After Thelma and Herbert (isn’t that his name? has to be, look at that picture!) got married, they lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho for six months. It snowed the whole time. And they got there in AUGUST. Herbert did his Navy nuclear prototype training there. Then they moved to Goose Creek, South Carolina, the current location of all the Navy nuclear power program training–from A school to Power school to Prototype school–that Ross will be completing (following in Herbert’s footsteps). It all takes place now at the Naval Weapons Station in Goose Creek.
Prototype training building at the Naval Weapons Station.
Ross finished A school in March and is about to start Power school. But way back when in Thelma and Herbert’s day, there was still a Navy base in Charleston, SC. All the training was done elsewhere and the subs refitted out of Charleston and King’s Bay, Georgia. Herbert’s sub was in King’s Bay, but that base wasn’t finished yet, so everyone who crewed a sub from there was based in Charleston.
By the way, Thelma got rid of that outfit, grew her hair out a bit, and I think she even managed to put on a few pounds.
Okay, I suppose to avoid confusion of anyone new here, I should admit that I’m Thelma, but it’s a little hard to identify with that picture.
I was 19 years old when we moved into these apartments in Goose Creek.
There’s something really weird about taking your kids some place like this where you lived when you were around the ages they are now.
It took some time to find the apartment complex even though Goose Creek isn’t that big of a town. The complex is a little off the beaten path on a secondary road and I didn’t remember the name of the road. Ross was game to drive around till we found it, though. I knew as soon as we turned on to the right road. Funny how you can remember certain snapshots of a time. I knew the certain curve of the road when I saw it. I knew the “fire” apartments to the right on the way there. (I always thought of them as the “fire” apartments because there was a fire there during the time we lived in the next complex down the road.)
We lived there for a year then moved to 8130 Blackstone Court in North Charleston, about 5 miles away, and I could find that one blindfolded. We lived in a townhome there for three years.
It was the first place I lived as an adult for a long enough period of time to “set up housekeeping” and make a home of my own. Most of the time I lived there, I lived there by myself because “Herbert” went out to sea on a regular basis. I learned to be independent. I cooked a lot. I sewed and did all sorts of other crafts. I “practiced” being a mother, taking care of my nephew, Caleb. (And taking him to church, even on Wednesday nights. Thelma was well-behaved.) I read and read and read books. I started writing a book in a sort of halfway manner because I didn’t really know how to write a book, but eventually that story did become a published book (many, many years and drafts later). I went back to school, working halfway through my degree. (I later finished at Texas Tech.) I kept the townhouse spotless. Thelma was an industrious little bugger. I also made my first stab at gardening there. And I dreamed of the three (yes, Thelma had already decided on THREE) children I would have someday in the life after the Navy was over.
It was an emotional feeling to stand there. I wondered what Thelma would think of me. Hard to say. Thelma didn’t know much about life, which probably made her a little judgmental. She had everything planned, and her plans always worked out. Did I mention she didn’t know much about life?
In any case, I think she would have been super impressed with (and possibly even intimidated by) these three–the Navy submariner Ross, the charming, vivacious sports fanatic Morgan, the National Merit Scholar Weston:
I took a lot of photos back then, but I only have a few that are scanned in and handy. Here’s what the porch looked like back then. I had flowers planted in front with flower boxes hanging from the rail. I loved to sit on this porch and read. I planted flowers every year and at some point would come a torrential rain and smash them all down, but I kept doing it anyway.
Inside the townhouse–where I mostly took pictures of my cats.
My beloved first cat, Shu-Shu. Okay, so Clover wasn’t the first animal I tormented by dressing up. Notice the Singer sewing machine. I wrote about it here when I dragged it out recently. I bought it while I was living in the townhouse. Remember the handmade dolls I wrote about in this post? You can see one of them on the table in this photo. That’s one of the doll bonnets I had on Shu-Shu here.
I spotted a shopping center that was built while I lived here. I worked in a store there for awhile. We drove by a theater downtown–I can remember going to see a play there. The Sheraton on I-26–we went to a party there one time and “Herbert” and I had a BIG FIGHT! Ross told me they still hold submariner parties there. There was the vet where I took my cats. My Piggly Wiggly grocery store. And so on. So many big and little memories around Charleston for me. Good, bad, indifferent. Mostly good. Ross said, “I’ve never been to a play downtown. We just go to clubs.” I said, “I know. Navy guys don’t get together and go to plays. There has to be a girl involved for that type of thing to happen.” This week I’ve dragged him tourist-hopping all over Charleston, making him see past the Naval Weapons Station and the clubs he goes to with his friends, and wanting my other two children to see the beauty and history here, too.
I watched Weston pull a rose off a bush as we walked a downtown street and put it in his girlfriend’s hair. New memories.
During my early adulthood, I probably lived in at least half a dozen different apartments/duplexes/townhouses across three different states, but this townhouse was THE ONE. The one where I lived the longest, the one where I came into my own in keeping a home, the one where I dreamed/planned my future, the one where I was the happiest, the one I look back upon the most fondly. South Carolina is one of my favorite places I ever lived. Among its many charms, I love the depth of its history, and I love that a teeny-tiny slice of that history is mine–and my kids’ now, too.
Charleston, South Carolina is a special place. And in the book of my life….one of my sacred ones.