Issue 6.18 | Monday, March 3, 2014
You can get through one last cold snap
College of Charleston grad, naval history is personal
MARCH 3, 2014 -- Family vacations often have a profound and lasting effect on children. For some, it's an Instagram or Facebook album of selfies taken at landmark sites with the occasional snarky comment about being dragged to "old" places.
For Frank V. Thompson, those family vacations, which predate both Instagram and Facebook, would be the seed that would bloom into a career.
It was 1981 when Thompson's father, a World War II veteran, decided to take his family with him on a business trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. During a visit to Pearl Harbor, 11-year-old Frank bought a book about USS Arizona at the memorial gift shop. By the time the family returned home to Liberty Hill, S.C., young Frank was hooked on history.
He studied history at the College of Charleston. As he neared graduation, there was concern about employment prospects with a bachelor's degree in history which he jokingly describes as a "You want fries with that?" degree.
But just a few days after graduation in 1992, Thompson moved to Washington, D.C., to start his new job and career as staff curator with the Naval History Center, as it was called then.
One of his favorite memories of those early years learning the job was getting the opportunity to put on his first exhibit in the wardroom of the battleship Missouri (BB-63) where it was docked at Bremerton, Wash., for the 50th anniversary of its 1944 commissioning. A few years later Missouri was moved to Hawaii where she has served as a museum ship at Pearl Harbor since Jan. 29, 1999.
Now on the job for nearly 22 years, Thompson is the deputy director of the Collections Management Division of the Naval History and Heritage Command, having spent almost half of his life up to his eyebrows in Navy history.
A career as a curator has been a passion for Thompson, but it was an enigma for some members of his family -- other than his parents, Mary and the late John Thompson Sr. -- who weren't quite sure what Thompson did for a living. When Thompson's brother, John Jr., who is an insurance agent in Camden, S.C., visited the Washington Navy Yard a few years ago, Thompson took him through the weapons vault and showed him some of the priceless artifacts.
"My brother could finally understand the cool factor in me being a curator," Thompson said.
His dedication to his work has been recognized by his peers numerous times. From the Historic Naval Ships Association, which recognizes those who work for the preservation of historic ships and the items on them, Thompson has twice received the Russell Booth Award for Outstanding Achievement, 1996 and 2000; was the 2006 recipient of the Henry Vadnais Jr. Award for Outstanding Service, and in 2012, at the ripe old age of 42, he received the specialty title "Old Walrus" for his institutional knowledge of U.S. Navy history and artifacts.
Asking Thompson to pick a favorite artifact is like asking a mother to choose a favorite child. He recalls moments of standing under historic ships in dry dock and holding priceless artifacts. He can look at an old piece of metal and see its soul, its cost in humanity, and how and why it was created.
But when really pressed, and after careful consideration, Thompson goes back to that Iowa-class battleship, the last of its kind. He picked the commemorative brass plaque mounted in the Missouri's deck where the Japanese surrendered, bringing World War II to a close. The plaque on the ship is a reproduction, with the original preserved within the collection under his watch at the Navy Yard.
"To me, it's more than a piece of brass. The plaque, simple in design, serves as an eloquent memorial to the price the nation paid in terms of human cost, national treasure, and industrial effort required to get the Missouri to Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945."
One of the elements of NHHC's mission is to provide essential support in policy development, enhancing readiness and building esprit de corps. The command achieves that by interpreting, sharing, and making Navy history and heritage relevant for today's Navy leadership and sailors. It's a part of the mission that Thompson feels strongly about and in which he has a strong personal interest.
"I remember once conducting a site visit to one of the nuclear cruisers about to begin the decommissioning process," said Thompson. "In those days -- the mid '90's -- the Curator Branch was beginning to become more proactive in the collection process. We were attempting to engage the crews of ships and get them to think of their jobs in a broader historical context. During this particular discussion, one of the sailors asked me, 'Why are you interested in the stuff on this ship? I mean it's not historic.'"
