Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 41

ABOVE: South Carolina Botanical
Garden's Sue Watts recommends both
leaf color and the goldenrod for fall
viewing.
RIGHT: The restored Hunt Cabin,
on the grounds of the garden, was
originally built around 1826.

COURTESY OF CLEMSON UNIVERSITY

FOOTBALL? IN THE MOUNTAINS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, A HOPE

A

s we go to press the fate of college football for fall 2020
is still undetermined. But George Bennett will be roaring
for Clemson University-even if coronavirus realities make
playing football unpredictable this fall.
"I want to be as optimistic as I possibly can," Bennett
says. "Every business in Clemson depends on football season, when as many as 80,000 people come."
At 87, the gregarious Bennett ranks far beyond your
typical Clemson fan. For one, he's a trendsetter. He's the
originator of the $2 bill tradition and partly why a cannon
fires after every touchdown by the Tigers.
Bennett is a 1955 Clemson grad who returned to work
at the school in 1967, taking a post in the athletic booster
club office; he stayed until 1979 then returned from 1993
to 2004.
Yet Bennett's Tiger enthusiasm began a half-century
before 2004. "I was the head cheerleader in 1954," he says.

"We had all-male cheerleaders."
Then came those $2 bills bearing the face of Thomas
Jefferson. It was Bennett's idea for Clemson fans to load
up with $2 bills marked with Tiger paws and spend them
whenever they go to out-of-town football games.
"Everywhere we go in a football season,
when we go out of town, or especially in
the bowl games, we take $2 bills with us,"
Bennett says. "Nobody uses a $2 bill. So it
shows the town how many Clemson people
showed up at a game."
Bennett lives at Clemson with Nancy, his
wife of 60 years. "And we love everything
about Clemson," he says. "It's a really pretty
place. And it's just something every weekend. Tailgating at Clemson is a big deal. Fall
is just a wonderful time of year." -JT.

LEFT: Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia, serves as both a place of
employment and as a hobby for area native Paulita Cousin (inset).

the Butterfly Garden is at its peak at this
time of year."
The garden is open to the public, but
with restrictions. Check here: clemson.
edu/public/scbg
The fall is also the best time for South
Carolina's state wildflower: Goldenrod,
Solidago, Watts says.
"There are different species of goldenrod throughout the state. It is typically the
yellow flower you see lining the roads in
the fall. It does not cause allergies."

Watts, 55, joined the staff 16 years ago.
Along the way, she fell in love with the
trees of Clemson University, bursting with
fall color.
"It's wonderful," Watts says. "On campus, we have so many wonderful trees
that change colors."
That includes many native oaks with
leaves turning red and orange, she says.
Question: Why do leaves change color?
Well, that's actually just a breakdown
of chemicals as the days grow shorter and

the weather turns coolor, Watts says.
The orange, red and yellow colors are
"always" present in the leaves, Watts says,
but the green you see in summer masks
those colors during warm months.

WEST VIRGINIA:
Crazy in Love with a Park
Come autumn, Paulita Cousin puts on
a funny hat and takes off into the backwoods of Blackwater Falls State Park.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

41



Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

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