Continuing the theme of my last post, we mixed pleasure with business over the next 48 hours. Most all day Thursday was spent on completing paper work, making copies, and getting documents notarized for my upcoming locums work. By the time the afternoon rolled around, I was pretty tired of it, so we hopped on the 4 o’clock trolley and rode into town for dinner. Our destination: Husk – a restaurant which serves locally sourced Southern food in a restored Victorian style home. The menu changes daily. In brief, it was marvelous. From the pre-dinner cocktail in the bar/cocktail lounge which is in the building next door, to the innovative creations which were on the plate for dinner, it was good food. Cindy had a flat iron steak with loaded “tater tots,” while I had pork shoulder and pork belly with broccolini. I can see why this place was named as the best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit a couple of years ago.
Since we worked most of the day on Thursday, we played on Friday. That is, after dealing with more paperwork. Just when I thought I was done, I received another 40 page packet to complete. Once done dealing with red tape, the day was filled with an exploration into our military history. Contiguous with the Charleston Harbor Marina is Patriot’s Point, a naval and military museum which is home to three museum ships: The USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier; the USS Laffey, a destroyer; and the USS Clamagore, a submarine. We were excited to explore all three of them. The only military vessel that I had been on before was Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, in Boston. We first descended into the WW II sub, the Clamagore, which was named after the Blue Parrotfish. This ship had a crew of 80 men. There wouldn’t have been much room for them. We then visited the destroyer, the USS Laffey. She was nicknamed “The Ship that Would Not Die,” in reference to her surviving one of the most unrelenting kamikaze attacks in history. In April of 1845, as part of the battle of Okinawa, she survived despite being badly damaged by four bombs, six kamikaze crashes and strafing fire which killed 32 and wounded 71. When the captain was asked if they’d have to abandon ship, he replied, “No! I’ll never abandon ships long as a single gun will fire.”
We then boarded the aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown, built during WW II and named in memory of another USS Yorktown which was lost in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. She participated in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater and also saw duty in Vietnam. One of her last duties was to serve as a recovery ship for the Apollo 8 space mission. She is also a movie star, having been used in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!. It’s hard to appreciate the size of an aircraft carrier unless you have had the privilege of boarding one. We enjoyed touring the vessel and visiting the Medal of Honor Museum which is on board. There were also 25 naval aircraft on board. Our legs were sure tired from walking the length of the vessel and continually ascending and descending stairways.
One of the most moving exhibits on Patriot’s Point was the Vietnam Experience. There is a re-creation of a support camp, as one might expect to find in Vietnam during the war. I now know more about Vietnam than I ever did. We entered bunkers in which engagements with the enemy were simulated. It will really make you appreciate the wartime conditions endured by the men and women who have served our country in the military. One of the simulators reenacted parts of the Battle of Khe Sanh, conducted early in 1968, one of the most significant battles of the Vietnam War. I fought back tears as a Vietnam veteran shared stories with us in the mess hall.
After lunch, we boarded “The Spirit of the Lowcountry” for a thirty minute ride out to Fort Sumter, sitting strategically at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. Six days later, US Major Anderson clandestinely abandoned Fort Moultrie for the much more defensible Fort Sumter, which was only 90% complete at the time. South Carolina did not much like having the army of a “foreign country” in their territory as it was “not consistent with the dignity or safety of the State of South Carolina.” Of course, the Union refused to surrender the fort. When attempts to resupply the fort were underway, on Friday, April 12, 1861, at 4:30 a.m., Confederate batteries under the command of General P. G. T. Beauregard, opened fire for 34 straight hours on the fort. The next day, Major Anderson surrendered the fort to the Confederacy. The first shots of the Civil War had been fired in South Carolina. Later in the war, there was a long union siege to retake the fort. The structure was pummeled by Union fire, reduced almost to rubble. As General Sherman made his march through South Carolina early in 1865, the Confederates armies abandoned the fort, and it came under Union Control. We enjoyed visiting this fort, which figured so prominently in our Civil War (known locally as “The War of Northern Aggression”).
After a couple of hours of rest, we took the trolley into town once again for another evening of Jazz at The Mezz. Joe Clark and his quartet were performing tonight. The food and the music were awesome as expected. John Phillips on sax was phenomenal. By the time our day was over, we were thoroughly exhausted and ready for a not-so-busy Saturday.