2017 Good Timey Souuthern Hospitality!!!

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In 2017, the Boy's had a hankerin'' for some good time Southern Hospitality, Foot Ball and Hot Dog's, and here ain't no place better than Clemson, South Carolina! Plus, just outside of Clemson is the little town of Anderson and the home of the last stop in the Hot Dog Program, Skin's Thrashers!! The LAST stop for the Boy's Hot Dog Program Tour. It all made too much since, so on Friday September 22nd the Boys flew down to the ATL, and drove the three hours in the Southern heat up to Clemson.

Getting into the area around just before dark, the Boys dumped their stuff in the Hotel and decided to check out the Stadium and the Campus, while looking for the Clemson "Good Time Charlie's" for a bit and a beer! Driving through the Campus Mike and Bone noticed how nice and new the campus is, wide boulevards and lots of cool campus shops. They were able to part right next to the Stadium to check it out before heading to find a place to go.

It was there that the southern hospitality began! Walking by some locals someone noticed Bone's Michigan golf shirt and asked the Boys what they were do in Clemson and what they were going to do for tailgating the next day. The EXTREMELY nice and friendly locals invited the Boys to spend the next day at their tailgate, which only the first of many such invites that evening. Everyone was interested in what these Michigan Men were doing in Clemson and how could they show 'em a good time! The Boys also found out the bar you hadda check out (Their "Charlie's") is a place that Brett Mushberger had to go to every time he is in town Esso's!


Nope not the Gas Station! 

Esso's: Clemson's "Good Time Charlie's"!!!

Anyone who has been a student at Clemson University knows that The Esso Club is and always will be a “Clemson Tradition”. Its status as one of the top sports bars in the country along with the vast number of Clemson students that move about the states after graduation has made The Esso Club famous nationwide. Even with its popularity, very few people know how The Esso Club actually came to be the legend it is today. In 1918 the Fort Hill Land Company deeded the two lots that The Esso Club currently sits on to Mr. Clint Taylor. To the best of our knowledge this is one of the first modern surveys of the property that The Esso Club and part of the Gulf Station sit on today. Mr. James A. Stevenson, a graduate of the University of Arkansas, acquired the eastern most lot on December 18, 1933, as payment for surveying the land. He also owned the property that the Tiger Den sat on. Stevenson built the first building, a gas station, on the property, and the pumps sat down by the road, where the stop sign is now. At that time and for many years after this, the road that is now Highway 93 was the main road to Atlanta. ( It should be noted that the only information of any building being on this property before 1933 was a fruit stand that sat near the road.) Stevenson is also the one credited with possessing the first official beer license for The Esso Club, and Harry O. Bodiford is credited with drinking the first beer here. On July 14, 1938 Stevenson purchased the other lot from Taylor and expanded his service station.

This original station sat down by the road until around 1959. In 1948 Folger Herman “He preferred just F.H.(Jack) Massingill” Massingill bought the business from Campbell, He was a WWII veteran of the U. S. Army. Between the years of 1956 and 1958 The Esso Club was the only place in Clemson that you could go in, sit down, and have a beer. This is when the “The Esso Club” was coined by Mr. Tom Lew Ellen. Another story says that The Esso Club got its name from some of the senior privates at Clemson University. Supposedly they did not have many credits to list below their names in the annual, so they put that they were “members of The Esso Club”. The first time that the Esso Club getting some national attention was 1977. Lewis Gizzard visited Clemson to write about a pep rally the school was having. Instead he played tennis with a man named Bill Rubin and then stopped for drinks at The Esso Club, where he ran into the likes of Jimmy Howard and others. He stayed all day, thought there was nothing better to write about, and introduce the rest of the world to a Clemson landmark. The year 1997 brought The Esso Club into the national spotlight once more when Sports Illustrated picked it as the “#2 Must See Sports Bar in the Nation”. Apparently things continued to run smoothly and people continued to talk because the following year ESPN The Magazine was quoted as saying “If they had a national championship for college sports bars, The Esso Club would be our pick to win it all.” August 2003, the night before Clemson met Georgia in Death Valley, Charles Usry became the next and current owner of the famous club. This night the first liquor drinks ever sold in The Esso Club were drunk by Tyler Tucker, and Steven and Stuart Barber.

