Ædes Mores Juraque Curat
I’m from off.
I tell everyone that.
Seriously, I’m from off.
Recently, a native of the Holy City told me that I had to stop saying that.
“Beaufort isn’t off; New Jersey is off.”
In the town where I have lived longer than any other, that marsh filled peninsula where the Ashely and Cooper come together to form the Atlantic, I will always be from off. Even if I did grow up just down the road. Leaving church just last week, a fellow parishioner said, “Oh, …we love Beaufort. It’s what Charleston used to be like.” And, there you have it. I’m from off, but living in the New Charleston.
The Charleston of my youth is long dead
where the flower ladies and basket ladies hawked their wares on the corner of Meeting and Broad;
where open container laws were winked at;
where a couple of phone calls could get the nice boys out of the klink;
where PG and AH and Wando and First Baptist kids all knew each other;
where deb parties lasted through the night and ended up with breakfast at The Goody House;
where shrimp boats really caught shrimp;
where beach houses weren’t just for the super wealthy hedge fund managers and talk show hosts and relocated actors;
where a meal out didn’t cost as much as a meal out in New York;
where SCE&G buses still ran so that domestic workers could get to and from Miz So and So’s with ease;
where Spoleto was just proving what a cosmopolitan town this is;
where there were still a lot of folks too poor to paint and too proud to white wash;
where Krawcheck’s, Max’s, Elza’s, Berlin’s, Bob Ellis, and Ellison’s were the places to shop;
where you weren’t getting into The Yacht Club;
where you weren’t going to that ball in late January;
where you weren’t going to the Hibernian on St. Patrick’s day;
where Harold’s Cabin at the Meeting Street Pig sold that exotic French cheese;
where the Broad Street still had a Pig;
where the Book Bag sold porn;
where Croghan’s buzzed you into that small, cramped, easily robbed space;
where Mrs. Dumas said in her smoky voice while leering over her reading glasses “Cash, check or chahge?”
where there was an empty block later to be filled with an Omni;
where Porgy & Bess were stores;
where Jack Patla’s, Cole’s, Birlant’s, Morris Sokol, and Them Furniture were the places to furnish your house;
where Upper King was a scary place of wig shops, pawn shops, and dive bars
where NO ONE lived above Calhoun Street;
where Dick Jenrette paid way too much for the Roper Mansion;
where St. Francis Hospital still had the nuns in their habits;
where the Frankie Home was still downtown;
where The Lorelei on Shem Creek was a real treat;
where the waiters at Henry’s were quick to light a cigarette or pull out a chair;
where there really was a bar called Garden and Gun;
where Snee Farm was practically to Georgetown;
where air conditioning wasn’t always available;
where dinner was still served mid-afternoon and suppa at night;
where shrimp and hominy was a weekend breakfast and not a cultural icon;
where Mrs. Hamby herself still cooked;
where Mt. Pleasant really was a quieter suburb over the old bridges;
where the Bridge Run didn’t attract 50,000 runners;
where North Charleston was just The North Area;
where sewage pumped right into the harbor;
where the only cruise ships were those little ones that would stop off next in Beaufort and then in Savannah;
where Lakeside sold prescriptions and candy
where Barton’s sold those delicious homemade chocolate bars;
where Luna Rosa sold pizza and a coke for $1.50l
where the Market flooded;
where Calhoun and East Bay flooded;
where Huger and King flooded;
where Ashley and Bennett flooded;
where Old Towne’s chickens greased up the window;
where Mr. Berlin made your mama approve the suit;
where Alice’s served great fried chicken;
where the Cavallaro Supper Club allowed brown bagging;
where Jimmy Dengate refused to serve black folks;
where Beckroges was the last of the German bakeries;
where Morrisons was high eating;
where T&T Sports and the Sportsman Shop were the only places to get those cool new shoes and nylon shell shorts;
where upstairs at Jack Krawcheck’s meant a handshake with Caleb and waiting to be fitted for that blazer and those wool pants that no one liked, but we all had to wear;
where there was only one bridge to James Island;
where there was only one bridge to Sullivan’s ;
where there was only one bridge to the Isle of Palms;
where there was only one Interstate in and out of town
where Happy Rain presided on Channel 5 in the afternoons;
where Charlie Hall told us about the weather on Channel 5;
