Charleston, SC – Day 33-35   Leave a comment

Our historical bus tour of downtown Charleston was picturesque as well as informative. Fran, our guide, was a wealth of information.

We toured the Citadel.

We were able to stop and tour the beautiful chapel.

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, and still love the tour.

Pictured below is a photo of the sailor’s berthing compartment

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!

The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President, in the name of Congress, to a person who, while a member of the Armed Forces, distinguished themselves by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of themselves beyond the call of duty while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The deed performed must have been one of bravery or self-sacrifice to clearly distinguish the individual above their comrades and must have involved risk of life.

One of the volunteers told us it was a humbling experience when they opened this section of the museum and there were over 100 Medal of Honor recipients present for the grand opening.

Bill looked up “Hershel W. Williams” who was a recipient – fighting the Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands. He is from West Virginia and went to school with Bill’s dad. Bill actually met him and remembers him as “Woody.” According to their records, he is still alive.

The kitchen was enormous with enormous, with enormous appliances needed to fix the daily meals.

The recipe for 10,000 Chocolate Chip Cookies (which meant each sailor received 2) was:

112 pounds chocolate chips

165 pounds flour

500 eggs

100 pounds granulated sugar

87 pounds shortening

75 pounds brown sugar

12 pounds butter

3 pounds salt

3 cups vanilla extract

1 quart water

1.5 pounds baking soda

CAN YOU IMAGINE!?

Our boat ride out to Ft. Sumter turned out to be 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.

Below are the “newer” fields and were probably in the greenhouse on our visit in 2012.

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 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.

We had a wonderful pot luck with the antics of Bev. You just NEVER know what she’ll do!

She SO reminds me of Aunt Dot. Speaking of which, we had the pleasure of a wonderful visit with Aunt Dot, Juanita, Ralph, Sherry, Rebecca, and Diona.

As you can see, we are working “intensely” on a family project. While “Becca” relaxed.

I love visiting with them. Their house has such a serene setting. Pictured below is their back yard as the tide is coming in.

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