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WREATHS. It's even holiday time at the Old City Jail in Charleston on Magazine Street. The jail, operational from 1802 to 1939, sports a pair of festive wreaths at this time of the year. Photo by Michael Kaynard, Kaynard Photography.
Issue 6.06 | Monday, Dec. 9, 2013
Make your list and check it twice

FOCUS Great Arbor Day fete on Dec. 12
BRACK MacDonald's "McGee" mysteries
SC AT WAR A Christmas to remember
REVIEW Send us your recommendations
HISTORY Eastern tiger swallowtail
SPOTLIGHT Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
FEEDBACK Agree on S.C. flag as tops
BROADUS Another view
THE LIST Holiday shopping ideas
QUOTE Mandela on independence
CALENDAR This week ... and next

Celebrating historic trees Dec. 12 in an historic setting
Special for Charleston Currents

DEC. 9, 2013 -- The Garden Club of Charleston is partnering with Charles Towne Landing to map historic trees and replaced plantings so that visitors to this historic park can follow a living history trail with a brochure that charts the location, variety, age and description of each tree.

The map will be unveiled at the club's celebration of South Carolina Arbor Day at the park on December 12.

At Charles Towne Landing, one of the earliest settlements in South Carolina's history, stands a live oak tree that is nearly 800 years old. Preserving and recording the existence of such natural history is the focus of Historic Trees for Historic Places (HTHP), an ongoing project of the Garden Club of South Carolina.

The Garden Club of South Carolina is spearheading the project statewide to identify and celebrate historic trees across the state; we will also plant historically appropriate trees where trees have died out.

South Carolina's historic landscapes, trees and heritage plant material tell the story of our state. Ravages of nature, owner neglect and urban sprawl have caused irreparable loss of historic landscapes, trees and other plant material. Designed to address this dilemma, HTHP includes widespread, active community involvement.

Garden clubs in South Carolina are working to identify noteworthy trees and historic landscapes statewide so that they can be documented, preserved and, where needed, restored. Some of these trees stand strong after centuries; others have been damaged or destroyed over time. Garden clubs throughout the state plan to replace and mark the sites of many of the lost or damaged trees.

The project includes Garden Club of South Carolina, the S.C. Department of Archives and History, historians, landscape architects and designers, horticulturalists, archivists, property owners, concerned citizens, public officials and members of the business community.

"It's not just live oaks, it's a variety of trees-pecans, magnolias, pine trees-and it can be a single tree like The Angel Oak, a stand of trees or allees," says Jane Pearman, president of the Garden Club of Charleston. Anyone in the state may submit an historic tree for inclusion in the project, just contact a garden club in your area.

We cannot alter our past, but we can help to create our future! Using lessons from our past and information that we gather from research and cooperative efforts with statewide and community organizations, we can devise a plan to create a future that concentrates on saving and maintaining our valuable natural assets--trees. The Garden Club of South Carolina hopes that everyone will see the value of this ambitious project and will participate. GCSC wants to encourage effective collaboration with local clubs, organizations and individuals who demonstrate the same goals of preserving our state heritage and history through Historic Trees for Historic Places.


MacDonald's "McGee" mysteries offer good writing, comfort
Editor and publisher

DEC. 9, 2013 -- There's an odd comfort with a familiar book. Over the last few weeks, we've read a half dozen classic mysteries by John D. MacDonald, who created 21 books with colors in their titles that featured "salvage consultant" Travis McGee.

What's most telling about rereading MacDonald's McGee series, which we lapped up more than 30 years ago, is just how good his writing is.

Look how he describes an aging heiress in the second of the series, "Nightmare in Pink" (1964):

"Even the backs of her slender hands were young. But the years had chopped her face. It was creased and withered and eroded into a simian brownness out of which the young green eyes stared. She had a deep drawling voice , barked rough by whiskey and smoking and living."

