In Search of History and She-Crab Soup, Part 2

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She-crab soup before. Yes, that is a beer.

She-crab soup after stirring. One lonely biscuit awaits its fate in the basket.


We liked Poogan’s the first time we went.  This time, not so much.  Our waiter appeared to be recovering from a hangover, or something, that impeded his ability to be an exceptional waiter.  Sugar got exactly what he ordered the last time, a cup of she-crab soup and a fried green tomato BLT.  It arrived with fries.  We hardly eat fries, especially since I read that fries live in your gut for ninety days after eating them.  Ick.  The waiter didn’t give him a choice of fries or grits, and we assumed that grits came with the sandwich because that’s what we got last time, and we’re old and nearsighted, and can’t remember if the waitress offered us a choice last time, and we can hardly read the fine print on a menu, so there you have it.  Fries.  Being Southern, we don’t complain or ask for a re-do, we just mutter under our breath and suck it up and go on.  The waiter asked if I wanted a refill on my coffee, and I agreed that it would be a good thing, and TEN minutes later, people, ten minutes he returns with the refill.  But. no. more. creamer.  What’s up with that?  I hate when the cup of coffee is mixed just to your delight with creamer and sweetener, and then when the bit left in the bottom of the cup is spoiledspoiledspoiled with black coffee added to the top.  And no hope of any more creamer coming, because after all, we are Southern and don’t like to ask for more than we have been allotted.  Andandand the basket of biscuits had two, count ’em, only two biscuits.  What was poor Sugar going to eat?  Did we get really lucky the first time that our waitress brought us a heaping basket of biscuit love?  And Mr. Waiter didn’t tidy up the table during the meal when he brought our food, like picking up the forlorn empty creamer containers.  Creamer, Waiterman, Creamer!  I used both of them!  Bring more when you bring more coffee!  It just stands to reason.  All of this is really no problem, but when Waiterman took the black notebook holding the bill and Sugar’s debit card to ring up the sale, and then returned the black notebook MINUS the debit card, that was a moment of annoyance and sheer panic.  Sugar went up to him and asked him for the debit card, the waiterman said “I gave it to you” and then looked in his pockets to confirm that it was not there.  In his pockets, people, like maybe this has occurred more than once to him.  They found the debit card lying on the floor in the next room, so waiter man had dropped the card and not even known it.  Panic situation averted by Sugar realizing the card was missing.

Whew.  Anyway, during brunch we noticed that the restaurant faced the side of the Mills House, a Charleston hotel that was once run by, yup, a Lawton.  (The old curmudgeon will clarify that in the comments.  Just see if he doesn’t.)

So after brunch, we set out about the city.

Across the street from the Mills House was a historical society type place.  The building was set way back from the street, because, it turns out the building was once a gas station, and the pumps would have been where the wide brick walkway made a gallery for a Gullah woman with a sweetgrass basket display.

The center of the basket is started with pine needles, then sweetgrass is added as the weaving medium.


She wouldn’t let me take her photo, even though I asked politely, and she was wearing a wonderful broad-brimmed straw hat that would have featured her nicely on my famous blog.

The sign in the window proclaimed a sale, so I encouraged Sugar to go inside and look.  History!  On sale!  There might be books! 

They did have books and other wonderful things, like tins of benne wafers (look it up) and jewelry and stationery and knick-knacks.  While Sugar was buying a book (told you there’d be books), I saw an unusual display by the check-out station.

This display featured the house pictured here.


It's a well! With a glass cover! Inside a building!

Photomural:  The Center’s Block, ca. 1910.

The early well in front of you once supplied water to the late eighteenth-century house in the center of the photomural above.  The house was torn down with two others in 1928 to make way for a gas station.  When the station closed, Historic Charleston Foundation acquired the property from Exxon Corporation.  To the surprise of our general contractor, the well was uncovered during the construction of the room you are standing in.

Always intrigued by the history in our own back yeard, we’ve left the well open as a record of the site’s earlier identity.

And more history awaits us….


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6 Responses to “In Search of History and She-Crab Soup, Part 2”

  1. Leo Says:

    Cecilia Lawton was the great great granddaughter of William Lawton the immigrant Lawton of South Carolina. She married a cousin Winborn Wallace Lawton a great grandson of William. Winborn and Cecelia owned a plantation on James Island across the Ashley River from Charleston. Cecilia also owned Marshlands Plantation on the outskirts of Charleston which she sold to the United States Government for $50,000 and it became the Charleston Naval Base.
    With the money she bought a lot on Bay (Battery) St and started a milk bottling plant in collusion with a dairy operation that had been started on the James Island plantation. In order to stay close to the bottling business she also purchased the floundering Mills House in 1901. She refurbished it and renamed it the St Johns Hotel in honor of her maternal grandmother. She then moved into the hotel for the remainder of her life or until 1923. The hotel then passed through several owners and in 1970 was razed, but like a Phoenix another rose from the ashes reverting back to the original Mills House name.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kariann Says:

    Great post! Now I know why I don’t ask more than one time, must be the Southern blood.

    That poor biscuit was cowering in the basket, awaiting his fate of being found, hard and lifeless in a glove.


  3. In Search of History and She-Crab Soup, Part 3 « Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] leaving the well in the building, we looked for the Circular Church.  The guide book was wrong, as we were to find […]


  4. The Man Who Found a Well in his Living Room « Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] you remember a post I wrote last year when Sugar and I went in search of history and she-crab soup. We saw a well INSIDE a […]


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