Thursday, February 01, 2007


"The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!"

OK, I know I haven't posted anything for over two months - and there have been lots of post-worthy events happening, stories published, and media appearances - but I've just been insanely busy. That's my only excuse.
Anyway, Remember Steve Martin in The Jerk? "The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!"
Well, I'm singing the same song these days, because a picture I took of the Gervais Street bridge spanning the Congaree River is featured on the cover of The Real Yellow Pages 2007 for Greater Columbia - Lexington, S.C .

Stay tuned for more fun.

Oh, and following are the comments given during the unveiling here in Columbia on January 18, 2007:

"This picture chosen by AT&T and the River Alliance for the 2007 Real Yellow Pages is special to me in ways almost impossible to articulate.

My dad, the late William Thomas 'Bill' Smith, is part of this. Let me tell you why.

In the last years of his life, Dad and I spent many a Saturday morning driving along the streets of downtown Columbia.

I would drive, while Dad – sitting on the passenger side – would reminisce about the days (decades earlier) when he was a young businessman strolling down Main Street in a dark suit, a white shirt and tie. Perhaps ducking into the Capital Newsstand for a copy of The Columbia Record, then sticking his head in the door of the Capital Café, speaking to old friends.

We would then turn off Main onto Gervais, and ride by The State House: There he'd remind me – as he had since I was a boy – of where ol' General Sherman's shells hit.

We'd drive down other streets – never the same route: Perhaps from the State House through the USC campus, then maybe north toward Elmwood Cemetery, then back over to the site of the old Lincoln Street Seaboard train station, across the old brick-paved road from where Dad once operated a tire dealership that at its zenith would for a brief time be the largest tire-dealership in the state.

But on the last leg of our Saturday morning jaunts, we would always drive over to the west bank of the Congaree – on the Cayce-West Columbia side – just south of the Gervais Street bridge.
There we would sit, long before the riverwalk had been built.

Dad would talk about all the rockfish in the river, and the great flood of 1908 that washed over the wooden slats of the old bridge that the current bridge replaced in the late 1920s (about the same time Dad was born), and that in 1791 George Washington himself crossed into the city at a point not far from where we were.

Dad and I had a special father-son relationship.

We both loved the past and our eternal connection to it, which was one of the reasons I believe he was so proud of my work as a writer.

Dad read everything I wrote as soon as he got his hands on it. He was thrilled when I interviewed Gen. Westmoreland for George magazine in 1998, and – in a special feature of that issue – shared a byline with publisher John Kennedy Jr.

Dad never lived to see any of my books published, or my columns and essays in some of the world's largest publications. He would have been so proud. But I can tell you – and every member of my family will attest – nothing would have made him more proud than to see my picture of the bridge and the river we shared on the cover of the directory of this great Southern city and the Midlands he so-loved.

And for that – and on behalf of my family – I thank AT&T and the River Alliance.

Thank you, all."

--- WTS (comments on January 18, 2007)

[Visit W. Thomas Smith Jr.'s official website at]

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