Fire in Georgetown, SC–History-up-in-flames

I awoke to the morning news — breaking news about a fire in Downtown Georgetown, SC, along Front Street. Reportedly, several buildings are completely destroyed. Many of these buildings were historical, some dating back to the early Twentieth Century. There is a historical clock standing, The Clock Tower, and reportedly, it is still standing. Every time I have toured Georgetown, I always look for this tower. It is a great landmark, making for interesting photography and a few good memories.

Details of the fire are a bit sketchy now but I thought my readers might like to know my thoughts about Georgetown, SC.

I toured Georgetown for the first time after marrying my husband. Walking along the sidewalks of downtown, I inhaled a strange odor – a combination of odors so strong I could not describe. When I asked about the odor, my husband laughed. “Oh, that’s the Georgetown Steel Mill and the Paper Mill. Smells great, doesn’t it.”

“Hardly. It stinks!”

Continuing our walk, I found Georgetown to be unique with wide sidewalks, but not much business, at that time. Holding hands and laughing, my husband shared a few memories of his childhood in Georgetown. As a writer, I’ve written about Georgetown numerous times and I have toured the area, falling in love with the waterfront, the quaint, quirky downtown area, especially the many local shops offering unique items. One particular area I love is the Strand Theater on Front Street and there are many restaurants around. Georgetown is a nice little place to make a day trip to, especially if you are within Myrtle Beach or Charleston; however, after hearing about the fire, it might not be a good idea to visit downtown Georgetown at the moment [September 25, 2013].

I will keep you posted about the fire in Georgetown. My thoughts and prayers are with the many merchants, and the locals within Georgetown. My husband has family that live nearby, so I am hoping they are fine. For now, let us pray for safety for the firefighters, merchants, residents, and all within the sweet little town that some people describe as a smelly town. Years ago, it did have a significant odor, due to pollution from the factories, but now, the smell isn’t as pungent.

I suppose I will have to make a day trip — to Georgetown real soon — just to take photographs and reminisce about this quaint little sea-side town with smells, foods, and residents that love Georgetown. Today, history is being made – along with much of the history that is destroyed from the fires. It is such a shame that during an important time of revitalization, a fire is quickly destroying the history of this sweet little fishing community known as Georgetown, SC.

Let us hope the fire will not destroy the revitalization and charm of Georgetown, a city reminiscent and charming, filled with Southern hospitality and most of the time, a pleasant scent.

A Day of Self-Discovery

Today has been a day of self-discovery and adventure for me, starting with a walk with my dogs, working out on the treadmill, and writing again. For weeks, perhaps months, I have battled with self-doubt that I could ever write again. Yes, I’ve posted on my blog, but I kept allowing negative vibes to creep inside. Today is a different day. After writing a blog post, I recognized that the words were beginning to creep back inside me.

This led me to thinking — something I do lots of times. In my lifetime I have always been the type of personality to speak to strangers. Trust me…it drives my husband crazy. He simply cannot understand how I can see someone on the streets and say, ‘Hello,’ with a smile on my face. He’s told me many times that one day someone was going to take advantage of me because of my friendly personality. Oh well. It hasn’t changed me! Still, I speak to strangers everywhere…on the street corners…at the mall…while shopping at the grocery store, and other scenarios. Most people will nod, or say hello, but continue to move on.

Many years ago I took a trip with ten women. I was the youngest in the group. When we arrived in San Francisco, a man on the street corner ran me down. He tapped me on the shoulder. I spun around. “Hello, Sir. Can I help you?”

“I think I should warn you,” he said. He was dressed in a faded plaid shirt, tattered jeans, old shoes. “You should be careful who you speak to along the streets of San Francisco. Someone might hurt you. People don’t speak to you here.” 

I smiled. Shook his hand and thanked him. He walked away. Meanwhile, I continued to say hello to people along the busy streets. I was confident. Happy to be in San Francisco!

Crossing the street, I noticed an older woman. She reminded me of my grandmother, deceased many years prior. Dressed in a crinkled dress with gold buttons, her hair knotted into a bun, pearl earrings in her ears, I smiled at her and said, “Hello.”

She stopped. Smiled and I continued to walk along the sidewalk, headed to a drug store. I needed hair spray and a few toiletries. Little did I know the woman was following me. I reached for the door of the drug store. Holding the door for others to enter, the woman approached me.

“Hello,” she said. “You spoke to me! You said hello. No one ever speaks to me and I wanted to thank you.”

I smiled. “You’re welcome, Ma’am!”

“You must be from the South. People here…in San Francisco…we don’t talk and it’s nice to have someone just say hello to me.”

I invited her for a cup of coffee. “My treat,” I said.

Over coffee Ruth told me about her life. Her husband died years ago. Her children were grown. “They’re so busy with their lives they don’t have time for an old lady such as me.”

“You’re lonely,” I said, reaching to touch her hand.

“Yes, I suppose you could say so. I live downtown in a retirement village and no one speaks. No one.”

“I did,” I said. 

“You made my day, today. I’ve felt so alone that I wanted to die. I’ve been praying that God would take me because no one cared, and then, out of the blue…you spoke to me.”

