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letting the cat out of the bag

The pirate was late. Perhaps he had overslept because he was groggy, thought I.

I was still thinking up funny reasons that he might be late when Pirate Eric appeared with Cap’t Bob, his chatty parrot, perched on his arm.

Quite a sight, a pirate wearing a pistol, a sword and a parrot. You’ve got to admire a man who can make a living walking the streets, telling pirate tales.

As he guided us through the quaint, humid streets of Charleston, Pirate Eric gave us two hours of piratical history with Cap’t Bob occasionally interjecting his own take on Eric’s version of the story.

I found the most interesting character in the tales to be Edward Thatch AKA Blackbeard, the second most famous pirate, after Jack Sparrow.

According to Eric, the cat ‘o nine tails referred to the whip that was used by Blackbeard and others to punish pirates who broke pirate rules or annoyed Blackbeard. It was kept in a bag that was hung on the mast pole as a reminder of what would happen to those that might want to break a rule. When a pirate annoyed Blackbeard or broke a rule, the “cat” would be fetched in order to punish the offender. Thus the expression “letting the cat out of the bag”.

After the tour we took the pirate’s advice and stopped for fried chicken, grits and peach cobbler at the Magnolia Café. We decided to take the waiter’s advice and sample some world-famous Carolina barbecue so we all split a pulled pork barbecue sandwich. Now, we are Texans and only really know Texas barbecue. In fact, Tim, father of the nephews is quite the barbecue master. Well, we may have started something because young Garrett (son of Tim, said barbecue master) was so taken with his small sample of this new style (to us) of cooking meat that he insisted on Carolina barbecue for dinner as well.  Garrett has declared Carolina barbecue far superior to anything he has ever tasted. Uh oh.

After the Magnolia Café we all trooped back to the beautiful Charleston Place hotel to fetch the car and to head out to the plantations. So many to choose from. While waiting for our car we chatted up a local lady who had been to every plantation in the area. Her recommendation was Boone Hall because it had the famous avenue of oaks.

This is the plantation that many have seen in the movies because of the moss-covered oaks that line the road to the main house.  These live oak trees were planted in 1743 and have grown making a Spanish moss-covered canopy over the long road leading up to the house.

The house and grounds have appeared in television soap opera Days of our Lives, the mini-series North and South and the movies Queen and The Notebook.

We toured the house, and slave quarters where a woman recited a poem in the Gullah language, hard to understand but nice to hear.

We got to ride through the fields where they grow cotton, corn, watermelon, tomatoes, and Muscadine grapes. I was disappointed to learn that they were not the Boone’s that made one of my favorite wines of the seventies – Strawberry Hill.

Tomorrow – Savannah!

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