This famous quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is a question Hamlet is asking himself. Should he live or should he die?

I never understood Shakespeare. Why make required reading hard to understand? Why not use modern language, explain the real meaning, simplify the lesson? Only after watching a movie with the stories modernized did I “get it”.

Applied to Summerville 2020 and the November 5th elections, the above question invites thought. To be or not to be?

If Summerville wants to know where it will be in 2020, Summerville has to know where it is now. And in order to understand the now, Summerville has to understand the how. How did we get to where we are today? Lessons of the past applied to the future give life and hope!

A brief reflection on what has been recorded and personally experienced in Summerville’s past:

Summerville was and is a pineland. People from Charleston and the plantations along the Ashley came to “summer” to escape disease. In the mid 1800’s a village developed along what is now Carolina Avenue. If you look at a map you will see where Carolina Avenue runs into highway 61 also called The River Road which runs into Charleston. The transformation from village to town occurred when the railroad bought land to the north and laid out a new town in grid fashion. Because of the pines, Summerville was internationally recognized as a healthy locale. Still more people came to stay in the inns and cottages built to accommodate this influx.

The train ran between Charleston and Summerville. Because of the easy transport, still more people came. The Charleston Naval Shipyard, General Electric and the Air Force Base brought still more people over the next decades. More homes were build, carved up and shared. The village is gone but village life and the town thrive.

Summerville of the 1960’s consists of one traffic light, trains that load and unload freight, the coke cola company where looking through the window you saw bottles go round on the conveyor belt. Sidewalks were only downtown, many roads were still dirt or river rock, there is a volunteer fire dept, 2 man police force and sub-divisions do not exist. But, downtown Summerville had everything you needed.

The town of Summerville in the 60’s is governed by 5 men, one woman and a mayor, Berlin G Myers.

Decisions were made based on experience, what was seen and known, friendships and favors resulting mostly in the best interests of all.

Fast forward 50 plus years to Summerville the city. It is a place no one could have possibly envisioned.

A Swedish car factory located near 8 lanes of interstate traffic complete with a sign warning about the dangers of alligators in the nearby pond. No way! Unreal! Who would have dreamed?

The Summerville that exists today has gone from the cluster of early homes and businesses along Carolina Aveue to the new town of the railroad along Main to Nexton across the interstate. The city of Summerville spans three counties, Dorchester, Charleston and Berkley. Summerville has not been by passed by like many of the Southern towns killed off by shopping centers and interstates.

The original “village” of Summerville and the charm of it still exists, attracting many people. Too many people some would say. A great problem. To be or not to be.

In reading through this brief history, there is a pattern. The early years and people coming.

The middle years and still more people coming.

And the present day and still more people coming! Too much, too many.

What to do?

Many answers have been offered. Who could have possibly foreseen what was to come and planned for such growth?

Nov. 5 is Election Day. The positions of mayor and council seats 2, 4 and 6 are up for re-election.

The landscape has changed but our decision making is the same. Decisions based on experience. Now more than ever, decisions have to be sound.

There are lessons to be learned and applied. The past is the past. We are where we are in October of 2019! In government leadership Summerville needs people who are qualified. People who can be fair, who have wisdom, have experience, are true public servants and who are willing to be part of a regional plan for the future of all.

At this time in the history of Summerville, Bill Hearn is the right man at the right time to be the mayor of Summerville, Terry Jenkins to represent District 2 and Bill McIntosh District 4. Bob Jackson is unopposed in district 6.

To be or not to be?

Lord let us be.

Diane Frankenberger owns People, Places and Quilts on Richardson in

downtown Summerville.