austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I'll say better than finer

After our wise choice to wear our coats to Fort Sumter, and given the forecasts of cold weather coming in, you'd probably expect that I wore my light jacket for the carriage tour. No; I foolishly supposed that given it was in the 40s and sunny that between my long-sleeved shirt and the thing I call a hoodie even though it isn't I'd be warm enough. What I failed to overlook: first, buildings cast shade, and second, it was very windy. Not quite as windy as on the island, but still, windy enough that it was unpleasant. We all were chilly and that would spoil the just-hanging-out that we hoped to do.

As our carriage was getting ready to go --- and the driver was off getting some blankets we could wrap around our shoulders, which I shrugged off at first but came to appreciate --- a couple more folks came in at the very last moment. And yeah, one was from North Jersey, because that's just how the world works anymore. Our carriage went from just being our family to being just crowded enough (thanks to the jackets folks were wearing, mostly) that someone had to sit up front (after some squabbling from her husband about how many people could sit safely in one row of seats), with our tour guide's hound dog --- apparently a rescue he'd had for a year now --- flopped across her lap. All the dogs they had looked like what Central Casting would send up for the part of ``companion dog for southern guys'', although of course in the context they'd be hard-pressed not to look the part. bunny_hugger got pictures of the dog, though we failed to get any of the horse.

The tour wound its way around downtown, as promised, showing off points like the City Market we'd just been from (at the start, naturally) and past a magic shop that caught bunny_hugger's eye, and then past points of historic note like the location where secession was actually voted in in 1860. The guide was upfront about South Carolina's slavery problem and pointed out something I think I had read but forgotten, that slaves were called ``servants'' in the state so as to spare the feelings of the whites who chose to be slavers. More cheerily he pointed out a lot of the buildings that have survived from the 19th century, mostly after the earthquake of 1886, along with anecdotes about people who resolved to not rebuild in brick after the disaster (estimated at between 6.6 and 7.3 on the Richter scale, so let's not have any Californians getting snarky at what the eastern seaboard calls an earthquake).

Among the interesting spots along a park near, apparently, where John F Kennedy had a notorious wartime dalliance was a home for sale that the tour guide pointed out as an example of a side effect of the drive to preserve historically distinct Charleston. The house is just way too big for any reasonable family, but it can't be subdivided into apartments or anything like that, and demolishing it to replace is obviously out of the question. He joked his idea was to have someone buy and open the house to the public, to provide needed bathroom areas near the park. (My father is always talking to me about how the preservation movement is trying to save every single shack regardless of whether it makes sense. I believe he's overstating things, but I'm sympathetic to multiple sides in preservation and conservation movements.)

The tour kept pausing as our guide stopped to chat with people he saw walking by. I suppose it says what kind of small talk I get into that I was left awestruck by how he just knew all these people who happened to be around. Yeah, sensibly, they were people who worked in and around the area so it's not like he hasn't met them before, but just remembering all those names of people feels like more than I could ever do, even if I were working as a guide.

Trivia: In 1929 the United Kingdom imported 196 million pounds of goods from the United States and exported 62 million. In 1938 it imported 118 million pounds and exported 29 million. Source: A Low Dishonest Decade: The Great Powers, Eastern Europe, and the Economic Origins of World War II, 1930 - 1941, Paul N Hehn.

Currently Reading: The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA, Diane Vaughan.

Tags: south carolina visit
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