I was brought up on a small farm in East Tennessee. Sometimes I would do farm work for $2 a day, so in 1957 I joined the U.S. Air Force. I had never seen a doctor or dentist until then, and I got “free health care and free dental care,” plus I made $78 a month when Ike Eisenhower was president. When President John Kennedy was elected in 1960, I made more than $200 a month as an E-3.

I made a career of the military, so in 1965 I was shipped to Takali, Thailand, where I managed to get infectious hepatitis and, at age 32, was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. I was given a 30 percent service-connected disability after a long drawn-out battle in which I was offered “severance pay.” In 1957 everyone in the military was promised “free health and dental care for life.” It was always mentioned at re-enlistment time.

I was discharged Dec. 21, 1971 with 13 years of service.

Charles Owens

Fort Drive


As the College of Charleston begins its search for a new president, a process accompanied by the usual conflicting agendas, it is instructive to recall the words of one of the college’s most consequential presidents, Ted Stern. Stern, who passed away in January at age 100, was the college’s president from 1968 to 1978. During his tenure he transformed a 480-student, bankrupt private college into a 5,000-student state institution.

Today’s College of Charleston grew from the seeds Ted Stern planted almost a half century ago. In 2000 Ted was asked to be a member of the college’s search committee seeking a successor to the retiring Alex Sanders. In a remarkable, handwritten document now in the college’s special collections, Ted Stern offered his view of the position and the type of person the college needed to fill it.

“A President of the College is a full-time, 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week work in progress. It is not a resting place or a career closing experience. It could be a stepping stone. It takes the full energy, the enthusiasm, dedication, integrity, and loyalty of the incumbent to enhance and further the programs and reputation of the College.

“My primary goal [as a member of the search committee] is to recommend to the Trustees only those individuals who can enhance the image and goals of the College. An individual’s age, tenure in past activity, expected tenure at the College should not be a factor in the selection process. We should be seeking individuals who on concluding their service at our college will be considered a prime candidate for the Presidency of our most distinguished Ivy League institutions.”

The selection committee subsequently chose Lee I. Higdon, Jr., who after a dynamic five-year presidency was selected president of the prestigious Connecticut College.

Robert R. Macdonald

Director Emeritus, Museum of the City of New York

Visiting Scholar

College of Charleston

Island Walk East

Mount Pleasant

News of losing “The Pig” made me sad for the Lowcountry. Not only for the lifetime of grocery shopping for local produce, but the tremendous loss to local nonprofits.

As past director of Dragon Boat Charleston, I can say without hesitation that we would not have the impact in the community and the ability to affect the lives of cancer survivors if we had not had the generous support of Piggly Wiggly. My sincerest thanks to “The Pig.”

Sterling Hannah

Blackstrap Retreat

Mount Pleasant

Good luck to Charleston Fire Chief Karen Brack. She was doomed before she started in that den of muscle and testosterone aka the Charleston Fire Department.

The witch hunt for her expulsion began as soon as the news came that a woman would take the helm.

If Mayor Joe Riley and the councilmen (emphasis on men) cannot see through the thinly veiled “complaints” from within the lower ranks of the department for what they are and advise these “he-men” to get on with their jobs and support their new chief, then woeful is the outlook for the future of Charleston as well as the progression for women to positions of importance throughout the city.

What a terrible disappointment. Hang in there, Chief Brack. Others can easily decipher what that Sept. 15 article was really reporting.

Mary and Angelo Rossi

Ravenswood Drive


It doesn’t surprise me that many of the tour guides today dismiss or omit the relevance of rice to Charleston’s history. It is likely because the majority of tour guides are “from off,” just as the majority of the area’s residents are.

The handful of tour guides like me who are native Charlestonians grew up eating rice nearly every day and use the importance of rice as the basis for our presentations.

After all, the rice culture of the 18th and 19th centuries was responsible for producing a booming economy, beautiful city homes, many prominent historical figures, Lowcountry cuisine, sweetgrass baskets, and the Gullah culture, to name but a few connections.

Had it not been for the rice culture, the city’s huge success as a major city in centuries past, as well as today’s identity as a mecca for tourism, would not exist — and those tour guides would not have a job.

Mary Coy

Charleston 101

Marsh Flower Lane


Due to an editing error, a Friday letter to the editor contained incorrect information. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott attended the Lt. Dan Weekend concert on Sept. 14.