where his wife Stacey told us about abandoned pets on Channel 5;
where Mike Hiott told us about Midday on Channel 5;
where Uncle Miles told us about alternative music on 96 Wave;
where WaveFest showcased cutting edge alternative music;
where The Music Farm was on East Bay Streetl
where Miskins didn’t i.d.;
where Miskins got raided by the vice cops;
where Cumberlands had the tub of mystery beer;
where Cumberlands had the best steak fries;
where Magnolias and Carolinas ushered in the Charleston culinary revolution;
where Perditas once held the top billing for food in town;
where barbeque meant Bessingers or Melvins;
where the Rainbows played;
where Daniel Island was a hunting preserve;
where driving to the Edisto Motel for fried shrimp was more likely a family reunion as you were bound to know someone in line;
where you could always get a job at the Navy Base;
where you could always go to work at the paper mill;
where that little lady West Ashley made those potato flour cups in which to serve Meeting Street crab;
where you always knew somebody in the airport;
where the airport was on Aviation ;
where Spruill Avenue had working girls;
where Hampton Park had working girls;
where lower Market Street had working girls;
where the dahs marched their charges in their prams around White Point Gardens;
where we out the light;
where he shrew he rock and run;
where dayclean come ;
where he niece is a boy;
where he niece is a girl;
where dats right, enny?
where The Hatman was early public art;
where the flooding is all that remains;
But, the cute young couple who just moved here from Atlanta plans on redoing the Morrisons’ old house on Legare Street which was just redone four years ago by that couple who just moved here from Chicago but who moved out to Sullivan’s because they thought downtown was becoming too crowded and Mrs. Smythe’s grandchildren are selling their house next door because the taxes are too high and none of them want the upkeep and her sister, Mrs. Simons, is selling Anson Street which she redid in the 1960s when no one lived in Ansonborough because it’s just too crowded around here and those people from DC redid the Lelands’ house next door and are insufferable neighbors.
The Elliotts still live in their house, though, JC says he’ll never be able to retire, even though he is75, because if he does they’ll have to sell because of the taxes and even now they only paint one side of their house every four years.
The Guignards have kept Little Jericho by selling off those last ten acres near the road to that developer who put in those rack em shack em little houses right before the recession.
The Millers who just moved here from California redid that house on Tradd. They have two small children. One is at First (Scots). The other is at Charleston Day, but they’re thinking of pulling her and sending her to Ashley Hall as Charleston Day may be too small for their daughter. They joined the Country Club and the Yacht Club pretty quickly. He plays at Yeamans. He plays at the Squash Club on Upper King, too. They were Catholics in California, but, now they’re on the north aisle at St. Philip’s every Sunday.
Cute cute cute Lucy was originally from Durham, NC. She married John, who’s from here. Once they moved back here, Lucy threw herself into the Young Circle at the Restoration Society. As part of the Relic Show she chaired the Friday night party. She also threw herself into Conservancy Foundation. In the last three years, she’s chaired the Relic Show, the Park Party and the and The Street Fair for The Museum. Now, she has nothing to do.
We don’t pay to go to parties
Have you even seen the carpool line at Ashley Hall? Teslas? Mercedes? Porshces? SUVs? Volvos galore?
Have you seen the student parking lot at Porter Gaud? Teslas? Mercedes? Porsches? SUVs? Volvos galore?
I have a friend who used to go to three schools in the mornings to drop off his children as his wife went to work early, teaching at Ashley Hall.
He described his mornings in comparison to t.v. shows:
First drop off: Charleston Day School: Leave it to Beaver
Second drop off: Porter Gaud: Falcon Crest
Third drop off: Mt. Pleasant Academy: Beverly Hills 90210
“I’m so sick of everyone moving here,” says the lady originally from Atlanta
Oh, we live in Park West. We never come downtown, but we love living in Charleston
Oh, we live in Charleston National. We never come downtown, but we love living in Charleston.
Oh, we live on Daniel Island. We never come downtown, but we love living in Charleston.
Oh, we live downtown.