And see how in "The Dreadful Lemon Sky" (1974) that MacDonald described something as simple as killing a mosquito with a poetic richness:

"I whapped a mosquito which tasted the side of my neck and rolled him into a tiny moist gobbet of meat and dropped him out of his life onto the deck."

In a few words, you get the feeling of being on a boat in the humidity of Florida, where the fictional McGee famously lived in a houseboat in Slip F-18, Bahia Mar, Lauderdale.

Modern-day novelist Carl Hiaasen, known for his word paintings of Florida oddballs and oddities, recalled in a book introduction why he loved the McGee stories for more than MacDonald's uncanny ability to tell great stories: "He was the first modern writer to nail Florida dead-center, to capture all its languid sleaze, racy sense of promise, and breath-grabbing beauty."

MacDonald, indeed, was an environmentalist before it was hip. He decried the wanton destruction of old Florida and its treasures, replaced by condos, shopping malls and parking lots, as he wrote touring a developing coastal town in "The Empty Copper Sea" (1978):

"Here now was the faint petrochemical stinkings, a perpetual farting of the great god Progress. And a wang-dang thudding of bubblegum rock from the speakers on the poles in the shopping-plaza parking lot. And screech-wheeling vans painted with western desert sunsets. And the lighted banks and the savings-and-loan buildings, looking like Bauhaus wedding cakes."

What makes MacDonald's works so fun that we stay up too late reading them again is how he mixes intelligent social criticism and lofty arty ideas -- when do you see a mystery writer assume his audience knows what the Bauhaus design movement was? -- with intricate plots, the scent of sex and crushing action.

We have more than a dozen books by MacDonald still to read or reread. Guess who is going to be up too late in coming nights for his own good?

Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Charleston Currents and Statehouse Report. He can be reached at: publisher@charlestoncurrents.com.


Agree on South Carolina's flag

To the editor:

Read your article with great interest about our beloved state flag, and agree with you about it and the flag of Texas, my native state. As I recall, the palmetto tree was used because many forts, especially around Charleston, had palisades of palmetto logs, which frustrated the British considerably, due to the resilience of the logs.

I enjoy your articles.

-- Susan Lander LeBase, Florence, S.C.

If you have an opinion on something we've offered or on a subject related to the Lowcountry, please send your letters of 150 words or less to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com. Please include your name, address and phone number for verification purposes. We look forward to hearing from you!

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents to you at no cost. Today we shine our spotlight on Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, founded in 1676 by the Drayton family. It has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. It is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry and the oldest public gardens in America, opening its doors to visitors in 1870. Open 365 days a year, Magnolia offers its visitors splendid tours of nature and history and the role African-Americans played in the development of its award-winning Romantic-style gardens.


A Christmas to be remembered
By DOUGLAS W. BOSTICK, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents

In Charleston in 1863, the Advent season was not filled with joyful anticipation of Christmas Day, but, instead, beset with the realities of a frightful siege that had begun in earnest in July. An article in The New York Times estimated that from July 10 to December 16, the Siege of Charleston had cost the federal government $30 million and a great loss of life. This is equal to $5.7 billion when converted to today's equivalent currency.

By December 1863, the blockade was having a marked impact on available goods and foodstuffs in Charleston. The local newspaper published the goods for sale each day aboard any blockade runners that made it past the Union ships at the outer harbor channel. Prices for food, clothing and raw goods that were available were two to three hundred times the pre-war cost.

Despite the scarcity of goods and exorbitant prices, many South Carolinians kindly and routinely made donations to the poor and soldiers passing through the city or in the area hospitals. The newspapers on Christmas Eve were filled with the grateful acknowledgements of such gifts. The Ladies Fuel Society announced a gift of $173 dollars from Aiken citizens ($3,260 in 2013 currency). The Chaplain of the Hospitals acknowledged a donation of $36.30 and a box left by an anonymous donor with sugar, grist, rice, molasses, sage, red peppers, lemon grass and a pair of socks.