"I thought for a moment and asked him to define what he thought of as 'historic.' He responded, 'You know, something like the USS Constitution,'" Thompson continued. "I explained that the Navy did not build Constitution to be a museum piece. She was built to fight. I pointed to the bulkhead and said, 'twenty years from now when your grandchildren ask you what you did in the Navy, what will you tell them? What would you want to show them?' I can still remember the thoughtful expression on that sailor's face when he responded that he had never thought in those terms before."
It was a moment by which Thompson is still inspired. So despite all of the paperwork and cataloging, for him, the job of a curator is just as much about helping others determine what their history might be as it is about finding those treasures yet to be discovered.
"People don't really know how much fun this job is," he said. "People don't think history can be a good career path, but it can."
Thompson, by the way, still has that book about USS Arizona he read during that family trip more than three decades ago.
MARCH 3, 2014 -- Tucked inside a dark green Glen plaid-style suit and its neighbor in gray with a chalk pinstripe are distinctive labels that said, "Warshaw's of Walterboro."
Last week upon hearing of the death of Walterboro's ambassador for excellence, 93-year-old clothier Bernard Warshaw, I opened the closet to breathe in the woolly fragrance and stroke the lapels of the pair of suits, both of which still fit after 20 years.
I remembered meeting Warshaw in 1992 during travels across the state with his longtime friend, Fritz Hollings, who was running for re-election. They graduated from The Citadel in 1942 and mustered into the Army together at what was then called Camp Stewart near Hinesville, Ga.
Warshaw fought in Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany, including service at the Battle of the Bulge. He witnessed atrocities that, as a young Jewish officer, had to have seared his soul with added intensity.
In a moving 2008 interview with historian Jack Bass, Warshaw recalled, "What I saw mostly were piles and piles of bodies, because at Dachau (concentration camp) they had four ovens. And they couldn't burn the bodies quick enough. I opened one oven with my right hand. It was not warm. It was not hot. It was in between. It was one of these."
the 45-minute tour of the camp, Warshaw took photographs on the order
of his colonel, who told him that they might one day be meaningful. Some
of the photos are now at the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College
On mustering out of the Army as a major in 1945, Warshaw returned to Walterboro and went into the clothing business with his father, a Polish immigrant who moved to the town 25 years earlier. The young veteran got married, had a family and became a vital part of his community. He served on a lot of local and state boards and commissions, all with the mission of making Walterboro and the state a better place.
At his funeral Sunday under live oaks, Warshaw was remembered for his unyielding service to his town -- for successfully working to get a 220-bed veterans nursing home in Walterboro and for working to improve the community's hospital.
Steve Skardon, executive director of the Palmetto Project, recalled Warshaw as "incredibly generous" -- not only with money, but with time and sage advice to help steer one onto, perhaps, a better track.
On my first encounter with Warshaw at his store and at others to follow, Bernard Warshaw was the quintessential Southern gentleman, the kind of guy who wore a coat and tie to Walterboro football games regardless of dressing-down trends that spread through society.
During each visit, what came through was Warshaw's wry sense of humor, broad intelligence and lots of opinions on topics of the day. But while connected to what was going on about the world, it was easy to see his passion for his family, business and town. As a son-in-law said during Sunday's service, Warshaw devoted his life to helping people around Colleton County.
In at 2012 interview with The (Walterboro) Press and Standard, Warshaw said, "I try to follow a little motto called the 11th Commandment - 'Thou shalt not stand idly by.' If you hear of someone in trouble, you go help them my goal in life has always been to make this particular area we are in a better place to live. If I can cause someone to have a better life that day, then I think I've accomplished my mission for that day."
Warshaw set a gold standard for community service. He's a hero of the Greatest Generation who will be missed in many more ways than one.
Mr. Walterboro, Bernard Warshaw (1920-2014), rest in peace.
taking and not taking federal money
this was a really good piece of work and I appreciate you writing it.
Kudos on insightful commentary
To the editor:
editorial on "The
Politics of Taking Federal Money in a Poor State."
