Category Archives: Mother-Daughter Tour

The Acorn Motif, and other American Symbols of Thankfulness and Hospitality

Another year older, another year deeper in debt, in debt to my mother and father, Marianne and Fred Wichmann for my life; to The One who gave me breath and an added year to my purpose here on earth; to The One  who teaches me to “so number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom”.

I am blessed with the exclusive privilege of taking my tours into the home of the doctor who delivered me over a half century ago.  It is an Antebellum home in the Greek Revival style. There, in the Antebellum arch over wide pocket doors, is carved the Acorn Motif, under which you can imagine ladies in hoop skirts in the 1850’s-60’s. This house was the home of a signer of the Ordinance of Secession, Wm. Pinckney Schingler. Miraculously his two houses in Charleston survived both the War Between the States and the Great Conflagration of 1861 that went right through this block.

Why the Acorn?  This year my eye focused on this motif being repeated all around Charleston.  Most noticeably it is in the Edmondston-Alston House at 21 East Battery, where I got my training from my college days and after graduation where I was the second in charge of this museum house open to the public. Into focus came a 19th century photograph of High Battery that is blown up at my husband’s Yacht Club that I have seen repeatedly.  This time I noticed in the photo that the posts of the Battery Wall had Acorn Finials. My friend through a series of miracles bought a house on lower King a few doors down from my mother’s.  There on her first morning I found that her brick columns are ornamented with the SAME Acorns I had seen in the 19th century Battery Wall photo, acorns that no longer exist atop the posts of the Battery wall. Why is this exciting to me? Because of the symbolism.  Our Founding Fathers were wanting to carry on a message encrypted if you will in the everyday world around them SO THAT WE WOULD REMEMBER.

What was the symbolism?

I tell you on location as we stand under the arch where the Acorn wood carvings are.  I don’t want to spoil it for you by telling you now, though it is tempting.  The sublime simplicity is a story worth telling and worth hearing with the history that puts it in context.  It takes the whole tour to “get it”.  This unveiling of symbolism with quotes from primary sources is why I was an English major and history minor. I quote the literary people and Founding Fathers and patriarchs who were more eloquent than I, whose words are worth repeating in the power and beauty of the spoken word  as we gaze at the magnificent architecture of a bygone era.

The number THIRTEEN is an American symbol as well as the Acorn.  There is nothing unlucky for us in this number for of course we were founded as Thirteen Colonies.  The Founding Fathers were very tuned in to the number thirteen.  It contained the key to America’s success, to how we could be united across a continent, bigger than powerful countries of Europe put together.  Where did the key lie in the number thirteen?  “Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels yet have not love, I am a noisy gong and clanging cymbal.” I Corinthians chapter 13. The number Thirteen is repeated on our one dollar bill in Thirteen stars and more.  Look with a magnifying glass.  Where do we see this number Thirteen in Charleston?  One of the most popular pieces of furniture that all my relatives have in their Charleston houses is the secretary desk with two glass doors.  Each door is a Chippendale design with Thirteen panes. It is for a moment in the recent film, War Room. Though designed by Thomas Chippendale in England, it became a popular adopted American favorite and symbol.

George Washington warned in his Farewell Address of what Revelation chapter 13 warns of as well, another Thirteen, of which more Biblically literate past generations would have been familiar. “It is the nature of government to expand.  It must be kept under many checks and balances.” Revelation 13 warns of the day when government has grown so large that the earth has a One World Government, in order to have, as our present president says, “a level playing field.”

Because my eyes and ears are trained to look for symbolism as an English major and daughter of an English major and as one who was trained by an excellent Bible teacher from 9th grade on, I see and hear symbolism everywhere for myself, like an epiphany. Symbolism is in dreams and on the news. It is very simple once you see it. Why did the terrorists attack in Paris happen last Friday? It was chosen to be date to remember but also to point as a warning to America.  It happened on November 13.  The Thirteen points to America, which started with 13 colonies.  How did they choose the particular band concert?  They liked the name. Eagle and Death were in it.  America is the Eagle.  Our enemies want death to America and to our Judaeo-Christian Civilization.  They want us in retreat, the Lion, Great Britain, with the Great Eagle, plucked feather by feather, until naked and ineffectual, as the prophet Daniel foresaw in his visions where KINGDOMS RISE AND FALL.