The Wayside Home was an inn and eating house that accommodated Confederate soldiers on leave in Charleston. The soldiers were invited to stay and dine at the home at no cost. From August to December 1863, the Wayside Home served and slept 21,000 soldiers. Men in St. Peter's Parish made donations to the Wayside Home on Christmas Eve that included two hogs, four quarters of beef, three baskets of cabbage, six bushels of peas, five bushels of potatoes, four boxes of rice and "holiday beverages." The home for soldiers advertised a free meal on Christmas Day to be served from noon to 3 p.m.

The editorial in the Charleston Courier published on Christmas morning noted:

"Christmas 1863 brings no gifts for the boys and girls. The sounds of battle have frightened away the bearer of painted toys, and candies, and plums, and their parents will have to be content with wholesome food of simple quality seeing that hams and turkeys, mince pies and plum puddings we are compelled to do without.

"Let us keep this day in a penitent, thankful, truthful, reverent spirit, not forgetting the claims of the poor and especially meeting the obligation we are under to our soldiers and their families and grant us speedily an honorable and enduring peace."

Scene from Broad Street in Charleston during the Civil War.

True to tradition, many Charlestonians attended midnight services at the local churches on Christmas Eve. However as the services concluded, the worshippers were not greeted by the peace and solemnity of the night as midnight passed into Christmas morning. Instead, they were greeted by the Union army on Morris Island firing shells into the city and on noncombatants. The rate of fire, often five shells in quick order, was the most intense bombardment of the city thus far in the siege. This shelling was constant from just after midnight until noon on Christmas Day.

A great fire burned through Charleston in the vicinity of Broad, Church, Tradd Streets and St. Michael's Alley. Four firemen and four soldiers were injured in the fire which caused several million dollars in damage. Incredibly, there were no civilian deaths and only two people wounded. An 83-year old man sitting by his hearth was hit by a shell that severed his leg at the knee and his sister by his side lost her right foot to a shell fragment.

Despite the intense bombardment, the Wayside Home did have their Christmas meal - eight sittings of 55 soldiers each.

In the next edition of the newspaper, the editorial offered: "The Christmas of 1863 will long be remembered by those who passed the day in the City of Charleston. For hours before the eastern sky was streaked with the first grey tints of morning, the cold night air was rent by other sounds than the joyous peels from the belfry and the exploding crackers of exhilarated boys."

Douglas W. Bostick grew up on James Island, and his ancestors in South Carolina date back to colonial America. He is the author of several books and numerous articles that have appeared in historical journals, magazines and national newsletters. A graduate of the College of Charleston, Bostick earned a master's degree from the University of South Carolina. He is a former staff and faculty member of the University of South Carolina and the University of Maryland.


Great place to wear that ugly sweater

Enjoy storytelling, comedy and yuletide style when The Ugly Sweater Tour visits the Charleston County Main Library at 7 p.m. December 13.

Wear your ugliest Christmas sweater and you may win a prize. The Uncalled For Trio, an award-winning group of nationally touring artists, will unravel holiday humor faster than kittens in a knitting shop. Celebrate, and reveal your inner fashion elf or Grinch.

This event is part of the Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival, a production of Charleston County Public Library, and is being sponsored by the Charleston Friends of the Library.

  • For more information, visit www.ccpl.org or call 805-6930.

Citadel cadets to deliver hospital cheer today at MUSC

An idea from an intern led to T-shirts, which led to a shopping spree for toys, which will now lead a group of cadets from The Citadel to the Medical University of South Carolina's horseshoe to help provide an infusion of holiday spirit.

The cadets from the college's Golf Company, along with The Citadel's new mascots, General Robert P. Carson and Boo X, will deliver several thousands of dollars' worth of toys to representatives from MUSC Children's Hospital at 3p.m. today at the horseshoe, which is the central gathering place on the hospital campus.