August 2003, also put The Esso Club in the pages of FHM magazine where it was chosen #17 of the top 20 places to be on a college or pro game day. Charles kept the doors open throughout football season and then shut down for a mass gutting of The Esso Club. This is the first time major repair and renovations had been done in over 25 years. They moved and expanded the bar, added a full service kitchen, and basically just cleaned the place up. It was something that had to be done to keep this diamond in the rough standing in one piece. The Esso Club and Clemson tradition are practical synonymous. The business and the building that shelters it hold a very special place in so many hearts. At the beginning of any year when it is cold you will see the many regulars enjoying a cold beer and reminiscing about past years. Mike and Bone checked out the hats signed by Tim Allen, Rodney Carrington, Dick Vitale, and Brent Mushberger, among many others. Be sure to take a look around at the museum it had become. The walls are covered with pictures and articles, and although The Esso Club has been through some changes, it has not lost its mystique or quaint charm. There is so much else to write, but most of it was meant to be an oral history and writing it down just might ruin all the laughs and legends.   

Mike and Bone getting Gassed up @ Esso's!!!

Mike and Bone watch a Friday Night Football Game at Esso's while enjoying a number of their VERY awesome local Brew Pub Brown Ales and Stouts, along with some nachos till around 11:30 PM when they went out to check out rest of the Campus Scene. 

From there the Boy performed their "Infamous Mike and Bone Pub Crawl", where they have a beer in every bar in the area, then crawl back to the Hotel! They checked out 3 - 4 more Bars in the Campus area, keeping it relatively tame when they headed back to get ready for the main event the next morning: Skin's Thrashers!!!  (Yep, Hot Dogs for Breakfast!)

"Er, if we don 't where we are going, lets get a cup of Coffee!"

Mike and Bone found the next morning a steamy summer affair, already in the high 80's. The Hotel the Boys picked was serendipitously located halfway between Clemson and Anderson, With Skin's in Anderson the Boys headed east and then fumbled around for an hour driving to different Skin Thrashers locations, trying to find the original. Each location was closed with a sign that it wasn't open till noon. Bone found the address for the "Corporate Headquarters" and where they both figured that "had to be the spot!   Mike and Bone drove into a middle-class (nothin'' fancy) suburban neighbourhood to a modest ranch home and figured that "The
Google" had yet made another mistake when they saw a Skin's Thrashers Truck in the drive way. Not wanting to bother anyone, the Boys pulled into to turn around when a older gentlemen asked the Boys if they needed anything.

Apologizing, Mike and Bone told the kindly gentleman that they had thought this might be the location of the original store, might he? They explained their 10 year journey of visiting all the Hot Dog Program locations and Skin's Thrashers was going to be the last. With that, his face lit up, asked the Boys to wait while he got his brothers ! A minute later there were three of Skin Thrashers Sons surrounding the Boys, so excited that Mike and Bone were so interested in the Restaurant and spent the next 20 minutes sharing with the Boys the Story of their Dad, gave the Boys tickets for free Hot Dogs and Skin Thrashers Tee Shirts!!! Mike and Bone getting a little embarrassed by the attention actually politely left the Thrashers with a great story and some great gifts; more REAL southern hospitality!!!  Mr. Thrasher said that they would call the restaurant and have them open earlier, but that was still an hour off, with that the Boys headed into bucolic downtown Anderson for a cup a Joe at very cool Coffee House called ECity and discussed what the Brothers explained how Skin's Thrashers came about!

The Original Skin's Thrasher's!!

