Nat Chandler on Greenwood, SC

What does Greenwood me to me? I was born in 1957, before the internet, cell phones or cable tv. I grew up in Greenwood in a time when there was one high school, one college and one zip code. We did have an antenna on the roof, which was connected by wire to a big dial on top of our television set. All we had to do was “dial up” a clear signal from either Greenville or Asheville. Up and down our neighborhood streets, rooftop antennae revolved round and round to get the clearest possible picture of Walter Cronkite. What we had were three networks…and each other.

The social upheaval and Vietnam War of the 1960’s was a present, but distant backdrop for me as a boy, sheltered in the innocence of our fair city. I love the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Church was everything. It framed my family’s week from start to finish. Of course the crown jewel was the Sunday morning service led by Bowers and Davis. The organist was a surgeon named Dr. Adams, who played beautifully. There was choir practice and other Wednesday night activities, summer church camps in the mountains and at the beach, training unions, bible schools, sword drills and Sunbeams. Jesus wanted me for a Sunbeam. I loved that.

In the public schools, there were big physical education classes everyday where we learned to cope with whatever was lobbed at us in big fields with lots of space to climb and run. The YMCA provided after hours sports all year long, and the annual All-Star game in which I got to play in the early 1970’s. There were other public school opportunities, too, like glee club, writing for the newspaper and putting the school annual together. I was a member of the Boy Scouts, which met in my church, and Scout leaders were church members. Our Scout troop also had its own mountain trips to Camp Old Indian in the summer. Guitar was big and several of us played. I was very average, but good for around the campfire.

One of my two piano teachers was a unique English lady who appreciated my talents. I loved the way she sounded when she spoke, and she raised my consciousness about people from places far away from my home. I also briefly studied organ keyboard playing with the surgeon, Dr. Adams. There was the community theatre—then called the “Little Theatre” which provided Greenwoodians an artsy outlet. Led by McKellar and Suber at that time, these men were outsized personalities that expanded our minds. Greenwood also had the community concert series, a real asset for the cultural life of the town. Whenever a concert was scheduled, either my parents or any of my teachers made sure I had a seat.

I mentioned that I like the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. I love the trust, love and nurturing that phrase implies. This is what Greenwood means to me. I’ll always be thankful for my village. It was my fertile foundation. It let me stumble, and generously encouraged my talents. It will always be a mental buoy, and a springboard into life that I’m gratefully tethered to.

Nat Chandler is a singer, actor, producer and free-lance writer living in New York City.



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