illuminate history

Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)

Transcontinental Loop 2022 – Part 4, cont’d.

On our way through Ashville, NC, we stopped to tour the enormous Vanderbilt Estate. These outdoor images give some idea of the incredible grounds, designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed New York’s Central Park and Portland’s Waterfront Park.

This collage of indoor views shows just how well this mansion was set up to entertain up to, I think, about 30 elegant guests with a variety of interests. The Louis XV room at the upper left was Ethel Vanderbilt’s bedroom and where she gave birth to their only child, a daughter. The daughter and her husband inherited the estate and their two children (both daughters, I think) were also born in this room. I think you can see the captions on most of the other snapshots. The estate was added to the National Register of Historic Places many years ago and is now a non-profit organization still managed by members of the Vanderbilt family.

The next morning, we drove into downtown Columbia, to see the South Carolina state capitol. On the grounds in front of the Capitol, I was surprised to see a monument to the physician who developed gynecology, J. Marion Sims. It turns out that he believed that African Americans did not feel pain and developed his surgical techniques on slave women without the benefit of anesthesia. Two other monuments to him have been dismantled.

The other two images in this section relate to the Civil War battle at Marye’s Heights, where a Confederate soldier gave aid to wounded Union soldiers.

As you can tell, I’m having a little trouble with formatting all this. Please bear with me.

That evening, we made it to Ben and Ruth’s lovely new place and walked into the nearby town of Carolina Shores for a delightful fish dinner. The next day, we explored nearby beaches and found a nice outdoor restaurant for lunch right by the channel that leads from the Intracoastal Waterway, on which we cruised intermittently, from 2004 to 2006. A fishing boat docked while we were there.

After lunch, when I walked over by the building near the dock to see if they did retail sales, I encountered one of the fishermen who said that the shop was closed. When I said I’d like about three pounds of fresh fish, he said they could sell it to me. In my conversation with his wife, she told me that neither their five-year-old son, nor his dad, the fisherman, could swim.

He weighed the fish in a mesh container, sprayed them with fresh water, put them in a plastic bag and said the cost was $8.00. I gave him two fives. He went to get change but returned and handed me on of the fives. I tried to give it back, but his wife said, “It’s okay.”

It took me a couple of hours to skin and mostly debone the fish while Ben and Ruth looked up some recipes. They prepared the dinner–which tasted as good as it looks in the photo. Also, I understood “Spanish mackerel” but didn’t catch what the second kind of fish was. Ben finally figured out that it was Atlantic Croaker. Impossible to debone when raw, it flaked easily with a fork when cooked.

We headed for New Jersey the next day. Ben warned us that the traffic from the DC area north was really bad. He was right. Not only were there a lot of cars on the highway, they drive way too fast. The worst part is the way they weave back and forth without signaling. Somehow we survived in one piece and enjoyed spending time with Miriam and Leo in Lawrenceville, then with Darrel and Pat, Gary’s brother and sister-in-law, in Cherry Hill.

Our next stop was Groton, CT, where we attended the Commissioning of the USS Oregon SSN 793–the event that inspired our expedition and the subject of my next post.

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This entry was posted on June 6, 2022 by in Writing.
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