Category Archives: Information

CLEMSON’S HISTORIC BLUES NIGHT CLUB THE LITTLEJOHN’S GRILL

REMEMBERING CLEMSON’S HISTORIC LITTLEJOHN GRILL

During the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, if you were black and lived in Clemson,SC, about the only place you could go for food and entertainment was the Littlejohn Grill.  Segregation was the law and when it came to social activities the races usually did not mix

“Located halfway between Clemson and Central on SC Highway 93” the Grill provided a “nice, family kind of place and was owned by Horace Littlejohn,” according to City of Clemson archives. Couples frequenting the Grill could eat, dance and listen to the latest music. Over the years many future jazz and blues stars appeared at the club, honing skills that would take them to the top of the music business.

Patrons visiting during its glory days remember the Grill consisted of an upstairs restaurant and a downstairs dance floor and bandstand. That building was demolished in the late 1980’s and in its place stands the Littlejohn Community Center, named in honor of Horace Littlejohn in 1996. The center provides daycare, after-school enrichment and other programs and services for the community. In its time Littlejohn Grill was the social center of African-American activities in Tigertown, says Adraine Jackson-Garner, Littlejohn’s granddaughter. “I remember my family talking about the Grill and all of the good times that were had there,” said Jackson-Garner.

The list of Grill celebrities is long and impressive. Many remember Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte, Piano Red, Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong and James Brown appearing on stage. These performers all went on to become big names in the entertainment world, but first polished their acts on the “chitlin’circuit” performing at segregated venues like the Grill.

Music historian Oscar J Jordon III,  says that the chitlin’ circuit was an unofficial group of night clubs, honky tonks, juke joints and restaurants, mostly in the south, that were acceptable places for black entertainers to perform during the Jim Crow (segregation) era.

“Chitlins” sometimes spelled “chitterlings” are boiled pig intestines.  This popular soul food, served in many establishments during the heyday of the blues, was considered a delicacy, by some. “Chitlin’ circuit” was a name adopted by the people who performed in these clubs and restaurants. “It was one way of saying, we are not eating high on the hog yet, but we are going to make it,” Jordon says.

Barry Potik, an expert on the origins of words and terms in the English language, writes that the phrase “chitlin’ circuit” first appeared in print in 1967 and is usually attributed to the late rhythm and blues artist Lou Rawls.

Famous chitlin’ circuit venues include the Apollo Theater in New York, Royal Peacock in Atlanta and the Victory Grill in Austin, TX. In 1998 the Victory Grill was added to the National Register of Historic Places, Potik says.

Blues man John Lee Hooker never made it to Littlejohn, instead making a living playing the chitlin’ circuit in Mississippi, Louisiana and Memphis, TN. Hooker took his blues sound to San Francisco, became famous, and even owned his own blues club in the Bay Area. He once said, “You couldn’t buy any friends, but you could damn sure make some down payments” humorously referring to the small amounts of money paid to black musicians on the chitlin’ circuit.

Ella Jane Littlejohn Jackson, Horace’s daughter, says that “the cafe”, as it was known when she was a child, was a small building perhaps 50feet by 75 feet.  “In back of the cafe was a small hotel where people (performers) could stay overnight. The building, more cabin than hotel, was rustic. Staying overnight was like camping out,” Jackson said.

Jackson remembers that her father tolerated no fighting or rough behavior at his Grill. Many Saturday nights Clemson police chief Wade Campbell was on hand when a large crowd was expected. “Beer was legal, but liquor was not. If you were caught with strong spirits, you went to jail,” Jackson said.

“I remember James Brown performed at the Cafe many Saturday nights early in his career. He must have been 18 or 20 years old at the time. He was very popular and always drew a big crowd. The stage was so close to the audience that you could touch the performers. James seemed to forget the cafe and South Carolina after he became famous. He always talked about Augusta, GA, but he started out in Clemson,” Jackson said.

Brown, born in Barnwell, SC in 1933, was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to serve time at the nearby Alto, GA youth offender facility at the young age of 15. He received leniency due to good behavior and his ability to sing and perform, a common theme among blues performers. After release from prison Brown lived in the Toccoa, GA area performing at juke joints whenever possible. Performing in night clubs helped build the reputation and skills that launched him into superstardom, according to his biography.