Why the airplane bomb in the soda can?  What did the soda can say?  Shweppes? Gold?  Pineapple? Our enemies want to “sweep” their enemies out of their way, to make the value of our economy or “gold” drop, and they want our Judaeo-Christian open-door hospitality to blow up in our faces, represented by the pineapple, the symbol of hospitality.  Hospitality IS our gold, our way of life, our identity. If we stop being hospitable to strangers, we will lose the magic that makes this country great.  Our enemies can take away everything, our comfort and ease, our heat and air by the grid, but they can never take our free will.  We have the power to choose our own Attitude toward them and to strangers.  Never underestimate the Power of Free Will.

My mother was naturally shy and in the bombings of WWll did not do any entertaining growing up. Doing the tours and bringing them to her garden for tea was a big step of hospitality for her.  I inherited a plaque from her which says,

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2.

There is a remnant in every tribe, every tongue, and every nation that has ears to hear and eyes to see.  WE have the Good News they need.  These troubled times call for being “wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” “The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance.”

Why else might the word pineapple  have been the choice of the can pictured by those who claimed to have been responsible for the Russian bound plane? I wonder if it was meant to bring a shudder to one particular person.  Where do pineapples grow? Where is our president from?  Where did World War II start for America? We must humble ourselves and ask protection for all leaders in authority as well as those brave enough to run for the presidential office. Let us not deceive ourselves. These acts of terrorism are the implements of war and world domination through intimidation. “Are we disposed to be of the number of those who have eyes but see not, and having ears hear not the things that so nearly concern our temporal salvation?  Let us know the whole truth,”said  Patrick Henry.

Our 17 year old dreamed the night before the thirteenth that evil was after her in the form of a robot.  It was a long nightmare saved by the ending where she was cornered with no escape.  She and I in the dream started singing Amazing Grace.  Soon the whole world was singing with us and the evil was rendered null and void. These are not the things I say on the tour, but “the times, they are a changin.” Writing gives me more space to share thoughts. We all want some answers and direction. “The lamp of experience must guide our feet. We judge the future by the past,” said Patrick Henry. Thomas Jefferson bought a copy of the Koran to understand the Muslim religion and laws to see why Barbary Coast pirates targeted us. The second half of their holy book reveals their orders, to kill the infidels, the Christians and Jews, wherever you find them. We study history and art and literature to understand our present state; otherwise, “The people perish for lack of knowledge.”

For small tours of 2-4 people call June at 843-577-5896.  For small groups of 5 or more call me, Laura, at 843-708-2228.  We are excited about the history and the choice properties we are privileged to share because the Spirit of Hospitality is still alive in The Holy City of Charleston. We remember who we are, from generation to generation. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.  May the circle be unbroken, I show you in the Guilloche pattern of architecture.    Laura Wichmann Hipp

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Filed under 13, Acorn motif, Antebellum Charleston, breaking routine, Eagle, entertaining, Founding Fathers, Greek Revival, King St., Manners in Charleston, Mother-Daughter Tour, museum houses before or after private tour, pineapple, Shemitah

Living in the Present without Desecrating the Past

The oldest church edifice in the city.  It is still a dynamic church today, upholding the Faith of our Fathers.

The oldest church edifice in the city. It is still a dynamic church today, upholding the Faith of our Fathers.

