Saturday, April 19, 2008

Columbia S.C.

What we thought was going to be a nice quiet week of relaxing in Columbia turned out to be a week of almost non-stop running around. We got here Sunday and camped within walking distance of a giant flea market, so we spent the afternoon walking around that, they have a sign as you enter that informs you that “No Snakes are Allowed” only in the south.

We spent one day at the South Carolina Confederate Military Museum, this is a pretty good museum that covers all of the military history of S.C. , the museum is in the same building as the main State Historical Museum and I think everybody was there because we were the only ones in this museum. Since we were the only ones there the curator came out to talk with use and we ended up getting a 2-hour personal tour.

The day we picked to tour the Capitol Building turned out to be a bad choice they had some special event going on and were only doing special group tours that day so we just toured the capitol grounds. When I say just toured the capitol grounds I should point out that that is about a 2-hour event, the Capitol is located on a town square similar to Savannah’s squares, the entire area is a garden with 27 different monuments. There is enough there that once we got home we realized that we missed seeing about 5 monuments, always save something for next time.

Wade Hampton Hero of the War of Northern Aggression.

Strom Thurmond a Hero of the State

George Washington, notice the broken sword, that was done by Sherman's troops in their march through S.C.

The Thin Blue Line, Law Enforcement Monument

The Zoo and Botanical Gardens are located next to each other but are divided by the Saluda River, there is a nice foot bridge that connects the two. We started at the zoo since our membership gets us in there free, it was a beautiful day and I think everybody within 100 miles that had kids decided to go to the zoo today, it was just about shoulder to shoulder kids running and screaming everywhere. Since it was so crowded we decided to just walk over to the gardens, guess what, it’s all up hill. During the War of Northern Aggression, (there was no Civil War down here) the north end of the bridge was a prisoner of war camp named Camp Surgham and this is where one of Cathy’s ancestors was held during the war. If you walk up stream for a few hundred yards you will find the ruins of an old mill, which was of course burnt by Sherman during the War of Northern Aggression. The gardens are on the small side, very nicely done and very few people were there.

A few pictures of the Gardens

The arch on the right we found on a trail near the mill, no mortar and over 150 years old.

We went wandering around looking at the different neighborhoods and looking for the USC stadium, they call it the cockroach because it looks like one on its back kicking its legs, after finding that we saw a small sign at the National Guard Base which said “South Carolina Military Museum”, you know us we can’t pass some thing like this up. As always we were the only ones there and I think the only people to stop in the last week or so because once again we got a personalized tour by one of the volunteers who was a retired Major and military historian. Well 3-hours later and an hour after the museum was suppose to close we finished our tour, and we’re going to have to go back some time in the future since we missed so much. They have the absolute best gun collection I’ve ever seen, everything is donated and they had a very rich collector donate his entire collection which included many one of a kind or one of two or three known to exists.

They have an early air rifle that was with Lewis and Clark, a Winchester that was used by one of the soldiers with Custer at the Little Big Horn, Melvin Purvis’s Colt 45 and some many other thing I can’t list them. They have a great website: be sure to visit the video section for a tour of the museum.

We did a lot more things I just can’t think of them right now, there is enough to see and do here that we are already planning on returning for another week in the future. Another thing about Columbia is that they have there own restaurant chains, they have the regulars like McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King, but not many people go to them, instead they go to Rush’s for a really good burger and shake, Sandy’s for hot dogs and chili and Zesto’s for the best chicken you will ever eat in your life, we may be spoiled and not be able to eat any other chicken ever again.

Well that’s about it for our slow boring week in Columbia, South Carolina.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Since we were within a half hour drive Parris Island and I didn’t get a chance to go there in the 70’s, we decided to drive up there and take a little tour of the place.

A little history on Parris Island, it’s right outside of Beaufort, S.C. and is one of two training facilities for the Marine Corps, the other being in San Diego, Cal.. All males that are recruited east of the Mississippi and all females country wide are trained here. If you live in the west you can make a special request to be trained here, they get a lot of these because the recruits father had trained here.