Per his Sons and Son-in-Law, Skins was established in Anderson, SC in 1946 by Lloyd “Skin” Thrasher in a Industrial part of Town where there used to be a Mill.  Skin (a nickname based on a bad haircut in the Service) bought a store with a humble, “pool hall” type atmosphere Skin sold anything he could, including short-order meals such as sandwiches, hamburgers, and the same hotdogs we enjoy today.  As time passed, the hotdogs became the item of choice for Skin’s patrons.  To meet the local mill town folks’ demand for a quick and quality meal, Skin decided to get rid of the pool tables and concentrate on hotdogs.  Today the legend lives on just the same. By the 1980’s, Skins had built a reputation across upstate SC, as well as other states all across the southeast.  News outlets everywhere began spreading the word about the tiny house hidden in the heart of Anderson.   

With the Hot Dog Program Poster!

The Atlanta Journal, Charlotte Observer, Greenville News, Anderson Independent, and a host of others told the tale of “Skin Thrasher’s Café” as it evolved into what we all now refer to simply as “The Original.”  In 1985, Skin decided to hang up his apron and pass the business on to his 2 sons and son-in-law (The very nice gentlemen Mike and Bone met).  1988 saw Skins open up the #2 store on Clemson Boulevard in Anderson and in the 1990’s Soon after, Skins was invited to make a trip to Capitol Hill to participate in the Washington DC “Taste of the South” fundraiser where each year the south’s best foods and flavours are handpicked and served in the nation’s capital with area charities receiving the proceeds.  

Skin Thrasher passed away in April of 1998, but the passion for a good hotdog and a great overall experience lives on though his family, as evidenced on how nicely the Brothers treated the Boys!

Mike and Bone showed up and the Manager (who was a friend of the Thrasher Family and had worked their since he was 15) greeted the Boys and let them know that the Brothers did in fact call ahead. Mike and ordered two each of the classic southern slaw dogs that they are known for with the required potato chips!

What did they think? Freaking awesome! the steamed buns filled with tasty chilli and slaw on top of a great hotdog simply hit the spot! Two thumbs up from Mike and Bone, one for the high quality hot dogs, one for the kindness and hospitality of the Thrasher Boys!

It where there that the next very cool thing happened to the Boys. As the Boys thanked the Manager for the gracious hospitality, a local started a conversation with Mike and Bone. Turns out he was a Officer at the local Courthouse and took the Boys for a private tour of a very old, but still very used Federal Courthouse, a very strange but gracious experience!

With that completed, Mike and Bone headed down to the campus to see why Clemson is named Clemson!

The University is named after Thomas C. Clemson, but while the school has his name it really has to due more with John C. Calhoun, famous Statesmen in the early 1800's.   His House, Fort Hill was exactly one block north of the Stadium, a great pre-game attraction!

The Venerable Fort Hill Mansion, Birthplace of Clemson University!

Knowing John C. Calhoun - the Nutty Nullifier!

Back in the Day President Andrew Jackson used to complain about his political enemies and solve to resolve those difficulties by "shooting (Henry) Clay and hanging (John C.) Calhoun." which would of been weird since at the time John C. Calhoun was his Vice-President !!!

John Caldwell Calhoun March 18, 1782 – March 31, 1850) was an American statesman and political theorist from South Carolina, and the seventh Vice President of the United States from 1825 to 1832. He is remembered for strongly defending slavery and for advancing the concept of minority rights in politics, which he did in the context of defending white Southern interests from perceived Northern threats. He began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent of a strong national government and protective tariffs. By the late 1820s, his views reversed and he became a leading proponent of states' rights, limited government, nullification, and opposition to high tariffs—he saw Northern acceptance of these policies as the only way to keep the South in the Union.

His writings and beliefs heavily influenced South Carolina's secession from the Union in 1860–1861.

