Last week when I was at another park in my district, I received a call from Ken Benson the Park Manager at Westmoreland State Park. He was very excited and told me about an amazing event that had occurred as a result of Hurricane Irene.
SCE&G in the beach parking area
As many of you know, South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) was assigned to Westmoreland State Park. Besides being an awesome work force, they were an amazing mobile city, complete with catering facilities and their own police force. There were about 60 utility trucks working in the park.
SCG&E crews restoring power lines
JIm Rowan II and Westmoreland State Park Manager, Ken Benson
While the crew was in the park, Ken happened to run into a gentleman who was working security for SCE&G. He said his name was Jim Rowan. Immediately the name rings a bell with Ken. Jim said his dad worked at Westmoreland State Park about 43 years ago as a lifeguard and his father talked about his summer at the park and that is was some of the best times of his life. Ken said, "come with me, you're not going to believe this," Ken took him over to the old bunkhouse, which is now his residence, and showed him what was written on the wall in the abandoned room of the bunkhouse that the park has used for storage for many years.
It's hard to read, but it's still there after all these years!
There on the old tongue and groove paneling it stated, "To all future occupants, this job may seem terrible, a real bitch, but when your ready to leave you will not want to. You will know how I feel now, as sad as I can be. Jim Rowan, Life Guard 68."
Jim, in the yellow shirt with his co-workers Don & Larry. If anyone can ID the others please let me know.
The “old bunk house” was originally used to house some of the s boys back in the 1930’s. After that, it was used for seasonal housing for many years, then later used as residential year round housing for law enforcement park staff. The building has been updated and renovated many times since 1968. I am amazed that the writing on the wall was never removed.
Jim Rowan in 2011 with a picture of the wall
Jim Rowan, II went back to South Carolina and presented his father with a picture of his message on the wall. The senior Mr. Rowan stated,"he had many good memories of his time at Westmoreland State Park." He was very surprised that the writing on the wall was still there!
During all the sadness that Irene brought with her, this discovery was a bright spot in the devastation. Coincidence? Maybe not. Jim II plans to bring his family, which includes his two small girls and his father to the park next year. Jim said he can’t wait for his father to share some of his stories with his daughters about his time at Westmoreland State Park.
As we say, Virginia State Parks are places were memories are made.
The park is still closed for now but hopefully will open soon. Please check the website for updates.