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A Letter and Lyrics to The Mayor of Ware Shoals George Rush
by Juanita Pittman-Brown
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Today, January 15, 2008, was an eventful day…There is a little story behind the events that led up to this day...

In December 2007, I had a book-signing at Waldenbooks in the Greenwood Mall in Greenwood, South Carolina…At the end of the day, I was leaving the store and completing things, when I saw a distinguished man dressed in business attire...He was checking out at the counter when I was talking with the manager…I spoke as is my way, and I offered him my business card…He politely took my card as I introduced myself, and I asked what his name was…He told me that his name is George Rush and that he is the Mayor of Ware Shoals, South Carolina…He also told me that he was very familiar with the high school there…Then, he kindly proceeded to tell me something that I found most interesting…He told me that there is a very unique connection with the Greenwood County Library and the Ware Shoals Library in that they co-venture, I guess you would say, in that they share books…

There was something he did not know though that I thought of as he told me who he was and his position in the community of Ware Shoals…That something was that I had been invited to come to Ware Shoals High School to speak…I did share this with Mayor Rush in the ensuing conversation...The way I had the opportunity to speak at the high school in Ware Shoals was through an English teacher, Arlene Burton, from the school…She was shopping at Walmart in Greenwood, S.C., in December 2007; and that particular day, I was in Walmart in Greenwood for a book-signing…She came up to me at Walmart, and I think she asked if I was the lady who wrote Words in Bloom…Naturally, I delightfully said yes…She proceeded to talk with me, and I think she said that “her students were all over my book”…She told me that they really liked it…She too pointed out one particular poem that they liked…That poem is entitled “I Am”…I was so honored and greatly appreciated what she told me about the students comments on my work…I asked Ms. Burton, how did my book, Words in Bloom, get to the library there at the school? She told me that the GreenwoodCounty Library and the Ware Shoals Library share books, I think she said…

So, after meeting Arlene Burton, I called WareShoalsHigh School and spoke with Angie Pitts, the Librarian, to see if I could come and speak with the students…

Through the efforts of Angie Pitts and Elaine Rosenbaum, the Career Specialist with the school, I did go and speak to the students there; and it was absolutely inspiring and wonderful…I was so blessed…

Since that time of my speaking last week, Elaine Rosenbaum had asked me if I would bring a "signed copy" of the poem and points I made on success to the students to her…So, today I did just that…I took copies for Elaine, Arlene, Coach Bob Johnston, who is a substitute there at the school, and Angie Pitts, the Librarian…

In order for me to give the poem and success points to Angie Pitts after I left Elaine's office, I had to leave the high school and go through a breezeway that connects the school and the shared library…I met Angie Pitts, the Librarian, and gave her what I had prepared…She was very appreciative and gracious…As I was about to leave, to my surprise, Mayor George Rush came into the library…Angie, I think may have wondered how I seemed to know Mayor Rush…In my own way, I explained how I had met him at Waldenbooks and he had told me about the library and the connection between their library and the Greenwood County Library…The reason my book was in Ware Shoals was that I had given a copy of my book to the Greenwood County Library when I spoke there in 2006…So that is how the book went to the Ware Shoals Library from the Greenwood County Library, and that is how the students in Ware Shoals read the words I wrote…How awesome to me…

Today when I saw Mayor Rush, he asked me if I would like to take a short tour of the town…I said that I would love to…So off we went…What a great venture…I learned about the town, its history, his vision for this lovely southern town, his hopes for the people and the students to whom I had spoken, and his love of his hometown…I was richly blessed for my time with him and all he shared with me…He even took the time to show me the football field where they recently filmed scenes for the upcoming George Clooney movie “Leatherheads”…He told me how they staged the scene and how the historical structures were used in the movie…It was an awesome time I spent with the Mayor…I was again richly blessed…I am always amazed at what God does in the most profound ways and how He surprises me so often with the grandeur of life…