Living in the present without desecrating the past is still the challenge to Charleston, America’s most historic looking city.  Since the advent of the automobile, Charleston has had the threat of the new American definition of progress challenging historic houses’ right to exist.  Due to the indefatigable efforts of early 20th century preservationists like Susan Pringle Frost, founder of the Preservation Society of Charleston in 1920, who outbid Standard Oil for 18th century houses on Rainbow Row, where a service station would have been built along East Bay, followed by Francis Edmunds, director of the Historic Charleston Foundation for almost 40 years, who  furthered the charge, Charleston is the most distinctly preserved historic city in America. It has always been a challenge; it still is.  The preservation of the Old Charleston way of life, sense of place, and close knit community is what I give you a taste of as if you were old friends from off visiting me for the first time, as well as the history as seen from a South Carolina perspective.  So much American history took place right in the Charleston Harbor, which we see at breakfast from my friend’s home and B&B on East Battery.  Hands on history is the best way to learn, with quotes from diaries and letters and speeches. George Washington’s words at Ground Zero, the neighborhood of his inauguration, still pertain to us.  He like many of our Founding Fathers looked ahead to where we are today, knowing the challenges that come with the blessings of Liberty they procured for us.  Just as “the Spirit of God hovered over the waters” at the Genesis of creation, so, too, the mind of the Founding Fathers contained the vision and pitfalls of all that was to come. “Propitious smiles from Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards eternal rules of Order and Right, which Heaven has ordained.  The preservation of the sacred fire of LIBERTY… is the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

Herringbone brickwork lined and creeping fig vine with a hand-wrought bench by Rick Averett.  A scallop in the middle matches the stone disc above.  The circular stone was the keystone to one of the stone access lids on either side of the bench.  They were access lids to the two cisterns behind the main house where rainwater was collected.

Herringbone brickwork lined in creeping fig vine with a hand-wrought bench by Rick Averett. A scallop in the middle matches the stone disc above. The circular stone was the keystone to one of the stone access lids on either side of the bench. They were access lids to the two cisterns behind the main house where rainwater was collected.

And so the experiment of LIBERTY goes on.  We are the ones upon whom those sacred fires depend to burn brightly. “As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light kindled here has shown unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.  We have noted these things here so that you might see their worth and not negligently lose what your Fathers have obtained  WITH SO MUCH HARDSHIP. ”    William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation. May we each rise to the challenges in our daily walk to be the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, realizing the part we each play as only we can to keep America strong.  The preservation of the sacred fires of LIBERTY is the “Fire, fire burning bright” entrusted to us.

We were thirteen colonies that bound together.  1 Corinthians 13 is the love chapter. Love will bind us together, from sea to shining sea, as hot coals touching each other  create a flame bigger than alone.

Come to Charleston to get refueled. “Walk on, walk on,  with Hope in your heart, and you never walk alone.  You never walk alone.”                                                                                                                                                                                  I sang these words at my own graduation and have had them in my mind and on my lips with my first born’s college graduation corresponding with my dear mother in hospital for a 16 hour throat cancer “flap” surgery May 8.  May 9th I flew out to attend Olivia’s  graduation from Rhodes College, torn between two loves and loyalties.  See Rhodes College

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Filed under Charleston is world's top spot, Charleston real estate, Founding Fathers, Francis Edmunds, heart tug, Historic Charleston Foundation, Mother-Daughter Tour, Preservation Society of Charleston, Rainbow Row, Susan Pringle Frost

Local Food, Locally Sourced, on the Wild Side!

I have smoked and slow cooked my first wild boar.  I feel like one of the boys now.  The hardwood charcoal did the job along with Albert Heyward who shot the young thing from our land in the country.  I smoked it with hickory chips on our simple round charcoal grill in the back garden.  Actually it is the pork that flavored our okra soup this week, though I was afraid to admit it.

Tackling a wild boar, even though a small one is Nothing compared to tackling twenty five years of marriage to the same man, Preston Hipp!  Now that is Wild!  Our silver anniversary is today and I did not need a thing.  What did The Man do?  He gave me silver, naturally, from Croghans, no less, a well worn path created for his mother by his father, Charles Rucker Hipp.  Preston’s family came to Charleston because of the Heywards, whose ancestor Thomas Heyward signed the Declaration of Independence, whose descendant shot that wild boar, you see.  What was the silver he gave me?  Come and see!  It is something I do not have and something I will always cherish.  Two gifts actually.  He was giddy with excitement like the young man he was when he had the diamond ring in his pocket for a few weeks before he asked me to marry him.

