Dorothy Glover is obviously a big fan of Dr. Tommy Rivers, whom I recently described in a column on wildflowers as a budding expert. “Today’s column is so enjoyable,” she writes, “since the man you speak of had such a prominent place in my life.
“Tommy Rivers was one of the three obstetricians I had when my daughter was born — Rivers, Wilson and Sosnowski. Because I was in my mid-thirties with my first pregnancy, Tommy called me ‘Grandma.’ Bless his little heart!”
And speaking of plants, there’s an interesting difference of opinion based on recent letters to the editor as to what tree or shrub would be most suitable for the esplanade section of the U.S. Highway 17 (“Crosstown”) Septima Clark Project. What has been planted so far are everclear elms, awarded the thumbs up by Mary Louise Schabel, who views them as appropriately smog, heat and drought resistant and whose branches would not interfere with traffic.
Mayo Read of Charleston Trees and the Charleston Horticultural Society thinks the elms are JPU (just plain ugly). “Despite being termed ‘trees’ by the DOT, the everclear elms are not what most people think of as trees. I realize the median is not wide enough for live oaks, but the space could easily accommodate beautiful native trees, like crape myrtles or palmettos. ... Please join me in writing to DOT and ask them to remove the vegetation there now and plant real trees.”
I hate to disagree with such a fine lady as Mrs. Schabel because her point about the elms being heat and drought tolerant in such a hostile environment is certainly well taken and probably the most practical. But the elms, just like the locusts or whatever they are that are planted on Meeting Street in the vicinity of Charleston Place, are not going to be very attractive (in my opinion, anyway).
Mayo’s crape myrtle idea is a good one. Look what they’ve already done for streetscaping in downtown Charleston — it’s remarkable! Nothing wrong with palmettos either or perhaps even Italian cypress or sculpted wax myrtle, although the repetition of those trees would be notably devoid of color.
I think a riot of spring and/or summer color would be ideal, whether it be from crape myrtle, dwarf magnolia, espalier wisteria, redbud, crabapple or what have you. Any small-to-medium-size tree (or managed vine) with beautiful floral attributes would do — any except the Bradford pear, that is, which does very well in strip mall parking lots and should stay there.
The subject of George Gershwin at Folly keeps popping up. Walter Duane recalls his salad days working in a downtown grocery store. Whereas he never saw Gershwin, DuBose Heyward used to pop in from time to time. This was back in the day when Mr. Duane wore white suits during the summer and his hair was dark.
“Gershwin was one of the great composers of his day but there were many others — Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and, of course, Savannah’s own Johnny Mercer.
“Gershwin was supposed to be a great charmer of the fairer sex who always wanted to share the piano bench with him. He would tell the ladies that he had composed a certain song and was now playing it just for her. And of course the ladies might realize that sort of remark not to be true but still enjoyed hearing it anyway.”
Which segues back to the mystery woman mentioned in last week’s column who, according to legend, was specifically on the receiving end of Gershwin’s attention — more so than the other ladies. Mind you, now, the lady was married and there was no impropriety, but it might be understood if she coyly neither acknowledged nor refuted such talk.
Anyhow, people have been coming up to me and asking who the lady was. Well, all I know is what I’ve heard (albeit from reliable sources), and to divulge a name under such circumstances might be construed as — well, let’s face it — gossip. The family might not approve. The lady herself was supposedly pleased with the association, so there’s no reason to think she wouldn’t approve, although admittedly she’s not here to weigh in.
What I propose then is a riddle, sufficiently enigmatic to puzzle those without a clue but transparent enough to alert related parties, who would then advise me as to the appropriateness of this charade. If appropriate, I’ll consider releasing the lady’s identity at a later date. If not, I won’t. You be the judge. Fair enough? But again, this was never considered a scandal, so I hope what I’m doing here isn’t gauche.
In the much ado about nothing department:
From the Spanish Royal Court To the medical college’s
Historic library It cannot be understated
That, to Sol, she was related. Now tell me, those of you in a position to figure this out, of whom are we speaking?
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at email@example.com.