Tag Archives: South Carolina

A great holiday/wedding weekend

We had a great time over Memorial Day weekend. (Yes, I am a little late catching up.) Our neice, Ellen, got married in Greenville, South Carolina. She is my middle sister’s daughter, so the event attracted a large number of my side of the family. I am the oldest of five. All are married, most with grown, or nearly grown, children. We and our cousins are spread all over the eastern half of the country. It’s been this way ever since I first moved away from Pittsburgh to Florida in 1971. While we are not geographically so close that we can call and say “Come on over for Sunday dinner,” we do have a good time when we do get together.

Mrs. Poolman and I took off on Thursday to make it a five-day weekend. Our first big surprise was Greenville itself. It has a very cool downtown. There is a small river with a waterfall cutting right through the middle of town. My sister commented, “You know, we lived here for ten years before we even knew we had a waterfall in downtown.”

Greenville's waterfall

Greenville’s waterfall

Wedding 3w

Brother taking picture of his son and daughter-in-law.

Wedding 4w

(l-r) Girlfriend, Poolboy and Writer Princess

Wedding 5w

Nephew, Mrs. P and myself

The rest of downtown is nicely landscaped, pedestrian friendly, and full of shops and restaurants. We went sightseeing both Friday and Saturday afternoon.  We had a very nice time. Greenville, South Carolina! Who ‘da thought?

In between the scheduled functions and parties, our family had a fairly non-stop party going back at the hotel. We were all in a Holiday Inn Express. At almost any time you could wander through the lobby and find someone to visit with. Lots of fun and laughter, and a fair amount of ethanol.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law's room works just fine.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law’s room works just fine.

I guess I should show at least one picture of the couple. Here is Stan and Ellen, zoning out at the rehearsal.

We all had such a great time, we started looking around at the single children and asked “So who’s next?”

Here’s a rational thought

I don’t want to keep harping on gun control, but I had to laugh when I heard about this proposal coming from a politician, Phillip Lowe, in South Carolina. Ever since they started the Civil War, you can always count on the good folks north or the Savannah River to promote nutty political ideas.

The new supply closet?

The new supply closet?

In response to the Newtown, Connecticut shooting last week, one senator has a solution to school shootings – arm all the teachers, janitors and cafeteria workers. There seem to be two polar opposites about what to do about rampant gun violence. One side wants to eliminate (oops, I mean “restrict”) all firearms. The other side wants to just give everyone a gun. I guess the thought is that if someone came into a school and started shooting, all those kindergarten teachers and librarians would pull out their Glocks and blow him away.

I have two thoughts on that. The first is that the idea of a bunch of arming a bunch of amateurs with deadly weapons and encouraging them to use them in a building full of children, is a real scary thought. It’s not as easy as it looks on television or in a video game. Supposedly trained professionals mess it up all the time. Just last August, a handful of NYPD cops took on a bad guy and they got their man. But they also managed to wound nine innocent bystanders in the process. And these guys were supposed to know what they were doing. Imagine if they were school nurses!

The second, and equally scary thought is this; if you let and encourage guns in schools, how are you going to ensure those weapons away from the children? What happens when some junior psychopath-wannabe knows that Mrs. English Teacher keeps her gun in her desk drawer. After a playground encounter with the bully d’ jour, he decides to show his classmates how crazy he really is. Never happen? And who would have thought a 20-year-old son of a kindergarten teacher would take an AR-15, break into a school, and shoot up a class of six year-olds?  Hmmm.

How Charlestonians view their state

With full credit to the folks at the International Association of Haters , I offer up this view of our neighboring state of South Carolina from the perspective of Charleston. It is not the slightest bit politically correct and is likely to offend many. Still, it’s pretty funny, and, as a former Charleston resident,  fairly on-target with respect to how people there view the rest of the state and beyond.

Lake trip, broken things and alot of clothes

Summer is probably my favorite season of the years. It gets hot here in coastal Georgia, but that just makes the water in our pool that much warmer. Mrs. Poolman is happy.

