South of the Border
Just, the name of it makes it sound cheesy. When you find out that it is in South Carolina, the red flags start waving. For hours, you will see the billboards dotting the sides of the road with countdowns starting at 100 mi away. What I’m sure was once a booming rest area in decades past, has become a symbol of why stereotypes and cultural appropriation can be an issue in our society today. Fiberglass statues of Mexicans, dressed like they were taken straight out of a Speedy Gonzales cartoon cover the parking lots. A giant sombrero floats above the entrance. A 97 ft tall statue aptly named Pedro guards the site. Interestingly, the history of the site is quite a story.
Let’s go back to Robeson County, N.C. in 1949. The county was under the law of prohibition and the residents really wanted a way to get some booze. A man named Alan Schafer, who owned a beer wholesaler just over the state line, erected a pink, cinder-block stand in Hamer, S.C., and named it South of the Border Beer Depot. Within a few years, a small motel was added and the name was shortened to South of the Border.
After Schafer went on a trip to Mexico, returning with two new employees as well, he started to add Mexican inspired flare to the site and as the era was not known for its political correctness, the stereotypes heavily influenced the theme. The two employees, were given the name Pedro (yes, to both of them) and that’s when the welcoming statues was created. By the 1960’s the complex was 300 acres and almost like a little town having restaurants, babe shops, drugstores, fireworks, a campground and a saloon.
And so here we find ourselves today. I’m not sure how to feel about this place. At one point, I find it as a humorous reminder of how far we have come. Still, I feel uncomfortable being here. Maybe it’s the fact that it all seems a little run down. A little uncared for. Maybe it’s time for a more relevant theme, or at least one updated for todays political correctness. With the founder having recently died though, I won’t hold out hope.
Closest Supercharger Lumberton NC 22 mi
5093 Fayetteville Rd, Lumberton, NC 28358
South of the Border
3346 US-301, Hamer, SC 29547