He gave me this morning at breakfast an old silver basket lined in an etched glass vase for which I picked the last of the daffodils on John’s Island.  It had arrived that very day to Croghans.  But then he saw a silver jar to hold tea leaves; he thought, a tea caddy, and  Lover that he is,  he bought that for me, too.  I asked why both, why not one or the other.  He said he liked the tea caddy one and wanted me to have the other, too.  I will keep it on the tea tray cart to add more tea when serving.  The real miracle he said is that they are from the man who the real estate market has not been kind to these last few years.  A silver wedding anniversary only comes around once.  We have the silver punch bowl that was the silver anniversary gift from old Mr. Harleston to his wife, Frances, from Birlant’s Antique store where he proudly bought it.  That punch bowl graced many a table for church events as I was growing up before she passed it on to me.  Little did I know that in referring to it as their silver wedding anniversary gift, I was setting a standard for my own.

A day of wine and roses it has been.  Kind thoughts of guests for today’s Charleston Tea Party Private Tour, and friends…but then my husband says we should share the hurts of life, least all should think we live behind a veneer of perfection.  My beloved mother, who has kept the walking tour going until last spring, is turning into an octogenarian this month.  She alas has begun this week treatment for the C word in her throat we all hate.  My own husband, 53, the most loved and best looking man in Charleston, fit as a fiddle, has  that prostate C word, too.

We are not immune to the visisitudes of life; but we are blessed with a community of life as it should be being lived out.  It is not just a shell of a city of historic houses.  There is a heritage of the faith of our fathers that runs deep and steadies us still.  It is an attitude of gratitude.  Come, partake; eat and drink.  You will leave us wiser than when you came.

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Filed under Antiques Shop Til We Drop Tour, Charleston real estate, for foodies, historic churches of Charleston, Mother-Daughter Tour, Uncategorized, Where to Shop

Tours for Birthdays, Weddings, Anniversaries, and Graduations

First thing first: my mother, Marianne Wichmann, a Grand Dame of Charleston, who leads the Charleston Tea Party Walking Tour, (843-722-1779) is having her birthday in April.  EVERYBODY wants to know how old she is.  She is young enough still to be vain about her age and would murder me if I told anyone how old she is going to be this month.  (But if you promise not to tell and promise to go on her tour, I will tell you this much of this best kept international secret.  She soon will be celebrating one of the last years of her seventh decade.  Shhh!)

The reason I dare to share this much personal information on my beloved mother is because I want you to come on her tour A, to celebrate  her  and to cheer her on.  My English mother had the good sense to  marry a Charlestonian and to have me born here in Charleston, The Holy City By the Sea, over a half century ago,  one of the biggest blessings of my life.  As Mr. Willie McLeod of McLeod Plantation said, she was a brave woman to leave family, friends, and her native land of England to come here to the unknown.  My father had bought a classic wooden sailing yacht in England, a dime a dozen in the 1950’s, and met her at the  Burnham -on-Crouch Royal Yacht Club near where he was restoring his boat in dry dock.  She proved to be a tireless worker AND a match for Ingrid Bergman.  Never has she lost her essential beauty or her industrious spirit, though her speed has slowed to the pace of ordinary people now.

Why do I want you to come on my mother’s tour over my own private tour? Because  I do not want you to miss it!  I want to give her the gift of your company, because she feels MOST ALIVE when giving a tour to more than two people.  It is her raison d’etre.  I want these remaining years while she has the health, vigor, and  faculties to be her best years in her tour business.  She does not do computers.  Neither did I until Delia’s Godfather, Dr. Daniel Massi, went off to Honduras to be a missionary pathologist.  He said I would not be able to communicate with him without doing emails.  Then entered friend King Midas Cooper Ray, who came over when I was dead in the water with only paper advertising and my over 20 yr old business name Tea Party suddenly having another connotation . “What!  You don’t have a web site?  Where’s your computer?”  Upstairs we went and emerged in no time with a wordpress website on which I have been writing ever since.

