Charleston, SC   Leave a comment

Day 33-36

We toured the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens (founded in 1676) by tram. In its time, it was a booming rice plantation. The Rice Plantation owners were the more affluent people.

Yes, they had slave quarters, above left, and still have alligators here on the plantation. Where ever there is fresh water in the south, I think you’ll find alligators. The biggest and oldest alligator on the plantation, Bubba, is about 70 years old! We didn’t see him today.

Our historical bus tour of downtown Charleston was picturesque as well as informative. Mary, our guide wrote a book about Charleston and the Civil War, so she was a wealth of information.

We toured the Citadel.

Anyone wearing a Citadel ring, can surely wear it proudly.

Don’t want to forget the bulldog, their mascot.

The Charleston Battery has always been my favorite place. It was never used in battle. After the war the cannons were brought in, some of them are even “Union” cannons, as a display. I’ll never forget visiting with my cousin’s family and bringing our children to the Battery to enjoy a beautiful evening. Walking along the wall, you’ll notice the beautiful homes that are set sideward. The front doors and porches are located on the side of the house. This was done because the lots are so narrow.

We stopped at the Charleston Market. You can’t go to Charleston and not go to the city market! You’ll find all kinds of craft items there. Our favorite is the sweetgrass baskets, which has been part of the Mount Pleasant Community (a suburb of Charleston) for almost 400 years. The baskets are made from natural palmetto, long pine needles, bulrush and sweetgrass. Basket making is a traditional art form brought over from West Africa by the slaves to the area and has been passed on from generation to generation. Today, it is one of the oldest art forms of African origin in the United States.

Over the years, these baskets have become quite expensive. A decent size basket, which isn’t real big, got for a couple hundred dollars. I guess I was lucky that I bought my basket a long time ago for only $35. I thought that was a lot back then, but today it would be worth about $250 or more. The most expensive basket we saw was the large one above on the right. It looks like a hamper. If you ask them, it’s not for sale, but if you press the issue, they will give you a price of $30,000. This basket was made by Africans as a dowry basket.

Bill and I have toured the USS Yorktown several times, but never had lunch aboard.

Pictured below is a photo of the sailor’s berthing compartment (next to the typewriter looked like to us a baby bed-hmmmmm)

The torpedo workshop

There was also a surgical room onboard.

What a wonderful feeling to walk through the Medal of Honor Museum aboard the Yorktown. It was an overwhelming feeling to be proud to be an American!

Our boat ride out to Ft. Sumter this year was so much better than last year since it was not raining and a beautiful day.

The ranger gave a great introduction to the fort. After all is was where the first shot was fired in the Civil War. Below left is a photo of the fort in 1861 and below right is a photo as it is today, over 100 years of change.

Charleston Tea Plantation

Producers of American Classic Tea. They are the ONLY tea growing location in North America.

It takes about 7 years for the tea bushes to start producing the harvested tea leaves. You can tell in the photos below that the field pictured on the left is a younger plant than the field on the right. They only harvest the leaves from the top of the bush. The sides are too “woody.” If they tried to harvest the leaves from the sides of the bushes, it would take too long to separate the limbs and stems from the tea leaves, so they just use the leaves cut from the top. The tea plants bloom in November. During harvesting season, depending on the weather conditions, they hope to get 6-10 cuttings.

The equipment they use to harvest the tea is one of a kind.

The machine was created in the 1800s by one of the employees and has to be maintained in order to keep it going.

They now have a greenhouse so they can take clippings off their current bushes to produce more plants.

Just outside the greenhouse are a couple of beautiful pecan trees. They don’t harvest the pecans commercially, but Mr. Hunt does gather them for his own use.

Once Bill Hunt partnered with the Bigelows, his tea business increased tremendously. He processes the tea leaves and sends it up north to the Bigelow plant for packaging and then it is sent back to the tea plantation. Bigelow tea is produced in China for the most part. Below left is a photo of the current day processing plant, while below right is a photo of the first processing plant.

We finished our time in Charleston with my aunt, and cousin’s family.

Juanita and Ralph’s granddaughter, Rebecca, demonstrated how to throw a shrimp net.

Sherry finished off the night by polishing her daughter, Diona (not sure if I have the spelling correct)

We reminisced about such wonderful memories and making more wonderful memories. Thank you Aunt Dot, Juanita, Ralph, Sherry, Rebecca and Diona!


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