The project dubbed "Golf Company Operation for the Kids", started shortly after school began in the fall.

"I am an intern with the Department of Medicine at the medical university and had the chance to peek into the children's atrium to learn more. I told members of my company about it and we all knew we wanted to do something for the kids but we didn't know what or how," said Sean McLoughlin, who is a senior year cadet. "Everybody loves a t-shirt so we made a great one and began marketing it. We ended up raising about $3,000 through the generosity of other cadets as well as parents. Then we hit the stores."

Golf Company is one of five companies comprising the Second Battalion at The Citadel. There are currently five battalions at the military college of South Carolina, representing 21 companies and approximately 2,400 cadets. The 2013-2014 Corp of Cadets is the largest in the history of the 171 year old school.

Hospital warns about heart attack risks during holiays

If Christmas past is any indication, the statistics for holiday heart attacks are scarier than Ebenezer Scrooge, according to Trident Health.


  • Chest discomfort, especially in the center of the chest
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

An study of U.S. data from 1973 to 2001 showed that deaths due to heart attacks were highest on December 25, followed by December 26 and January 1. The 2004 study, published in the journal Circulation, has led to speculation over the potential causes.

One factor may simply be cold weather, which can cause blood vessels to constrict and otherwise put extra strain on the heart. Other possible factors include changes in routines and environments, the rush of holiday events and the emotional impact of being with and without loved ones. And then there's the food.

Dr. William D. Yarbrough, Trident Health's medical director for cardiovascular services, says tempting seasonal favorites -- ham, seasoned turkey and stuffing -- may lead people to consume more sodium than usual, and that can cause immediate trouble for those who have heart failure or high blood pressure.
Finally, some wonder whether a contributing factor in the number of fatalities due to heart attacks might be a reluctance to recognize or act on warning signs because of the disruption it could cause to special plans.

"If you are having severe chest pains, shortness of breath or other symptoms of a heart attack, then the correct thing to do is call 911 and have an ambulance come get you," says Dr. Yarbrough.


Send us a review

An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us a short paragraph review of why you liked a recent visit to a restaurant or a book that you recently read. Send to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com


Eastern tiger swallowtail

The tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) became South Carolina's official butterfly by an act signed into law by Gov. Carroll Campbell on March 29, 1994. The General Assembly acted especially at the behest of the members of the Garden Club of South Carolina, who selected the butterfly "because it can be seen in deciduous woods, along streams, rivers, and wooded swamps, and in towns and cities throughout South Carolina."

This popular butterfly, easy to recognize by its yellow, tiger-striped wings, is often specified as the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus glaucus) to distinguish it from similar western, Canadian, and Mexican subspecies. [A female is pictured at right.] The eastern subspecies ranges throughout the American South and the eastern United States, north to the Great Lakes, and west to the Great Plains.

The earliest evidence of the butterfly in South Carolina came from the brush of the English naturalist Mark Catesby, who sojourned in the Lowcountry in the 1720s. Engravings of Catesby's watercolors of the tiger swallowtail appeared in his Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands (1732-1743).

Tiger swallowtails appear in South Carolina woods, fields, and gardens in early spring, and there are at least three or four generations every year. The adult has a wingspan from 3 5/8 to 6 inches across. Males are yellow with tiger striping, but females have two distinct color morphs: yellow and black. It is believed that females with black wing coloring mimic other black butterflies that are toxic, and this mimicry protects them from predators.

The caterpillar is bright green with two huge yellow eyespots on the head end. These give the larva an almost snakelike appearance, probably to discourage predators.

-- Excerpted from the entry by David C.R. Heisser. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)


Another view

Here's another view of last week's popular photo of a grand old house in the Wells community in Orangeburg County. (Isn't it interesting how if you move left or right just a little, you get a photo that has a completely different feel?)