MacDonald is one of fiction's best
loved reading your
column about John MacDonald. I started reading these about 21 years
ago when I bought my first one in the Margaritaville store in Key West.
I enjoyed it so much I was soon buying any copy I could get. I have probably
read every one of them at least three times since.
with great sorrow that I realized that the author of these favorite books
had passed away and that never again would I be able to eagerly anticipate
opening a book written by him that I had not yet read. And that my friends
who are the main characters in his Travis McGee series would have no more
Morris Financial Concepts, Inc.
The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents to you at no cost. In this issue, we shine our spotlight on Morris Financial Concepts, Inc. It is a nationally recognized, fee-only financial consulting firm that helps you identify and align your resources, values and goals to achieve an enriched life. It does do not accept commissions or compensation-related to the products and service it recommends. Its counsel is based solely on what its professionals believe is best for each client.
does your deed read?
2014 -- Do you own real property jointly with someone else? If so, how
does your deed read? I suggest that you take a look at your deed (a/k/a
Title to Real Estate) to see how it is titled.
often than not my clients, be they probate clients or clients who come
in to refinance their mortgage, believe that if more than one person is
named on the deed, the last remaining survivor automatically acquires
sole ownership at the death of the first spouse. In some states, such
as Florida and North Carolina, if a married couple owns property jointly,
there is a presumption that they hold it as tenants by the entirety and,
in that case, there are automatic rights of survivorship. Further, in
other states it is presumed that if there is more than one person on the
title, they own it with rights of survivorship. However, South Carolina
doesn't have these presumptions and, despite your intent, the property
may not pass to the survivor as you thought it might.
state, you can hold title to real property jointly in three different
ways: (1) as "tenants in common", (2) as "joint tenants
with rights of survivorship" or (3) as "tenants in common with
an indestructible right of survivorship." (NOTE:
Life estates are not discussed here but have been in a previous
How does your deed read? There are pros and cons to each form of ownership and which one is best for you depends, as with most areas of the law, on your specific circumstances and desires. Please review your deeds and if you aren't sure how you hold title or how you should hold title, consult with your real estate attorney.
Guess who's coming to dinner (and more)?
The start of the annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival is just a few days away and if you don't yet have tickets, you might be amazed at the talented chefs and experts with whom you can interact. Here is a list of some of the folks will be seen around town during the March 6-9 festival:
There are also a host of pitmasters, wine experts, pastry chefs and more. To learn about all of the events and find out where tickets are available, go to: CharlestonWineAndFood.com.
Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival here in two weeks
The second annual Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival on March 14 and 15 will bring together 13 hours of some of the best national and local storytellers with performances that reminisce about the carefree days of childhood, showcase humorous slice of life moments and transport audiences to significant times in history.
to listening to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion or being entertained
by a great comedian, Charleston Tells celebrates the art and historical
importance of storytelling. Storytellers will captivate the audience as
they offer stories that touch our souls, make us laugh, bring us to tears
and fill us with wonder. Special events are also planned for families
as a way to introduce children to this ancient and revered art form.
Tells is much more than a once-a-year celebration. The Festival will last
throughout the year with events held at local libraries and community
locations to help introduce local residents to the art of storytelling
and to showcase the talents of our best local and regional storytellers.
Whether a storyteller is sharing a childhood memory, the history of the
Gullah culture, a humorous slice of life or a spooky tale of a wandering
ghost, Charleston Tells is sure to become an annual tradition for children
of all ages.
Summit set for Saturday to empower local youths
Charleston-area youths are being encouraged to attend the Salute to Teens Empowerment Summit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in North Charleston to get information and tools to help promote positivity and get out of abusive situations.
"Violence against women includes teens and covers domestic, incest, sex trafficking and battery. Today South Carolina remains number in men killing women and we must arm women and teens with self esteem, self defense tactics and the keen sense of responsibility to each other," says organizer Lorna Beck in a news release.
