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A Pearl in the Heart of South Carolina

Posted: Oct 07, 2007

Down the road from me in Bishopville, South Carolina, there lives a man named Pearl. Pearl Fryar, a sixty-six year old African American who literally defines the term “self made man.”

After moving into an all-white neighborhood back in the early 1980’s and hearing stereotypical comments like “there goes the neighborhood” and “his kind never keep their yards up,” Pearl set out to win the Bishopville Garden Club’s Yard of the Month, which he did with flying colors. That was just the beginning.

His property and garden are now a showplace, bringing visitors in from all over the world. The well-manicured, sculptured plant forms that comprise Fryar's living vision of peace, love and goodwill often began as salvaged seedlings from a local nursery.

In the new independent documentary A Man Named Pearl, we meet the man behind the magic, as well as his wife and friends and family. It is a beautiful story of a man making something extraordinary from virtually nothing. The story is sheer inspiration on celluloid. The son of sharecroppers, Pearl has long worked a full-time job at a can manufacturing plant while maintaining a yard that would make Edward Scissorhands proud.

Pearl has single handedly put the town of Bishopville on the map, (unless you count the fabled “Lizard Man”) and now it is a destination rather than one of the many side towns one passes through on the way along I-20.

In the movie, we get a true picture of life in the South, from the roadside attractions to the ladies of the A.M.E. Church Pearl attends, dressed in their most colorful attire, lifting voices to the Lord.

We meet everyone from the Waffle House manager to the director of the Chamber of Commerce, and everyone loves Pearl. Students visit the garden and Pearl takes his knowledge into the art class at school to help the students in their study of shapes and forms. Bus loads of people come by, and Pearl stops what he is doing to give them the tour. All in a days work.

Of course, all of this has by no means been an easy task for the gardener.

“There are always going to be obstacles,” says Pearl.“The thing is, you don’t let those obstacles determine where you go.”

Pearl Fryar has turned a life filled with road blocks into a journey filled with  peace, love and good will, which he so freely passes on to others.

A Man Named Pearl is a simple film, much like it’s subject. It’s a far cry from the Hollywood blockbuster, and I love it that way. I've seen a lot of those lately, but nothing like this.

This is the story of a self made man. A peace loving man. A man filled with love. A mystic. A shaman. An inspiration. A true artist. A man named Pearl.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.

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Cowgirl says...

I have been to Pearls garden in bishopville on the way to the beach and it is amazing.

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