Hello friends, unfortunately I am not able to write a new story this week, so instead I am repeating one from last February, 2011. I have had pretty good days in the past week, but now am feeling a bit worn out and think it's probably better if I rest. I have been encouraged about how much better I have felt and do not want to run myself down. I don't want to look back and wish I had just stayed still! Thanks for understanding!
Seventh in a Tuesday Story series (originally run on February 8, 2011)
The summer I turned six, my parents purchased their first home. We were living in a small frame house which belonged to the U.S. Navy, since both of my parents were veterans. At that time there were three children in the family, with the fourth on the way so more room was needed. The new house was several miles away, across a couple of rivers and on a large island. I was beginning first grade, and my parents enrolled me in the neighborhood school not far from our new home. However, school started a couple of weeks before our scheduled moving date and so my father drove me to the school and picked me up each day.
I have such fond memories of that small period of time, because it is the only time I can remember having my father completely to myself. He chatted with me as he drove me to school, and after school, he took me back to his office in downtown Charleston and I thought it was the greatest fun to be able to be part of his day like that. My father was the County Extension Agent, working for Clemson College (it wasn't a university yet) and all of the county and municipal offices for Charleston were in the old Citadel, the original site of the military college.
The old Citadel building had been built before the Civil War and had its first graduating class in 1846. During the Civil War it was active until 1865 when Union troops captured Charleston and occupied the building and the grounds. It remained confiscated property of the Federal government for 17 years and was used as a garrison by Federal troops until 1879, when it was ordered to be returned to the state of South Carolina. The building and grounds were immediately returned to the military college and they remained there until 1918 when a much larger campus was built on the Ashley River and the old building was converted into offices for the city and county. The offices were not air conditioned and still retained the original architecture. During restoration of some of the offices, numerous historical items had been found, including bullets from the Civil War, military buttons and buckles and even one or two old cannon balls (still viable!). A few years ago, the property was bought by Embassy Suites and turned into a 5 star hotel. The outside facade is the same, but hardly anything remains of the inside.
The Old Citadel Building
Daddy's secretary used to save papers for me to staple together, or had me do other "odd jobs" to keep me busy. The building had an open quadrangle on the inside, and all of the floors had a walkway around the quad and I could wander up and down the floors as long as I did not disturb anyone. On the floor above my father's office was a small canteen where I could get an occasional bottle of soda, or more frequently, a cup of ice water. I loved going in there because there was a huge fan in the ceiling roaring at its highest level and blowing everything around. The canteen had a screen door, which would made a satisfying noise when it slammed shut behind me. I would stand between the fan and the door enjoying the breeze created between the two. When it was time for Dad to leave, we had fun talking on the way home.
This idyllic situation only lasted for about two weeks and then I was riding the big yellow school bus between home and school. I missed that time with my Dad and as the years passed, I never again got the chance to spend one on one time with him except for rare occasions. My father worked hard, often gone in the morning before we got up and home long after we had gone to bed. It wasn't until years later that he realised how much he was missing and changed jobs. By that time I was a teenager and could not have cared less whether he was home or not. (Or at least that's what I pretended.) Much later, as adults, I told him how much that time had meant to me, and he remembered it well and told me it had meant a lot to him too. I was happy to know that, but a little sad that I had not known it then, or in the ensuing years. When I became a mother, I asked my husband to please make it a priority to spend one on one time with our daughter, which he was very happy to do. It has proven to be part of the strong foundation for the loving relationship they enjoy today, 27 years later.