Although my day had been planned, I chose to change my plans on that day. I walked Ruth back to her apartment and I hugged her when we parted. From time to time I’ve thought about her, but we did not keep in touch. I’ve never forgotten how touched she was that a complete stranger spoke to her at a time when she needed a friend.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons that I still speak, to total strangers. My dad taught me the habit, telling me that you never know when a simple hello can brighten someone’s day. Just like it did with Ruth! I lost my dad in 1999 after a brutal battle with cancer. Still, he is inside my heart and I fill his presence every day.

“Hello,” I say with a smile.

Today has been a day of self-discovery — a day I’ve actually found the words to write again after a long absence. Perhaps the walking helped me today, or maybe it was the discovery that life must continue, and we must make the efforts to enjoy every breath we are blessed to share with life and those we love. “Hello…How are you today?”


Communicating With My Precious Animals

My silly pups. Prince Midnight Shadow, my cold black giant schnauzer rushes inside to brush against the leashes, hanging near my office. He is telling me he is ready to walk today. “Mommy,” he says, staring into my eyes. “It’s nice outside today. The heat will not burn my paws. Can we go for a walk later?” I smile. Nod at him. Now, he is resting by the leashes. And to think, I’ve actually been told that only a ‘crazy person would believe that dogs communicate and understand what we are saying to them.’ I smile, snickering to those people saying, “Maybe you are the crazy one…I communicate with my animals. They understand what I say, and they love me for communicating and understanding their needs.’ Like earlier this morning, when Hankster the Prankster, my smallest mini-schnauzer, raised up by my legs, wanting me to pick him up. He doesn’t like to be picked up. He’s always afraid that he might get hurt. It is so obvious that he was mistreated by someone. It doesn’t matter who mistreated him. All that matters now is he is not closed inside a crate where he was barking…barking…barking…at the top of his little lungs when I agreed to foster him. It doesn’t matter that someone raised their arms to him, ready to attack him. It doesn’t matter that he was dropped off at a kill shelter, to end his life. What does matter is this little guy has found a home that loves him, regardless of his demeanor, temperament, and personality. He is finally getting more comfortable with us, and he hasn’t snapped at my husband’s hands in a few days. That is an accomplishment for him. Although he is small, he is powerful and quick with his mouth. He defends me from everyone!

Hank is unafraid and will protect his mommy, at all cost. He doesn’t care that something or someone could harm him. He cares about me and his home. That is, now that he has a home that accepts him and is teaching him he doesn’t need to snap at others. All he needs to do is trust. Today, when he raised up on my legs, he scratched his little paw on my leg, as if to say, ‘pick me up, Mommy.’

“What’s the matter, little buddy,” I asked him? “Do you want Mommy to pick you up?” He growled. When he growls it is usually a warning to back off, but I carefully scoop him up in my arms. He grunts, placing his little salt and pepper fur next to me, then he cuddles next to my neck. This is something he has never done before. He rears back, to look into my eyes. “What’s the matter, Hankster? Are you finally saying how much you love me and this home?”

He grunts again. I place him down. Moments later, he returns. He wants me to pick him up again, and so, I do. We talk for a bit without saying words. Our eyes stare into one another. He moans, moves his head close to my chest. He is telling me how much he loves me. My eyes fill with tears.

Today is Wednesday, a day of remembrance for me. On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, I lost my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus, also known as “Shamey-Pooh.” Wednesdays are still a sad day for me. Words cannot express how deeply my heart ached after losing Shamey-Pooh. A tsunami of grief appeared to wash over me, like a gigantic, rushing, angry tide and for weeks I wasn’t certain if I would survive. I did survive. The sun still rose in the morning, and set at night. Bills still needed to be paid, and Father Time continued to tick, tick, tick the minutes of life by. Still, my heart ache for the loss of Shamus continued, and that is when I decided to foster Hank, until Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas could find a suitable home. Hankster and I bonded, even after he left our home for an adoptive home. I dreamed about him on several occasions, dreaming he wanted to come back to us. That dream came true, like many of my dreams.

Last October, Hankster returned. When I suggested allowing us to pick him up from his adoptive parents, some people were afraid he would not remember us. At first, he seemed aggressive, only to relax inside the car when he heard me singing. Silly dog. I think he remembered that I liked to sing. Arriving home, he rushed inside, to the water bowl, the toy box, and to greet our children. Hankster announced, “Hey guys, I’m back!”

Today, Hankster communicated to me — as if to say — thank you! Snuggling next to me for a few minutes, he grunted, and then he brushed my face with a soft kiss, something he never does! Now, he is resting next to me, along with Shasta, and Sandy Bear. Hankster is home! It is such a beautiful, cooler day outside so I’ve decided a brisk walk with my babies will be more healing to me than a treadmill!

Remembering 9-11-2001

Remembering 9-11-2001, — I recall awakening a bit later than normal for me on 9-11-01, due to a headache. It was a beautiful day in Charleston. Bright sunshine, clear skies. The phone rang. I checked caller ID noticing it was my husband. “Now what is it he wants so early this morning?” Those of you who know us recognize that my husband would be surgically attached to me — IF he could! Answering the phone as my head pounded, his first words were, “Are you watching TV?”

