Sam Burnham, Curator
During the on-field celebration following last Monday’s college football championship game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made a statement that at laughed at then, and I’m still chuckling about it today. While giving the layout of where all the season had carried his team he commented they ended up “...here in wherever the heck California we are...”
That’s a typical description of the places we tend to love. “Middle of nowhere.” “BFE.” “The sticks.” “Wherever the heck this place is.” “I hear banjos.”
And looking at Santa Clara, I get it. It’s the home of the San Francisco 49ers. But it’s not really close to San Fran. It’s called “The Bay Area,” but so is Oakland...which isn’t nearby either. Looking at the growth and development on the satellite imagery, I can imagine it’s hard to tell where one City ends and another begins. It’s just one big mass of development from wall to wall and then wall to wall again.
But we never equate development with desolation. That’s reserved for the natural or agricultural places. We never see the pervailing perspective equate apartment complexes and shopping malls as “nowhere,” even if they add less character than a tree or a pond. That’s odd.
But Dabo was born and raised in Alabama. He grew up in Pelham, which has grown significantly in recent years but Shelby County is not “The Bay Area” now and certainly wasn’t when Dabo was growing up. Now he recruits for his program, often in small Southern towns that would have city folks describing as “Wherever we are South Carolina.”
And so we got the special treat of seeing a Central Alabama native turned foothills of South Carolina football coach give us the inverse of the prevailing perspective. For once, a high-priced California city got to be “the middle of nowhere.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire