VAN WYCK -- Sylvia Crawford pulled her station wagon out of her driveway early Monday morning in her tiny hometown.
She passed a big green sign a few hundred yards from her front door that pointed toward the crossroads that is Van Wyck proper -- pronounced "Van Wack" or "Wike" or "Wick," depending on who is talking the loudest -- a place so small it isn't technically a town.
She hadn't slept much. She had good reason to be up most of the night.
"Hopefully, they are gonna have to add a new sign," she said to herself. "My baby, he's going to Beijing. And so am I."
That sign reads: "Van Wyck -- Home of Shawn Crawford 2004 Olympic Gold & Silver Medalist."
Sylvia is the mother of Shawn Crawford. The runner. The sprinter. The star.
The biggest thing ever from Van Wyck, Shawn Crawford is, and now he's huge again. Shawn qualified late Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Oregon to run the 200 meters in the Beijing, China, Olympic Games next month.
There is no such thing as keeping excitement to yourself in this place just across the Catawba River off S.C. 5 in Lancaster County that has maybe 250 people in it.
There is a train track, the brickworks and one store -- a gun store with a drink machine out front. The gun store is closed on Mondays, but the drink machine was open for business.
The post office Monday became Shawn Crawford central. Nothing officially happens in Van Wyck until it's discussed at the tiny counter.
One lady asked longtime Van Wyck postmistress Betty George, "Train go by yet?" and George said, "Yep." That meant the train had officially gone by.
"Of course, people have mentioned it; this is big," George said of Crawford's latest exploits. "We don't have any others from here in the Olympics, you know. I heard you can't even Google Van Wyck and find us.
"You just missed Sylvia. She was in here. We talked about the Olympics."
Then, George pointed out the one window: "There goes Sylvia right now."
And sure enough, Sylvia Crawford pulled into the driveway of a house across the street. George walked outside and waved her over.
Sylvia explained how she had passed the sign earlier and what she said to herself about Van Wyck hopefully needing a new sign after the Beijing Olympics. How she -- the mother of one of the fastest men on earth, a guy dubbed the "Cheetah Man" after he once raced a giraffe and won, but lost to a zebra -- had watched her son run a race on TV Sunday night that lasted exactly 19.857 seconds.
Shawn came in second, losing by an eyelash, yet he still qualified for the same 200-meter event he won gold in at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
"I was on the edge of my chair watching, then jumping up," Sylvia said. "My phone rang, and it was my friend Marilyn, and she yelled out, 'Pack your bags, we're goin' to China!'"
While Sylvia talked Monday at the post office, Betty Broome showed up, bouncing out of her car, to install Shawn Crawford press clippings from The Herald sports section on the post office wall. Just so all of Van Wyck could see Shawn's exploits if they missed the last few days or had just returned from Mars.
Broome is one of Van Wyck's historians -- a member of a group called the Van Wyck Community Development Club.
Van Wyck has no mayor or any other officialdom. All Van Wyck requires for citizenship is love for each other -- and favorite son Shawn Crawford.
Before noon Monday, Broome already had scheduled a club meeting for tonight to talk about what kind of community celebration can be held this time. It is unclear if Shawn, who lives and trains in Los Angeles, is going to get home between now and his trip to China next month, Sylvia Crawford said.
"I haven't even had a chance to talk to him yet myself, tell my baby how proud I am," she said.
"We'll have a big celebration even if he can't get home," Broome said. "How exciting!"
That excitement is for everybody in Van Wyck, and a lot of other places, too.
In 2004, between the Olympic Trials and the Games, and then again after Crawford won gold and silver, the tiny community center down the street from the post office hosted celebrations and was overrun with hundreds of people welcoming Crawford home. A gold plaque was riveted onto a big rock. The little track around the center was named for Shawn Crawford.
Crawford arrived to cheers with a police escort. He made speeches. There were so many people, Van Wyck needed a microphone and speakers.
"Before Shawn, we weren't even on the map," said Clarence Witherspoon, who goes to church with the Crawfords at White Oak AME Zion Church, right across the street from Sylvia Crawford's front door.
Whether coming into little Van Wyck from east or west, north or south, those green and white highway signs saying Shawn Crawford won Olympic medals welcome drivers. So, Sylvia Crawford made a trip to Wal-Mart on Monday and bought one of those big white banners to get started on the next set of signs. This one is for her front yard: "Shawn Crawford goes to Beijing. We all love you."
By "we," she meant her family of two daughters younger than Shawn -- her oldest at age 30 -- her two grandchildren, her niece who lives with her and her extended family around the corner.
But here is who "all" is, too.
Those with ties to Indian Land High School, many miles to the north, where Van Wyck kids like Shawn Crawford go to school.
Those who know Crawford from his track days at Clemson. The White Oak church across the street. The other churches down between the post office and the community center.
All these other people from Van Wyck who aren't related to Shawn Crawford, but sure know how to embrace somebody they love when he makes you proud -- and known -- in front of the whole world.