Where would we be without friends and family?  My mother is not of this world; consequently, it is up to me to tell you she is worth it!  Her tour is $25; (mine is $100).  Hers is a walking tour for small groups ending with an invitation to Tea in her little garden South of Broad.  She gives you the essential tour of the heart of the old walled city area.  EVERYONE SHOULD DO TOUR  A  WITH MY MOTHER  BEFORE MY TOUR B. 843-722-1779

SPECIAL OFFER FOR COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON AND CITADEL STUDENTS:    (843-577-5896) I am very busy many days this spring with tours for special groups from those celebrating birthdays to weddings, anniversaries, and graduations, however,  I will take College of Charleston and Citadel students for free when accompanied by their parents or 2 paying adults.  Why?  Because I am a grateful, successful College of Charleston graduate, who wants to insure that the students GET the essentials about Charleston history before leaving college life.  I was blessed to work for Historic Charleston Foundation during college, thereby receiving a dual education and strong foundation from the ground up.   I breeze through the College of Charleston often on my private tour in my van.  The College of Charleston was founded by Bishop Robert Smith on the Glebe, the lands of the church given by colonist Affra Coming to St. Philips, thus St. Philips Street;  Glebe St ;  Coming St; and Smith St.

I am grateful to my mother who has been there for me all my life as the most devoted mother,  friend, grandmother to my three teenagers,  and coworker.

Call Marianne Wichmann  for reservations for the Charleston Tea Party Walking Tour– 843-722-1779.

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Filed under breaking routine, Mother-Daughter Tour

Diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut

For those in the Charleston area,  the first Friday of August was an  interview about Mary Boykin Chesnut on our local ETV radio station at 89.9 with Walter Edgar’s South Carolina Journal.  Her biographer goes beyond the War Between the States diary into her earlier years of growing up, teaching every slave she could how to read and write.  The women were the heros of the South, the cohesive, oft times rebellious members of society who lived out their faith by being doers of the Word, not hearers only, teaching the slaves their catachism, while their husbands and fathers were passing laws forbidding teaching slaves to read and write.

I quote from her diary at breakfast in the house we visit on East Battery overlooking the harbor and Ft. Sumter.  I was delighted to talk to a tour organizer  who is half way through reading MBC’s diary because of my suggested reading on this web site, though she has yet to go on my tour.

I learned that Mary Boykin Chesnut’s father’s plantation was bought BEFORE THE WAR by a free man of color, who owned 60 slaves.  Unfortunately, there are no records of life and relations between master and slave under his ownership, such as MBC provided.  I also learned that there was a very well educated “mulatto” woman who taught Mary with Madame Talvande in Charleston where she was a boarding student on Legare Street at the Sword Gate House.  I knew she went to school here, but how interesting that she was taught by a  person of color, who she respected and admired.  No wonder she tried to teach every slave she could how to read and write.  The inter racial relations were much more complex than we might think.

It is always fun to be the student and to learn more and more.  Adding to one’s foundation is a life time achievement, which never grows dull.  I will be taking my daughter to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee the week of Aug 13-19, taking in Natches and Vicksburg.  I hope to see you after our own vacation, our first of the summer.  If you are in Charleston during my time away, you can call my mother, Marianne Wichmann,  for her 9:30 am two hour walking tour at 843-722-1779.

–Laura Wichmann Hipp  843-577-5896

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Filed under History, Mother-Daughter Tour, Uncategorized

Summer 2011 Edibles from my Garden

Friday’s tour with Luis and June was the first to be graced with my Golden Pear Tomato, which I have  grown from seed in my back garden, and Fresh Fig with Goat Cheese, Blueberry,  and Gingered Fig Preserves.  I feed the soil around the tomato bushes with pureed egg  shells  and bury shrimp shells for the tomoto plants’ needed calcium.  Our figs are grown on our ever expanding  tree from the baby tree Fred Sosnowski kindly gave me from his mammoth one at Rockville on Wadmalaw Island.   The first time I remember having fresh figs was from that same tree at the Rockville Regatta, where eventually I would meet my husband on my father’s ketch, Mobjack.  