Who bought Sarah’s house in Rockville? A dentist who just moved here from Cleveland, Ohio. Really? Is there anyone left in Ohio?
They plan on putting in a pool.
Come to think of it, we should probably put in a pool
We just filled in our pool
Charleston has always attracted folks from off e.g. Nathaniel Russell, the King of the Yankees, whose daughters married into local families. But, now these new folks keep coming and coming and coming. They don’t marry into the local families.
These aren’t the folks who winter at Yeamans or whose great grandparents bought Old Mulberry in the 1920s. These are the waves after waves of folks who have no notion of blending into the culture. They don’t care how it was done here for generations. They have no desire to send their children to learn how to dance on Wednesday afternoons at Society Hall. They don’t make Hoppin’ John and collards on New Years Day. They don’t care about Carolina Day. They don’t know a chainey briar from a she crab.
They don’t know that the Burke Bulldogs are the Real Deal from Stoney Field.
They don’t want to discuss race as they’re all right in their all white suburbs. The murders at Mother Emanuel didn’t affect them.
They won’t be at those drop-ins on Christmas Eve.
They work at Boeing. They work at Volvo. They don’t work at all. They don’t know a calling card from a credit card.
They don’t wear ties to church.
They don’t go to church.
They don’t know artichoke relish from hot dog relish.
They don’t know that local oysters are far superior to Apalachicola oysters.
They don’t care about summertime get-aways to Flat Rock.
They don’t care about summertime get-aways to the beaches because the beaches are now occupied full time.
They don’t care about grandmama’s dining room table because they’ve traded it all in for IKEA, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware.
Virginia’s parents moved here from New Mexico to help with that big new development out near Seabrook. Her mother is from Texas. Her father is from Albuquerque. They wear jeans and cowboy boots and turquoise jewelry. They tell people that this town looks down at the heels and is kind of junky, old and sad. “Hell, we went to this party at one of Virginia’s friend’s parents’ house. We thought it was going to be a nice house, but they had all this really old furniture and you could see the rugs were worn down from being walked on. And they didn’t serve dinner. They just put everything out on their dining room table and just had drinks. Everyone drank a lot, but they didn’t offer us a meal. And people stayed and stayed. Back home a cocktail party means one or two drinks and you leave….here they kept telling us not to go. We were there for three hours. Our Virginia is at Porter. Her brother is at Little School. We love it here.”
Amanda and Banks live on some of the property her grandmother gave her out on Johns Island. It used to take them ten minutes to get their children to school. It now takes them thirty (30) minutes at a minimum. If there’s a wreck on the Stono Bridge, then it’s gridlock for hours and hours.
A cable broke on the Edwards Bridge on a Monday afternoon. No one could move getting into Mt. Pleasant, getting into Charleston, getting onto the Interstate. No one. It took Sarah and Molly two hours round trip from downtown to Mount Pleasant and back again. They’re in the 10th grade and were crying because they were going to miss their friend’s birthday party because of it. These bridges weren’t designed for 90,000 cars a day.
Two Whole Foods, a Trader Joes, two Costcos, myriad WalMarts, more grocery stores per capita than anywhere else, but only 1 local hardware store downtown and only 1 paint store.
Yoga studios blossoming on every corner.
Starbucks on King Street and only eight blocks away, another Starbucks on King Street.
He’s great friends with Bill Murray
He’s Danny McBride’s buddy
He’s going fishing with Daryl Hall
He’s Darius Rucker’s p.r. guy
He’s bidding on the Carolina Panthers football team
He’s the new Ambassador to Switzerland
She’s on Survivor
She’s on Southern Charm
She’s married to Bloomberg’s press secretary
She’s head of US public relations for Australia…like the whole country
She’s Sallie K’s neighbor in New York
They’re related to the DuPonts
They’re related to the Astors
They’re related to the Kennedys
They’re related to the Biddles
They’re related to Doris Duke
But wasn’t Doris Duke related to the Biddles?
Didn’t they own Rice Hope?
Didn’t they own Oaklands?
Didn’t they sell White Hall to the pro-football player?
