Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mi tacky casa es su tacky casa: South Carolina's South of the Border

If you're driving from the northeast to Florida, you're going to want an oasis half way there. And if your idea of an oasis includes Tacky-with-a-capital-T souvenirs, buildings shaped like sombreros and crude sculptures of mustached poncho-wearing Mexicans named Pedro, you can't top South of the Border in Dillon, South Carolina. A Mexican-themed (for no apparent reason) tourist trap, SOB has been pulling millions of weary travelers off I-95 since the 1950s with promises of deluxe accommodations, wonderful gifts, and delightful eats. You may or may not get all that but you will get a retro tackarama, bursting with unnecessary but essential junk for the taste-challenged road warrior and lots of neon festooned pseudo-stucco. We didn't spend the night here, alas, but we did have a nice meal at Pedro's Casteteria and loaded up on plenty of googahs, whatnots and tchochkes at their deluxe gift emporiums. I've never been to Tijuana, but I get the feeling this might be a reasonable facsimile only without the vice and diarrhea. It would have been great to see all the neon lit up at night. I was especially taken with how much the place appears unchanged since the 1960s. The same junky souvenirs I loved buying on roadtrips as a kid back then are here, on painted wooden shelves with hand-lettered signs advertising their greatness. Bliss! SOB is so vast, I've split up the pictures: this post shows the architecture. I'll get to the souvenirs next. Til then, manana, amigos!


Rick said...

Great images. Makes me wanna ask my dad "can we stop! can we stop! Plleeeze can we stop!"

fuzzygalore said...

"I've never been to Tijuana, but I get the feeling this might be a reasonable facsimile only without the vice and diarrhea."

Hands down the funniest thing I've read all day! :D

I remember being there once as a kid - your pics make me want to go back!

Bill said...

Is that the coffee cup "The Beave" got stuck in? It seems to have the steam pouring out of it.

Gunnar and Sherry said...

Rick: I know the feeling. I get those same pangs every time I see a tacky tourist trap!

Fuzzy: Thanks! You must go back... you MUST!

Bill: Hahaha! I'm not sure, but I might have spotted Beaver's friend Larry Mondello in Pedro's gift shop.

Jeffery Blackwell said...

Great pictures of a rather embarrassing corner of Americana - the racial or nationality-themed tourist trap.

In Michigan, it was Indians who were depicted in these stereotypical kinds of images and statues.

Down South Stuckey's used to sell all kinds of negro-themed items. Some are quite collectible.

Nice work, and good writing. It's great that you are documenting all this stuff.

A book in the works?


Mod Betty / Retro Roadmap said...

Hooray for SOB! you've popped it up to the top of my Retro Roadmap Revisit trips :-)