Saturday, March 20, 2010

Discovering Charleston

My mother, my sister, my stepfather and two stepsisters and I moved to Charleston in 1965 right after I graduated from high school. I hated this place. I did not know anyone, I had just graduated and knew everything there was to know except why the %^&* I was here.
All my friends were in Georgia getting excited about going away to college, getting married, going off to fight in Viet Nam. I was stuck here in this hot humid town that did not even have a shopping center.
At this time Charleston was a backwater town. This was before the tourist invasion. The town was old, the stores older. The people were not friendly and did not really want you in their town. It was the most stuck-up place I had ever been, at 17.
Since then, the town has taken off in directions that few thought possible. We now have two shopping centers, the Medical University, The College of Charleston, and an Interstate.
The school situation is still abominable, but we do have a lovely Board of Education building built at a a time that some of the schools here did not even have air conditioning. Because the building was downtown and the tourists would see it, it had to be. When the shipyard closed in 1994-95, everyone thought Charleston would fold. But more and more tourist poured in.We soon will have a lovely port terminal for cruise ships. We are bringing in tourists by land and sea!
Isn't it funny that you never really visit the attractions in your hometown. It takes out of town visitors to point out to you how pretty your town is when all you see is the inconveniences of traffic, parking, no mass transit, etc.
We have been blessed with a lot of visitors to our home this year. It has been wonderful. Due to this influx of visitors I have been downtown a lot. I have taken bus tours, walking tours, house tours and museum tours. I would not have done any of this had it not been for the"tourists" in my home.
But today I went with a group to the Avery Institute in downtown Charleston to see an exhibit of sweet grass baskets and to see the paintings of Jonathan Green ..
The tour was in reality a tour of the Institute, and viewing the small collection of sweet grass baskets that are soooooo Charleston.
I had never heard of the artist, Jonathan Green. I loved his primary colors and the happiness of the people in the pictures.I had hoped for a more in depth discussion of the baskets, perhaps a demo, but no....
I had never heard of the Avery Institute. It was a private school for the newly freed blacks in 1865. It had a nursing program and a teaching program. One could go to school through the twelfth grade and get a diploma or go one more year and get a teaching certificate. It closed in 1954.Who knew?

1 comment:

Sandyleo said...

Hi there. I just realized you left a comment on our blog -- for the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild in Charleston on March 20. Thanks for doing that.

Looks like you're having a very interesting life right now. I enjoyed you pictures of Ashville, SAFF, Mt. Mitchell area in NC.

Did you tour the Avery with our group (I was out of town that day and did not go)? or did you just become aware of us while you were there.

I just moved to Charleston a few years ago -- it's interesting to hear what you thought of it back in the 60s. Sometimes I get frustrated too by all the traffic and special treatment for Downtown -- but then sometimes I get a view of the water and marsh and a great blue heron and I realize I am living in a really pretty place. It helps that I have air conditioning.

Check in with us now and then. Seems we have common interests. The owner of The Village Knittery will present our guild program in April.

Sandy Hutchinson
2010 President and webmaster for Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild