The Tackiest Place On Earth

No, its not Vegas, not anywhere in Florida, or even Reno.  The hands down, no arguments, tackiest place on earth is South of the Border, South Carolina.  

This is as classy as it gets

O.K. if this picture doesn’t say it all lets look a little closer.  

Because two signs would obviously not be enough.

Once you are within 20 miles, north or south, of South of the Border, you will be treated to one billboard every mile.  When you get within ten miles, there is a billboard every half mile.  The closer you get, the closer together the signs; it’s the billboard version of an overbearing used car salesman.  

its like the kitsch hall of fame

As far as I can tell this town began as a border stop for North Carolinians to buy contraband fireworks.  Then, some time around 1952, a plastic flamingo mated with a sombrero and Ta-Da! a thriving metropolis was born.  

From the top of the tower you have a nice view of... not much.

I may, or may not, have bought a brick of firecrackers, bottle rockets, and a bumper sticker.  I was just passing through.  I have no idea what these folks were doing there.  

Someone spent who knows how much building a town of faux caricatures of Mexicans. Someone else spent who knows how much on a yellow Ferrari. At least the car is fast.

As you leave the town, billboards berate you for going.   It’s the type of place where you feel like you are supposed to have light blue polyester pants and a comb-over. 

I’m still wondering what the Ferrari was doing.

Don't you want to be there even more now?

Have some pride Pedro.

15 thoughts on “The Tackiest Place On Earth

  1. This is nice, when we use to drive back home to Florida we would always stop here in the middle of the night. The kids would be half awake and always think we were at some amusement park or fairground with all the lights they have going on.
    I may have to take a trip back now that you have me addicted to Blenheim.

  2. Oh Amanda, Western PA may not be classy, but it has nothing like this. Kaleo, you are welcome. TB, was it filled with fireworks!? John, TN is not on my route but if you have been there… your presence alone may have been enough to steal the title. Beth, always listen to your mother.
    And James… you bring up something for another post yet to come. Sweet Blenheim. Sweet, sweet Blenheim. They may be in the same place, but not of the same place.

  3. Funny that I ran across this post when I did. Just the other day in one of my classes we were talking about migrant workers in North Carolina. Undocumented workers from Mexico make up a large percentage of the labor force in N. Carolina because of the tobacco farming. Not to say that that explains the tackiness because if they were actually trying to appeal to that population, it’d make sense to actually use Spanish. But, at least it didn’t just pop up out of nowhere.

  4. South of the Border (SOB) started as a liquor store just below the NC border when many counties in NC were dry. The place grew to catch the north-south traffic along US301, but it was almost passed by I-95. A generous application of financial lubricant convinced highway planners to make an eastward bending dogleg in I-95 to conveniently go thru SOB. Later, the owner got locked up for vote buying (think of it as stimulus). It has an interesting history.

    A very cute girl from high school became the owner’s “special assistant”, until he finally died several years ago. I used to fish the river behind his house, under the watchful eyes of several hired guns. Just in case I was planning to make an amphibious assault from a one man boat.

    SOB is tack but entertaining, occasionally reinventing itself to take advantage of the latest gimmicks and trends. We would spend Sunday afternoons there watching tourists taking pictures next to the florescent green zebra and purple gorilla.

    BTW, Blenheim ginger ale is good stuff, but it had even more punch before SOB acquired it. I remember the hot stuff bottled in smaller 10-ounce bottles capped with surplus caps printed for an orange drink. The original ginger ale also bottled had the mineral content of the spring water printed on the bottle. And distribution was about a 30-mile radius from Blenheim, SC, since that’s as far as the single distribution truck could go.

  5. Mr. Ironworks, I’m coming to you the next time I need a good story. Bribery, underage girls, hired guns, and purple gorillas!

    You sound like a man in the know… how can we get Blenhiem to ramp the heat back up? I’m a glutton for punishment and want that drink to melt my face off… right now it only melts about half my face.

    You can come here and share stories anytime you like.

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