“Home,” March 28, 2017

Where are you from?

Where did you grow up?

What does the word “home” mean to you?

Those are questions I like to ask someone I’ve just met, say, at a party or on a plane or in a long line at the post office. The first two are easy. Most people answer quickly, smile and look away. But the third question will make them sit up and beg. It’s like whispering to a sleeping dog, “Wanna treat?” If you’re lucky, the stranger will become a friend.

Few things say as much about who we are as the place where we grew up and the ways we define “home.”

Recently, a kind soul sent me a link to a website (www.onlyinyourstate.com) that featured a story about Landrum, S.C., the small town where I grew up. It was mostly photos of the area with brief captions. But the headline gave me pause: “The Fascinating Town In South Carolina That Is Straight Out Of A Fairy Tale.”

A fairy tale? Really? One like “Hansel and Gretel”?

Of course not. It meant the kind of fairy tale that’s about a beautiful place with good, caring people, not the kind in which small children fear being eaten.

Landrum is indeed a beautiful place with good, caring people. Growing up there was a gift. I see that now more clearly than I did back then. Home, like most things we love, is easily taken for granted until it’s gone, and there’s no getting it back.

The website story highlighted Landrum’s restaurants and antique shops, most of which opened long after I left town to marry and raise a family in Pacific Grove, Calif. That’s my second home, another beautiful place with good, caring people.

I like antique shops and I love great restaurants. I am happy to frequent them whenever I visit Landrum. But that’s never my reason for visiting. Sometimes I go for class reunions. Too often I go for funerals. But mostly I go to reconnect with two of the things that are essential to who I am: The people and the land.

The people include remnants of my family _ my sister and brother, nieces, nephews and cousins still living in the area _ but also, old friends that I grew up with. If I’m there on a Sunday, I go to the First Baptist Church, sit in a back pew, belt out the hymns and look for faces that light up when they see me.

I remember the kindnesses that were lavished upon me as a child in that church. The smiles, the hugs, the sense of welcome and belonging. The patient and wise answers to all my endless questions. The food box that was brought to our door the Christmas my stepfather was out of work. The college scholarship I won, thanks to the efforts of a deacon and his wife.

In those days, in a town like Landrum, you could be poor and not always feel it. Most people worked in the mills and made ends meet, more or less, about the same. Those who had wealth never flaunted it. My friends’ families had more than mine. But I always felt at home in their homes. I still do.

Then there’s the land. It’s both my family and my friend. I close my eyes, sink my toes in its red dirt, feel the breeze off the lake and smell the soul soothing scent of honeysuckle. I hear the rumble of thunder, see a storm come rolling over Hogback Mountain, and wish with all my heart that you could see it, too.

The land and its people always welcome me “home.”

I would say similar things about my other “homes”_ the coast of California, where I raised my children, and the desert outside Las Vegas, where I’ve spent the past 10 years. They are beautiful places with good, caring people.

I’ll bet your hometown is, too.

The earth is our home and its people are our family. To know that is to never feel alone _ to never truly be a stranger.

And what do we owe in return for such fine gifts?

Not much. Just to treasure and enjoy and take good care of them.


  1. I Really Love Reading your Columns. Its like a fresh of clean air . Or sitting out side hearing the birds and reading your awesome stories takes you away from all the negativity going on. God bless you. Your Awesome. Keep up the good work.

  2. Elaine Howle (Owl) says

    I think your column is the most interesting, entertaining column in the Salisbury Post. I might be a couple minutes late for work, but I read the newspaper front to back (skip sports). I always look for where you say, “I wish you could have seen it”, or “I wish you could have been there”. In your last column, “Being Home”, you said, “wish with all my heart that you could see it, too.” Well, yesterday,(April’s Fool Day) after leaving the beauty shop and not wanting to take my new hairdo home, I took Dixie Belle (a 17- pound miniature Dapple Dachshund, to see your hometown about 125 miles from my home in China Grove, NC. I spent $325.01 in the Landrum stores and had a really great time, but not one of the merchants/attendants had ever heard of Sharon Randall. I told all of them that you/your column was the reason I came to visit their amazing town. I had all of them pull you up on their computers or promise that they would when they got home. I called me cousin in Charlotte and had her read the column on my way home. It kept me awake for the 2-hour drive.

    Many people contacted the Salisbury Post when your column was not longer in the paper. We missed your column more than anything. I didn’t contact the Post because so many people beat me to it, but I surely was happy when your column returned.

    Thanks for being the most amazing person and sharing your life with us.

  3. Ike Watts says

    I enjoyed your article in The Abilene Reporter News in Abilene Texas

  4. Loved your article on Landrum. We have a small Antiques shop and we enjoy asking “Where are y’all from?” We welcome you anytime you’re back in Landrum.
    WWW. Facebook.com/atapantiques

  5. LaJoyce Shrom says

    Thank you for the article on Landrum Sc area. Living near there we too find Landrum a quaint town full of everything you mentioned. People are so friendly and full of compassion. The train station has been renovated and many activites are held there including a fellowship my hubby and I attend on Sunday mornings. Coming from the beautiful state of PA, which we always will call home, your article stirred emotions of home!

  6. Kate Sciacca says

    Thoughts of home are tough at times… home was the View Park area of Los Angeles – the neighborhood is still quite nice, but sadly, it’s quite dangerous trying to get there…at least I can google map the old place and close my eyes and remember… grateful for that. I had to check out Landrum and your First Baptist Church…. oh my!!!! What a beautiful place… and I know the beauty of Pacific Grove ? But you sure do have a way of seeing the best everywhere you live…. ummmm…. Vegas? ?

  7. I still feel my home is in India in a city , I grew up. But when I come back I feel at home at my home built by us. I wait for my kids to see us but they think they are busy in their own homes. They come whenever they can but I am sure they remember their old home in India , I am very sure they remember their schools more than their home. Very nice post to remember our home is always sweet !!

  8. JoAn Williard says

    Home is where you make it, and if you are blessed, you are surrounded by good, caring people no matter the physical address. I’ve discovered that by being a caring person, that goodness is returned in multiples. Thank you for the reminder.

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