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THIS AND THAT: Aiken deserves its own alphabet book

April 21, 2018 GMT

Do you know your ABCs? If not, there’s plenty of help.

I’ve been aware of alphabet books for a long time, but never realized there were so many until my wife became a school librarian. A is for Apple, B is for Banana, C is for Coconut. That was my idea of alphabet books. But no-o-o-o, there is much more.

There are dinosaur alphabet books, food alphabet books, a pirate alphabet book, one from Dr. Seuss and another from Curious George. There is a flower alphabet book, a bird alphabet book, one about museums, another featuring construction equipment, one about oceans and a bug alphabet book.

Of course, for most of these ABC books, finding words for Q, X and Z can be problematic. That’s why two of the more intriguing books spotted in a search were “Q is for Duck” and “Z is for Zamboni.” I guess the duck quacks, which makes sense, and the Zamboni is the machine that smooths the ice on rinks.

In visiting our Chicago daughter, I’ve also spotted the Windy City’s ABC book which got me wondering if Aiken has its own alphabet publication. If so, I haven’t seen it. What would the ABC book of Aiken contain? Here are some thoughts, and feel free to contribute your own.

A is for Aiken Center for the Arts. Arts are so much a part of the cloth from which this community is made.

B is for Banksia, the home of the Aiken County Historical Museum. It was also once the library, the original campus of USC Aiken and a private home.

C is for Court Tennis, an ancient game played in a brick building on Newberry Street.

D is for Dunbarton Oaks, one of the many neighborhoods that sprang up after the construction of the Savannah River Plant (now Savannah River Site).

E is for Easy Street/Whiskey Road, the intersection that says much about a way of life or perhaps dreams of a way of life. Is there any other crossroad in town that has medallions, ornaments, postcards and pictures taken of them?

F is for Farmers Market, that place where growers and consumers meet to share in the bounty of the land.

G is for Grits and GRITS. The first is that breakfast delicacy eaten with scrambled eggs or shrimp. The second – Girls Raised in the South – represents the lovely ladies who make their homes here.

H is for Hitchcock Woods, the 2,100-acre urban forest that provides home to plants and animals and recreational opportunities for those who live in Aiken.

I is for Iselin as in the Iselin Estate which is now Hopelands Gardens. This gift to the city has paid dividends for decades and provides a home for summer concerts and Christmas lights.

J is for Joye Cottage and Juilliard. The two are interconnected – one a huge estate in downtown and the other a school for talented performing artists in New York. Together they combine for a musical week each year.

K is for Kalmia whose pink blossoms emerge each spring on the short evergreen shrubs. It also lends its name to one of the city’s most notable hills.

L is for Library. The Aiken County Public Library is located in the former Aiken Institute/Aiken Elementary building – one of the city’s oldest. (Even with the L-evator out of commission, it is a prominent structure.)

M is for Municipal Building where city leaders make decisions on the future of Aiken.

N is for Natatorium. It’s not often that one gets to use that word, and USC Aiken has a swimming facility with that name.

O is for Oaks of South Boundary, probably the most photographed/drawn/painted sight in the city.

P is for Palmetto Golf Club, one of the oldest in the state and symbolic of the many courses in Aiken.

Q is for Quail and all the other birds that make their nests in Aiken. (I told you Q, X and Z were hard, so this is a stretch. At least I didn’t say that Q is for Duck.)

R is for Railroad Tracks which run through Aiken and the reason the city was built in the first place.

S is for Sand River that flows through the Woods.

T is for Triple Crown, the annual tribute to horses and the start of spring.

U is for Unpaved Streets. While most cities do everything possible to cover their dirt roads with asphalt, Aiken ensures that those streets in Horse Country remain in their original form.

V is for Virginia Acres, the park on the Southside that affords plenty of opportunity for people to walk, run, skate, play soccer, swing, slide and climb. Recreational opportunities abound throughout the city.

W is for Willcox. The historic hotel on Colleton Avenue has hosted guests from around the world for decades and is the new measure of Southern hospitality in Aiken.

X is for X-ray that represents the growing healthcare industry. No matter what your ailment, there is someone in Aiken who can help. (OK, this was a long reach, but I’ve told you Q, X and Z are hard.)

Y is for Y’all, because as neat as this city’s features are, it wouldn’t be much without you, its people.

Z is for aZaleas. They erupt in blooms of white, pink, lavender, red and orange each spring letting people know that the Augusta National is not the only place where these shrubs grow. (OK, perhaps this is a little cheating, but Zamboni just doesn’t work in Aiken.)

Jeff Wallace is a retired editor of the Aiken Standard.