Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ghost goblins and things that go bump in the night in Charleston

The sky looks as if it is painted a soft gray, it almost does not look real it is so delicate. The
The Battery

chill in the air is unusual for Charleston, even in the winter the low country usually keeps a mild temperature, although at times cold temperatures and occasional snow flurries assault us, they are not what you see in the north, and Charleston remains the subtropical paradise of the Low country. 

I turned the corner of King Street, which stretches from one end of downtown to the other. If I walk straight down King to the east I find myself in a middle class neighborhood, hardworking people who commute downtown, live in nice brick homes with fenced in yards, lots of greenery and trees. However, to the west is the poor area, people who work hard for little, live in older homes smaller green yards, trees outside the fence. In This area people sit on their front porches or stand around in front of the corner stores talking about the latest gossip, what is happening in the city? They do not worry about what they will do tomorrow, they already know they will get up go to work and return home to the same routine. 

In between these two areas is the historical downtown, the Battery. The Grandstand stands in the park. I can still hear music playing in the bandstand, from a time long ago. I sense, more than see, women in long dresses, hats and parasols. Men in fedoras walking gallantly next to them tipping their hats to passing women. 

In the middle of this park, pointed out to an island, is cannon. The cannon is silent:  standing next to  
it is a soldier, dressed in tattered gray standing ramrod straight.
 He looking out across the Cooper River at Fort Sumter. Solemn, his gun at his side as he stands at attention watching, waiting, for what? I shake my head and look again. He is gone in a flash, and so are the women, they are replaced with college students playing ball and occupants of the old elegant homes, walking their dogs. Charleston returns to the present, if only for a moment. I sit on a bench and enjoy my world. 

A young woman, a tourist sits down beside me on the bench. “My name is Linda,” she speaks eagerly, “do you live in Charleston?”

Charleston breeds an air of friendliness, found in most southern towns, but for some reason more so here, I answer yes, and tell her my name is Diane. 

“People have such stories here.” “Stories of ghosts, the supernatural. I don't suppose you know any?”

I tell her the story of a church steeple that stood so tall, the union army used to aim for it, right in the  

“Where did the voice come from“, she asked “a ghost?”
center of town in the middle of winter. The winter was the coldest one the people had experienced, but the constant shelling of the church kept the people running out of their homes to safety. Children were freezing the army kept shelling. One day the townspeople gathered in the church and prayed for God to protect them, their children were cold, from somewhere a voice told the people to their hearts: not a voice out loud, to paint the steeple black so it would not be seen in the dark night. The next morning the people did, wondering at the experience; the shelling stopped.
it is a soldier, dressed in tattered gray standing ramrod straight.
I shook my head, then I tell her about 41 pirates hung, not too far from here, 41 members of Bonny’s group, all hung on the Battery. The old-timers say it, they walk here, they whisper but we never see them. Like most parts of Charleston, we sense their presence, their contribution to the past of this city. I tell her of pirate ships, earthquakes that took many lives and a war that went on for three long years. We see Charleston as Charleston is and was. The past more often than not: meshing with the present in this city.

What about the voice in the steeple, she ask was it the spirit of a dead soldier?
“No, I replied picking up my purse, “God spoke to the people“. 

“God“, she scoffed “I don’t believe in God” 
To myself I smiled. “You will believe in a ghost but not in the almighty?” 

“Of course not give me a good reason to believe in something you cannot see?”

Linda fumed as she gathered her belongings and huffed away. She had come to Charleston looking for Ghosts
not for God. 
So I wonder, how can you believe in spirits and not the mightiest one of all?

I smiled to myself; I get the reaction a lot. People do not wish to believe in a tangible God, but they chose to believe in ghosts and spirits walking the earth.

The truth is, the spirit that walks Charleston is history. We are called the Holy city for a good reason. I smiled as I continued my walk through my city feeling the warmth of history and He who blessed us. 
The women in their long beautiful dresses bowed their heads. 
You just have to love Charleston

My thanks to Glimpse of Charleston for letting me raid their picture file. They are awesome and so are the owners :)
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