Many patrons of Littlejohn Grill remember that Brown was so popular that white Clemson College students would come to the Grill to see him perform. “There wasn’t any problem with the white students coming to the café. They just wanted to see and hear some good dancing and singing,” said Dorothy Jones of Clemson.

One Littlejohn Grill story, told by Savannah Anderson, involves Brown jumping from the upper story balcony to the dance floor below. “People thought he was crazy. He could really dance and put on a show. The crowd loved it. My husband and I really enjoyed James Brown,” Anderson said.

Another Brown story involved Lucy McDowell and her sister who lived in Pendleton at the time. “My sister came home one day and told mama that she was going out with James Brown on Saturday night. Mama gasped and said ‘Oh hell no you ain’t,’” according to McDowell. Brown had a well-deserved reputation as a lady’s man, according to local legend.

Bennie Cunningham Jr., career counselor at Westminster’s West Oak High School, said that he remembers visiting Littlejohn Grill in the early 1970’s. “It was in decline in those days. People remember seeing great entertainment there in the 50’s and 60’s, particularly James Brown. My dad remembers seeing Brown perform at Littlejohn early in his (Brown’s) career,” Cunningham said.

Ray Charles made several visits to Clemson early in his career. One story that is told occurred in the late 1950’s or early 60’s and involved Clemson football coach Frank Howard. Apparently, it was Clemson custom to allow the football players to select a band or musical group to play at a special party hosted for the football players and their dates at the end of the football season. The football team told Howard they wanted a little known musician by the name of Ray Charles to play at the event. Howard told the team to make the arrangements. When Charles arrived in a big bus Howard realized that he was black. “We can’t have a black man play at a Clemson event,” Howard said. The team was heartbroken. “But this is Ray Charles,” the team pleaded. Howard was moved by the team’s insistence and made arrangements to rent a club in Anderson that allowed blacks and whites to mix in a social setting. Charles was able to successfully break the color barrier and was on the road to stardom, appealing to both audiences.

Dorothy Jones of Clemson said Horace Littlejohn also had a small club in the vicinity of the Ramada Inn and CVS Pharmacy at the corner of US 123 and SC 76 highways. “It had a dance floor and you could buy drinks there. I remember Horace had a lot of Little Richard records in the jukebox, but I don’t think Little Richard ever made it to Clemson,” Jones said.

Jones remembers going to Tom Littlejohn’s place in Central. “Tom was Horace’s father. He ran a place that catered to high school kids. We all went to the black high school in Liberty. After school we went to Tom’s place to eat and dance. It was a lot of fun to go there and listen to music,” she said.

Some have suggested that a historical marker should be placed on the site of the former Littlejohn Grill. Matthew Green, president of the board of directors for the Clemson Area African American Museum, said that many times black history is not adequately recorded. “If you look at the history of this area it is hard to find African American historical information,” he said. “It is very important to record as much history as is possible to pass on to future generations,” Green said.

HUMMINGBIRDS

HUMMINGBIRDS COME BACK LIKE THE SWALLOWS OF CAPISTRANO

By Vince Jackson

Do some birds return to the same area year after year?  In most cases the answer is “yes” they do come back to the same place. How they navigate is a tougher question.

Many people say they witness, in early spring, hummingbirds returning to same spot where a nectar feeder hung the year before. It is as if the bird is searching for that feeder, they say. Birds have the ability to orient on a location and return to the same area the next year by some method that is not completely understood, say bird experts.

John James Audubon, American bird painter and ornithologist, wondered if it was true that the same birds returned each year to his farm in New York. To prove his theory Audubon tied a silk thread to a young phoebe’s leg one summer morning. Come spring the same bird returned and nested in the place it was hatched the year before. Audubon may have been the first to prove that birds can navigate and that their migrations are not random.

