HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC – South, What it means to be here in heart or in spirit and its author and publishing company are celebrating. To mark the winning of the National Independent Publisher Award for Best Regional Non-Fiction, South has now been released in a commemorative edition. This edition features a cover photograph of Cockfield Plantation by noted Southern photographer, Marge Agin. Read More
With its cobblestone streets and colorful row houses with their sometime-sagging, often elegantly restored piazzas, it’s almost impossible to think of Charleston without recognizing its celebrated history. Many important dates crowd the city’s rich historical timeline, but featured prominently is December 20, 1842—the date that the South Carolina legislature voted to establish The Citadel.
The Citadel is a small, scenic campus that sits on the banks of the Ashley River. The focal point of campus is Summerall Field, the parade ground where the Friday afternoon dress parades take place. Along the perimeter of the parade ground are administrative and academic buildings as well as five battalions—white stucco fortress-like barracks where the cadets reside.
Like the cadets who first arrived in 1843, I reported to The Citadel in 1969 for a college education and military training. Unlike those cadets, however, I had been recruited to play football. Roundtrip airfare from Jacksonville, Florida, where my parents lived, to Charleston back then was $30. I lived in Murray Barracks. There was no air conditioning, and from the open windows wafted in the pungent smell of pluff mud. But the pluff mud didn’t compare to the overwhelming smell of sulphur from the paper mill in North Charleston that assaulted us when the wind blew our way on overcast days. Throughout the year, the Westminster chimes sounded from the bell tower on the quarter hour, and in the spring, honeysuckle filled the air.
Braving life as a freshman cadet was not for the faint of heart, as I quickly learned. I remember returning from football practice and asking my roommate why we chose to live a regimented existence in Spartan-like quarters when we could instead be managing our own time and living a far more comfortable life in any other college dorm in America. Then and there, we decided to quit. . . but we would wait until after Parents’ Weekend.
To read more of Lt. Gen. Rosa’s essay, please purchase your copy of Charleston Salt and Iron by Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer here. $39.95 plus tax and shipping.
Essay reprinted from Charleston Salt and Iron, the new book by Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer. A collection of images, essays and stories written by business leaders, writers, artists, musicians and those who have their family trees deeply rooted in soil tended by generations of Charlestonians. Available in stores and www.starbooks.biz.
Charleston is rich in sense of place. We need only look to her expansive history to appreciate the role she played in the foundation of our great nation. From the 17th and 18th centuries, our port has welcomed countless immigrants–some willing, others not. It is estimated that 60 to 80% of African-American citizens can trace at least one ancestor back to Charleston, South Carolina. In the wisdom of retrospect we witness how two social strata–the great cotton and rice plantations and the African slaves– came together over the course of time to form many of the Lowcountry’s most treasured cultural foods and traditions. We celebrate the unique Gullah-Geechee culture that has survived in the barrier islands. And in each era, the South’s historic crown jewel–Charleston has glittered as a beacon of sophistication, culture and tradition for generations.
The landscape is our common ground. From the pounding surf and the swift tidal currents to the majestic colonial lakes and verdant countryside. From the scents of freshly tilled soil, jasmine and pluff mud, to the sight of countless fireflies lighting up the dirt roads, moss dripping like ragged lace from the drooping boughs of ancient oaks, elegant verandas, rocking chairs on front porches, wood cabins deep in the forests and cobblestone streets in the city, to the sounds of swelling cicadas on summer nights, the piercing cries of ospreys, hawks and eagles and the omnipresent high hum of mosquitoes–these are hallmarks of our southern home.
Yet as dramatic and influential as these broad strokes of Charleston’s landscape may be to help us define that elusive sense of place, it is in the personal stories that we explore the poignant, heartwarming experiences that defines life in the Holy City. The words of the locals sweep away the fairytale and reveal the true, every day human experience.
In this collection of essays, some of Charleston’s most beloved citizens share what it means to live in this land carved of marsh and sea. To work here, raise a family here, grow old here. Some authors may claim ties to a historic family with a long pedigree. Others are newcomers, those “from off” who have traveled to our states and now call them home. These individual stories of inspiration, motivation, joy and sorrow, discovery and loss, failure and triumph collectively are our Songs of the South–our Charleston.
2015 was a year of challenges for Charleston. As I write, we are battling the unprecedented, historic rainfall that has flooded the state and will leave many of our citizens homeless. In her long history Charleston has weathered war, hunger, disease, economic depression, hurricanes and floods. Our city has triumphed over adversity time and again. I know that in aftermath of this flooding, too, neighbor will help neighbor. Only a few months earlier we endured the brutal slaying of innocents at “Mother Emanuel,” the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the Southern United States. Perhaps Charleston’s shining moment came when she revealed to the world a lesson in forgiveness and community bonds and moving forward undivided.
Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times Bestselling Author of The Beach House Trilogy and The Lowcountry Summer Trilogy with her lastest book, A Lowocuntry Wedding out now.
I am so proud of this accomplishment and thankful to my publisher Lydia Inglett for having the vision to put this incredible book together. Thank you to the 50 contributors, 21 photographers and all of the assistants, publicists and managers who helped make this happen. I especially want to thank all of my friends and family for your incredible support and enthusiasm for SOUTH. We did it!
My mom, Shirley Nilsen, and I on Isle of Palms
My mother taught me everything…how to be a strong woman, how to be a caring friend, how to be a respected professional, how to also be a loving mother. One of the most memorable lessons I ever learned was from her. She said,
“ Always appreciate what the person in front of you is saying. You will grow by listening to their story.”