Selections from Ashley Cooper's'Doing the Charleston'
A northern couple moved to Charleston, but with some trepidation, because they had heard that it was difficult to break into the social life in the Holy City. To their delight, though, they had little trouble making friends.
The wife, a bubbly type, happened to be standing next to a dowager in a downtown supermarket line and was telling her how easy it had been to make friends.
"I see," said the dowager icily. "Obviously, then, you haven't yet met any of the right people."
A correspondent advises Lord Ashley never to ask anyone where he is from. "If he is from Charleston, he will soon announce that fact," alleges my correspondent. "If he is not from Charleston, there is no need to embarrass him."
Once upon a time in a city many miles from Charleston there was a lovely, tranquil district within walking distance of financial, entertainment, business and shopping centers. The air was fresh, there wasn't too much traffic and there was a great view of a lovely harbor.
Not far from this same city there was a group of investors who wanted to build some high-rise condominiums and make a bunch of money.
"Where shall we build our condominia?" asked one of the developers, who had been to college.
"Let's find a place with tranquillity, a good view, no tall buildings to cut out the sun, not too much traffic, and handy to all the necessities," said the second developer.
"I know a place just like that," said the third. And he then got out a map of the city I've mentioned, many miles from here, and with his pencil pointed to the very district outlined above.
"Oh, that's great," said all the other developers -- all, that is, except one. This one gent was none too bright, and he said: "But the trouble is, when we build our condominiums in this tranquil neighborhood, they will cut out the sun, cause lots of traffic, ruin the view and destroy the tranquillity. When that happens, the neighborhood won't be so desirable any more, and so we'll find that we've built our condominiums in the wrong place."
"Stupid!" chided the first developer. "By that time, we will have sold the condominiums to someone else."
THEN THERE WAS this Charleston preservationist who was drafted into the Army. After filling in his name, age, address, etc., he came to a line on a form which asked, "church preference."
He mulled it over for a minute and then wrote, "Gothic."
The trouble with restoring an old Charleston house is that after 10 years you have to restore a restored Charleston house. And after 50 years, restore a restored, restored, restored, restored one.
Back in the old days, a Republican wasn't even allowed in the Charleston County Courthouse -- except to pay taxes or plead "guilty." After one election, a Charleston precinct board was counting the ballots. Suddenly, one of the officials shouted, "Hey, look at this! Someone voted Republican."
The other officials gathered around and studied the ballot carefully. It was marked properly and for the life of them, they couldn't find any excuse to challenge it. The counting proceeded glumly. When the job was almost finished, another official discovered another Republican ballot.
"Look here," he hollered. "Doesn't that beat all?"
"How do you like that!" exclaimed the foreman. "Throw out both of these ballots. The sneaky dog voted twice!"
IN CHARLESTON, the definition of an optimist is a guy who moved to the suburbs to avoid the city traffic.
Just as it has been a terrible mistake to let the Highway Department have a monopoly in planning our highways -- thinking only in terms of moving traffic and not in terms of city life -- so we will make an equally bad mistake if we let shipping experts have the sole responsibility for planning our dock area.
Around Charleston, if you hear a voice crying in the wilderness, the chances are it's a surveyor who is working for a real estate developer.
Just for fun, make an estimate of everything you've paid in taxes to the United States government, and everything you'll pay during the rest of your lifetime. Then contemplate the fact that the government will spend it all in a fraction of a second.
THE TROUBLE with history is that every time it repeats itself, the weapons have become more deadly.
In a hick town they take up the sidewalks at night. In Charleston, the sidewalks are in such bad shape that if you took them up you'd never get them back down again.
Summer in Charleston isn't a season, it's a sentence.
What we really need in Charleston are tourists who will send their money here but stay home themselves.
Ashley Cooper was the pen name used by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. for his column "Doing the Charleston." The original Lord Ashley was a historical figure instrumental in the founding of Charleston.