“No. I have a headache.”

“I know how you love to stay in touch with current events. You might turn the news on. A jet has crashed into the World Trade Center.”

My mind raced with dreadful thoughts. ‘How could this happen? How could a plane drift off course and crash into the World Trade Center?

Turning the television on, I listened as the broadcasters speculated what was happening. The news was happening so quickly, speculations were changing every moment, every breath. No social media on that date. No Facebook. Twitter…just speculations as the broadcasters raced with bated breaths to report “the latest…” Cell phones around the locations of the World Trade Center were jammed. Communication was almost crippled.

My mind drifted to those inside the World Trade Center. The receptionists, administrative assistants, food service workers, and others — trapped inside. What must it be like to glance outside the windows to watch an airplane approaching so closely one could almost see the color of the pilots eyes? What must it be like to see the plane crashing into the windows while recognizing you have no way to escape? Those questions would never be answered.

Reports continued…smoke billowing out of the buildings. People rushing out of the building. Another report stated that the people inside of the World Trade Center were told to stay inside. “No way.” I said. “I would get out of that building.”

My heart was heavy. Somehow I knew that something tragic was happening, and it was not an accident. A planned attack, to use American jets to crash into a building and kill Americans.

Nothing was reported about that, at the moment. Speculations. Guesses…Reports unconfirmed…

My mind drifted back to a nightmare I had a few nights prior to ‘9-11.’ In my dream there were four men dressed in black, moving across America, carrying weapons – shooting people on the beach, on the highways, and in populated areas. Never did I mention this horrific nightmare to anyone. I simply told myself I dreamed about the beach simply because I love the beach, and I love driving. I suppose I was psychoanalyzing my dreams. Weird! I have had visions such as this all of my life, just like my precious grandmother did.

Now, I was glued to the television. Afraid to move away for fear I might miss something. I saw the plumes of smoke coming from the buildings, and I watched in horror as another plane crashed into the second World Trade Center.

Shaking my head, I recognized this was not an accident, but a planned attack on America. In the blink of an eye, I recognized the United States of America was now at war. So frightening. So unexpected. Just how can this happen to US?

News reports continued as the broadcasters interviewed people on the streets, family members, and a few of the people trapped inside the buildings. Rescue teams and first responders, fire fighters, and medical triages were ready to assist those who needed medical care and assistance to escape, but as the news continued, Americans watched in horror as people who could not escape found a tragic way out — jumping out of the buildings. Tiny images of bodies flying out of the building, falling…falling…falling into a horrific moment of death. Although I wanted to turn the television off, I could not. This was a day I would never forget. I kept praying that rescuers would free more of the people, but the reports were skimpy. “These people need to get out,” I prayed. “They aren’t safe…What if…may God forgive me…but what if the building crumbles to the ground?”

I watched in horror as a horrific sound roared on the television and the building seemed to move, tumbling to the ground as smoke, debris, and the building fell to the ground.

“How can this happen? And why — why are buildings built so tall that people cannot escape safely? Who would do this? What kind of monster would crash a jet into a building?”

So many questions raced in my mind.

Twelve years later, much has happened to our nation. We are at war with Iraq and Afghanistan. Many lives have been lost and America will never feel the safety we once felt. The safety we took for granted. For a brief time, Americans pulled together to help one another, never thinking or suspecting that if we reach out to others, we might be helping, in some small, caring way. Now, we have more violence in our cities. We see people talking and texting on phones, never acknowledging others, appearing to be clueless to what is happening nearby. We are so wrapped up in our own lives that we take life for granted once again.

My wish for America is peace. Fellowship. Friendship. Trust and love for one another. We must remember 9-11, while recognizing that our lives have continued after such tragedy. I confess, it was difficult for me to awaken every morning for a while, without asking why. What would make someone such a monster that he would become so destructive, and that he and his followers would plan such an attack? Why?

While it is true that Osama bin Laden has been killed, his death does not end the threat of terrorism. Terrorism is everywhere. Not just in other countries. Terrorism is everywhere. In our cities. Our towns. And just because one terrorist was killed, this does not end terrorism.

Today is not a day to end this discussion with the subject of terrorism. Today, 9-11-2013, is a day of remembrance…a day to pray and give thanks for all that we, as Americans, have endured on 9-11-2001. May we move forward to embrace that we have life and freedom. Freedom comes with a cost. Sometimes a price that cannot be bought or expressed. Today is a day to embrace one another and to remember that many lives were lost, in the blink of an eye. None of us saw this coming. Today is a day to appreciate life and the loss of those we loved and lost, gone too soon.

May we never forget — 9-11-01. Please take a moment today from your busy life to remember those we lost. The price we have paid. The threats we have experienced. On the morning of 9-11-01, our world changed dramatically. Let us never forget it, the victims, families, and freedoms so threatened. Let us pray that we never experience such a tragedy again.

Today, my heart still breaks for those lost so unexpectedly, in the blink of an eye. Let us NEVER FORGET while we pray for our Nation, our soldiers in harms’ way, and for the freedoms we so cherish.

Remembering 9-11.