Calhoun began his political career with election to the House of Representatives in 1810. As a prominent leader of the war hawk faction, Calhoun strongly supported the War of 1812 to defend American honour against British infractions of American independence and neutrality during the Napoleonic Wars. He then served as Secretary of War under President James Monroe, and in this position reorganized and modernized the War Department. Calhoun was a candidate for the presidency in the 1824 election. After failing to gain support, he let his name be put forth as a candidate for vice president. The Electoral College elected Calhoun for vice president by an overwhelming majority. He served under John Quincy Adams and continued under Andrew Jackson, who defeated Adams in the election of 1828.   Calhoun had a difficult relationship with Jackson primarily due to the Nullification Crisis and the Petticoat affair. In contrast with his previous nationalism, Calhoun vigorously supported South Carolina's right to nullify federal tariff legislation he believed unfairly favoured the North, putting him into conflict with unionists such as Jackson. In fact it was only Jackson's threat of Military intervention and prison for Calhoun that prevented South Carolina leaving the Union in 1832. Afterwards, with only a few months remaining in his second term, he resigned as vice president and entered the Senate.

He sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1844, but lost to surprise nominee James K. Polk, who went on to become president. Calhoun served as Secretary of State under John Tyler from 1844 to 1845. As Secretary of State, he supported the annexation of Texas as a means to extend the slave power, and helped settle the Oregon boundary dispute with Britain. He then returned to the Senate, where he opposed the Mexican–American War, the Wilmot Proviso, and the Compromise of 1850 before his death in 1850. Calhoun often served as a virtual party-independent who variously aligned as needed with Democrats and Whigs. Calhoun was one of the "Great Triumvirate" or the "Immortal Trio" of Congressional leaders, along with his Congressional colleagues Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. In 1957, a Senate Committee headed by Senator John F. Kennedy selected Calhoun as one of the five greatest United States Senators of all time.  He retired to his primary estate in rural west South Carolina in the foothills of the Appalachians which he called Fort Hill, because at the time it was on the frontier with hostile Indian Tribes. 

Calhoun would have NEVER had a picture of Jackson (or likely Adams) in his Office!

The antebellum plantation was Calhoun’s home until his death in 1850, and the office and kitchen are furnished mostly with family artefacts. It was through a succession of Calhoun-Clemson women that Fort Hill came into Thomas Green Clemson’s possession. In 1888, Clemson bequeathed the Fort Hill plantation and cash to the state of South Carolina for the establishment of a scientific and agricultural college. He willed that Fort Hill “shall always be open for the inspection of visitors.”  

The land that would become home to Clemson University started with John C. Calhoun and his wife, Floride, who owned the land. Floride’s family had come into much Upcountry land in 1802. Fort Hill, then known as Clergy Hall, was built in 1803 as the manse for Old Stone Church just a few miles away. When Fort Hill came up for sale, Floride’s mother purchased the property.   She and husband, John C., were living in Fort Hill when Floride inherited the title upon her mother’s death in 1836. When John C. died in 1850, Floride became the sole owner of the Fort Hill home and 1,341 acres of land. When she died in 1866, portions of the property then went to their daughter and sole surviving child, Anna Maria Calhoun, who had married Thomas Green Clemson. The Clemson's’ daughter, Floride Elizabeth, also inherited a portion.   Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson willed her share of Fort Hill to her husband, Thomas Clemson, who inherited it when she died in 1875.

Mike and Bone's Tour Guide in front of the "Clemson Tree"

Mike and Bone walked through the very crowded house with other Clemson Fans gathering for the game, and admired the classic Southern Plantation style of the home. As the tour ended outside, the very hospitable Tour Guide (an obvious Clemson Graduate!) relayed the story of how it was under this tree just outside the Front Door that Thomas Clemson sat with a group of professors and planned the starting and building of the University that would bear his name. With a little bit of History, Mike and Bone walked down the one block hill to the front gates of the Stadium, ready to be welcomed by Howard's Rock!!!   

Girded for Gridiron Glory!! 

One of the great things about College Football is the little traditions each school has, Clemson has a few cool ones, one of which is before every game, the players walk into the East Stadium entrance,  touch Howards Rock, and walk down the hill onto the field. "Howard's Rock" was brought to football coach Frank Howard in the early 1960s as a gift from Samuel C. Jones. Jones found the rock while driving through Death Valley, California and gave it to Howard as a reference to "Death Valley," the name Howard used to refer to Memorial Stadium. The coach used the rock as a doorstop until 1966. He was cleaning out his office when he told Gene Willimon, a Clemson booster, "Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in the ditch...Do something with it, but get it out of my office."

