If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. ~J.R.R.Tolkien~
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. ~J.R.R.Tolkien~
The Bulldog Graveyard Ghost Tour where we stood on a circular stone facing the harbor and experienced an unexplainable phenomenon when we spoke.
Visiting an art gallery across the street from Magnolia’s restaurant where we had a dickens of a time shaking off the sales woman who was persistent that she wanted to sell us a thousand dollar painting.
‘MA’AM, WE ARE REALLY JUST ADMIRING THE FINE WORK HEAH
UNTIL IT IS TIME FOR OUR DINNER RESERVATION OVAH THEAH.’
The evening we went to see the movie ‘Something Borrowed’ which, if you haven’t seen it, you should. I give it two thumbs up. Darn cute.
The afternoon we fed birds and squirrels in Battery Park overlooking the harbor, enjoying the warmth of the sun, being wholly in the moment, and getting rid of these gawd awful cheese bisquit-like crackers that were nothing they were purported to be. Please note in a blind taste test, the squirrels preferred the animal crackers 6 to 1.
And most of all, the awesome company and the moments of laughing so hard I thought I just might pee my paints (and get rid of all those hard-to-remove stains, thank you 1860’s ladies of Charleston).
PAUSE FOR ANOTHER SIGH.
Being a huge fan of history, a previously undisclosed fact about myself (cough), we scheduled not one, but two visits to the
St. Phillips Church and Graveyard. Who else but yours truly would go on vacation and wander through tombstones?
AND ENJOY IT.
Now. I feel it necessary to momentarily digress to impart just one more bit of newly-learned trivia to you. Question: Do you know the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery?
LAWDY, I DIDN’T.
Well. Apparently a graveyard comes with a church; a cemetery does not. Do you suddenly feel smarter?
MISSY, I SHOHLY DID.
As part of our Bulldog Graveyard Ghost Tour experience, we ventured into the St. Phillips Church graveyard about 8:30 one evening. Our tour guide, who was remarkable in every way other than his terribly weak flashlight, told us tales of presumed dead people being locked in crypts while actually still being among the living, as well the poor folks who had the undesirable task of trying to piece together the graves after the graveyard was heavily shelled during the war.
‘BUBBA, I GOT TWO HANDS HERE AND ONE FOOT. WHATCHA Y’ALL GOT?’
Sad, but true. It is dubious as to who is truly buried in each grave and whether the headstones are actually in correct placement to the identity of the deceased beneath them. In fact, once they’d shuffled around the skeletal remains taking care that, as best they could, each grave had two feet, two hands (side note: I just typed two heads. And yes, I chuckled. Very sacrilegiously).
Anyhoo. Once each grave was deemed to have the requisite two feet, two hands, one head, etc. the remaining ‘leftover’ headstones were leaned against the graveyard walls, several deep. And they still rest there today.
All kidding aside, the graveyard was a very somber place, and we viewed it with the utmost reverence for the deceased. The headstones dated as far back as the early 1700’s which was incredibly surreal. What gave us most pause was the sobering multitude of children’s graves.
Three graves in particular are forever embedded into my soul.
The first crypt entombed the bodies of three young brothers ranging in age from three years old to ten years old who passed, one after another, over the course of a ten-day period.
The second was for a 13-year old boy, the inscription of which read that he had accidentally drowned while bathing in the river.
The third was for a family that lost four children, all under the age of five, over the course of 18 months.
AS A MOTHER, I CANNOT FATHOM SUCH AN IMMENSE LOSS.
It is well documented that childhood in the 1700’s and 1800’s was a precarious venture and that many children never made it to adulthood. It is one thing to know this. It is quite another to see it.
And on a last note about the graveyard, a disproportionately large percentage of the inscriptions on the headstones and crypts described the deceased women as Godly women above all other virtues. I wondered if, in a time when life was incredibly risky and unpredictable, people clung to their faith for strength or whether they were faithful to God because death was so ingrained into their daily lives and they sought the comfort of believing their loved ones … and children … were in a better place.
And after all that there’s really no easy way to segue into the balance of this blog about dinner at Magnolia’s.
I shall attempt to shift gears as sensitively as possible.
