Friday, December 11, 2015

Charleston Nights

My wife, Christine, and I spent a few days in Charleston, S.C., recently, and a little of that time was devoted to exploring dark alleys and a few cemeteries. I suppose walking tours are a bit touristy, but they can be a way to pick up lore and details, especially in a historic city like Charleston. And the tour guides usually have keys to the cemetery gates.

Temps were dipping a bit as we walked toward the tour office for a 7:30 p.m. tour. "Are you sure you still want to do this?" Christine asked.

That's Christine above at Circular Congregational Church cemetery.

That graveyard has historic graves, a mausoleum and an employee who gets a little testy about the gate's padlock.

We also headed down one cobblestone alley where the whistling ghost of a physician killed in a duel can reportedly be heard from time to time. We didn't hear him, and we didn't catch sight of a boo hag, a spirit from Gullah lore, as we traversed a few other dark corners while the tour guide explained the boo hag's characteristics.

Wasn't for want of looking over my shoulder. Into the shadows.

We actually stayed across from another stop on the tour, the restaurant Poogan's Porch.

Reportedly a former resident, a school teacher named Zoe, cruises past windows late at night and isn't really happy about an eating establishment doing business in her former home. Word has it a stovetop fire she may have been responsible for almost claimed the building once upon a time.

Other accounts include patrons who've reported seeing what they thought was an elderly woman in the restroom only to find out the "woman" looked a lot like Zoe.

Didn't see her myself, but had a great BLT with fried green tomatoes there day after the tour.

And we learned the story of the spot's namesake, a little dog named Poogan who lived in the neighborhood when the restaurant opened.

He served as a greeter on the house's porch, and earned a statue when he passed away in 1979.

I was struck most by the story of Sue Howard Hardy, the mother of a stillborn baby. Her ghost was reportedly photographed in St. Philip's Cemetery in 1987. Supposedly she'll reach out to expectant mothers to this day. 

Several establishments have glass floor panels that look down on old tunnels and wells under the current city. I knew of underground Seattle but I didn't know about Charleston.

It's exciting to walk through history, to pass buildings George Washington visited and to stroll past spots where the city's almost forgotten wall once stood.

It was cool also to stroll around the edge of Charleston Bay and to visit White Point Garden. That's the spot where gentleman pirate Stede Bonnet was executed following a betrayal by Blackbeard and his trial and conviction. Bonnet was inspiration for my tale "Admiral of the Narrow Seas".
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