Marines were first stationed here in 1891 when it was a Navel Station, in 1915 it officially became the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and has been used as such since.

Between 1941 and 1945 (WWII) more then 200,000 troops were trained here, during 1952, the Korean Conflict (War) training more then 140,000 troops went through here hitting a peak of 24,000 in March 1952. Today they average 17,00 a year.

First we had to get a pass to enter the base, they have made this much easier then it was right after 9-11, you just need photo ID and current paper work for your vehicle. This is by far the busiest base that we have ever been on, as you’re driving around the base you have to keep an eye out for platoons marching around, since they use the same streets they get the right of way, it was weird watching a full platoon of recruits march pass in full pack while you wait to cross the street.

The museum is on the small side and takes about an hour to go through, there is a short video and two floors of displays. Right as we were finishing up and getting ready to leave everybody started running around screaming that the General was out front, the guy at the front desk grabbed the mike and started announcing over the speaker system that the General was approaching. Turns out the Major General Humble , he was the base commander a few years earlier, had since retired was coming for a visit. Before we could get out the door the lobby was filled with uniforms and people to greet the General, so we just stood in line and greeted the General and his party as they entered.

Our favorite thing was a wall that had pictures of all the celebrities and famous people that have gone through here for training, during WWII they could have called this place Hollywood East, very interesting reading.

If you were to do the 15 mile driving tour you could end up spending the entire day here, but there were so much training going on and platoons marching around we felt a little uncomfortable just wandering around so we decided to save this for another time.

During the Korean Conflict

Just a little hint if you decided to join the Marines, do it in the winter, the bugs and 100 temperatures here in the summer would make it much worst.

On the way back to camp we did a little detour to the Sheldon Ruins. This was a church that was built in 1745 and burnt by the British in 1779, then rebuilt and again burned by Sherman in 1865 during the War of Northern Aggression, after that they just left it as a reminder of the war.

Just a weird tree we came across, notice the brick like bark.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


What do you do when you're in Savannah on a bright sunny day, well you go for a walk in the park, but in Savannah their cemeteries are their parks. The first one we stopped at is Colonial Park (cemetery), it's a few blocks back off the river right in the middle of all the old big homes, if you have read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or seen the movie just about everything took place with in about 3 blocks of here. We were there around lunch hour and there had to be at least 100 to 150 people walking around the place, we talked with the caretaker and he told us that although there are only about 600 stones in the cemetery there are over 6000 burials here. Part of the original cemetery is now under Oglethorpe Blvd, this happened when they widen the road, so if you are driving on Oglethorpe Blvd at night and hear something knocking on the bottom of your car you now know what it is.

This cemetery was used as a camp by Sherman's troops during the War of Northern Aggression (you learn to use a lot of new expressions after you're down here awhile), they took a lot of the stones down and stacked them in a corner so they would have enough room to exercise their horses. After they left no one knew where the stones should go, so they mounted them on the original back war of the cemetery (as you can see in the picture below)

Click to Enlarge a picture:

Notice the tombstones mounted on the wall in the background of the picture on the right.

Nathanael Greene's remains disappeared while Sherman's troop were bivouacked here, they later were found and buried in one of the downtown squares.

Just down the street is the original police barracks of Savannah.

The police department is made up of the City police and County deputies.
I looked inside the brown car and it has the same 2 channel radio that we had in Detroit when I started with Detroit.

This is the same light and siren that we had on our paddy wagon at the 4th precinct when I started on the job.

This is walking on Oglethorpe Blvd back to Colonial Park.

The jewel of Savannah, Bonaventure Cemetery, the azaleas were in full bloom and it was absolutely beautiful, we spent a few hours just walking around enjoying the flowers and statues, of course you have to stop by a few graves to pay your respects, Conrad Aiken – the Cosmo Mariner, his stone is a bench so that you can sit and enjoy the view of the river and Johnny Mercer the star of Savannah.

About two hours of walking around and we only covered about 20% of the cemetery.

Beautiful Statues every where you looked.

Conrad Aiken & Johnny Mercier

Just a great place to spend part of the day.