Saturday, March 26, 2011

Revisitiing America

We've had two bery busy days, not that we've tried to wait until the last to do things, but they were scheduled at these particular times.  Liking Charleston more and more.  Wish I could go down every street, know about every house and who lives in it, know the age of all the huge big trees, see every little thing.
Thursday morning our goal was to find Philip Simmon's home, someone related to him, and see some of his ironwork.  One comment describing him, "Philip Simmons  is a poet of ironwork.  His ability to endow raw iron with pure lyricism is known and admired throughout, not only in South Carolina, but as evidenced by his many honors and awards, he is recognized in all of America."  He is the most celebrated ironworker of the 20th century.  Began to do specialized ornamental ironwork in 1938 and fashioned more than five hundred decorative pieces, gates, fences, baalconies, window grills.  The ci;ty of Charleston is decorated from end to end by his hand.  Our clue to finding his home on Blake street was a wrought iron fence, the only one on the block.  Talked with his nephew,  Carlton Simmons, raised by Philip, who had worked with Philip since a youth, taught by Philip, and continuing his work today.  His shed, very small held all the tools, the 80 year old anvil, forge, and pieces of iron.  When we asked him how much he worked,  according to the job, how many orders, etc:, he said, "No,it's what mood I'm in".  He gave each of us a small scroll-like piece of ironwork.  The 'home will be opened soon as a museum and gift shop, and at the time we were there, he was expecting a tour group.  All of the affairs of the business and home are managed by a foundation.

Left there in time to find the law office of Gedney M. Howe, III, prominent Charleston attorney who spent 20 years restoring the Calhoun Mansion, with 35 rooms and fireplaces, enclosing 24,000 ft. of space.  We had called, told his secrtetary about our adventure, she told Howe, and he granted us the interview.  We were overwhelmed with the grandeur of his office, so couldn't imagine what the home would be like.  He said the roof of the home was caved in, walls falling down, total ruin, but he couldn't see letting such a treasure be demolished.  He paid approximately $250,000 for the home, spent millions restoring and furnishing.   He did  much of the work himself, living in one room, cooking on a hot-plate, finishing one room at the time, as we ell as maintaining a prominent law practice. 
After marrying, having children, who he didn't want to be raised in such an atmosphere, he sold the home in 2004, walked out, and hasn't been bonderful the ack.  He gave us a CD of a dinner party held in the dining room that seats 26 at the table, to help us grasp just how elegant and wonderful entertaining could be in such a setting.
We went to Harris-Teeter supermarket hoping to taste a hot apple fritter mentioned by Kuralt in the book, but talked to the manager, and they don't serve them in the mornings anymore.  As supermarkets go though, I can see why you would shop there.  We each bought a box of cereal just to say we shopped at the same Harris-Teeter.
 Naturally, we were in town, lunch time, and there are so many restaurants;  we chose Magnolia, and of course there were magnolia paintings hanging everywhere, wonderful food, probably the best we've eaten, ( I said that about "The Fat Hen too), adorable waiter, Giles, then a walk to the waterfront to see the beautiful "pineapple "fountain, a ride along the battery in a "pedicab", and to our car to get home in time to rest a minute before our program at Our Savior church,  a one woman, non-denominational , autobiographical presentation.  I'll mention it later, because lunch must be prepared and I need to stop for now. Bye!        

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