Life in the Small Town Called INBETWEEN

I always knew Thomas was a fine man—a farmer with a lovely family—but that was about the extent of my knowledge. After enthusiastically agreeing to marry him, I asked the most shocking question, “Where do you live?”

Thomas mentioned the place I now consider the Bermuda Triangle of South Carolina: “In-Between.” All I heard was “in-between.”

300 Pound Alarm Clock

Six months later, Thomas and I were married, and I moved to a new town with exactly two traffic lights and a whopping population of 2,500. We lived in the Herlong pond house—a quaint one-thousand square foot concrete structure with only two rooms. The house was perched on the edge of a pond and a cow pasture. It wasn’t unusual for a 300-pound heifer to wake me up by scratching her head against our house.

The little town of Johnston, South Carolina, was a drastic change for me. The local folks are wonderful, and I’ve grown to love small-town life. Today, not much has changed except that Thomas now works with New York Life. Our town is so tiny that Thomas shares his office with Bland Funeral Home. I like to refer to it as “New York Life or Death.”

Funeralizin’ in the Deep South

Finding humor in every situation has been my coping mechanism, and this town is a treasure trove. Take Betty Derrick Bland Dowd, our local funeral homeowner and a remarkable woman. When my Aunt Elise Herlong Horne passed away, Betty practically ran a one-woman show. She led the family into the church, seated them, and when the pianist was a no-show, Betty slid onto the piano bench and played beautiful sacred hymns and Aunt Elise’s favorite songs. After the final note, she seamlessly transitioned back into funeral director mode, guiding the family to the cemetery. The only thing she didn’t do was fill in the grave herself.

Phone Faux Pas 

A friend shared a story about a funeral for a lovely stepmother with a beautifully blended family. During the service, the stepdaughter forgot to turn off her phone. As the casket was opened for the final viewing, her ringtone blared throughout the church. The song? None other than “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead” from The Wizard of Oz. Imagine that! At the most solemn moment, the church echoed with, “Which old witch? The wicked witch. Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead.”

After the service, a family member tried to console the mortified stepdaughter. “Are you okay?” he asked.

Her classic response? “If I only had a brain.”

Jane Jenkins Herlong went from farm fields to fame as a Sirius XM Humorist and best-selling author, sharing the stage with Jeff Foxworthy and Jerry Seinfeld. Her five award-winning Southern-fried books include “Sweet Tea Secrets from the Deep-Fried South,” now at Cracker Barrel.

A Speaker Hall of Fame inductee, Jane overcame dyslexia by turning “NOs” into “NEXTs” with humor. Featured on Sirius XM, Pandora, and Spotify, she speaks English, Southern, Northern, and Lowcountry Gullah. From her family’s tomato farm to the Miss America Pageant and Radio City Music Hall, Jane’s inspiring journey turns “NOs” into “NEXTs,” one laugh at a time. Don’t miss her act.

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