The Timrod Library: Stepping Back in Time (Summerville, SC)

By The Retired Mensch

The Mensch stepped back in time when he visited the Timrod Library in Summerville. The Timrod Library is in a colonial-style brick building with a porch and double doors set on high ground on Central Avenue. It is a steep walk from the street to the steps up to the porch. In Brooklyn we called those steps a stoop.

The Timrod is like no modern library. Most libraries are free. Dorchester, Charleston and Berkeley Counties all have free public libraries. The Timrod is unique in that it is a subscription library, meaning there is a fee to be a member and borrow books. The fee is not exorbitant, $15 for a family.

The Mensch paid a family subscription fee and in a few days the mailman delivered a typewritten letter thanking me for the subscription along with two library cards without barcodes or magnetic stripes.

When I checked out a book, the librarian asked for my library card, I forgot it. “No problem, just print your name here on the book card.”
For younger readers, the cabinet in the picture with all the drawers is a card catalog. Every book in the library is inventoried by the Dewey Decimal System, by author, by title and by subject. You need to know your alphabet to thumb through the cards to find a book of interest. There is no Google look-up here.

The Timrod has an interesting history. Originally there was a Ladies Reading Circle in Summerville in the 1890’s. That morphed from a Chautauqua group to chartered library in 1907. Timrod refers to Henry Timrod, the so-called poet laureate of the Confederacy, who was a school teacher in Summerville.

It is a quaint place to visit if you are looking for something different for your literary tastebuds. The Timrod is deceiving in that there is an extensive collection of modern fiction along with a plethora of South Carolina history and geography along with artifacts.

Although there are rocking chairs right inside the front door on the left, the more inviting reading space is over on the right where there are two lovely armchairs with their backs to the window. This is the path to the children’s reading room and historical collection, so be prepared for some foot traffic. Of course, if you are caught up in a good book, you’ll hardly notice.

Oyster Season – Latest Update (Plus Tips on Harvesting and Hosting) – The Retired Mensch

By Paul Brustowicz - The Retired Mensch
By Paul Brustowicz – The Retired Mensch

So, where was I? Oh yes, oyster versus erster…Here’s the latest:

November 3, 2015
DHEC closes some Charleston County shellfish beds

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has closed some shellfish harvesting beds in Charleston County due to excessive rainfall, the agency announced today.

“This closure affects shellfish harvesting from Captain Sams Inlet north to Garrison Landing and the north point of Bull Island,” said Mike Pearson, manager of DHEC’s Shellfish Sanitation Section. “The affected area will reopen once water quality data indicate that bacteria levels are once again suitable for shellfish harvesting. Previous closures in the Wando River remain in effect.”

For more information on clam and oyster harvesting areas in Charleston County, call DHEC’s Charleston Environmental Health Services Office at (843) 953-0160.

Jim Beasley
Public Information Director
oystersWell, I hope you liked Fred and Ginger dancing on roller skates. Back to oysters and oyster roasts. Why roast them and not boil the little buggers? Here in Low Country the oysters grow in clusters, clumped together. Remember those sticks in the mud where the oysters grow? Despite the washing by your friendly oysterman in the oyster tumbler pictured here, there is still plenty of grit and crud on those bivalves.

If you choose boiling, or berling as my Brooklyn grandma used to say, to bring about the demise of your oysters, the shells will open in the crud-laden water and those formerly tasty morsels of molluscan delight will now be as gritty as #2 sandpaper. That’s why they roast oyster clusters. Okay, now that your oysters are roasted, what do you do?

First of all, stand back because someone will shovel them onto your table and there will be a mild stampede to grab those hot bivalves.

Here is where I admit ignorance. Being new to South Carolina and oyster roasts, I had to seek out the advice of a son of the low country and oyster roast aficionado. While I’m talking to A. Aficionado, here’s video from PBS about oyster harvesting.

This selection offers information on how to host a lowcountry oyster roast:

If you get invited to an oyster roast, remember to bring gloves, oyster knife, hand sanitizer and plenty of of your preferred adult beverage with beer being the beverage of choice.
Happy bivalve season!

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum – The Retired Mensch

Image courtesy of Paul Brustowicz

It’s not hard to find something to do in Charleston when company comes to town. What is hard is deciding on where to go and what to see. Fortunately the latest guest at the Mensch house was a Marine who served in Vietnam. Patriots Point here we come. Down I-26, over the Ravenel Bridge and $5 later we were in the parking lot at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Mrs. Mensch had discovered a two-for-one Groupon which made treating cousin Frank to a tour a no-brainer.

There is plenty to see and tour at Patriot’s Point: the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the submarine Clamagore, the destroyer class USS Laffey, a Vietnam Support base exhibit and a cold war submarine Memorial. Our time was limited so we opted for the self-guided tours on the Yorktown and the Vietnam exhibit.

A snowbird volunteer named Al greeted us on the hangar deck with a “Semper Fi” and Cousin Frank smiled for the first time all day. It was a Jethro Gibbs moment. Al explained the self-guided tour, handed us the flyer with the admonition to follow the yellow arrows and we were off to Hangar Bays #1 and #2.

There were the F4F Wildcat jet, F6F Hellcat, F-9 Cougar and other fighter aircraft on display. We opted not to take the flight simulator ride after seeing it in action. We needed to keep our lunch under control.

Over in Hanger Bay #3 was the Jimmy Doolittle display and a B-25 bomber hanging over the Sticky Fingers Smokehouse Express snack bar. We got a kick out of the Doolittle display when we read the front page of the San Francisco newspaper: there was a front page story way on the bottom about the Brooklyn Dodgers winning eight in a row. For a couple of Brooklyn natives, that was a hoot!

We followed Tour #3 yellow arrows up to the flight deck through the pilot’s ready room, air operations room, air traffic control room, and combat information center and emerged on the flight deck. What a marvelous day in Charleston, blue sky, temps in the 50’s and slight breeze. We were better off in the sun. We wandered from plane to plane. Here’s the link to all the aircraft at the USS Yorktown:

To see the Corsair, Intruder and Skyhawk and helicopters on the flight deck was great.

Image courtesy of Paul Brustowicz

After wandering on the flight deck, we made our way to the chart room, pilot house, captain’s bridge. It is a wonder to see the Admiral’s Bridge and Sea Cabin on level 5. We passed the radar rooms on our way to hangar deck to end our tour.

We made a brief stop at the USS Laffey to read the plaque and moved on to the Vietnam Experience Exhibit. Cousin Frank thought he was back in Southeast Asia at this exhibit.

From the brown water navy, to the latrines and helicopters, cousin Frank applauded the authenticity of the exhibit. The Mensch applauded cousin Frank’s service to his country.