There is one more thing that is so very interesting…You see, Ware Shoals was a textile town, and now it finds itself in the evolution of change…It fortunately has a visionary Mayor who loves the very essence of the river that flows through it and the earth of the town beneath his feet…He cares about his hometown, and it shows…Mayor Rush is intelligent, educated, caring, and articulate…I was inspired by his cradling of his turf where he grew up and learned what life is all about…This is a soft southern town who came through its infancy with textiles at it core and now is evolving as a adult in transition…Herein lies the hope of the future; and it will be through people like Mayor George Rush that vision will come to be reality…

There is something else that Mayor Rush did not know about me; and that is that my mother and my father in their younger years worked in the Worsted Mill in Greenville, S.C. …After their transition from farming to working in the mill, they reared their children through the same type of work by which the Ware Shoals community used to make their living…I was not born when my parents did this type of work, but I can remember hearing many stories about their lives when they lived on what was called the “mill village” and worked in the mill…I could relate to much of the similar history of which Mayor Rush spoke, and my heart heard his yearning and aspirations for the reality of his vision for the town…I could see that he has a vested heart interest in Ware Shoals and all the people there…What a great way to share your life by investing in the lives and futures of people…

Also, in our tour, Mayor Rush showed me a particular lot that overlooks the river…There is a mill house on the site, but beyond the house you can see over and through the trees the beautiful river with the rocks and shoals…Gently the rolling hills melt into the river below and at the base there pours over the rocks the rushing water that has seen the past the present and will see the future of Ware Shoals…I told Mayor Rush that I would write a poem about “The Bend in The River” which he tenderly showed me…It is my prayer that each time you read it, you see hope, vision, and the love of the town of Ware Shoals that is encapsulated in the heart of Mayor George Rush…©

To Mayor George Rush

Thank you…

Juanita Pittman-Brown

January 15, 2008


The river has seen

Times of prosperity

And times of distress --

It has seen people at their worst

And people at their best --

It has seen decades pass

With change at every turn --

It perhaps would flow

With hope and yet for yesterday

It may yearn --

It has seen those who toiled

And the creation of designed community --

It has known the company store

And felt a sense of security --

It has seen the livelihood

Of those who lived beside it

And those who played

Close at hand --

It has seen the change

Of the shore-line

And the seasoned land --

It has felt the loss sometimes

Of life and tasted the joy

Of what is yet to be --

It looks beyond today

For it knows

There is much to see --

It just keeps on flowing

Etching rocks with purposed force

As it carves its own bend in the river

And sets an evolving course…

Yet beauty can be seen

In the bend of the river

As it flows and carves its way

Deliberately yet delicately

To welcome in tomorrow

And to say good-bye to today --

The ever flowing waters

Purge the land

Refresh the shore

And tell that tomorrow

Will come again once more…©

By Juanita Pittman-Brown

January 15, 2008


To the Students of Ware Shoals High School

I shared the "Steps to Success" and the poem "Success is"...

During my time there, the students were open, attentive, engaged, polite, and courteous...They are the future, and it will be through their efforts and caring that the future will embrace the vision that Mayor Rush sees today...

Steps to Success…

Be true to yourself

Be true to your gifts

Be true to your passion

Be true to your destiny

Be true to your values

Be grateful for those who teach

Be grateful for those who nurture

Be grateful for those who inspire

Be grateful for difficulties

Be grateful for success…

Success is…

Waking up each morning

And realizing that today

Is the only day you have…

Putting one foot in front

Of the other…

Holding out your hand…

Putting forth a smile

That says that you love life…

Taking each step

Before you

With a positive flare…


Even in the worse of times

Showing to the world

How much you truly care…©

In sharing this story and poem with Elaine Rosenbaum, I learned something else about "the river" that I think is worth sharing...She told me that the river turned the color of whatever dye the mill was using that day...This helps me understand the river; how it has endured much; and how its ever evolving bend and flow have made and make it what it is today...What a wonderful thought that the river can adjust, change, accept, and survive...This truly is what this southern town, southern people, and southern river have done and are doing...Out of this will come a new view for the future eyes who take the journey as I did...©

Juanita Pittman-Brown

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