Thursday, June 20, 2013
How well do you know your town? Whether native or newcomer or somewhere in between – like me – I’ll bet there’s a lot about Summerville that you don’t know. For instance, are you aware that the settlers of this summer village can trace their history back 383 years, via Colonial Dorchester; or how and why we grew from campsite to year-round town? Do you know what “marooning” was – or where the original Arch was erected and where its descendants are now located?
How about the fact that in our Golden Age we were a much sought-after tourist destination and health site, not only nationally, but internationally? And that during this time two presidents and a myriad of celebrities came to stay in the once famous Pine Forest Inn? They could also visit the Pinehurst Tea Plantation, which from 1890’s to the 1940’s was the only U.S. enterprise cultivating tea. And have you heard that our third town hall – we’ve had five – was the home of local intrigue as well as romance? Curious?
Well you have twelve more days to get answers. On Friday, July 5th the Chamber of Commerce will present a trio of inaugural one-hour (or so) Sweet Tea Trolley Tours of historic Summerville in a program called “Locals First.” Tickets will initially be offered – on a first-come-first-served basis - to residents for a chance to be tourists in your own town. As the tours will run during the Fourth of July Weekend, it’s the perfect opportunity to climb aboard an old timey trolley with friends and/or visitors and spend some of your leisure getting better acquainted with the place you live – as well as gaining bragging rights. Tours will run at 10 a.m., 12 noon and 2 p.m. and will be $20 per person.
The Chamber has been working on this project for a long time, first branding Summerville as the Home of Sweet Tea, then mapping out a Sweet Tea Trail and currently tying it all together with Sweet Tea Trolley Tours in an encompassing tourism initiative. This effort has special meaning for me.
Jim and I first visited Summerville in the early 1960s –while he was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base. It was at the height of the azalea season and like many folks before – and after –we fell in love at first sight. We kept our eye on this Flower Town for about two decades and when Jim retired came back here to settle.
Since 1980 I’ve been blessed to ply a creative cycle of working full time for this newspaper, learning about my then new hometown, then writing her official history for the Town of Summerville and returning to these pages as a columnist, still writing about my now longtime hometown. Happily for me, on July 5th I’ll have the chance to share this special place and its history with you on a more personal basis, by acting as a tour guide. I’m still learning and I promise the more you learn about Summerville the more you’ll love her.
Why not come out in a dozen days and be one of the “First Locals?”