Hummers that spent the winter in Mexico are now taking up residence again in the Upstate and are enjoying flowers and feeders provided for them. Steve Holzman of the Georgia Ornithological Society offers the following tips to safely attract and watch hummingbirds:

The commercial red dye nectar products are unnecessary and might even be harmful to hummers. To make nectar boil one cup of water and add ¼ cup of white sugar, never use any other type of sweetener, artificial or natural, to feed hummingbirds. Homemade nectar can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

It is important to change the nectar in feeders every three days. Black mold will form in the feeder if the nectar is left outside too long. The mold can be harmful to the birds. Clean the feeder with soap and water and allow it to dry before refilling.

Purchase a feeder that can be easily disassembled for cleaning. Many feeders on the market are not easy to clean and can cause health problems for hummingbirds if used when contaminated.

Birds are sometimes disoriented by reflections in large picture windows. Many times birds will fly into a window with enough force to be killed or injured. Caution should be used when placing any bird feeder near large windows.

Hummers are real acrobats performing feats by rapidly flying in circles or changing direction quickly and darting off in a new direction. They can even flying backward. It is untrue that hummingbirds do not have feet and never perch, but this myth continues to be recited as fact. Hummers perch quite often and draw their feet and legs close to their body when in flight.

Hummingbirds are attracted to areas near streams and lakes, but will nest in heavily wooded areas. Their nest is about the circumference of a half dollar and is made of lichen and spider web.

Hummers do seem to like the color red, so red flowers like salvias, cardinal flower, bee balm and trumpet creeper, or cow itch, will attract them. Hummingbirds will show interest in most any bell-shaped flower that produces abundant nectar. Experiment with plantings and see what works best to attract these birds.

Fall is the best time to see large numbers of hummingbirds, when the young begin to fly and the population literally doubles. September and October are prime months for viewing North America’s smallest bird, so make sure feeders are set-up at that time. By mid-October the birds are actively migrating and will not return until April of the next year.  Hummers are very aggressive and have been known to attack much larger birds, like hawks, as well as each other.

Enjoy hummingbirds by feeding properly, placing feeders in safe locations and learning as much as you can about them.

WILL E-VERIFY CONTINUE TO EXIST?

SOME LEFT WONDERING WHY E-VERIFY STRIPPED FROM STIMULUS BILL

By Vince Jackson

The final version of the federal Economic Stimulus Bill does not contain a provision requiring the use of the E-Verify system in the hiring of employees on federal stimulus projects. The current requirement to verify federal contract employees is due to expire on March 6.

The provision was originally included in the House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill, but was deleted from the final reconciliation package before being signed by President Obama this week.

Locally, Pickens County, SC has used E-Verify to screen all new employees, the State of South Carolina uses it for certifying workers of companies that employ over 500 people and participate in state contacts. Last fall, then President Bush extended the requirement that contractors doing business in the federal workplace certify that their employees are legally able to work in this country.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration have partnered to, quickly and without charge, verify the legal status of any worker in the United States, according to the Homeland Security webpage.

Margaret Thompson, an outspoken advocate of the E-Verify system, said “Our leaders are spineless when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws and the protection of the jobs of American workers.”

Thompson said that a group of concerned citizens plans to speak-out at Anderson city and county council meetings in the future about the hiring of illegal workers on public projects, that are paid for with local tax dollars.

“We want our local officials to understand that jobs are being lost because contractors are skirting the law and hiring illegal workers,” Thompson said.

Stuart Sprague, chairman of the Anderson County Democratic Party, said that he was not up to speed on some provisions of the stimulus package and could not comment at this time.

Lee Rogers, chairman of the Anderson County Republican Party, said “I do not understand why E-Verify would be dropped from the stimulus bill. I can only hope that it will continue to be a part of the state and federal job verification process.”

Joe Guzzardi, a consultant for NumbersUSA and former California Democratic gubernatorial candidate,  “It is a very sad realization that our leaders do not have America’s best interests at heart. I work with E-Verify every day and I know that it works. Why would we want illegal workers on our state and federal payrolls being paid with stimulus money?”

John Painter, Pickens County Democratic chairman, said “My hope is that Gov. Sanford will take advantage of the Stimulus Package, because the taxpayers of SC will pay it back no matter what the outcomes.”

It is unclear what the status of Homeland Security’s e-verification process will be or what the effect of not re-authorizing the federal requirement will have on state and local programs.