Didn’t they sell their beach house to that talk show host…yeh…I know he’s from here…but he’s not really from here
You HAVE to meet them. They’re great. They just moved here from Boston They started that company that makes those awesome slings for new mothers. They’re all over Amazon. He drives a Tesla SUV. They just bought that lot on lower King where they tore down that old house. She just wrote about it for the New York Times. She said she loves pimento cheese and sweat tea. She has a lot to offer Charleston, she said. He is going to run for Congress, as a Democrat, even though he’s in a pretty Republican district. He said he might even run for governor as his grandfather was governor of Connecticut and he’s a distant cousin of the Kerrys in Massachusetts. He does say “La Gare”, though, and asks why everything here is so slow around here.
At least Pink and Wally still live in her great grandparents house.
At least we still get to go to Dance Night.
At least they still won’t let Barney Jones into the Yacht Club. He’s been blackballed the last two years running, so he can’t apply for five more. He bragged to the Wall Street Journal that he and his wife re-did Mrs. Breaux’s house and said it was “dilapidated” and suffered from “decades of deferred maintenance.” No wonder Mrs. Breaux died a week after that article came out.
They’ve ruined Charleston
They’ve ruined James Island
They’re ruined Mt. Pleasant
They’ve ruined Johns Island
They’re ruined Sullivans
They’ve ruined Wadmalaw
They’ve ruined the Isle of Palms
They’ve ruined Kiawah
They’ve ruined Folly
They’ve ruined Seabrook
They’ve ruined the Lowcountry
Traffic is terrible in the mornings
Traffic is terrible in the evenings
Don’t go anywhere during Wildlife
Don’t go anywhere during the Bridge Run
Don’t go anywhere during Spoleto
Don’t go anywhere during Memorial Day
Don’t go anywhere during July 4th
Don’t go anywhere during Labor Day
Don’t go anywhere the Wednesday before Thanksgiving
Don’t go anywhere on Christmas Eve
There’s nowhere to shop here
You have to go to Charlotte for good shopping
You have to go to Atlanta for good shopping
You have to go to New York for good shopping
You have to go to King Street for good shopping
I love coming to Charleston to shop
Bob and Susan are in their late 20s. He’s a freelance writer. They plan on having children soon. He enjoys playing on his bongos and painting. She’s a part time Pilates instructor. They just bought a house in Lowndesborough for $850,000.00. Her last W-2 was from her job as a barista at the Star Bucks near DuPont Circle in D.C. Three years ago. Lots of mailbox money in Charleston these days. Lots of mailbox money.
Mina and Peter Masters were recovering real estate developers. He developed gated neighborhoods from Jacksonville, FL, to Wilmington, NC. They landed in Charleston eight years ago. Mina Masters opened a workshop to teach the come here ladies how to fold a napkin, make a drink, polish silver, set a table, serve a meal. She enrolled students at $50.00 a class. She had videos on Youtube. She had a website. She had a Twitter account. She had a syllabus. The Masters have since divorced. They both high tailed it out of town.
Heather and Andy Higgins moved to Charleston from Virginia. They both had lots of cousins in Charleston. Heather announced at her middle child’s birthday party that she and Andy would be getting a divorce due to Andy cheating on her. With another man. Andy told Heather that he could pray away the gay. Heather told Andy that he couldn’t pray away the cheating. Andy told Heather that there were a large number of married gay men in Charleston who would get together for parties at which, to quote The Smiths, even Caligula would have blushed. They, too, have since high tailed it out of town.
Tigger and Aurora Blankenship moved to Charleston, too. He from Newport, Rhode Island; she from Fairfax, Virginia. When they moved to town, they fist lived in an outer exurb neighborhood in Mount Pleasant. Realizing they needed a swishier address, they moved to a closer suburban neighborhood in Mount Pleasant. Realizing they needed an even swishier address, they moved downtown to Wraggborough. Realizing they needed an even swishier address, they moved further downtown to lower Church Street. When Tigger’s elderly mother in Newport realized that her son and daughter-in-law, ages 29 and 28 respectively, had moved four times in three years and spent over Six Million dollars in real estate, she removed all funding. And, they, too, have since high tailed it out of town.
