Rock Hill Literary Landmark #1: Sanders Peaches
“He grabbed my hand. His strong hand held it tightly. It was a father’s hold.
I was safe with him. In the evening twilight we walked hand in hand
in search of the very-hard-to-find rain crow.” –Dori Sanders, Clover
An Author Adventures reader brought to our attention an unusual and flavorful literary landmark near Rock Hill, South Carolina, the roadside farm-to-table peach stand of author Dori Sanders, a best-selling novelist, cookbook author, and granddaughter of a freed enslaved person. Read her biography here: https://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/sanders-dorinda-sua-watsee.
According to the author’s website, “Dori Sanders is from Filbert, SC, a tiny community in York County, near Rock Hill, SC, and Charlotte, NC. Her family operates one of the oldest African-American farms in the region (her father, a former sharecropper, bought the land around 1915.). The farm produces fruits and vegetables and specializes in growing Georgia Bells and Elberta peaches which are sold at an old fashioned roadside stand.”
In addition to the farm, Sanders credits the farm’s location as an early inspiration for her writing. According to her website: “Ms. Sanders recalls telling stories at a place known as the ‘storytelling rock.’ Dori and her sisters and brothers would gather there for hours sharing all sorts of stories. Those sessions at the rock led to the formal creation of her own published stories.”
When Sanders’ award-winning book, Clover, was published, Publishers Weekly (May, 1990) described it like this: “Infusing her first novel with Black vernacular as convincing as Alice Walker’s, imaginative metaphors that rival Maya Angelou’s and humor as delicious as Zora Neale Hurston’s, Sanders has created a refreshing new voice.” Readers of her generation may recall 1980s references sprinkled throughout the book. Watch an interview with her here: Writer to Writer 12.
The farm hit tough times during the Covid-19 era. Sanders chose to temporarily shut it down, as explained here: https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/american-south/2021/10/27/covid-19-pandemic-souths-oldest-black-owned-farms-south-carolina.
Rock Hill Literary Landmark #2: Winthrop University Dacus Library Matt Christopher Collection
The roadside stand called “Sanders Peaches” is located at 2101 Filbert Highway, directly on Highway 321. It is approximately 18 miles from the Winthrop University Dacus Library in Rock Hill, which has a collection of 70,000 writings by author Matt Christopher (1917-1997).
Matt Christopher was a professional baseball player who wrote approximately a hundred sports fiction novels for kids in the late 20th century. His books covered many types of sports. See a list here: mattchristopher.com/bookshelf.
Many elementary and middle school libraries, as well as public libraries, in the US have an ample collection of sport-themed books by Matt Christopher, who moved to Rock Hill in his later years. Read more about Matt Christopher here: mattchristopher.com. Watch him talk about a statue of his character “Casey” in Rock Hill here: Casey.
While the collection is available to the public, it is held in the Special Collections department, which operates on an appointment basis.
The Rock Hill/Filbert area is the first location on our South Carolina Author Adventures Trail.