E-VERIFY IT WORKS

E-VERIFY SYSTEM WORKS, SAY PICKENS COUNTY OFFICIALS

By Vince Jackson

From the Anderson Independent-Mail

Illegal workers face added restrictions to working in South Carolina since a new law went into effect requiring employers to use E-Verify or other federal work authorization programs on January 1.

The law requires all public employers and public contractors employing over 500 people electronically check and verify the employment eligibility of new employees by accessing a federal database.

Last year the Pickens County Council voted to require that all new county employees be documented as legal workers. The county also required all vendors doing business with Pickens County certify that they are not knowingly using illegal workers on any county projects.

Margaret Thompson, a Pickens County resident who supported the law, said information she has received from county officials is that it works.

“Pickens County decided last summer to go beyond the state requirements and immediately require anyone working for and doing business with this county refrain from using illegal workers,” she said.

Jennifer Woods, human resources director for Pickens County, said “E-Verify is phenomenal. I don’t know why anyone would not want to use it. It is free and you can get results in 30 seconds,” she said.

Woods said the verification system only required about 30 minutes of training before she could use the program successfully.

E-Verify can detect document fraud by matching photos of employees to the employee’s picture ID. Social security numbers are matched to employee records to ensure compliance with the law, say state officials.

Currently, only three states, Arizona, South Carolina and Mississippi have laws on the books that require E-Verification.

Newly confirmed Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, has watched the E-Verify system at work in her state for the past year. At her Senate confirmation hearing she said she would work to bring pressure on employers to stop hiring illegal workers, at the federal level, much as has been done in Arizona.

The South Carolina law states that on July 1 of this year all private employers with 100 or more employees must use E-Verify when hiring new employees. By July 1, 2010 all employers, regardless of size, must us the system to verify the legal status of new employees.

Violation of the law can result in a $1,000 fine per violation and revocation of business license.

STUDENT OBTAINS LEGAL CITIZENSHIP

CLEMSON STUDENT TRAVELS THE LONG ROAD TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP

By Vince Jackson

Mel Shehu grew-up in what is now the Republic of Kosovo, first under a communist dictatorship, and then in the crosshairs of a war involving ethnic cleansing. Last week he became a United States citizen.

The Clemson University student, who is pursuing a graduate degree in business administration, feels very lucky to live in America, he says.

“Kosovo is not the best place to live. My family is there and the economy is very bad. I am very close to them and know they have a difficult time. I help them when I can,” he said.

“During the fighting that occurred my father was wounded and our house was burned by Serb forces. My family is OK now, but it is hard for them. I feel very fortunate to be a citizen of the United States,” Shehu said.

Shehu, an ethnic Albanian, says that he was able to come to the United States on a student visa and aid provided by the United Methodist Church, Spartanburg Methodist College and Bruce and Dot Yandle of Clemson.

He was selected to be a student at SMC largely because of work he had performed in relief efforts in Kosovo. After about a year he was able to transfer credits he earned at the university in Kosovo and SMC to Clemson University where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering.

‘I have Dot and Bruce Yandle (professor emeritus at Clemson University) to thank for helping me come to Clemson,” Shehu said.

Last week Shehu took part in a ceremony in Charleston where he took the oath to become a United States citizen.

“I feel good about it. I wanted to live here as a legal resident. I have followed all the rules now for over 8 years. I do not think people understand how difficult it is to become a legal citizen in this country,” he said.

Lane Glaze, campus minister for the United Methodist Church of Clemson, said he spent time with Mel and saw him frequently while Mel was completing his degree.

“Mel is a hard working person. I am excited to hear that he has become a citizen. I feel fortunate to have shared a part of his life here in Clemson,” he said.

Asked how the United States differed from his homeland Shehu said, “In Kosovo people are very close to family and friends. I find it hard to make close friends here. Some of it is the cultural difference, but some of it is because here people stress the individual and not close-knit family and friends.”

Shehu said other differences he sees between the United States and Kosovo is the freedom of speech, freedom to believe what you want and peace of mind about your personal safety.