It was Willimon who had the rock placed on a pedestal in the east end zone, where it remains today. The rock made its first appearance on September 24, 1966: Clemson was losing to Virginia by 18 points with seventeen minutes left in the game. The Tigers made up the deficit and won the game 40-35.

The next season was when the tradition of rubbing the rock upon entering the stadium began. Howard reportedly said to his players, "If you're going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you're not, keep your filthy hands off of it."

The Tigers have continued this tradition since 1967, except for two-and-a-half seasons between 1970 and 1972. This was due to new head coach Hootie Ingram's changing the team's entrance to the west end zone after Frank Howard's retirement. During those seasons, Clemson held a bad record at home of 6-9. Before the South Carolina rivalry game in 1972, the team voted to enter via the east end zone and run down the hill. They later won the game 7-6. These days fans are allowed to get their pictures taken pre-game ,,,, even Wolverines!!!!

Pre-Game Practice in the Steamy Saturday Afternoon

The old saying that if you "can't stand the heat, stay out of the Kitchen" was appropriate that afternoon, it was ridiculously hot, somewhere in the mid-90's Mike and Bone found their (not-so-good seats) in the lower west end zone, which was well positioned to watch the players walk down the field, but not so much watching the Game. So Mike and Bone tried to drink the amount of water they were sweatin'' (about a gallon an hour!), when the Band took the field!

The Clemson University Tiger Band!

Before the 1950s, Clemson University was strictly a military college. Even though it did not accept civilian students, there was always a band of some sort, most often a Cadet Corps band. In the mid-1930s (around 1935), Dr. Edward Jones Freeman (for whom Freeman Hall, an educational building on Clemson's campus, is named) wrote a fight song for the school called "Tiger Rah," a song which would eventually be reintroduced to the university in the 2002 football season. In 1937, the band, then known as "The Clemson College Band Company," broke into four different bands: the Parade Band, the Concert Band, the Junior Band, and the College Dance Orchestra. In 1938, the Clemson Concert Band performed on a nationally broadcast radio program on NBC.

Clemson's band director in 1942, Dean Ross, stumbled upon "Tiger Rag", originally recorded and copyrighted by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1917, in an Atlanta music store. Also known as "the song that shakes the southland", the Tiger Rag was brought back to Clemson to be taught to the Tiger Band to play at football games. Since 1942, the Tiger Band has learned more than 15 ways to play the Tiger Rag and performs at all Tiger sporting events, pep rallies, and parades.  

In 1955, Clemson College was opened up to the civilian population as a public college, and in that year, the band was renamed to its current name, the "Tiger Band."

During the 1960s, the Clemson Tiger Band began to expand their horizons. In 1961, the Tiger Band received a permanent building that included a library and rooms for practice, offices, and storage. That year baton twirlers were also added to the Tiger Band ensemble.

In 1962, the Clemson Tiger Band was invited to travel to Washington, D.C. in order to perform for the then-President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy. In 1964, the Tiger Band was again invited to perform on a national scale, this time during the halftime show of the football game between the Baltimore Colts and the Minnesota Vikings, which was shown live on CBS.

In 1970, the Clemson Tiger Band reached a monumental milestone by inducting fourteen women into the band as the college's first female musicians. In1980, the band formation that spells out "CLEMSON" at the end of halftime shows was added to the log of formations that the band was capable of performing. In 1991, Clemson began the construction of the $12 million Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, which, upon its completion in 1994, became the permanent home of the Clemson University Tiger Band. Also in 1991, the Clemson Tiger Band travelled to Tokyo in order to perform in the Japan Bowl, sponsored by Coca-Cola. Since Mike and Bone are Guinness fans, they prefer the mighty Meeechigan Marching Band! The Tiger Walk down the Hill (More like a hop!)

