It was very coincidental that Carol and I were in Charleston, SC one year after the terrible shooting in the Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church there (called by locals Mother Emanuel). Nine innocent people were shot down and 5 seriously injured when a racist came in and machined them. The city was prepared for a memorial celebration and we were pretty much in the middle of it.
We had planned to be with one of our scholarship students and his wife on Friday night. Carol had an appointment at MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina) an eminent teaching college. The results of her all day set of tests and meetings with doctors was positive. Praise be for that. At five o’clock it began to rain heavily. We found kind of an underground passageway the parking garage and found the Hominy Restaurant.
Josh and his wife Jen (who works at the hospital) are delightful people). We have known Josh from the time he was 17. That is over 15 years ago. He has turned into the kind of young man that we all would be proud of. Andy McKelvey, who provided us with funds for the scholarship was always attuned to entrepreneurial young people. Josh works for a company that provides products for non-profits and governmental organizations. However, Josh has his sights set on creating a business that would find a niche in the hard apple cider business. His explanations of how he is going about doing this in the basement of his house are mind blowing. He will succeed. I know it.
The next morning we drove from our motel into town and walked on the closed street to the Emanuel Church and watched as there were ceremonies, speeches and the unveiling of plaques in a park right in the middle of Charleston. We spoke to a number of native Charlestonians to get some idea of what has happened since the tragedy. There were many outpourings of the hurt that was done and hopes for better race relations in the city.
Our time on that street was pretty purposeful. Carol and I cannot leave any questions unanswered. We are inveterate question askers.
We wanted to avail ourselves of something a bit lighter in the afternoon. We decided to go to the Charleston Aquarium. It was really quite novel and included the outside bay waters where dolphins play. South Carolina may be one of the few states that do not permit whales, seals, dolphins and other sea mammals to be placed in a captive setting. However, there are many parts of the aquarium where there are explanations of how these animals come to their area.
We learned a great deal about the flora and fauna of South Carolina. They even have an albino alligator which looks to be over 10 feet long. We got all sorts of warnings never to feed an alligator, which may have been the reason for the 2 year old boy’s demise at Disneyworld.
The evening was capped off by a memorial concert by a gospel choir and ensample and the Charleston Orchestra. Our good friend Dr. Washington got us some tickets. It was spectacular. If you have never seen a gospel choir, or heard them, you are missing something wonderful. I was even able to sing a couple of the songs that I knew. Dr. Washington had a solo and did it masterfully. The voices of the soloists and the choir were terrific. The Galliard Hall, which is in the middle of town, is spectacular. It had just been renovated. I would go there any time.
It was also the one year memorial of the death of Dr. Washington’s husband. At the end of the evening we went to a fine restaurant and were joined by two others, both friends of Dr. Washington. Yes, we did try and take the bill, Dr. Washington would not hear of it.
We are still discussing how we believe the relations between the races in Charleston are getting on. In some sense they are still evolving. Charleston has the same kind of problems that other cities have. However, there are many things that have been going on for many years. The relationships between people seem to be different than in other places, Savannah for instances. Charleston is also a port town which is both positive and negative. The downtown is still the place to be, rather than the suburbs. The city has been named the number one city in the United States. It is also known as the “holy city.” It has a vast number of churches and other places of worship.
We will probably spend more time over the next few years exploring the place. There are many musical and theater events there. We have done more excursions in SC in less than a year, than we did in the 13 years that we lived in the Harrisburg area.