So. We supped at Magnolia’s Restaurant not once, but twice while in Charleston. It was the deliciousity of the pimento cheese spread and Charleston flatbread appetizer that reeled us in for a second round. WHY SUZY, WE CAN’T LEAVE CHARLESTON WITHOUT MOAH OF THAT SIMPLY MAH-VELOUS PIMENTO CHEESE. HEAVENS NO. One meal I ordered …
… the next …
Do you note a trend in my selection? If Magnolia’s pimento cheese is sumptuous enough for flatbread, why let’s just try it on beef. SWOON. And for the first time ever, I had a taste of collard greens. Peppery with just the right amount of bacon fat, I wondered why I’d wasted 48 years of my life Collard Green-less. AMAZING. Speaking of amazing, at the end of our first roll into Magnolia’s the waiter popped by our table inquiring about our satisfaction with the pecan pie and coffee. YES, WE SPLIT DESSERT THERE TOO. OINK. But. Back to Billy the Waiter. After he assured himself we were completely and utterly satiated with the fine cuisine, he asked us if we knew a Mr. Man From Up North. WHY BILLY?! SUH, THAT MAN IS MY BOSS. Seems Mr. Boss called the fine establishment of Magnolia’s and put our dinner on his credit card. WHAT A GENTLEMAN, SUZY. THAT MAN’S QUITE A GENTLEMAN. I remain stuffed-to-the-gills yours,Beezus Lollitrop
We Fada wa dey een heaben,
leh ebrybody hona ya name.
We pray dat soon ya gwine
rule oba de wol.
Wasoneba ting ya wahn,
leh um be so een dis wol
same like dey een heaben.
Gii we de food wa we need
dis day yah an ebry day.
Fagib we fa we sin,
same like we da fagib dem people
wa do bad ta we.
Leh we dohn hab haad test
wen Satan try we.
Keep we fom ebil.
~Gullah Geechee Translation of the Lord’s Prayer~
Because a trip to Charleston would not be complete without a visit to a bona fide plantation, Day 2 found us at Boone Hall Plantation about 10 miles from downtown Charleston.
After the house tour we walked down Slave Row where 9 of 27 original brick slave cabins still stand. Talking to native Charlestonians the next day as they were re-enacting 1860’s life at the Charleston Museum, we were told that it is questionable whether these are truly the original cabins. The consensus among the re-enactors was that a planter of the time, and certainly one of the prominence of the owner of Boone Hall Plantation, would not have flaunted his slaves in front of his plantation, but strategically placed them out-of-sight, most likely behind his plantation.
Conversely, the tour guide for Boone Hall explained that although there are only 9 remaining brick slave cabins on-site, there were originally 3 rows of 9 cabins each that housed the ‘skilled slaves’. These slaves would have been the ones who, after they completed their work on the plantation, would have been hired out in downtown Charleston to earn money for the plantation via a trade. The brick cabins which are in direct view of the main drive coming up to the manor house, would have also been home to the house slaves. The tour guide explained that the planter purposely had the slave cabins built in the front of the house to show his wealth to visitors.
The highlight of our visit to Boone Hall Plantation was, by far, the Gullah Theater located at the end of Slave Row. The woman who gave the presentation from the slave’s perspective was a black woman whose ancestors were actual slaves on Boone Hall Plantation.
“Mus tek cyear a de root fa heal de tree.” ~Gullah proverb~
[You need to take care of the root in order to heal the tree.]
I’m going back to Charleston, back to where I belong. ~Rhett.Butler~
Ooooh lawdy, Captain Butler.
TAKE ME WITH YOU.
I feel compelled to preface my bloggity musings with the unequivocal fact that I have never, make that NEVER EVER, visited a more beautifully captivating city than Charleston, South Carolina.
HONESTLY, I DON’T THINK SUCH A PLACE EXISTS.
As we took in so much over the five days we were in the Low Country, I’m going to recall my memories day-by-day via separate blog entries. I want to savor the trip in the re-telling to y’all because, quite frankly, there is much to appreciate.
Following a short, and blessedly uneventful, flight from Detroit to Myrtle Beach, combined with a three-hour drive down US 17 in our sweet little red Ford Focus courtesy of our friends at Budget, we arrived in Charleston late Wednesday afternoon.