Since last week, we've learned from former Kingstree editor Linda W. Brown that the house at the split of U.S. Highways 15 and 176 apparently was built by Samuel P. Wells (1834-1900). San LeBoeuf of Charleston writes us that her father grew up on a farm less than five miles from the house. "I have always LOVED that house and was so excited to see someone was working on it recently. My dad, whose dad told him, always told me that the house was a waypoint between Charleston and Columbia on the "Charleston Highway," which is what Highway 176 was called."

In a similar vein, a Facebook friend mentioned that the house might have been a stagecoach stop between the two towns. Let us know if you have any more information on this great home by sending an email to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com.

Stump us. If you have a picture that you took that you think will stump people, send it along and we'll publish it as a mystery picture. Send to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com. Make sure to include your name and a description of the photo (in case we're not good enough to guess.)

More photos: If you want to see a neat photo of the rural South, sign up to receive photo emails at: www.SouthernCrescent.org. And tell your friends too!


We encourage you to check out our sister publications:

Statehouse Report -- a weekly legislative forecast that keeps you a step ahead of what happens at the Statehouse. It's free.

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TravelOrMove.com -- a fun, interactive site where you can input your travel or retirement preferences and find places you might not have considered.

Georgia Clips offers a similar daily news compilation for the scores of newspapers in Georgia's 159 counties.

GwinnettForum -- an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.


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Great gift ideas for the season

Some of Charleston Currents' elves have been busy at work developing some great gift ideas for the holiday season.

Photographs by contributing photographer Michael Kaynard and his wife, Cynthia Bledsoe, now are being shown at the W. Hampton Brand Gallery at 114 East Bay Street. They offer several outstanding Lowcountry scenes that you might have seen over the past year in this publication.

Their feature image is of 95 Broad Street, which is also printed on slate. They also offer great views of Angel Oak, wildlife, the ruins at Old Sheldon Church and the oaks of Tomotley Plantation.

If you visit the gallery, mention Charleston Currents and get a 25 percent discount on any of the pair's paper prints. Some other fantastic photos you can purchase:

Other holiday treats

Historian and columnist Doug Bostick, who serves as executive director of the S.C. Battleground Preservation Trust, tells us the Trust is offering the last of a limited edition run of Ben Silver ties and pewter mint julep cups commemorating the 1st South Carolina Artillery, which defended Battery Wagner 150 years ago.

The ties (regular, extra-long or bow) are $75 each. The pewter cups as $15 each. For more information, contact the Trust by email or phone 843.743.8281.



"I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."

-- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)



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Holiday inspiration: 4 p.m., December 10, Heyward-Washington House, 87 Church Street, Charleston. You can get inspiration for holiday entertaining at the historic house run by the Charleston Museum. More.

(NEW) King Street Shop Walk: Starts at 5 p.m. December 13 on, umm, King Street in Charleston. More than 65 retailers participate to offer savings that benefit the Center for Women. The event begins and ends at Charleston Place Hotel. More.

(NEW) Book debut: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., December 15, Florence Crittenton home, 19 St. Margaret St., Charleston. Join the folks at Florence Crittenton to celebrate the publication of "Miracles on St. Margaret Street" by Ruth W. Cupp. Her book offers powerful stories on how the organization has helped the Charleston community for more than 116 years. Refreshments will be served.

Holiday Festival of Lights: Through December 31, James Island County Park. You can see more than 750 holiday light exhibits and get $5 off Monday through Thursday with donation of a canned food item. More info.

"Annie:" Through December 22, Dock Street Theatre, Charleston. Charleston Stage will present the award-winning Tony musical to "lift everyone's holiday spirits" with Charleston's own Madelyn Anderson as Little Orphan Annie. Tickets and info.

Art of Pinar Del Rio: Through December 29, City Gallery at Waterfront Park, Charleston. The gallery will host an exhibition of works by more than a dozen contemporary Cuban artists curated by local artist Reynier Llanes. More info.

