‘Pluff Mud Chronicles’ got it right

Dear Editor:

Thank you and David for your recent column. These last few years, I’ve had to turn off the news for all the ridiculous selling of propaganda that has led to more racial divide and hate than my teen years of the 70s. Poor Dr. King.

This amazingly ignorant but highly overpaid Caucasian liberal PC group has brought to fruition the adage of Orson Wells: “Everyone is equal except those who are special.”

It is sad to see the hate that has been laid at our feet in six years. Visiting a health club before renewing mine, my friend and I visited one in Mt. Pleasant where the T-shirts read, “We are a nonjudgmental gym.” It never would have crossed my mind that a gym would have a need or be inclined to “judge” its clients.

The paranoia reminds me of some of the crazy tactics that worked for Hitler, but let’s not go there. Your article was one that put my equilibrium back to normal, and I am glad to know we still have a thinking public versus the sheep of media who adhere to the lies of propaganda. The sad part is: There is real news and really hurting people in this country, including human trafficking and so much more that is just overshadowed with this political rhetoric.

Keep your eyes on the ball. 

V. Maguire

Charleston, S.C.


Remembering Judy Vane

Dear Editor:

Someone once described Judith (Judy) Vane, a founder and legendary supporter of the Spoleto Festival USA, as “a marvelous mix of grit and glamour.” This exceedingly accurate comment leapt into my mind the moment I heard that on April 4, that Judy had departed this life that she so lovingly embraced, leaving her trademark dazzling smile and famous throaty laugh to appear only in our memories.

However, this arts-loving, charming, but tough, woman left in her wake a powerful living legacy, one that utilizes the arts to change lives by encouraging people to break out of their self-concocted cocoons and view the world through diverse prisms.

Years before Gian Carlo Menotti selected Charleston as the site of an international performing arts festival, Judy was considered an exceptionally dedicated and talented actress who starred in and supported numerous Footlight Players’ productions at the Dock Street Theatre. However, I had never seen Judy on stage when, as almost newly-weds, my husband, Dr. Franklin Ashley and I met Judy and Jack Vane at a Count Basie concert at the Charleston Naval Base Officers Club in 1968.

By happenstance, we were assigned to the same table for dinner as the Vanes, and when Basie’s band began to swing, we four got up and began to dance, and then so did every one else. We talked and danced until midnight, but, not wanting the party to end, Judy and Jack followed us to our townhouse, where we sipped daiquiris and talked about theater and music until 2 a.m., when Judy suddenly remembered that a baby sitter was waiting at their home with their two very young boys, Adam and Jay and they immediately dashed off.

Upon hearing of Judy’s death, Spoleto General Director Nigel Redden, in a phone call from his Lincoln Center office in New York, said, “Certainly, we will miss Judy, just horribly! She was a mainstay of the festival, and I can’t imagine it without her, as Judy and Jack always made their beautiful home available, not only for Spoleto parties, but also welcomed visitors to stay with them.

At Judy’s funeral, Adam Vane remarked, “Mother and Dad treated everyone the same. They were as comfortable conversing with (actor) Anthony Hopkins at a party given for him, as they were talking with the man cleaning up after the party.”

It’s no secret that Judy lobbied unrelentingly for the Spoleto Festival USA to be bought to Charleston rather than to other cities being considered. The late Theodore Stern, former chairman of the festival, once revealed to me: “Judy helped to charm Menotti into choosing Charleston, certainly with her vast knowledge of the theater, but most of all with her ability to generously open her home to strangers from another country — that was a rare gift!”

Redden then related an incident that occurred when Celeste and Charles Patrick hosted a festival late-night, after-party out by their swimming pool.

“The party had just begun when Judy arrived, all dressed up, and immediately began an animated conversation while standing with her back to the pool,” Redden recalled. “Suddenly, I happened to glance toward Judy, in time to see her take a step backward and fall directly into the pool!

“Well, naturally, everyone dashed to her rescue. But after drying off with a towel, she went straight in her car, drove herself home, dried her hair, changed clothes, and immediately returned to the party, where she laughed and joked about her ‘accident’ late into the evening.”

Many who knew Judy might agree that this funny tale of never accepting defeat could not only serve as how Judy Vane might like to be remembered, but also could be considered a valuable life lesson for us all.

Dottie Ashley

Mount Pleasant, S.C.


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