We have been fairly busy.  Two weekends ago Mrs. P and I drove up to visit my middle sister and her husband at their lake house near Anderson, S.C.  This is their second summer on Lake Hartwell and they are really enjoying it. The house isn’t all that large, but it is very nice and has a great screened porch overlooking the lake. Our daughter, Writer Princess, and son-in-law also drove up. We had a very pleasant weekend of eating, drinking and lounging around.

Ever since we got back, we have been dealing with “things broken.” We have used the internet for our home phone service. When we got back to town from the lake, we discovered the wireless router that handles the phone service as well as our regular WiFi was apparently fried. I think we are going to join the ranks of the Generation X or Y, or whatever it is, and just blow off our traditional home telephone line. We are still working on a way to keep our home telephone number. That is the one people have used to contact us for 20 years. It’s a bold new world out there folks.

Then our washing machine decided to go on strike. The repairman came but had to order a new part. Hopefully it will be running tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have two and a half weeks of laundry piled on the floor of my closet. The sad thing is — I haven’t really been inconvenienced. Mrs. P says, “You have more clothes than God.” (Of course, God is a spirit and doesn’t need clothes, so I guess that is no mean feat.”)

I really don’t do much shopping or buy many clothes. I just don’t throw away or recycle my clothes very often. For example, if you just buy one pack of underwear and a couple of golf shirts each year, by the time ten or 12 years pass by, you have a bunch of underwear and shirts. That’s my story.

Independence Day falls in the middle of the week this year, which is a bit of a bummer. Mrs. P is up for a “party.” We have invited about a dozen people over for an afternoon pool party. Ribs, potato salad, baked beans, etc. Should be fun. The guest list includes our favorite 22-month old twins, Helen and Brittany. Another friend is bringing her two grandsons, roughly five and three. Should be fun, but it definitely won’t be dull.

Living in the past

You can always count on the folks in South Carolina to stir up the pot. They did it in 1860 and they’re back at it 150 years later. Monday night Confederate heritage-lovers staged a Secession Gala on the sesquicentennial of the state’s vote to secede from the union.

As a history lover and also a Yankee who has spent all but a few of his adult years in the South, I am chagrined by that group of Southerners who hold firmly onto their historical memory of four and a half years of bad judgment and reckless hubris under the banner, “It’s our HERITAGE!”

Some people take it seriously here. Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes was defeated in his bid for a second term in 2002, in a large part because he would not support the use of the Confederate Army battle flag on the state’s official state flag. Groups of protestors followed him to public appearances in flag festooned pickup trucks and staged demonstrations to support their cause. I remember it well. It was really funny. But I don’t think Roy thought so.

I guess what I don’t understand is the battle cry, “It’s our heritage.” While it is a part of Southern history, it is not a big part. The Confederacy lasted only a little over four years. Besides, it is not a part of history that Southerners should be justly proud.

Taking nothing away from the soldiers who fought for the Confederate side, their cause was morally bankrupt and politically flawed.

Current day revisionists will claim the Civil War was not fought over slavery, but rather for some vague concept of “states rights.” That may be literally true, but when taken in context, not factually so. The causes of the Civil War were complicated, but at the risk of oversimplifying them, here is what it came down to:

  1. The Civil War started because the Southern states attempted to secede from the Union and form their own separate and hostile nation.
  2. The alleged reason they attempted to secede was to defend their “state’s rights.”
  3. However, the only “state’s right” they were really willing to fight for was the right to own slaves.

Many modern revisionists like to cite the first two reasons, but they stop before they get to #3.

There were economic issues in dispute, but if it were not for slavery, there would have been no secession and no war. Slavery, along with its related issues like expansion to new territories, was single hottest political issue of the decade leading up the Civil War. It was the overarching issue of debate. The current debate over legalized abortions pales by comparison.

