Monday, April 13, 2009

A Weekend Away

<===This is not our picture.
Anyway, we spent Saturday on the beach and wandering the streets of Charleston.
Sunday, we went to the highly-touted Boone Hall plantation.
We thought Gwynyth might enjoy a look at a house with no access to cable TV.
Boone Hall has the longest oak avenue of any plantation. It was very impressive. And the drive through the oaks and up to the house itself revealed a picture-perfect example of an antebellum plantation.
We walked up the the hospitality center and scheduled ourselves for the first tour of the day.
We learned almost immediately that this house is not the original house.
That's fine. The Civil War took a terrible toll on South Carolina and we would be naive to expect big fancy houses to have been immune.
But then we started to hear about the history of the plantation from Bob, the tour guide.
Apparently, the house in the picture above is the fourth house on the site.
The guy that built it bought the land from the owners (who had switched from producing cotton to making bricks, anyway) during the great depression (brick sales having waned along with new construction, I assume) for $55,000.
Then he (a Canadian) tore down the third house (a tiny, authentic little thing) and built the mansion in 1935 according to the Hollywood vision of what southern plantations should look like.
The whole thing is a reproduction of a misconception? And we paid $17.50 each to get in and have our hopes dashed?
There was a "Slave Street" with the servants quarters all nicely restored to their typical squalor and the smokehouse on the grounds was built in the 1750s, so that was cool.
We watched a guy speak Gullah, which was also pretty neat.
We learned that the plantation itself was the largest source of pecans at one point (before a hurricane knocked down all but two trees) and I imagine it kept an iron grip on the national candy industry. Without this estate's influence, millions of people would stop at truck stops every year to purchase nougat logs, most likely.
We also saw no ghosts, though that possibility is just about the only reason I ever go to places where the cell signal is poor.
I also learned some very unpleasant things about okra which may result in my never eating it again. In fact, I'll just go ahead and put that on the list of vegetables I won't eat right now next to cucumbers (taste like chlorine) and raw onions (texture issues).

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