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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina

Early today we drove into Charleston. After a short 'drive around & look-see' tour, we parked and walked through the Slave Market. The Market's name is derived from slaves who ran it & sold goods there, but not because slaves were sold there. I mean, Farmer's Markets don't sell Farmers, right?  Glad we straightened that out. 

View of the Slave Market in Charleston
View inside Charleston's Slave Market
It's a long walk down the center of the Slave Market - a FUN walk

The sign to the left is why I felt at home... no wait a sec, that was a sign at a butcher's located in the market.

After some light shopping at the Slave Market, we were ready for a lovely draft horse drawn cart tour of old Charleston. The cart tours were all lined up across the street from the Slave Market.

Loading up the cart for our tour - Ila on the far right
I loved the tour. Our scraggly bearded guide was a Civil War history buff with loads of opinion and interesting stories about the war, and its effect on the city of Charleston. If you took a tour with this guide as we did and remembered all the details he gave you could probably challenge and earn a BA in Civil War history at a college. However, if you have no more memory that I do, you would pick up lots of odds and ends of information, enough to boggle your mind as you slip in and out of a state of attention to what he said.

Of all the homes that predated the Civil War, this was my favorite
My favorite tidbit our guide told us of, was about a slave, whose sea faring skills were so finely honed, he was well paid to guide ships along the coast. The local whites used to say, "Tarnation if' in he don't look just like a captain' (i.e., a white captain). That gave the slave an idea. The first time he found himself guiding a ship with an all black crew, he ran the ship up to the Union army, surrendering it. That earned him a golden ticket to meet with Pres. Lincoln. The ex-slave agreed to help the north navagate the waters off Charleston, making it easier for the north to bomb the crap out of Charleston. Post-war the ex-slave bought the very house he was born in - remember, he was born a slave, so this meant he bought his old master's home. That master was dead and his wife was empoverished and 'shell-shocked'. So, the ex-slave moved his family into the house, and let his former mistress stay on to live with them all. How shocking must that have been back then? There ought to be a movie made of that - I can imagine Denzel in the lead - though I imagine no one would probably believe it.

View of a 'Gentleman's' Garden
The beautiful garden above was called a Gentleman's garden. There were also 'Lady's' gardens, but those were hidden so you couldn't see them from the street. Heavens forbid in those days if a lady were to be seen 'laboring' - quite the scandal in those days, quite enough to give anyone the vapors.

A few folk who remembered today is Easter Sunday
Another highly impressing Antebellum home
The spooky bit of the tour was looking at the staid old homes and viewing the slave quarters off in the rear. Slave quarters! I mean, there was one home where the guide told us 7 folks in a white family lived,  with slave quarters in the rear that looked like nice old fashioned cottages, & held 75 slaves. Gulp. Owning someone in the manner of a cow or spaniel. A bizarre concept, although it still happens on this strange planet of ours.

In the Civil War era Charleston was bombed like crazy, withstanding 2 major hurricanes and an earthquake and yet the old Antebellum buildings still stand. There is a downtown Charleston church that was regularly bombed during the war. In more recent times when working on the church restoration, they left the cannon balls encased in the walls alone, least the walls lose integrity & collapse. Yeah, old Charleston took a lickin' and kept on ticking.

For no good reason at all, here's a quickie look at the Horse drawn cart tour we took. Not the most exciting of videos, but it'd go well with a cup of coffee or maybe a mint julep.

Following our Charleston tour, we hit the road, driving to Black Mountain, North Carolina. There, we found the Blue Ridge Assembly YMCA, and went on to figure out the location of our cabin. We are now there, at long last. More on our Black Mountain adventures tomorrow. 

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