You cannot separate the Civil War from the issue of slavery.  Lincoln figured that out. While he has been quoted as saying he would accept slavery if it would preserve the union, he also knew by tying the Northern war effort to a fight against slavery, he could strengthen his political position, gain additional support for the war and isolate the Confederacy from potential European allies. By 1863, slavery was most definitely a central issue for the north.

You will hear Southern apologist claim, “My great grandfather didn’t own any slaves, and neither did most of the soldiers who fought for the South!” So what? The key decisions that led to the war were not made by lower aand middle class farmers and shopkeepers. The decisions were made, as usual, by the rich and powerful, and they were overwhelmingly slave owners.

It is interesting to note that the Southern politicians did a complete turn when it came to writing their own Constitution. On one hand, they claimed that while part of the national union, the states had the rights to secede and to determine the status of slavery within their borders. Yet when it came time to write the rules for the Confederacy, they specifically prohibited both those rights to their member states. Any future secession was disallowed, and states were not allowed to outlaw slavery within their borders.

What’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander.

How do you find “North” in South Carolina?

A friend sent me this video.  As a former northerner who has lived his entire adult life in the South, I thought it was hysterical.  It is a bit long (6 minutes) but classic Bill Cosby funny.

By the way, I have been to North (or “no-werth”), South Carolina. It is just up the road from Norway and Denmark. True story!

On the road again…

I’ve been out of the loop for the past couple of weeks. Sorry ‘bout that. Here are some thoughts that have been bouncing around my head.

Mrs. Poolman and I joined two other couples, including my sister and BIL, from Greenville, SC, on a long road-trip to visit my brother and family, and to visit the Gettysburg battlefield. The idea behind this trip started more than two years ago, when I got into a conversation with my sister’s neighbor, Mac. We discovered we are both history nerds with a focus on the Civil War and World War II. Since my brother lives in Mechanicsburg, about 45 minutes from Gettysburg, the idea of a road trip emerged. It just took us two years to get it all together.

The Gettysburg experience was fantastic. Both Mac and I agreed that while we spent the better part of two days at the battlefield, we definitely left plenty of material for future visits.

The relatively new visitor’s center in the park is fantastic. My brother was a little concerned it might not be worth the $10 admission fee. It was worth that and more. You start off with a movie about the battle. Then you follow it up with the “Cyclorama” which is much cooler than it sounds. You finish up in the museum, which is worth the price of admission all on its own.

The battlefield is very cool. On the second day, we joined a Ranger for one of their walking programs. He was great – informative, funny, entertaining.

On Sunday, brother and SIL treated us to Sunday brunch at the Hershey Hotel. Wow! I’ve been to my share of Sunday brunch buffets before, but this one knocked our socks off. It was so varied and so good, it makes you feel a little guilty for indulging. It was the only meal any of us ate that day. On a scale of one to ten, this was a 20.

The only downside of the trip was the long drive. Mrs. P and I drove to Greenville on Wednesday afternoon and then we all piled into my sister’s Expedition for the nine and a half hour trip to Mechanicsburg. It is interesting how different people experience trips like this. If you put me in a semi-comfortable seat for a long drive, I’m happy as a clam. When I’m not driving, I read; I nap; I look at the scenery. Mrs. P, on the other hand, wants to claw her eyes out. To her credit, she was very good on this trip, even though we took the ride back all in one day. (We left Mechanisburg at 6:30 am and arrived home at Casa Poolman at 8:30 pm.) However, she is not looking forward to getting back into the car for another road trip.

 

A nice break in the “action”

I’ve been off the grid for a couple of days. Mrs. Poolman and I both took a week of vacation. We went up to Folly Beach, SC, near Charleston, and spent several days at the beach-front Holiday Inn.

We had a nice time. The only problem is we picked a week when the area is having a record-breaking heat wave. We didn’t spend much time on the beach. It just isn’t that much fun when the temperatures are in the mid 90s and the heat index is 110.

Folly Beach is a funky little beach town.