Frank Dumfries’ Great-grandparents were part of the original winter colony set that developed Yeamans Hall. They were “in residence” most winters and enjoyed the gracious, waspy tinged Southern hospitality for which Yeamans is famous. They were lovely people. Frank, not so much. Frank and his bride, the former Misty, a local gal from Goose Creek, who changed her preferred name to the gentler, quieter Missy, thought they were God’s gift to Charleston. When asked where she went to high school, Missy/Misty often fudged her answer saying she went off to a small girls school since she had gone to the all girls Converse College for a semester. When pressed, she revealed she went to Ft. Ahsley. Frank grew up in The City, going to St. Bernard’s, then to Phillips Exeter and then on to Dartmouth. He received an MBA from Wharton due to his grandmother’s influence. Frank allegedly managed his families’ money. Instead, Frank ran through his family’s money. He and Missy lived on a horse farm at Wadmalaw, kept a condo at the Murray Building, and drove back and forth to Yeamans most weekends. It was rumored that Missy had a boyfriend, the same one she had in high school in Goose Creek. It was rumored that on trips to New York, Frank was known to pay for the services of the world’s oldest profession. Missy and Frank tried and tried to have children. Frank was convinced that their inability to conceive was Missy’s fault. Missy was convinced it was Frank’s. Finally, they went to see a doctor who confirmed for the couple what many a Student Health poster said at colleges all over the county: chlamydia is not a flower. And, yet again, they, too, have since high tailed it out of town.
The old accented Geechie brogued ladies still meet for book club every Wednesday afternoon and complain about the traffic
The German Society still meets every other Thursday for supper.
The St. Lucia Society still passes down membership from father to son
The Gun Club has its annual December supper
The Sons of the Colony march every Carolina Day
The Bible Propagation Society still owns the building on Chisolm Street and distributes Bibles to schools and churches
The realtors brush their commission breath daily with the dollars of the new immigrants
Caldwell McPherson and his brother, Alex, opened a small website design company in 2000. Caldwell had just dropped out of Clemson. Alex was a senior at the College of Charleston. Within two months of opening, Alex called his parents to let them know he, like his brother, would not be getting his degree. Mrs. McPherson wept when Alex called just as she had when Caldwell called. Last year, Caldwell and Alex were listed on myriad lists about web design, entrepreneurship, and sport fishing as they own one of the premier boats based out of Ripley Light. The name of their vessel: Mama Cried. They fish in every tournament and win a lot of them. They just bought a big beach house on Sullivans Island, too.
Have y’all been to Leons?
Have y’all been to Little Jacks?
Have y’all been to FIG?
Have y’all been to Xia Bao?
Have y’all been to Tu?
Have y’all been to Oak?
Have y’all been to Purlieu?
Have y’all been to Stellas?
Have y’all been to Indaco?
Have y’all been to Zia?
Have y’all been to Crust?
Have y’all been to Halls?
Have y’all been to Rodney Scotts?
Have y’all been to the Glass Onion?
Have y’all been to Charleston Grill?
Have y’all been to Le Farfalle?
Have y’all been to Leyla?
Have y’all been to McCrady’s?
Have y’all been to Husk?
Have y’all been to 167 Raw?
Have y’all been to The Grocery?
Have y’all been to The Ordinary?
Have y’all been to Chez Nous?
Bless her heart she’s from Altanta
Bless her heart she’s from Charlotte
Bless his heart he’s from Boston
Bless his heart he’s from Buffalo
Annie says that we should be nice to these people as they add a lot
BoBo says we shouldn’t.
