JF Ptak Science Books Post 2247
(From the Passion of Former Days site--with many more Very Highly Colorful examples of motel advertising postcard art, here.)
Slate Vault's Rebecca Onion shared a great post from the Passion of Former Days site, a feature of colors-not-found-in-nature color postcards from the 1950's or so. They are all striking, and striking in one form or another above being simply striking, but the most striking for me was the Allendale Motor Court's floating Allendale Eden. It is, in its thrift-store-velvet way, a sublime image, a late Renaissance woodblock image depicting normality and piety and an expression of what could come for the obedient and penitent, the promise of the rewarded afterlife (as seen in so many images published in the first 50 years after Gutenberg), lifted from that dusty sleep and re-imagined on this linen-backed postcard promising a happy sleep removed from a dirt road in deep South Carolina.
Above all else, whatever it is in this floating paradise, it is all air conditioned. And heated with steam. And with a telephone. And a "Room TV" (thanks to Linda Anderson for that clarification!)
The town has seen better days. It is a small place--3 square miles--and has a population of 3,800, down from 4,000 a decade ago. The tough part is that the median income in Allendale is $16,000, and the per capita is just $10,000, making for a very hard go. About 60% of the town's under-18 population lives under the poverty line, as does 41% of the population in general. This makes it a poor city in a poor county of a poor state--S.C. ranks 48th in per capita income in the country ($34,000 against a national average of $42,000).[Source] Another site listing S.C. counties and places shows Allendale at 348th in 368 listed areas in the state, with Allendale county coming in at 43rd out of 46 counties for per capita income.
Nearly a third of the town is single-mother households. That is a hard life. I don't know what the percentage of children in town that figure represents--that is, how many of all of the town's children are being raised in single-parent households...but the number seems big. Bigger than the big number that is the national average, where something approaching 30% of all American children are being raised by single parents.
Somehow this is so even though the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie campus is located there--a public school with an enrollment of 1100 and an academic staff of 57. Evidently it does not draw much income for the town.
Part of this problem surely are the sky-high unemployment figures for the town, which topped out at 22% in the years following the 2008 Disaster. Today unemployment stands at about 10%, far above the national avergae of 6.6 (whatever)% There is no telling what these Allendale numbers mean, not knowing how many people simply fell out of the queue for work. The numbers sound mean and nasty.
The floating Eden I think has not been seen in Allendale for quite some time--or at least since Route 95 skirted the town and made one of the major north-south arteries--Route 301--a thing of the past. Or passed. 301 goes through Allendale and in pre-95 times there was quite a tourist trade. I called the newly-expanded library in Allendale and the librarian I spoke with confirmed this. She did tell me though that for as small a place as Allendale is that they get 150-200 patrons a day, which is about 5% of the town's population, which is pretty high traffic, per capita. She was very enthusiastic about her town, and I commmend her for it. "We're expecting great things to happen in Allendale" she said. And I wish every good thing for her.