Folly Beach's "main street"

It’s not a high-end resort. It is mostly cottages, surf shops and funky little restaurants. We like that. The Holiday Inn is the only serious hotel to be found. However, I did find another little hostelry a couple of blocks away. I wonder if anyone made a reservation expecting to get this.

The Holiday Inn

And ended up with this.

The HoLLiday Inn

So we visited downtown Charleston and drove through our old neighborhood from when we lived here. That part of town has developed so much, I was afraid I would have trouble finding the right streets.

There is a long fishing pier right next to the hotel.

The Folly Beach Pier

We walked out one night and saw the coolest thing. There was a large school of stingrays right near the pier. We went back the next day on the off chance they were still around and they were. The picture isn’t very good, but it gives an idea of the school.

A school of stingrays

Pretty cool.

We came back on Thursday. I had a state legislator scheduled to visit our campus. That took care of the afternoon. Friday was devoted to work around the house. Mrs. P and I painted the back hallway of our house. What fun!

Today is our anniversary. We were going to paint the family room, but decided to put it off for another day. I am reading at mass this evening. Afterwards, we are off for an anniversary dinner downtown. We are going to a restaurant that used to be one of our favorites, but we haven’t been there in years. More to come.

Humbug to winter!

If I ever had any thoughts that maybe I am missing out on that “winter wonderland” thing by living in Savannah, I was thoroughly dissuaded this past weekend.

I took a quick driving trip to visit my father and Youngest Sister (and family) in Pennsylvania. I picked up Middle Sister in South Carolina along the way. Mrs. Poolman couldn’t rearrange her schedule, so she stayed home and took care of the critters.

I drove to SC on Wednesday afternoon and Middle Sis and I took off Thursday morning for Pittsburgh. The weather was great, bright and sunny the entire way. MS and I talked the entire way, so the eight hour drive went quickly.

We had a good time visiting. While we were busy enjoying family, a major winter storm was wreaking havoc, mostly to the south and east of us. After dinner Friday evening, I took off for a Christmas party given by an old friend (same friend that we visited in NYC in September.) Randi put on a great party and I had a chance to reconnect with a number of old friends. I stayed to help clean up, along with several neighbors and some of the hostess’ friends who were staying at her house. When I walked out to leave, there was about two inches of snow on the ground. I knew I was in trouble when I found myself sliding down the road on the ice. When I was brushing the snow and scraping the ice off my car, I had to hang on to keep from sliding down the hill. I was parked facing uphill. I got about 50 feet and no more. So I hiked back up to Randi’s house and asked if she had a spare couch for a stranded traveler.

The next morning certainly was “winter wonderland.”

My car Saturday morning.

Actually, this is pretty.

Ooo, it's cold outside!

I’ve always told Mrs. Poolman, that heavy snowfalls may be beautiful, and can be enjoyable, as long as you don’t have to go anywhere.

Eventually the road crews came along with plows and salt and I was able to make it back to family, first to my sister’s and later to my Dad’s. What a pain in the rear!

Clear roads?

The plan was to drive back on Sunday. We were trying to get weather information from The Weather Channel, but surprisingly, they weren’t much help. They were so focused on the progress of the storm through the Northeast, especially DC, NYC and Boston, they barely mentioned anything in the rest of the country.

Bad berries to you, Weather Channel! You’ll get nothing but coal and switches in your stocking later this week.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny.

The view off Dad's driveway.

Absolutely beautiful! After giving just enough time for the sun to work a little magic, we decided to chance fate and take off. The first half of the trip, especially through West Virginia was very picturesque, and fortunately the roads were mostly clear.

Somewhere in West Virginia.

The trip was uneventful. Again, MS and I talked the entire way and the time flew by.

All told, it was a good trip, with a short, but enjoyable family visit. For the future, I think I’ll keep myself in the south between December and March. For those of you who live through that all winter, I hope you enjoy it, because if you don’t the South doesn’t have room for all of you!