The event, which will be held at the Armory Park Community Center at 5000 Lackawanna Boulevard in North Charleston, is sponsored by Charleston Carifest. It will feature a presentation by local police and a panel discussion to educate the teens and others on activities such as self-defense to empower Charleston teens to get out of abusive situations. The day will also include fun activities like dance, food and exercise.
The Youth Empowerment Summit is being held in conjunction with Carifest's annual Salute to Women, an event held in honor of International Women's Day. Slated to benefit My Sister's House, attendees of both events are encouraged to donate items such as cereal, paper products, and baby wash to help fulfill the immediate needs of the organization.
196 tons of food waste collected from schools, composted
tons of food waste has been collected in Charleston County from 27 elementary
schools and three middle schools through the Greening Schools Program,
a collaboration of the county's Environmental Management Department and
Charleston County School District.
waste composting is such a great educational opportunity for our students,"
said Maggie Harrelson, Charleston County School District's Sustainability
Coordinator. "The program not only increases student awareness about
how their daily actions impact our environment, but also fosters a deeper
understanding of basic cradle to cradle principles."
2012, Lambs Elementary School in North Charleston was the first school
to participate in a food waste diversion pilot program, which utilizes
a three-way sort collection station with three separate containers marked
for food waste, recyclable items, and trash. Shortly thereafter, CCSD
selected three additional elementary schools to participate in the pilot.
During the second half of the school year, seven additional schools were
included, resulting in a total of 72 tons of food waste collected from
the 11 participating school for the 2012-2013 school year.
on the success of the food waste diversion pilot, CCSD recognized the
benefits of food waste composting and turned the pilot into a permanent
program by modifying the structure of its waste management contract to
include food waste collection services.
beginning of this school year, this CCSD program has continued to expand
throughout the County to include an additional 17 elementary schools and
two middle schools. Some 196 food waste tons have been collected this
school year. CCSD
said it hopes to continue expansion of this program to additional elementary,
middle, and high schools during the 2014-2015 school year, according to
a press release.
Charleston County's food waste composting program also accepts food waste produced by the commercial sector. Local restaurants and large food waste generators, such as grocery stores, utilize private food waste haulers, who deliver the material for a fee to the County's Bees Ferry Compost Facility.
Do and I Don't: A History of Marriage in the Movies
Old movie buffs will thoroughly enjoy this book. The author herself says "It's a book for people who like movies and want to share a conversation about them." Basinger, the chair of film studies at Wesleyan University, is a renowned film historian and here she has written a book aimed more for a popular audience. Starting with silent films and continuing on to 2012, Basinger looks at how marriage is portrayed in commercial, mostly American feature films, and how movie makers used it to draw audiences. Marriage was a tricky subject for Hollywood, there was nothing particularly exciting, exotic or thrilling about a married couple. Domestic life might be something the audience was looking for an escape from in the movies.
In witty and affectionate terms, Basinger looks at movies such as Made for Each Other, Two for the Road, Brief Encounter, War of the Roses, Ma and Pa Kettle and stars like Myrna Loy, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Judy Holiday, Spencer Tracy and Lucille Ball. Most of the attention is paid to films from the Hollywood studio era with World War II changing the marriage movie by adding a touch of topicality. Chock full of film stills and movie ads, I recommend it for any movie lover.
George's Dorchester Parish
The South Carolina Commons House of Assembly passed an act creating St. George's Dorchester Parish on December 11, 1717. The new parish was previously part of St. Andrew's Parish and was created to accommodate the growing number of colonists along the upper Ashley River. In 1695 a group of Congregationalists from Dorchester, Massachusetts, established a New England-style township twenty-six miles upriver from Charleston and named it in honor of their former home. These religious dissenters formed the core of the parish's early population.
An Anglican church was completed in the town in 1720, and a 1726 census found 537 whites and about 1,300 slaves in the parish. In 1759, due to unrest caused by the French and Indian War, Fort Dorchester, a brick powder magazine surrounded by earthen works, was completed. Most of the descendants of the Congregationalists left the parish for Georgia beginning in 1752, but Dorchester remained an economically important town until the Revolutionary War.
