A wise person once observed (as I’m sure I’ve relayed here before), happiness is having been shot at and missed. It is thus a sense of relief to have gotten through the hurricane season this year without any major problems in the Charleston area, yet one kind of had the feeling of being slapped upside the head a couple of weekends ago during those bizarre king tides.
Although occasionally burdened with an awareness of not being able to remember things that took place 30 seconds ago, I feel like my long-term recall concerning significant events is reasonably vivid going back to the early 1960s. The assassination of JFK, for example. I was 7 years old at the time and remember it like it was yesterday. The king tides that we experienced in Charleston a couple of weekends ago represented a significant event and I don’t ever recall anything like it in the absence of a tropical storm or hurricane.
Of course everybody’s talking about it and, although the city is taking steps to address matters, it has to be said that — putting it bluntly and stating the obvious — flood-prone areas are already deep in the malodorous stuff and sure to get a lot deeper unless the appropriate barriers, drains and pump stations can be properly constructed and put to good use.
Things are happening quickly amidst our sort of collective denial over recent decades. Charleston’s historic legacy is now imminently threatened, maintenance costs are skyrocketing and — although I personally haven’t analyzed the figures — it would be a pretty safe bet to assume that once prime real estate value in certain areas has entered a state of decline.
Whether one accepts the climate change theories as relates to the impact of humankind or not, something’s going on, and the recent king tide phenomenon is perhaps the most glaring example of it locally to date. Although not directly related to storm activity, it was a perfect cluster of slowly rising tides in general, aggravated (as reported in The Post and Courier) by northeast winds and a full moon that just happened to be at a point in its orbit closest to Earth.
How bad was it? According to the same story, a king tide is defined as 6.6 feet or more. During the worst of it a couple of weekends ago, the tide surged to 8.76 feet, the sixth all-time highest tide and a complete mind-blower. Peninsular streets were flooded and barricaded all over the place and I barely got out of Dodge that Saturday morning about 9 o’clock via Calhoun Street and the James Island connector trying to get to Johns Island.
It was the ultimate wake-up call. Not to be melodramatic, but a bad moon definitely arose that weekend and there are sure to be more to follow. So what are we going to do about it?
Classic golf line
My friend John Rivers enjoyed reading about Frank Ford III’s recent gold accomplishments and recalls playing with Ford’s paternal grandfather as a youngster, a man who, on a good day and playing his home course at the Country Club of Charleston, could hang with — if not beat — the likes of Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Henry Picard.
“He did so,” Rivers says, “when Snead, Hogan, Al Esposito and he played an exhibition match at the Country Club.
“I believe that was the match where Sam Snead made the mistake of hitting the ball into one of the sand traps on #11 and took either a 7 or 11. Later, when asked by a reporter what he thought of the hole, I believe Snead said, ‘You should take a stick of dynamite and blow it up.’
“Furthermore, I remember walking down the 12th fairway with big Frank Ford when he was in his early 90’s while his grandson Frank III was winning his sixth Azalea. A patron approached Mr. Ford and asked how he was doing.
“’I’m fine. How are you?’
“The patron said, ‘I bet you can’t shoot your age.’
“To which Mr. Ford said, ‘Who the hell wants to shoot 90?!’ I think that is one of the most classic lines I’ve ever heard in my history of golf.”