Growing up in South Carolina is kind of like growing up in one big small town, says longtime newspaper columnist Ken Burger.
The Allendale native spent time covering sports, news, business and politics for nearly 40 years for South Carolina newspapers. He retired last year from The (Charleston) Post and Courier. "Baptized in Sweet Tea" is a collection of his columns honoring, explaining, observing and memorializing life in the Palmetto State.
Burger describes how all small towns are alike.
Question. What made you want to put together this collection?
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Answer. I did a similar collection of my sports columns about 15 years ago called "Life Through the Earholes of Our Youth." That's a bit hard to find because it's self-published. After I retired after 37 years in the business, we put this together on a whim. It's columns I've written about growing up in South Carolina. Everything from seersucker suits to things my momma used to say. It's a cross-section of a lot of different things. The title comes from a column I wrote about growing up here. I told my wife the other day that I've written 800 million words in my career but I'll be remembered for four: Baptized in sweet tea.
Q. What type of response have you gotten?
A. It's been good so far. A lot of people say that it's taught them a little about where they live. Funny enough, it's been popular with people who've moved down here from up North.
Q. Why's that?
A. I've had people come up to me and say, "I grew up in Michigan, but it was a small town. I could really relate to what you said." A small town is a small town, no matter where it is.
Q. You've also written two novels ("Swallow Savannah" and "Sister Santee") and now you're working on a third. How's that coming?
A. I set aside some time this week to write. Believe it or not, that's hard to do when you're retired. I'm staying busy. I'm just having fun. I've gotten away with it for most of my life. All I wanted to do was write and make a living at it.
Q. What's it like not being on a daily newspaper deadline?
A. You'll find out in about 40 years.