The British burned Dorchester in 1781, and the town was subsequently abandoned. After the war the town of Summerville replaced Dorchester as the regional market. Rice plantations along the upper Ashley River dominated the parish's early economy and continued to be an important source of wealth into the nineteenth century. During the antebellum era planters from St. George's and surrounding parishes built summer homes in Summerville to escape their plantations during the malarial season. After the constitution of 1865 abolished the parish system, St. George's Dorchester Parish was incorporated into Colleton District.
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Dumbing down of democracy
"Almost 30 years ago, an essay by mystery writer John D. MacDonald highlighted how true believers on both sides of the political aisle searched for simple answers to complex questions because that's all they wanted:
to today and you can see how easy it has been for MSNBC and Fox News to
kowtow to audiences of true believers and facilitate the dumbing down
of American democracy."
Meet who attends Wine+Food Fest
Here are some stats about the Charleston Wine+Food Festival from 2013:
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."
Insert your email address and click subscribe for free.
Earth Day Festival contest: Students from kindergarten through 6th grade are being asked to submit artwork for the 2014 Charleston County Earth Day Festival, which will be April 26. Artwork on this year's theme, "Earth to Charleston," is due by 4 p.m. March 28. To learn more about rules and entry specifications, visit here.
Race and Roast: 12:30 p.m., March 4, Oakland Plantation, Mount Pleasant. The third annual 5K race and oyster roast at the 132-acre Oakland Plantation will benefit the East Cooper Land Trust. More.
James Island development: 6:30 p.m., March 5, James Island Town Hall, 1238-B Camp Road, James Island. Charleston County Councilman Joe Qualey will hold a public meeting on the island's future development. (Meeting originally scheduled Jan. 30, but delayed due to winter weather.)
Otranto Book Sale: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., March 7; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 8, Otranto Regional Library, 2261 Otranto Road, Charleston. The Charleston Friends of the Library will have a big book sale with great bargains on books and other media. More.
Job fair: 9 a.m. to noon, March 8, Riley Park, Charleston. The Charleston RiverDogs will hold its annual job fair for positions during the summer baseball season. More: Contact Ben Abzug at (843)723-7241.
(NEW) Second Saturday Craft Show: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 8, Pavilion at Bi-Lo Shopping Center, 774 South Shelmore Blvd., Mount Pleasant. The East Cooper Crafters Guild offers unique handcrafted items for sale from local artisans and crafters.
(NEW) Second Sunday on King: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., March 9. Enjoy strolling parts of King Street without cars as vendors offer lots of crafts and deals in what is a lively pedestrian fair.
(NEW) Teddy Bear Picnic: 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 9, Hampton Park, Charleston. The Charleston Parks Conservancy's Park Angels host the fifth annual event for which "injured" teddy bears needing treatment will find a special care station. Food and ice cream will be available for purchase. More.
Principled Leadership: March 13-14, The Citadel. War correspondent Rick Atkinson and Paralympic ski-racer Bonnie St. John will speak at this two-day conference. More.
(NEW) Charleston Tells: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. March 14; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., March 15, at Wragg Square, 342 Meeting Street. The second year of this outstanding storytelling festival portends to be great. Tickets are $15 to $45. More.
Free park admission: March 16. Charleston County residents and visitors can enjoy all of the county's parks during Customer Appreciation Day. More.
(NEW) Carolina Yard Gardening School: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., March 22, Carolina Exchange Park, Ladson. Clemson Extension and the Tri-County Master Gardens offer this one day event with hands-on gardening workshops and lecturers. Joining this year will be Amanda McNulty, host of SCETV's "Making It Grow." Registration is $75, including lunch. More.
Bird walks: 8:30 a.m. to noon, every Wednesday and Saturday. This is the time of year that a great variety of migrating birds fly through the Lowcountry so what better time to take part in one of the regular early morning bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel. Pre-registration is suggested. Cost is $5. Walks also are conducted on James Island and Folly Beach.Learn more online.
great outings for limited times