Polar plunge: 1 p.m., January 2, 2014, Dunleavy's Pub, Sullivans Island. The pub will offer its annual New Year's Day Polar Plunge this year to raise money for Special Olympics South Carolina. The fun starts at 11 a.m. when people gather for food and drinks, with a mass walk to the beach at 12:30 a.m. Registration is now open. 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.


12/23: Simpkins: Meeting Mandela
12/16: Creech: Safety first
12/09: Heddinger: Arbor Day
12/02: Troy: Photo contest for birds

11/25: USC-Clemson book rivalry
11/18: Boyd: Remembering JFK
11/11: Weirs: Photographing cats
11/4: Frazier: Azalea talk at Magnolia

10/28: Kaynard: Slow it down
10/21: Gambrell: Changing education
10/14: Smetana: Green teams
10/7: Gress: More to do on equality

9/30: McCarter: Safe water
9/23: Diebolt: One Book program
9/16: Mercer: Civil War photos
9/9: 30th MOJA Festival soon
9/3: Scharstein: Free autism forum

8/26: Ringler: Chasing after a cure
8/19: Sabine: Kids giving back
8/12: Frazier: Bat lab
8/5: Hathorne: Kudzu bugs

7/29: Sheahen: Poverty grows
7/22: Ferguson: Plate at the table
7/15: Kaynard: Mepkin Abbey
7/8: McCandless: At-risk youths
7/1: McGee: Monroe's new book

6/24: Williams: Avoiding foreclosure
6/17: Dewey: Preventing suicide
6/10: Hoover: Clean kitchens
6/3: Kulp: On breathalyzers


12/9: A Christmas to remember
11/18: Jefferson Davis visits
10/14: Shelling Fort Sumter
9/9: Assault on Fort Sumter
8/5: The Angel of Death
7/8: Assault on Battery Wagner
6/10: "A furious barbarian"
5/13: Recovery of Keokuk guns
4/8: "Turrets are coming!"
3/11: Preparing to attack
2/11: Blockade is broken
1/14: Stono Rebellion


12/23: Who's been naughty, nice
12/16: Education, workforce related
12/9: MacDonald's mysteries
12/2: S.C. has coolest flag

11/25: Enforce robocall law
11/18: Library referendum needed
11/11: Oh, the Things You'll Miss
11/4: Wild gov's race ahead

10/28: Lake City's surprises
10/21: Challenging exceptionalism
10/14: Holidays approaching
10/7: Tired of Congress

9/30: On Henry Martyn Robert
9/23: New American inspire
9/16: 10 years later: Letter
9/9: Welfare today
9/3: End legislative delegations

8/26: What would Dr. King say?
8/19: Wool over our eyes
8/12: Essays on ordinary summer
8/5: Ford needs to get out of the way

7/29: New poverty study
7/22: Engage in trade war
7/15: Give brand to government
7/8: S.C. keeps treading water
7/1: Brad Taylor's new thriller

6/24: Brookgreen Gardens
6/17: New fee bring us closer?
6/10: Great new library service
6/3: On Robert Ford


12/2: On the Personal Property Memo
11/4: Your time: great gift for seniors
10/7: Let's celebrate aging
9/3: Medicaid and your future
8/5: More on estates, wills
7/1: Estate planning myths
6/3: Pensions for wartime vets
5/6: Revocable Living Trusts
3/4: Resources to help seniors cope
2/4: On life estates
1/7: Next step in health care


12/2: The "thanks" of Thanksgiving
10/28: Impact of rising bond market
9/30: What happens when rates rise


11/18: Winter activities to do
10/14: Four ways to preserve history
9/16: It's harvest time
8/19: Kids giving back

7/15: Childrens' museums
6/17: Interactive adventures
5/20: Birds, bees, butterflies
4/15: Signs of spring abound
3/18: Great local parks
2/18: What's new in Charleston is old
1/21: Blaze a trail in 2013
12/10: Great holiday adventure



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