The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Charleston on my mind, pt 2

The next day, Dan and I took a ferry ride out to Fort Sumter, where the American Civil War "officially" started; however, as any student of history knows, tensions between the states started long before a shot was fired on Fort Sumter. A visit to Fort Sumter is at once a history lesson, as well as a lesson in politics. It is true what they say: "they who win the war write the history books."  It is to the credit of the National Park system, that the Fort Sumter museum is politically impartial and leaves the visitor to make up their own minds as to the weight of events.

Charleston is so full of history, that if you aren't a history buff, you'd probably find the city a bit dull. Pretty, yes, but perhaps not with a lot to hold your attention. If, however, you love history, pirate tales, colonial culture, markets, museums, upmarket shopping, boating, and a few good ghost stories, then Charleston is for you.

The day after our visit to Fort Sumter, Dan and I took a horse and carriage ride through the historical district with a fantastic tour guide named Scott. Scott gave us the non-politically correct version of the Charleston history tour. We loved it and are thankful to Scott for giving us another view of history that would get lost in time if there weren't people like him with deep roots embedded in the development of the South, to keep it alive.

Two signers of the US Constitution, as well as American Revolutionary War officers are buried in St Michael's Episcopal church cemetery. George Washington himself, stayed at the Heyward-Washington house as well as attended events in his honor at the Exchange. The Provost dungeon is in the basement of the exchange, where pirates were held (and got wet during high tide) before they were summarily executed in Battery Park.

Charleston took on its own life and its own meaning during our tour. And, if the tales aren't enough to keep you enraptured, then the food and architecture certainly will.

Charleston is known for its "low country" food. That includes such things as shellfish, red rice and beans, boiled peanuts, gumbo and corn bread, to name just a few. It's also known for the remnants of slavery in its sweet grass basket trade - hand made woven baskets made from the local grasses, sold mainly to tourists from the roadside or in the market. This is a West African art that's been handed down from generation to generation and is under threat from local development. It would be a shame, in my mind, to see this disappear.

We stayed in Charleston for three days, and could have easily stayed for three more. There are plantations to tour, colonial homes to explore, as well as nightlife to enjoy. There just aren't enough hours in the day for Charleston.



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posted by Melanie O. at 3:15 PM -
  • At 6:53 AM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    Thank you for my sweet grass basket. I now see where it came from. It sits on my diningroom table...sitting pretty

  • At 5:11 PM, Blogger Melanie O. said…

    Charleston is such a fascinating place. So many contrasts and so much history!

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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