When I moved to Gaffney, South Carolina in the early 1990s I felt like I had entered a time warp. The town seemed like it was stuck in the 1960s. I can’t quite put my finger on why I felt that way, but perhaps it was the attitudes I picked up or just a “feeling” you get.
Gaffney was founded in 1804 by a man named Michael Gaffney at the crossing of two roads in upstate South Carolina. He started a tavern there. It was known as “Gaffney City” by 1872 and became the county seat of the new Cherokee County in 1897. The city website says the city was the center of economic activity in the county until the 198os, but doesn’t say what happened after that.
When I arrived in 1993, the college where I worked looked in disrepair. It was founded in 1845, and looked it. The town of Gaffney also had a reputation for being a rough place. I picked up on some racism there in my daily business activities, and the locals didn’t seem to appreciate outsiders much. This reinforced my thinking that Gaffney was stuck in the past. I left Cherokee County in 1998 and didn’t hold the area in very high regard.
My attitude has changed, though, because I think Gaffney has changed. Passing through town last weekend through a series of circumstances, I broke my ankle. People at the restaurant where the deed occurred inquired after my welfare and did everything they could to help me. The taxi driver who took me to the hospital made sure I got into the emergency roon safely.
One in the hospital, I was treated very well. I don’t think I could have had an orthopedic surgeon better than the one I had in Gaffney anywhere. The nurses and medical staff were nice and helpful, and even lectured me if they thought I needed it. As I was discharged, they made sure I got a voucher for a taxi to take me to the pharmacy for my pain medication and back to my motel. This is the same hospital I have looked on with disdain for years after my daughter had a bad experience in there in the 1990s. What a difference!
My good treatment didn’t end at the hospital. My taxi driver waited patiently as I got my meds and helped me up to my room. The morning desk clerk moved all my stuff to a better room the next day and took it all out to my car when I left.
According to the city website, the town itself seems to be having something of a business and cultural resurgence. Towns and people can change, and I am sure glad this one did at a point in time when I needed their help.