Next, The team took their famous walk down the hill, Based on the gear they wear and steep slope, Mike and Bone could easily see players taking dives! Talking to some locals, yep, in fact every season several players do the slide rather than walk down the field! With pre-game festivities over it was GAME On!!!

A Slow Start!!

Clemson took a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter on an 11-yard touchdown run by Kelly Bryant, but that was the only score in the first half.  Boston College's Defense still reflects Don Brown's hard-nose style! Mike and Bone hated the seats they had so at Half they headed up into second deck to watch the Half-Time show and the rest of the game.

A hard fought Half!!

A Slog in the 3rd

Mike and Bone watched Kelly Bryant and the Clemson offense struggled much of the day, but the Tigers’ running game, led by Travis Etienne, got going late in the 3rd Quarter, but the Eagles also answered on an AJ Dillon 1-yard run before Clemson finally took control.

Finally, a little Run Game!

The game was tied entering the fourth quarter, before Clemson outscored the Eagles 27-0. It started with Adam Choice giving Clemson the lead with a 6-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter before Etienne rumbled 50 yards for a score and a 21-7 advantage.   Bryant’s second touchdown run of the game put the Tigers ahead 27-7 after Alex Spence missed the extra point before Etienne finished the scoring with a 10-yard run.

Final Score: Clemson 34, Boston College 7 !?!

Etienne finished with nine carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Clemson (4-0, 2-0 ACC) rushed for 164 yards in the final quarter, compared to the Boston College (1-3, 0-2) offense which managed 37 yards.   “Those guys played their tails off and really gave us all we wanted for the majority of the game.

A hard-fought game. I knew it would be,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “We ended up wearing them down. It’s a four-quarter game. It’s not a two-quarter game. It’s not a three-quarter game. The game is four quarters for a reason, and we just took it over.” “What a game. What a fourth quarter,” Swinney said of Etienne. “That’s what you can do when you’ve got depth and you can wear people down. He’s just gaining confidence by the minute.”  Clemson's Quarterback Kelley Bryant finished 17 of 26 passing for 140 yards and two interceptions. The Tigers finished with 342 rushing yards.   “At the end of the day, to run the ball for 342 yards, you’re going to win a lot of football games that way,” Swinney said. With that Mike and Bone decided to fuel up with a few beers Charlie's Style to celebrate the win.

Esso's Part II

Mike and Bone headed back to Esso's for some chicken wings and beer, it had finally started to cool down, and the out door patio area had a great band playing so in the early fall evening the micro-brew stouts flowed with the pre-requisite wings. The Boys Michigan shirts continued to attract the Clemson faithful to stop by, ask the Boys what they thought of the Game and continue to display the Southern Hospitality that they had experienced since they arrived the night before.

In fact, one very accomplished Family came over, introduced themselves and talked to the Boys for some 10 minutes! Simply lovely peoples!!! Mike wisely told Bone, "Hey! Easy on the wings, we are in Bar-be-que Country!" By which the Boys headed back to their Hotel and stopped at an awesome joint called the Smoking Pig!

Eatin' some "Q" at the Smoking Pig?

Clemson (and Anderson!) have a number of Bar-be-que joints in the area, serendipity placed one on the route from the Campus to Mike and Bone's Hotel, and oh boy was it awesome! The Boys arrived exactly at 10:00, the time they closed. But MORE southern hospitality manifested, the Manager simply said, "don't worry Boys! Take your time!" Mike and Bone both ordered the sampler plate, with a little pork ribs, and shredded pork with awesome corn bread and beans. More than even the Boys could handle!! It was yet one final example of the Southern Hospitality that the Boys had always heard about, and now experienced.  Since the Boys had a 9:00 AM flight and they needed to be up by 5:00 AM, they headed back to the Hotel.  

Trip, Post Script

Stuffed with Hot Dogs, History, Football, and Bar-be-que and memories of meeting a lot of really nice folks, Mike and Bone headed back to Meeechigan with a newfound meaning of Southern Hospitality!!!