I was mildly, and somewhat unpleasantly, surprised that the 90-mile trek from Myrtle Beach to Charleston chewed up a total of three hours of our valuable time in the Low Country. However, it appears that you cannot exceed 50 miles per hour on US 17 as it’s lined nearly the entire way with things to see and do.
AND HOMEMADE SWEETGRASS BASKET ROAD-SIDE STANDS.
Due to the abundance of fresh materials gleaned from the nearby marshes and the long-standing history of basket weaving by the Gullah people, (pronounced ‘gull’ as in sea gull, then ‘uh’) sweetgrass baskets are a major local tradition. But listen y’all, I’m here to tell you they are an EXPENSIVE PROPOSITION.
Needless to say as much as I enjoyed watching the women skillfully weave these charming, intricate crafts and although I thoroughly delighted in the clean, crisp smell of the baskets, I could not puzzle out how I would explain to the Husband my reasoning behind dropping $150 on a dinner roll basket when I don’t even cook.
So. We checked into our hotel and were relieved to see, having made online reservations based merely on glowing reviews from tripadvisor.com, we hadn’t been mislead.
The Hampton Inn Historic District is a classy, yet reasonably-priced, hotel located on Meeting Street, kitty corner from The Charleston Museum and directly across the street from the Joseph Manigault House. During our trip we visited both the museum and the house, which I’ll detail in another blog
BECAUSE THEY ARE UTTERLY BLOG-WORTHY.
After we settled ourselves and our meager cache of luggage into our suite, opened all the free little soaps (just because), and perused the plethora of tri-fold pamphlets we plucked from the advertising stand in the hotel lobby, we ventured out to the streets of Charleston and over to the Big Red Barn, home of Palmetto Carriage Tours.
When we arrived at the Peninsula Grill we were offered the choice of eating inside or in their lush courtyard. As it was a very mild, lightly breezy evening, with the sun just beginning to set, we decided to eat outside. I swear they could have served me corned beef hash (which, for the record, I absolutely loathe) and I would have found the whole experience life changing.
On a side note, because of its irreplaceable history, Charleston has strict building, landscaping, and lighting codes to retain it’s authenticity. Hence, as you can see from the photo above, all outside lighting is required to be gas-lit versus electric. It’s hard to describe the ethereal sense you get walking through the streets at night, or conversely eating dinner in a quaint courtyard, in a place that’s steeped in so much attention to care and detail.
I wish I had been able to take a photo of the Best Meal I’ve Ever Eaten but I couldn’t bring myself to pull out my cell phone like a Common Tourist and snap a shot of my plate. However. Shall I describe it for you?
Pan roasted jumbo sea scallops, sauted butter lettuce,
diced lobster, garlic-chive potatoes and truffled lobster broth
TRUFFLED LOBSTER BROTH. SEA SCALLOPS. LAWDY.
And then, because we wanted to prolong our experience as much as humanly possible, coupled with the fact we had effectively been unable to move out of our dream-like bliss of our meal to rise from our seats, we ordered dessert.
The Peninsula Grill is home to world-famous coconut cake. I’m not kidding. Look it up on the internet. When we returned home, we did. And for $100, plus $75 shipping and handling, you can have your very own Peninsula Grill World-Famous coconut cake delivered to your doorstep.
DON’T THINK IT HASN’T CROSSED OUR MINDS.
Anyhoo. As we were told a slice was as big as our heads (not by the waitress mind you because I don’t think she’d be so crass as to describe it’s width and breadth as such), we decided to split a slice.
YES. I BECAME A COMMON TOURIST AND HAD TO SNAP A PHOTO.
Now. For anyone with a large family (let’s say anything over one infant that’s still nursing), the Peninsula Grill is very pricey and not necessarily a place where you’d take the kids. However. It is also a place not to be missed.
On that high, I shall bring this blog to an end.
But before I do, and speaking of juvenile, I must share with you that once you are in the South you feel undescribably compelled to change your identity to fit in.
YOU WHOLEHEARTEDLY WANT TO BE PART OF THE SOUTHERN EXPERIENCE
To that end, my friend, ‘C’, and I ascribed to ourselves our perfect Southern names.
I shall henceforth be known as Beezus Lollitrop.
She is the charming Suzy Honeypot.
Until next time when we speak of Plantations and the Gullah Nation,
I remain fondly yours,