I Vow to Defend Charleston, or at Least the Pool

I’m staying at the Embassy Suites which used to be the old Citadel.  I was unhappy, to put it mildly, to discover glass elevators and a five story atium with me on the top floor, but I’m tucked away in a corner, so I don’t have to trust the fancy iron scrolling to keep my from plummeting to my death, and I’m just sucking up the terrible wait for the elevator to arrive, when I feel like I’m hovering out in the air with nothing to hold me up, because my room has a gun turret!  I can walk up a couple of steps and out onto a little landing inside a massive turret.

I’m so tickled by that, I can’t even tell you.

The trip over was fine.  I had to pay $15 to check a bag and they don’t give you little envelopes to hold your bording passes anymore and you even have to pay for pop, which is a total rip off, and I’m reading that White City book to pass the time in the airports.  The Charlotte airport was ridiculous.  I practically walked back to Nashville to get on the plane over to Charleston.  But the Charleston airport is so cute that I may have to put it in my pocket and take it home with me.

It’s raining here and getting dark and all the materials that they sent us for the conference say “Do not go out after dark by yourself!!!!!!” and so I won’t.

But I feel kind of silly about it, since it’s only 5 o’clock.

15 thoughts on “I Vow to Defend Charleston, or at Least the Pool

  1. Long ago, I went to the Citadel while I was a member of the college fenncing team (use swords, avoid gym!) and we played the citadel. At that time, they locked the freshmen in the dorms. literally, with gates and chains.

  2. I’m all set to assume that you’re not old enough to have played the Citadel in this building, but there is a huge iron gate in the atrium downstairs. Is there someplace I should look for your graffiti?

  3. Is that the ‘Devil in the White City ‘ you’re reading? The historical parts I enjoyed quite a bit, knowing the venues and all, but the murderer character made-up parts? HATED. It’s like it was two..two…Two Books in One! It had nothing to do with the other part. Oops, spoiler, sorry.

    But, hey! Charleston was just voted the Best City in America or something! They must have some good seafood there, so I’d be happy with that.

  4. I love Charleston, I hope you get to go on a tour!

    The “Devil in the White City” murderer H.H. Holmes was a real person and is regarded as America’s first serial killer!

  5. Kitty: I know that, it was the made up, hokey mental dialogue of that character in the book that killed (heh) it for me. It seemed so cheesy. Also, besides taking place at the same time in the same general area, the two stories basically had nothing whatsoever to do with the other. Eh, I never like critically acclaimed books anyway, though.

  6. Kitty, oh, that’s not what I read Peg as meaning at all! I think she’s just annoyed at the very speculative nature of the Holmes stuff that is passed off like fact.

    And I, too, am finding that very annoying, though, I’ll admit, I am fascinated by it, too. It’s just the inner scholarly publisher in me coming out that I’m reading and every other paragraph I’m all like “You’re just making that up! You can’t know that!” I had no idea you could write a book like that and have it considered non-fiction.

    I’m enjoying it for what it is, though–that part of the story. What I’m finding annoying though is indeed the two different storyline set-up. Maybe I’m just too pedantic, but I’m not seeing some great juxtaposition between the two men.

    Also, the guy keeps bringing up all this fascinating stuff about the women in Chicago–this “Little Egypt” dancer, Carrie… um, I can’t remember her last name, but the brothel runner, and all these girls who are leaving home and coming to the big city and I’m all “Tell us more about them! Tell us more about them!”

    But, yeah, I would have liked either part as its own book, but I’m finding them weirdly incongruous together.

  7. There’s some old tavern down there near you-the oldest tavern in Charleston/the US, etc-where you can smoke these funky old clay pipes at the bar while you drink. I’ve got to think of the name of that place, but I used to always go there when on vacation.

    It’s perfectly ok to shout “Go Cocks” while you’re there too. In fact people will join you. It always makes me giggle.

  8. If you are looking for a coffee shop, go to Kudu. It’s near your hotel and there’s free wi-fi. Very cool. I just moved to Nashville from Charleston if you have any questions.

  9. My daughter was conceived in Charleston, in a old cotton warehouse that had been converted into a B & B. Old City Market is a crapshoot; if you’re not going to get down to the Lowcountry, it’s a good place to watch the basketmakers do their thing but there’s a whole lot of tacky to wade through as well. The prices on the baskets reflect the “yeah, I watched someone make this and it’s an ancestral craft” but I wanted one and I use it almost daily, so it was money well spent for a history buff.

  10. I went down to the market, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy a basket. I’ll probably decide otherwise later on in the week, but now that I know how close it is, it won’t be a problem to go back.

    I have a question. Is it my imagination or do they appear to have bricked in some alleys and converted them into very narrow buildings?

  11. Might be, but Charleston is a very old city. Pre-1830s buildings seem narrow to modern tastes and early rowhouses and the so-called “Single House” were especially narrow because they were used seasonally and the kitchen was outdoors. In fact, you’ve keyed in to one of the architecturally important things about Charleston and something that I talk about in my “material culture of the mature colonial British America” lecture. The original lots of Charleston were long and narrow — some of them are no more than 15 feet wide. (Were you over in Rainbow Row?) The reason was that it was more important to have frontage on a desirable street with the restricted and defensible space within the city walls than it was to have a wide plot. One theory is that the long narrow single house design (a high-falutin’ cousin of the single-pen cabin you’d find in upcountry North Carolina and Virginia) caught the prevailing breeze in summer when all the planters came in from the rice swamps to enjoy a season of dance and entertainments (particularly good to get away from angry Yamasee Indians and yellow fever/malaria). However, another theory suggests that the bricks you saw served a very practical colonial purpose — fire protection in closely packed quarters. Then there’s also privacy to be considered. You’d have been awfully close to the neighbors.

    Anyhow, I’m guessing that what you saw (especially down by the market) was part of the colonial past of the city.

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