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Celebrate LIBERTY! Dance The Charleston!

Charlestonians imprisoned by the British July 4, 1780, danced!  They were held at Haddrell’s Point, across the Cooper River. Charleston had been bombarded relentlessly by the British until she fell that same year.  She would be occupied by the British for two and a half years. Charlestonians always stressed that extra half, for to them the British occupation was going on into a third year; it was a battle for hope.

When Charleston fell to the British, they wisely got the British to agree to certain unalienable rights of the colonists that were the rights of all British subjects. For British subjects we still were, though we had declared Independence four years earlier.  These rights had been eroding as Great Britain tried to take advantage of the wealth accumulating of their richest possessions in the British Empire, America.

“No taxation without representation” was not merely the American response to the British levying taxes; it was an unalienable right of all British subjects throughout Great Britain. These rights were listed going back to The Year of our Lord 1215, as granted in the Magna Carta, sealed by bad King John.  He was so bad, they forced his hand as his nobles showed up in force with knights in armor at Runnymede.  The Magna Carta is the key to the greatness of English speaking people around the world, where the sun never set on the British Empire.  An outgrowth of their Judaeo-Christian nation, Great Britain was the first country to recognize certain unalienable rights given by our Creator that are evident in all creation.  These rights were ingrained in British subjects throughout the Empire going back to 1215!

July 4, 1780, Charlestonians rallied round the prisoners of war to cheer and to bless those imprisoned souls.  It was not just the families of the prisoners who visited but a full representative of Charlestonians, “the officers and Lowcountry elite on parole under the terms of the capitulation of Charleston.”

Dancing and celebration have followed solemn prayer of thanksgiving throughout our history on July 4, and this day 1780, their first Independence Day under British control, was to carry on the same new tradition.  They had live music, for there was no other kind. Charlestonians had long enjoyed the finest musicians hired to play for them going back to the first musical society in America, formed here in Charleston and still alive, the St. Cecilia Society.  They also had, believe it or not, fire works, which they called illuminations.   What is even more surprising is that they had “the firing of pistols into the air, and dancing with women for two to three hours in one of the rooms in the barracks.”

General William Moultrie was not least among them.  He who had led the Battle of Ft. Sullivan on Sullivan’s Island June 28, 1776, where he had had the fort built out of palmetto palm tree logs, danced and joined in the celebration.  Naturally, the British responded to the noisy revelry of celebrating our Independence while under their control as prisoners.  General William Moultrie defended the prisoners, saying, “their activities represented a typical Southern celebration that was by no means inconsistent with our paroles.”

Slaves throughout the Lowcountry also celebrated this day with dancing and feasting as it was a holiday for all from the typical day’s work.  No one could out dance the African American community or play music as they did.

Dancing the Charleston in the 1920s was actually the white imitation of what the black street musicians were doing.  Jenkins Orphanage Band paraded through the streets of Charleston on July 4 and any other day of celebration or otherwise.  One or two among them “street danced”, which Charleston ladies are photographed as imitating.  The band traveled to England to raise money for the orphanage.  The fame spread far and wide as they, “The Charleston” were called upon to “Give us The Charleston”.

The world is dancing to The Charleston still today as Charleston’s reputation grows as the world’s most polite and livable city.  So “if you are weary of the syncopated unrest of a crazy world, come here and set your feet to a saner tempo.  ‘What will we gain by that’, you may ask.  ‘All we’d accomplish would be to get out of step with the world.’  We do not argue the point.  But if you would only do it for a bit, you would leave us wiser than when you came.  For the streets of Charleston have something to offer those that walk them in a receptive mood that will make life forever richer.”  So wrote Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, Charleston artist of the late 19th and 20th century in her book, Mellowed By Time.

Whatever your prison is, break out and dance, whether it is in the kitchen, at your desk, changing diapers, or battling cancer.  As Preston Hipp said, “Make a resolution to dance as much as you can!”  If you can put a shoe string budget together or a fortune, the streets of Charleston are free for the walking and the beaches are free for the dip in the sea. Come to get refreshed, even if it is hot and humid.  It is good for the skin pores and good for the soul.

Laura Wichmann Hipp 843-708-2228

With thanks to The South Carolina Historical Magazine July 2015 article by Richard H. Tomczak.

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Garden Club of Charleston Spring House and Garden Tour

April 7th and 8th, 2017 is a two day offering that is a rare opportunity to tour this many private homes and gardens.  Each house will have fresh flowers arranged by members of the Garden Club of Charleston.  You buy a ticket for each day.  There will be different houses on each day. Garden Club members will be the docents.  You go at your own pace and in your own preferred order from house to house.

Through the end of February, I as a member am able to buy tickets for less than the general public.  I am willing to make these tickets available to you at this reduced price of $75 for two instead of 50 each.

June and I would like to take you on our tour the day or two before to give you the personalized experience and understanding of Historic Charleston.  For those who go on a tour with us, we will accompany you complimentary if you wish on the House and Garden Tour as a small group to give extra commentary along the way. This offer is the first time the Garden Club has allowed us to pass this member discount on to you.

