Finding a plastic-free Mount Pleasant
Mr. McGuire: “I just wanna say one word to you, Ben. Just one word. Are you listening?”
Ben: “Yes sir.”
Mr. McGuire: “Are you listening?”
Ben: “Yes, I am.”
Mr. McGuire: “Plastics ... will you think about it?”
Ben: “Yes, I will.”
(The Graduate, 1967)
There are lots of great things made out of plastic. Auto parts, bottles, ballpoint pens, boobs. Entire cities are made of plastics. And that is the conundrum Mount Pleasant is in today. When is enough “modernizing” enough? How much plastic can your perception perceive? Things seemed more palatable with more petite portions of plastic in your picture.
Making things “new” is not necessarily improving things. Take old Mount Pleasant for example. I recently took a stroll around the Old Village with Kimbo Richardson, the owner of the Pitt Street Pharmacy. They still have a neon “Rexall” shingle hanging over the front door. Inside, there is a lot of wood, bricks and leather. Not a lot of plastic. It smells like ice cream inside. It looks like 1965. You wouldn’t be surprised to see Barney Fife sitting next to Floyd the Barber at the fountain.
Across the street is Ol’ Chief Benton’s house, originally built in the 1800s. Circa 1950, Chief Benton was not only the chief of police, he was the only full-time police officer in town. Back then, Mount Pleasant had 1,800 people in it. Everybody in town knew everybody in town then. Now there are 85,000 citizens in Mount P. and nobody knows anybody anymore.
Former mayor and lifelong Mt. P. citizen Linda Page summed up the population explosion this way: “It’s crazy! The come-ya’s are replacing the been-ya’s. We now have a high economic profile. People are not only closing their original businesses; they’re leaving the area. We’re approaching $1 million per acre. The demographic is changing.”
Page will be closing her “Thieves’ Market” in October. It has been there on Ben Sawyer for 54 years. With the changing upper-econ profile, the well-off come-ya’s just don’t buy second-hand stuff much.
So Kimbo and I wandered on down Pitt Street, passing by Patjen’s post office, originally built in 1899. It’s about the size of a Ford F-150, but contains zero plastic. If it wasn’t for the sign in front, the come-ya’s wouldn’t even know what it was. Not that they care, anyway. I’m sure they think it’s a storage shed destined for demolition so as to build something new ... and plastic.
We went to the end of Pitt Street, where the trolley used to take people to the shoreline. It’s a park now. There was a come-ya sitting near the entrance to the park, in a beach chair tapping away on his laptop. He had an umbrella shielding him from the sun. It was red and blue plastic.
On the way back, Kimbo showed me Pierates Cruze, where a home there is for sale for $3.5 million. I’m not sure of Ol’ Chief Benton could have afforded that. Nearby was where the boats full of Charlestonians used to dock. There was no bridge then, so the “city folk” rode a boat here. “They used to vacation here, because they thought the air was cleaner over here,” said Kimbo. That must’ve been before the place was saturated with Cadillac Escalades. Made of plastic.
Miss Anne still lives there. She was once first lady of South Carolina. Her property has the largest morning glory flowers God ever made. Trump would call them “Yuge.” Morning glories have belladonna in them. This makes great wine for come-ya’s who would rip up the flowers and replace them with plastic.
Then we stopped by the Confederate Cemetery on Carr Street, which is actually the site of the 1812 Enlistment Camp, where the few Mt. P men they could spare signed up to fight the British. Most come-ya’s have no idea there are Confederate soldiers buried there. If they did, they might stage a protest to rudely yank monuments and flags down, only to find out there really is nothing to yank down. Not to mention, the been-ya’s would not cotton to such things. It would be a bad day for the come-ya’s. Plus, they would be horrified that there is no plastic there.
The new mayor of Mt. P., Will Haynie, says his plan to save the town from plastic; instead, perpetuity is his “Palmetto Principle,” which has three main points: Protect, Plan and Restore. “We need to slow the growth, but we’re gonna have growth,” Haynie told me. “Let’s not ruin this town.”
Hey; good idea.
I told Kimbo that if I moved to Mt. Plastic, I would move to the Old Village, where it is still Mt. Pleasant, not Mt. Plastic.
“That would take a lot of cash,” Kimbo said.
I told him, “I don’t have that kind of cash in my pocket. Do you take plastic?”
Rocky Dee may be found at www.rockyd.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.