bessette in 1996. (Written about in the New York Times article The Island That Kept A Wedding A Secret.)

Scott W. Smith

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St Augustine_9706

If you hit St. Augustine, Florida when the sun is right (early morning, late afternoon) it’s hard to take a bad picture. I first visited St. Augustine on a fifth grade field trip and it’s been a magical place for me every since that first visit.

The film industry has been coming to St. Augustine to shoot as far back as the silent days when parts of The Perils of Pauline (1914) were shot in the historic city. Peter Bogdanovich directed Illegally Yours (1988) starring Rob Lowe in St. Augustine.

It’s a place always ready for a close-up.

Scott W. Smith

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“Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America.”
President Lyndon B. Johnson

CarlIMG_9046.JPGToday I visited the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Three time Pulitzer Prize winning poet/biographer Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was born in Galesburg, IL, kicked around various places in the Midwest, before spending his last 22 years living in the above house. The house sits on 246 acres.

Some of Sandburg’s best know work are Chicago PoemsAbraham Lincoln: The War Years, and Rootabaga Stories. Sandburg was also a musician with a fondness for folk music and published 294 songs in The American Songbag that helped inspire a new generation of singer/songwriters.

Here’s an interesting exchange when a young Bob Dylan once stopped by Sandburg’s North Carolina house:

“You’re Carl Sandburg,” Dylan said, not asking. “I’m Bob Dylan. I’m a poet, too.”

“How nice,” Sandburg said, his smile saying another kid who wants to be a poet. But he tried to be gracious and said, “Come, sit a while.” Mrs. Sandburg joined them, smiling but not saying anything.

“I’ve written some songs, Mr. Sandburg,” Dylan said. “I know Woody Guthrie, he’s very sick in a hospital, he talked about you a lot. Got some songs here I’d appreciate you listening to.” He handed Sandburg one of the albums and the poet took it and said, “That’s wonderful,” but it was clear he was simply being polite.
Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography, Part Two by Anthony Scaduto
Rolling Stone magazine, March 1972

And along with the Pulitzer Prizes, Dylan seeking him out, there are these photos of Sandburg with Marilyn Monroe—just the life of your average poet tucked away on a goat farm in Western Carolina.

It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where and I going?’”
Carl Sandburg

Scott W. Smith

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I’d avoided Chimney Rock for decades because it seemed too touristy, but today I walked the steps to the top and the weather and the views were fantastic.

Some of the scenes from The Last of the Mohicans  (1992) were shot at Chimney Rock.

And that skinny lake in the background of my photo is Lake Lure where parts of Dirty Dancing (1987) were filmed.  Two iconic films shot in one area of western North Carolina.

Scott W. Smith


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This afternoon I was in Asheville, North Carolina (the Austin of the South—though you might get some pushback from Nashville) and thought I’d have a photo from there today, but instead my postcard from the road comes from a photo I took in historic downtown Hendersonville (just south of Asheville). It’s of a statue of bear painted by artists Miriam M. Hughes, Timothy Day and Betty Stebbins and titles “Aurora Bearalis.” It will be auctioned on October 21, 2017 to benefit Hendersonville Habitat for Humanity. (Contact DowntownHendersonville.org if interested. Here’s a PDF link for more info in all the bear artwork on Main St.)

Scott W. Smith 

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I did a video production in Greenville, South Carolina just over a decade ago and found that it was one of my favorite towns in the South. Visiting there today it’s even nicer than it was a decade ago. Greenville is artsy and outdoorsy (hiking, biking, kayaking). It’s home to Furman University and business seems good.

Forbes Magazine even listed Greenville, S.C. as one of the top downtowns in America. (And right now, someone in Los Angeles is reading this thinking, “Greenville has a downtown?” Right next to Greenville on that Forbes list is Santa Monica.)

Main st

Main Street in Greenville

What I learned on this trip is the man behind the downtown Greenville’s renewal was Max Heller. An unlikely character to brought to the South in an unlikely situation. While the Jewish Heller was just nineteen he fled when his hometown ofVienna, Austria when the Nazis moved in. He had a sponsor in Mary Mills, a Greenville native, who arranged for him to get a job with the Piedmont Shirt Company in Greenville.

Heller eventually became a VP at that company before starting his own shirt company which grew to 700 employees before he sold the company in 1962. From 1971—1979 he was the mayor of Greenville and set out bring revitalization to downtown Greenville and helped transform the Main St. area into version of a European village. Just like the kind he knew back home before he fled the coming Holocaust.


Max Heller fled Europe and arrived in Greenville with $1.60 in his pocket.  


Heller died in 2011 at 92 and there’s now a statue of him overlooking Main St. in Greenville. Perhaps an unlikely figure to pop up on a blog on screenwriting, but this blog has always been friendly to unlikely places and unlikely people. And a great story is a great story.

P.S. I imagine someone else has written about this before, but there has to be some connecting tissue between the transformation that Heller brought to Greenville and BMW locating their sole North American vehicle manufacturing plant in nearby Spartanburg County, South Carolina. BWM employees 8,800 employees in South Carolina. If you drive a X3, X4, X5, or X6 cross-over SUV it was built in South Carolina.

P.P.S. The only film I can find that was partly shot in Greenville was the George Clooney film Leatherheads.  And since that’s a football film I should mention that Clemson University (who won the NCAA Football National Championship earlier this year) is located 40 miles west of Greenville.

Scott W. Smith 

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