Traveling south of Camden on Highway 521, I pass under I-20 and smile, knowing the hectic pace of interstate travel isn’t in the plans today. A few miles ahead, merging right onto Highway 261, I soak up the view, passing old churches, farms, and swamps along the way. Rounding a curve, Boykin awaits. Some might say there’s nothing much to see, but that’s not true. Boykin’s location and buildings hold a distinct legacy in South Carolina history. Seven sites in Boykin are included in the National Register of Historic Places. The last Civil War battle in South Carolina took place near Boykin; the historic Boykin Mill produced food staples for centuries in the local community. Entering the Greek Revival building at Swift Creek Baptist Church, I enjoy the late afternoon sun striking the longleaf pine floor planks. The golden light filling the church might remind us what heaven looks like.
In my kitchen corner lies a broom I try not to use. The broom reminds me of a glorious day in Boykin as I enjoyed the honor of photographing Susan Simpson at the Broom Place. I spent half a day marveling at the techniques, artistry, and personality Susan crafted into her brooms. She used straw from Mexico, handles from Texas, machinery more than 100 years old, and she dyed the straw vibrant colors of red, blue, yellow, and gold. Susan’s artistry was in great demand, and broom orders were backed up three years. I left with a beautiful broom Susan gave to me. I was sad to hear of her passing in 2020, and I won’t use her broom in my kitchen. I don’t want to diminish the legacy of her artistry.
It’s a lot like traveling the state of South Carolina — like Susan’s brooms, the history, experiences, and colors are amazing.