Tommy Edwards is my shrimp man, from whom I buy fresh shrimp at his Shem Creek dock  as soon as he comes in from sea.  When he said they were medium on the phone, I  thought, he means small.  But when I saw them, I was impressed; the warm ocean waters have produced a goodly size shrimp already, nothing small about them.  What I do with shrimp is a family recipe my mother has made all my life.  When my father presented me at a black tie party, my mother made pickled shrimp.  Mrs. Hamby is the household name caterer in Charleston who did the rest of the food.  She asked if she could take the left over shrimp and pickling dressing home to try to duplicate it.  She has published hers, but it ain’t my momma’s!  We do not use white vinegar but tarragon or wine vinegar with half olive oil and half canola oil, marinated for several hours or over night. 

The important thing is to save your coriander seeds from your cilantro: when cilantro goes to seed in hot weather, those green balls and then the dried balls are excellent for pickled shrimp.  My mother and I also put lots of fresh bay leaf in ours.  Bay grows from my mother’s neighbor’s wall over to Momma’s where she sits with her walking tour guests for tea.  Her neighbor, Barbara Hollings Seigling, our Senator Fritz Hollings’ sister, always wants people to pick it as it grows so fast.  I take my guests into Dr Gene Gaillard Johnson’s garden, where he grows Bay as round topiaries in the center of boxwood  garden.  Bay is beautiful in an ornamental garden, as well as a culinary treat when that fresh.   Vidalia onion is also a must in pickled shrimp.  The shrimp is already cooked and shelled when you put it in the marinade.

I also put coriander and lots of fresh basil from my garden in my latest hit of the summer, a retro dish I have unabashedly perfected from our grandmothers’ era.  I call it  Gazpacho Aspic.  My 91 year old friend, Lucile MacLennan, whose coctail birthday party Preston and I went to last night, says her mother AND her grandmother made aspic.  She got me making it, but I have taken it to a nouveau cuisine level, which I find much more appealing to our fresh from the garden tastes.   Rather than starting with a can of tomatoes, I hand chop vine ripe tomatoes, cucumber, different colored bell peppers, vidalia onion,  fresh garlic, adding chiffoned basil,  and coriander balls.  To this gazpacho I add a red wine and olive oil home made vinaigrette, salt and pepper.  Dissolve 3 packages of clear gelatin in a little cold water and then stir to dissolve with a little boiled H2O.  Add this cooling gelatin to the gazpacho. 

Dig up your grandmother’s beautifully designed aspic tins that have been sitting unused for a generation (or comb antique shops with me).  I have owned some for decades and have used them  for baking tea cakes, but this is the first time I have used them for their origiunal purpose and made real aspic in them.  I like to use the individual serving size so that everybody gets their own artistic design when I unmold it, all shiney and multicolored and FRESH on their Canton ware plate.  Fill and refrigerate, or as old Charleston friend Richard Hutson says, put it in the ice box.  Run each one under hot water individually for 3 seconds. Voila!  It unmolds beautifully onto the plate.  The first time I used my molds, a lady asked, “Did you make this with mold?”  Stricken, I looked down at my plate.  They laughed as she said she meant IN A mold.

I surround the gazpacho aspic with pickled shrimp and wisps of pickled vidalia onion.  The effect is simply stunning, and the fresh taste bursting in your mouth is even better.  This healthy, light, quintessential Southern summer lunch gives us room for fig tarts and fresh home made peach iced cream with my loquat liqueur and a cup of tea. 

Preston and I picked the peaches last week from our  neighboring tree South of Broad, the first time ever.  I have only seen until now peach trees in Charleston bred for the blossoms, Peppermint Peach, we call them.  THESE newly picked South of Broad peaches rival those South Carolina peaches sold at Mr Leonard’s Vegetable Bin and Burbages Corner Store.  Peaches marry well with my home made Loquat Liqueur as the peach and loquat have similar flesh. 

We also as a family picked Sweet Blues from Dr. Randy Bradham’s blueberry farm, our yearly trek.  On the way there, I make my children and neice and nephews memorize Dr. Bradham’s WWII book quote, “Freedom is not a free gift.  It is achieved by the sacrifice and patient toil of many individuals,” which we then recited for him.  His is the untold tale of Hitler’s U-Boat Fortresses in Brittany, France.  The children learned that a U-boat is a submarine, and that France’s hedge rows are very high, making tunnels out of the roads, a surprise for which the American soldiers were untrained.