Please text or call Laura at 843-708-2228

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Response

Charleston Tea Party Private Tours

On June 17, 2015,  an assault on the Holy City of Charleston took place in the heart of who we are.  In the sanctity of one of our most historic churches, sacrificially restored by the congregation and their pastor, The Reverend Pinckney, this assault took place. NINE members of the congregation including their minister, South Carolina State Senator Pinckney, lost their lives at the end of a prayer meeting at Emanuel AME.   A five year old boy, I hear, witnessed it but played dead. He and we all who hold Charleston dear to our hearts are scarred for life.

That this murderous rampage could happen here means the pure evil out there is creeping in and can happen anywhere.  This crime should not be named among us.  It is an assault to the identity internationally and at home of the Holy City  of Charleston; to the religious freedom of…

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You’ve got a Friend

We are having a party soon in honour of our eldest of three daughters, the Oxford frequenter. Her escort, Hamilton, is worthy of mention because, here for dinner tonight, he has lifted my spirits from fear and trembling to soar with the champions. He said, “You should have a reality T.V. show to track the progression to this party, the most authentic Charleston event ever. (Flattery will get you everywhere, especially when I am most in need of it!  Not thata reality TV show is my thing.)

Though I should leave it up to a caterer, I cannot help but include some of our tried and true family receipts. I should not have but did let Hamp. taste a melon scoop of my home made iced creams. History is my thing, and the first iced creams were made by hand. So far we have ginger, raspberry, and banana rum currant. We have mini iced cream cones for the young people to get a taste! Cover an empty cereal box with white wrapping paper, punch holes in and you have an iced cream mini cone holder! Hamp thinks this will be a hit.

The other real authentic thing is THE SHRIMP. I hate to tell you that people do not take a chance on local shrimp for big formal events. Better to go with the frozen prepeeled firm shrimp, they think. We are having my shrimp man, Tommy, who takes his shrimp boat out to sea along the coast of Charleston, bring us 100 lbs of shrimp. And peeled and deveined! A pretty penny, but our guests are worth it. Right now they are “roe shrimp”, not as firm or pretty, but oh, so good and tender.

The other authentic thing to be served is that wild boar from our land. A Charlestonian has also given me his tried and true receipt for the most tender beef and is loaning me his meat slicer. I tried out the method on the family tonight with Hamp as our dinner guest, without the slicer. It and the melt in your mouth flat pole beans were not wasted on him.

An encouraging word goes a long way, restoring the spirit and refreshing the soul. He believes in me. He believes this is going to be the most authentic Charleston party ever. He is connecting me to that hope rising within counteracting the infectious dread my husband  said, “Just wake me up when it’s over.” Where would we be without those whose guttural response is an encouraging word?

Thank you to those who give that encouraging word about my tour for others to read. Inviting people into our home makes one vulnerable. When I’m down and troubled, and I need a helping hand, I thank God for James Taylor and those on my tour who have expressed appreciation to remind me, “You have a Friend.” Thank you!

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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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Mincemeat tarts…

Mincemeat tarts like I grew up with made by my English mother are the offering for tea this Christmas.

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December 7, 2012 · 4:59 am

It’s All About Muscadines This Fall

My tours have been tasting my homemade muscadine grape chutney and jam this fall at our tea parties at the end of our mornings together. My husband and teenagers and friends have picked with me at Irvin Vineyards on Wadmalaw Island. The purple, golden, bronze and green pearls have been picked, squished, deseeded, and made into chutney and jam as well as iced cream in my kitchen, the war room. I am wild about them as I have learned that not only do they have zippy flavor unlike anything else, they are way ahead of all else at the top of the food pyramid of antioxidants. A stray seed is occasionally crunched, but I fret not because muscadine grape seed is being found to have powers, too. The seeds are being made into supplements for antioxidants. Many thanks to my friend Anne Limehouse Irvin at Irvin Vineyard who allowed me to glean freely twice after they picked for their wines. Though made primarily for my husband who loves my muscadine culinary makings, when I find a good thing, I cannot help sharing a taste with my tours.
If you get a chance to go to Irvin Vineyards, the grapes are gone but the wines are not. The vineyards are so beautiful in the wilds of our sea island of Wadmalaw Island. To know Charleston, you have to go to one of our sea islands to understand how we love the land. We inherit that love from our ancestors, as Mr Willy McLeod said of his McLeod Plantation on James Island.

My private tours are busy this fall season. but I do still have open dates that no one has touched. Why do all want the same dates?  The late afternoons and evenings are the best time to try to catch me unless we are at table, sacred family time. Bring out the silver at least in your mind as you head to Charleston to partake in our rich history, culture, and culinary delights of the season. As the world changes, Charleston steeps in its rich heritage into a full bodied wine. Come! Leave me a message for reservations for my 9 a.m. private tour Mondays through Fridays and I will call you back.  You don’t know what you are missing!
–Laura 843-577-5896

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