“In Kosovo if you criticized the government, under the dictatorship, it would not be long before you were singled out and perhaps killed. Now Kosovo has free elections, fighting has stopped and people feel somewhat safe again,”

The Yandles attended the citizenship ceremony in Charleston where Shehu took the oath of citizenship with about 25 other people.

“We wanted to be with Mel and be a part of his special day. He is a very hard working individual and Bruce and I wish him the best,” said Dot Yandle.

LIBERTY IDOL RETURNS FOR 2009 SEASON « VINCE JACKSON As I See It

LIBERTY IDOL’S POPULARITY DEMANDS NEW EVENT VENUE

By Vince Jackson

The popular and ever changing Liberty Idol talent contest marks a return to Liberty’s town square beginning in April, along with some important additions.

The Liberty City Council recently approved construction of a new stage and landscape design that will compliment Idol and free-up shopping space on Commerce St, say town officials. Merchants say their businesses have been negatively impacted due to the large crowds attending the yearly event and blocking the street.

The City will spend about $25,000 for a new stage, a circular runway that will allow contestants to interact with the audience and landscaping that will beautify the downtown area, said Liberty Mayor Brian Deese.

Deese said that hospitality funds will be used to pay for the additions and will not generate any expense for taxpayers.

“We are very fortunate to have funds available to make these improvements. This addition is not just for Idol either, it will be used for festivals and other events that are scheduled in Liberty,” he said.

Sue Woods, city clerk, said other changes are in the works. “We plan a lineup of really great judges and some surprise out-of-town guests and performers that will make this an exciting year for Liberty Idol,” she said.

Liberty Idol uses a similar format to the TV show “American Idol.” The audience votes for the best performers each week, winners advance, losers go home. Returning talent must continually improve their act in order to compete for cash awards and the title of Liberty Idol.

“During these economic times it is important for families to have access to quality entertainment that is free of charge and close to home. We feel that Liberty Idol provides that kind of value,” Deese said.

Liberty Idol will run from April 25 to July 18, according to event organizers. For more information about how to enter the Liberty Idol contest go to their website. Proceeds benefit charity. Last year Idol presented a check to the Ronald McDonald House of the Carolinas for $5,000.

Roy Costner will return to MC the contest and that is always good news. He does a terrific job.

IF YOU HAVE NEWS TO REPORT COMMENT HERE

IF YOU HAVE NEWS STORIES THAT WOULD BE OF INTEREST TO  THE ANDERSON INDEPENDENT-MAIL, ANDERSON,SC PLEASE LEAVE THE INFORMATION HERE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR NEWS TIPS AND COMMENTS.

VINCE JACKSON

COUGAR SIGHTINGS IN THE SOUTHEAST

This is a site that may be used to report any sightings of “Big Cats” primarily in the southeastern states, South Carolina and north Georgia in particular.

Many people are convinced that cougars, catamounts, mountain lions or whatever you wish to call them occur in the Southeastern United States. A number of sightings in recent years confirm that big cats, of many types, are on the loose and are seen on occasion by hunters, hikers and farmers. Some of these animals may well be “wild”.

Recently, the U S Fish and Wildlife Service announced a plan to introduce (re-introduce?) cougars to the Okefenokee Swamp in SE Georgia. This will be an interesting test of just how free ranging these big cats are, if this actually happens.

If you have an encounter with a cougar, please use this forum to report the incident giving as many details as possible.

PSYCHICS AND THE PROFESSIONAL WORLD

PSYCHIC READINGS BECOMING POPULAR WITH BUSINESS COMMUNITY

By Vince Jackson

Anymore using tarot cards, crystal balls and palm readings is not out of the realm of the ordinary for white-collar professionals searching for answers to their pressing business questions.

Increasingly, business people are consulting psychics to help in making employment decisions, handling a pending financial crisis or just to confirm their feelings about changing jobs, say many psychics.

National press reports say more and more professional people feel they need an extra edge in making crucial business and personal decisions. Many are using the wisdom of the ages to help them resolve issues and solve problems.

The New York Times reports that psychics are popular with stock traders on the New York Stock Exchange. “When the Treasury Secretary changes his mind weekly…a good set of tarot cards might come in handy,” says The Times.