Come in from the heat,  and ride with me in my new air conditioned van as we visit friends’ homes and gardens.  For those who have been on my tour, ask about going out on our boat.  Saturday our family went way up the Ashley River and swam off the anchored boat in the floating fresh water off the bank of Middleton Place Plantation, where in the 18th and 19th centuries the fresh water was skimmed off the heavier salt water for flooding rice fields.  I quizzed our teenagers and their friends on that history and environmental horticulture, which they got!  We are blessed with refreshing, fun times such as only summer and heat can bring.  Please come and enjoy Charleston.  Call me at 843-577-5896–Laura

 

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Filed under Gardening, Mother-Daughter Tour, Restaurants

My Mother Continued The Charleston Tea Party Walking Tour Until the Last Two Years of her Life While I do the Private Tour

I am sorry to say that I lost not only my best friend who loved me and understood my tastes like no other on earth, but my business partner, and my mother all in one person.  My mother died August 25, 2014.  She had been limiting her tours due to great pain in her feet, with that word she hated to say, bunions. When she got cancer in her throat, at least the bunion swelling went away.  She had surgery in May last year, long and complicated, but she never regained the ability to swallow again from the reconstruction flap surgery.

She enjoyed staying with my brother at Sullivan’s Island where her room looked out to the sea and at my home where she died after a perfect, golden day with us and friends.  She told me that night what a happy home and life we have here, how our home is always full of friends and laughter.  She knew she was leaving behind a lasting legacy, which SHE had set in motion by coming to America from England after marrying my Charlestonian father. He bought a sailing yacht in England, which they were going to sail across the ocean to Charleston. It is a romantic story with surprising twists and turns.  They were rescued at sea after a four day gale.  There were newspaper articles following them in the mid 1950s. I have had them framed with their pictures. They looked like movie stars;  Grace Kelly some say; Ingrid Bergman others; and still others say Katherine Hepburn.

Soon after my marriage in 1988 to Preston Hipp, with a husband coming home from work to a sink full of my tour’s teacups, asking where was supper, Mother came to the rescue.  She took over the afternoon tours. With her English accent, elegant apparel, and dramatic presentations of Charleston’s history, she had a devoted following, many of whom returned year after year and with friends.  This was her outlet, her stage, where she shone.  She was brilliant, reading and adding to her knowledge of history, and doing crossword puzzles with her feet propped up when not on a tour.

She used to have a catering business, a Labour of Love, for ten years, which is why the dainty morsel accompanying her tea hit the spot, a refreshing end to the two hour walking tour of the heart of the Old Walled City of Charles Towne, the first English colony South of Virginia. She cooked from scratch like the English.  I use her English family’s brass scales for measurements in English receipts and cookbooks.

I had sisters Kris and Connie on my private tour from the West Coast a few years ago.  They planned their trip well in advance, asking me what else to do in Charleston.  Since they were to be here for a week, I suggested they take my mother’s walking tour before to get a good foundation on early Charleston history before going on my private tour of individual homes and gardens.  They LOVED my mother’s tour and were already enthusiastic in the spirit of Charleston before coming on my tour, which i think they were not sure they were going to like as much as hers.  They BURST OUT LOUD interrupting me apologetically that I was another version on the theme of my mother, Marianne Breyer Wichmann.

Then at lunch and tea at my house, they got to meet my daughter, Olivia Breyer Hipp, now a college graduate who is considering a version of her mother and grandmother’s tour business, too.  She’d be a natural.  She is the ditto of my mother and me as well. The ladies got to know all three generations.  Olivia published a magazine for her senior project at beloved Ashley Hall called Locavore on all things local. Both sisters bought a copy saying this magazine represented the heart of Charleston and urged us to republish it. Call Olivia to ask her to republish it at 843-708-3875.  The other thing daughter Olivia is considering starting is a tearoom in historic Charleston!  Charleston is in need of one downtown! Tell her that her mother and grandmother told you to call!

Come see the heritage being passed down from generation to generation.  May the circle be unbroken, as seen in an architectural motif called the guilloche pattern i show in the home of the doctor who delivered me.  Once you see it, you will see it everywhere in Charleston. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

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