‘You must go on’: 81-year-old woman starts over after Allen Benedict Court tragedy

One woman’s story of living and leaving Allen Benedict Court Apartments.

COLUMBIA, SC — Rebecca Glover would be the first to tell you that Allen Benedict Court wasn’t much to see.

His yard was mostly dirt, paint was peeling off the ceiling and walls, cables were winding from the back bedroom window upstairs and then down the hall, up the stairs, through the walls and the first floor ceiling until it reaches the back of the television. A rule prohibiting drilling the walls made the solution.

The floors were grated linoleum. His unit had a washing machine and a clothesline in the back to dry clothes.

Taking the trash to the dumpster, neighbors got up and walked around, telling her about everything that was going on in the neighborhood, sometimes taking out the trash for her.

The nearby pharmacy had a pharmacist she really liked who called and checked on her, sometimes just pulling the breeze for a few minutes.

The Drew Wellness Center, a place to meet other people, to go to the gym, swimming lessons and health classes within walking distance and a trip to the grocery store did not involve a trip to bus.

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No, she’d tell you a second time, it wasn’t much to see, built in the 1940s. Long, indescribable brick buildings. The construction plans at the time called for 244 dwellings, 182 of which were rented before the official move-in on November 15, 1940.

Currently, the waiting list for public housing in Colombia is 8,617 applications.

But after 15 years at Allen Benedict Court, Ms Glover knew how to get around.

She raised her grandson at Allen Benedict Court. The whole complex watched him, they did that with all the kids who lived there. Everyone was watching everyone’s kids, she said.

But one night, that all changed.

Two men, who lived in flats in Allen Benedict Court, died of carbon monoxide poisoning according to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts.

It was past midnight when Columbia firefighters knocked on Mrs. Glovers’ door. Everyone had to go, take what you could and leave, it’s not safe to stay here.

The next day, a bright yellow sign appeared on the door of his old apartment, no one could live here.

Apartment 4F in Building F. She wore the key around her neck like jewelry, now it felt heavy.

“That’s it,” she said, “I’m never coming back.”

She only spent about a week in a hotel before being placed in a new apartment complex.

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Her new apartment is one bedroom, one bathroom on North Main Street.

Her new place is about 10 miles from the old flat she called home for 15 years and not as old as her flat in Allen Benedict Court.

It’s nice and clean. Freshly painted. Her daughters have come to help her fix things up a bit, she has a place for her freezer, and she can walk to the resort’s community center.

She has no washing machine, no hookups in the new place. There’s a laundry room, but some of his stuff doesn’t fit – quilts and it’s usually crowded. His apartment is on the first floor, so no step upstairs, which is a plus.

Unlike her former home, she cannot walk to the grocery store, and there are no full-service gyms and wellness centers within walking distance.

It’s about a block from a bus stop.

She learns about the new bus routes and she says the laundry mat isn’t too far away, but she misses the convenience of washing her clothes at home.

His money doesn’t go as far as he did.

After being moved, she got donated bus passes and that helped a lot for a while. She also got household supplies and food. Everything helped.

But because she has to travel further and there is nothing within walking distance, more money is spent on bus passes and now also on the laundry mat.

She wants, maybe hopes, that the people at her community center can go out and play mini-golf. She loved going out to Allen Benedict Court. She wants to play mini golf and has never done so. She goes on days when they meet at the community center and sometimes they paint or have small meetings and she hopes they will go on day trips, as mentioned mini golf is high on her list.

There are new friends to be made and she chats with her neighbors.

She speaks fondly of her former home. She doesn’t want to go back, she returned her key. For Mrs. Glover Allen, Benedict Court is just a memory.

She hates being so far from a grocery store. And as the weather gets warmer and summer is in full swing. A trip to the store will be like doing a chore in the sun. Ice cream can be hard to bring home.

But her family helps her as much as they can, and she would be the first to tell you what a blessing they are to her.

Her grandson helped her move on the last day she said goodbye to Allen Benedict Court.

She is settled into her new home. She misses her old pharmacist, who still calls, but is now a longer bus ride away.

She tries to stay positive and thinks a fresh start is good. But it’s hard to start over at 64.

She likes to see other parts of the city.

She says she makes new friends and sometimes she sees old ones on the bus and she will walk past her stop just to keep chatting, it’s hard to leave old friends behind, she says.

It’s hard to start over at 64.

And the woman from Goodwill who kept tabs on the things she liked and pointed them out to her when she came to shop.

But sometimes, on the bus, she spots a new Goodwill, a new place to try.

A clean slate and miles away from the tragedy that cost the lives of its two neighbors.

Sometimes she wonders if it could have happened to her, it sometimes keeps her awake.

Starting over is not easy, but Mrs. Glover says, “You have to keep going. You have to.”

Mrs. Glover moved once more.

Still in assisted living, but her new apartment has washer and dryer hookups.

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