Randall's Feed
Jul 31, 2013
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Tobacco, sodas and nabs

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Horry County, South Carolina

By Randall Hill

It’s not long after a visitor arrives at Shelley Farms in the Pleasant View community of Horry County, South Carolina that they are offered a cold soda and a pack of peanut butter crackers commonly referred to as “nabs”. In good old Southern fashion, several bulk packs of the treat are placed on the edge of a John Deere tractor seat and offered to any visitor or farm hand that cares for a snack. Along with the nabs the Shelley’s will offer a choice of a can soda from a large cooler kept cold despite the stagnant summer heat in South Carolina.

Johnny Shelley has farmed his entire life. He took some time away from the farm to attend college in North Carolina and then taught school for a while, but the land eventually brought him back to farming. He and his son Cam operate the farm and maintain 1200 acres of farmland including 300 acres of tobacco just a stones throw from nearby Mullins, South Carolina. This area is referred to as the “border belt” of tobacco with North Carolina and Virginia serving as the biggest producers of the historical crop.

Apr 2, 2013
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Clowns, rain and elephant droppings

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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

By Randall Hill

Sweat was beading on the brow of Danny McRoberts as he ran through his chores as an animal handler in Myrtle Beach. McRoberts, an Augusta, Georgia native, had been on the road with the Cole Brothers Circus of the Stars for the last seven years. As he worked to scoop large piles of elephant droppings, he scurried in and out and between the large beasts as they performed their tricks. As his large shovel became a part of the action, it was almost as if it was an unintentional, choreographed part of the show.

Many of the behind-the-scenes workers are the same as McRoberts. Under the large red and yellow tent of the traveling circuses, the crews generally try to blend in with the background, buzzing everywhere to install and set-up the rigs performers require for the show.

Mar 25, 2013
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The High Cost of Being A Good Ole Boy

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Myrtle Beach Speedway, South Carolina

By Randall Hill

The rippled clouds loomed over the storied infield and pit area of the Myrtle Beach Speedway Friday morning as drivers and crews scurried to prepare their cars for the races later that evening. Crews dressed in heavy coats and stocking caps pulled tight over their heads gave the impression of a Nordic event instead of a springtime good ole boy NASCAR race.

Later as the sun started to warm the day and the winds subsided, the boys got down to the business of the day.

Feb 5, 2013
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A fox hunt with no foxes

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McClellanville, South Carolina

By Randall Hill

In a thick strand of woods in rural Georgetown County, South Carolina, the self-proclaimed “Gullah Huntsman” Bill Green prepares for his latest drag fox hunt. It’s a cool day in early February and the stocky built African-American man sits comfortably atop his trusted horse.

“You got to treat these animals with loving kindness,” he says with a smile referring to the fox hunting hounds and horses he trains for these events. “If you don’t treat them well they won’t do what you want.”

Nov 29, 2012
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Picking cotton in South Carolina

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Minturn, South Carolina

By Randall Hill

In a 60-acre field in rural Minturn, South Carolina, cotton farmer Roy Baxley, Jr. was on an important mission. His goal for this bright and sunny November morning was to get the last part of his 1,100 acres of cotton from the fields and to the ginning machines.

As he talked to his crew of 7 workers, the cotton pickers were adjusted and fine-tuned as the fluffy white plants hovered over the field like a large blanket. The morning light reflected low off the crops and gave them an even warmer hue.

Jun 22, 2012
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Where there’s smoke there’s BBQ

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By Randall Hill

Sweat pours down the face of Scott’s BBQ pit worker Willie Johnson as he uses a large mop to apply sauce on a rack of chickens cooking in the pit house. The smoke pouring from the sides and tops of the 10 pits in use that day hover over him like a white translucent blanket. The early morning light pierces through the blanket and forms contrasting shades of light that seem to bounce around the ceiling looking for a way to escape to the outside.

Johnson has been at the pit house all night, like he has done many times before, watching over the process of the 12-plus hours it takes to cook the BBQ at Scott’s. It’s very hard work to cook BBQ the traditional way they do at the Hemingway, South Carolina restaurant and pit house.

May 31, 2012
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When the bikes roll in

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By Randall Hill

The residents of the small coastal communities along South Carolina’s Grand Strand feel the floors vibrate in their homes each year around the middle part of May. The cause is not natural in nature but man-made. For it’s the start of the annual motorcycle rallies that flow and ebb into the area each spring and bring in the start of the summer tourist season. It comes like a boxers hard punch to the face and floors the locals to the mat and into submission.

The rumble of the motors build as the first rally begins. Bikers, mostly comprised of older white males, ride Harley-Davidsons and other cruiser type motorcycles. They seem to be trying to live out their testosterone-filled dreams like the characters in the 1969 film Easy Rider. Most are bankers, lawyers, mechanics and other professionals who trailer their bikes to Myrtle Beach looking for an escape from the everyday experience they live back home.