A breathe of the brogue on the Fourth

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Yesterday, someone asked me about my Fourth of July. Although I enjoyed playing some drums with friends in the evening sun at the Charleston Harbor Resort (just down the road from the massively-packed Patriots Point/Yorktown event), I had to admit the highlight of the holiday was in overhearing some pure Lowcountryspeak up in the quaint shrimping village of McClellanville (where my father and his wife live) earlier in the day.

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Every year, many of the old, blue-blood families (the Morrisons, Leland, Baldwins, Rutledges, Grahams, etc.) and some of the relative new villagers get together for a big picnic. They set up card tables and folding chairs under the oaks by the decorated bandstand, just off of the Robert E. Ashley boat landing, across the yard from the town’s Village Museum at the end of Pinckney Street. Local shrimpers provide piles of fresh shrimp, which are served boiled from big boxes at the end of long picnic tables by the cupful. The townspeople bring covered dishes and the museum provides sweet tea and lemonade. Museum curator and local writer Selden Baker “Bud” Hill usually makes a nice speech at noon. It’s a Norman Rockwell scene for sure.

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While the delicious shrimp and copious rice and macaroni dishes were wonderful on Saturday, I was most amused by the casual, friendly and often animated conversations chattering on from table to table. A lady named Margaret caught my ear early on, as she spoke with a friend about growing up on Sheppard Street downtown in the 1930s and ’40s, building a house at the newly-developed Hobcaw Point in the mid-’50s for $15,000, and various ramblings about Lowcountry characters. She mentioned something about a doctor she didn’t care for, which cracked me up: “Dat man Schneider was a real S.O.B. … he yent worth the powder it’d take to blow up his bee-hind.” That remark alone totally made my Fourth of July.

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