Jason Profit, a Greenville, SC psychic and paranormalist, says that since the economic downturn occurred many of his advice seekers are “not the folks you would usually think would consult a psychic.”

A recent Gallop Poll found that one out of every two Americans believes in extrasensory perception and that 54% believe in psychic or spiritual healing.

“You would be surprised at the types of people seeking a psychic reading from me. I am talking about doctors, students and other professionals who are looking for an answer,” Profit said.

“If people are looking for stock tips I refer them to a stock broker. If they have mental problems I suggest a therapist. Those areas are not ones where I can help,” he said.

“I offer readings about what I feel is going on with people. I can sense their fears and concerns. My psychic readings offer confirmation of what they may be feeling, although many times I reveal things that people may not want to hear. I try to provide clarity concerning paths that they may choose to follow,” Profit says.

While Profit says that tarot cards, crystal balls and palm readings are ways a psychic has of focusing on the metaphysical realm, they should not automatically be associated with the occult.

“Many people falsely assume that I am in touch with satanic forces or use witchcraft. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I am a born again Christian,” he says.

Profit says it can be hard for the average person to spot a charlatan when it comes to psychic readings.

“Many con artists are attracted to this profession, but so are many good sincere people. I would say, in general, beware of free reading offers when selecting a psychic. If you leave a psychic reading with more questions than answers, that could be a red flag that something is not right. You should receive direct answers to your questions and not need to continually return to a reader for more information,” Profit said.

SHORT-NOSED STURGEON AND HARTWELL LAKE

ANCIENT FISH IN PART DETERMINES HARTWELL LAKE LEVELS

By Vince Jackson

A boney fish that has been around for more than 200 million years has a lot to say about water levels in Hartwell Lake, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The short-nosed sturgeon, a brownish fish that can grow to four feet in length, inhabits the Savannah River Basin and is one reason, cited by the Corps, for the need to provide mandated downstream flow from water impounded in lakes Thurmond, Russell and Hartwell.

The sturgeon has been on the federal Endangered Species list since 1973, according to the Department of the Interior. It spawns in the Savannah River from January to late spring when the female lays tens of thousands of eggs on gravel river bottom. The eggs need moving water to be viable. Sturgeon experts say that water velocity of 30-120 centimeters per second is needed for proper aeration and hatching of the eggs.

Billy E Birdwell, chief of public affairs for the Corps Savannah District, says that provisions of the Endangered Species Act require that the Corps maintain flow rates that will sustain the ancient fish. The Corps is currently maintaining a flow rate of 3100 cubic feet per second for the Savannah River Basin. During the past week releases from Hartwell Dam have stopped, but could resume at any time, says the Corps.

“The short-nosed sturgeon’s spawning season may require us to resume 3600 cfs outflows from the Thurmond Dam in February. It is the only one (endangered species) to impact the reduced outflows this winter. There may be other species (i.e. pearly mussel) impacted at other times of the year, but since the states (GA and SC) only requested reductions in the winter, those species do not impact our current outflow reduction,” said Birdwell.

“Our concern centers on our dedication to protecting endangered species– especially those living in the waters of the US and our wetlands,” Birdwell said.

Also known as the little sturgeon, the short-nosed is one of the smallest fish in a family that has as many as 20 members, say researchers. Their life cycle involves migrating up and down river systems and spending time at sea or in the brackish estuaries along the coast around Charleston.

William Graf, a professor of water resource management at the University of South Carolina, says that obstacles to the sturgeon’s migration, such as dams, prevent it from completing its migration cycle. Graf writes that he believes that the population of sturgeons collapsed in many east coast river systems after dams were built for flood control.

Steven Hernandez-Divers, University of Georgia veterinarian, has conducted research on the fish and has written that it is highly threatened and vulnerable to extinction. Males can live for up to 30 years and females as old as 67 years have been documented, he says.

Sturgeons are bottom feeders dependent upon insects, crustaceans and mollusks for food. They were commercially fished from about 1800 to 1900 for meat and caviar (fish eggs), but all fisheries have been closed to the short-nosed sturgeon since 2002, according to the U S Marine Fisheries Service.