No more slave quarters: houses of enslaved Africans
No more moonlight and magnolias: plantation feudalism
No more War Between the States: Southern treason
No more Confederate reenactment: protest marches
No more conservatively dressed young ladies and men: athleisure wear, tattoos
No more seersucker and poplin: lycra and spandex
No more silver and china: biodegradable plastics
No more standing up for the lady: chewing with your mouth full
No more South Carolina history: communism wasn’t that bad
No more “my people owned slaves”: “ my people should have been embarrassed”
No more dogs on the beach: it’s my beach, too
No more alcohol on the beach: family friendly
No more boiled peanut stands: juice bars in every strip center
No more Brabhams likka: Total Wine and Bottles
No more vegetables at the Farmers Market: soaps, food trucks, and candles
No more Charleston grass: Astroturf
No more children on bikes roaming in packs: empty houses
No more local folks in the big houses: now socialites, design mavens, hedge funds
No more topsiders and boat shoes: Gucci loafers and Jimmy Choos
No more “come have a drink”: meet you in the lobby of the hotel
No more Crosbys Seafood: tilapia at the grocery store
Charleston Wine + Food
Spring Tour of Homes
Spoleto Festival USA
Fall Tour of Homes
Christmas in Charleston
For the last thirty nine years, the Wrays have hosted a Christmas Eve drop in…ham, bread, mustard, mayonnaise; pickled shrimp; shrimp paste sandwiches; chicken salad sandwiches; cheese straws; roast beef; vegetable dip; hot cheese dip in the chafing dish; meringue kisses, divinity, sliced fruitcake, Lionel on the piazza behind the bar; appearance by Santa Claus….only local folks…until their granddaughter married that man from Rhode Island The year of the marriage, Mrs. Wray could be overheard saying, “This is the last year we’re going to do this….my name sake married a Yankee…like to have killed me, she did.” And, sure enough, no more drop in on Christmas Eve. There are standards, after all.
Georgiana Holmes tried to guide the young couple who moved to town about how things were done. They bought the house next to her on Ladson Street. They were both hard charging young lawyers who decided they had to live here. Mrs. Holmes arrived at their doorstep upon their arrival with a pan of angel biscuits (suitable for freezing) and a bottle of wine. The lady of the house thanked her but didn’t invite her in immediately. Mrs. Holmes quietly asked, “May I see what you’ve done with the Parkers’ old house?” The lady invited her in. Mrs. Holmes has since advised them on the appropriate painters, doctors, schools, baby sitters, clubs, events, and friends to have if “they want any friends in this town.” Mrs. Holmes calls them her young people and tells the ladies in her bridge club that they’re “coming ‘long but they’re always going to be from off, bless their hearts.”
The whited sepulcher
The scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites
The money changers to be thrown from the Temple
The empty suit
The family silver
The family furniture
The family alcoholism
The family depression
The family bipolar disorder
The family ADHD
The family beach house
The family mountain house
The African American cousins no one speaks of but we all know they’re kin
See y’all in Flat Rock?
See y’all in Saluda?
See y’all in Cashiers?
See y’all in Highlands?
See y’all in Linville?
See y’all in Boone?
See y’all in Banner Elk?
See y’all in Blowing Rock?
See y’all in Rockville?
See y’all in Pawleys?
See y’all at Sullivans?
See y’all at the IoP?
See y’all at Folly?
We’re going to France this summer
We’re going to Maine this summer
We’re going to Wyoming this summer
We’re going to the Bahamas this summer
The children will be at Falling Creek
The children will be at High Rocks
The children will be at Greystone
The children will be at Illahee
The children will be at Kanuga
The children will be at Green Cove
The children will be at Mondamin
The children will be at Ton-A-Wandah
The children will be at Green River
The children will be at Sea Gull
The children will be at Seafarer
The children will be at Merrie Woode
The children will be at Merri Mac
The children will be at Rockbrook
The children will be at Pinnacle
The children will be at Rockmont
The children will be at Keystone
The children will be at Camp Carolina
The children will be at Gwynn Valley
Our children don’t go to camp
Our children go to tennis camp
Our children go to soccer camp
Our children go to basketball camp
Our children go to volleyball camp
Our children go to track camp
We don’t know them, do we?
We don’t like them, do we?
Do they go to the Donovans’ Christmas party? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them there
Do they go to the Stephensons’ oyster roast? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them there.
Do they go to the Huguenins’ barbecue? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them there.
Do they go to the McCullough’s fish fry? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them there.
What are y’all doing for Memorial Day?
What are y’all doing for the 4th of July?
What are y’all doing for Labor Day?
What are y’all doing for Fall Break?
What are y’all doing for Thanksgiving?
What are y’all doing for Christmas?
What are y’all doing from MLK weekend?
What are y’all doing from Winter Break?
What are y’all doing for Spring Break?
What are y’all doing form Memorial Day?
We’re staying here
We are, too
There’s no place I’d rather be.