Friday, February 15, 2019

"The train, she's a-comin'"

 I grew up in Charleston and have been to the local train station many times.

It's technically in North Charleston, but it's "our" railroad depot.

It has been slowly begging to be replaced ever since it opened in the 1950s.

Problem: it still looked and felt like the 1950s.

It was a shabby "welcome" to the Lowcountry and talks had gone on for years on how to either fund a massive facelift or just tear it down and start all over.

The "tear it down" faction prevailed and the former station now is no longer standing.

I stopped by originally in November 2017 when I heard a change was coming.

Orange cones blocked off most of the small, fenced parking area and it now was even more inconvenient to use except to maybe drop someone off.

When I stopped by again - almost a year later - I could see construction was coming along fine and the new building already had a nice  "welcoming" look to it.

Finally, I knew the old station destination sign soon would be replaced.

But, I was pleasantly surprised last week when my brother and I stopped by so I could show him what was in the works.

Hey, it looked like it had opened!

None of the three daily Amtrak* trains was at the station (one in the morning and two in the afternoon).

An employee was in the brand new ticket office and she explained that trains now were stopping there to drop off and pick up new passengers heading North and South.

*(I went online to verify the three trains and their scheduled times but Amtrak has to be the most complicated entity government has ever produced. Customer service??

The listing I eventually found had the hours of operation wrong, showed photos and details about the old building that no longer exists and I could not find if any trains actually served Charleston. Sigh.)

It was twilight so I stepped out to see the new, much longer covered area where passengers would alight or board trains from now on.

Pretty impressive!

But inside - WOW -  the new facility was now as modern-looking as our nearby Charleston International airport.

Shiny, bright and squeaky clean.

Here was a proper welcome to train travelers coming in to visit America's Number One Destination...according to a survey of the readers of Travel & Leisure Magazine.

Well, I personally thought New York City was a pretty swell place to visit, but, this title WAS based on a survey.

My brother and I wandered around the deserted new facility. 

Well, any gathering of employees and passengers - or residents awaiting arrivals - would obviously be there closer to the expected train arrival or departure times.

So, we had the place to ourselves as we both tried to capture some of the "newness" with our cameras.

I did not see any of the empty tall, wooden pay phone booths I had seen in the old building.

In fact, we asked the lone employee there,  what was happening at that old, tired building.

I said I remembered taking photos of it and she looked surprised by the question.

"Well, it is gone. Once we moved into here in December, it was torn down," she said.

"Even all the trees have been removed, They just dug them up with big machines," she added.

We wandered down toward where it had once stood since the 1950s. Looking out just as darkness fell, we saw she was accurate. Very accurate.

Sure enough, the land was scraped bare and downed trees were stacked atop piles of dirt.

Obviously, it would not be long before all that space would be paved and parking stripes uniformly painted.

This would very soon be a very large parking lot for Greyhound buses.

That should have been done 60 years ago.

(Click on the photos and links for more details).

I have included a link to the very unclear details online about Amtrak passenger service.

Hopefully, as the details are compiled and updated, clicking that link WILL display the information rail travelers need.

Meanwhile, be aware the station is still at 4565 Gayner Avenue in North Charleston.

Happy trails!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Good to see John, George, Paul and Ringo again...

 It has been quite a while since I last saw the Beatles in concert.

It was 1965 in San Diego.

I was working as a staff photographer for the Union-Tribune newspapers and used my press pass to enter the downtown rather small football stadium for the evening show.

I had covered the press conference that morning when they first arrived in town. It was a stop on their way up to Los Angeles.

The paper a while back did a "50 years ago" recap story and used some of my morning photos..and even included my Photo By Chuck Boyd byline.

My more recent time with the Fab Four was a few nights ago when this widely-acclaimed Tribute Troupe came to the Charleston Music Hall.

The talented foursome said they had been in Florida the night before and would be in the Raleigh-Durham area next. Part of their Southern Tour.

We all were invited to tag along. I was really tempted..they were that good.

The evening started when the spotlight shone on "Ed Sullivan" and he introduced the talented performers we all were there to see and hear.

They did not disappoint.

("Sullivan" also did a fair comic impression of "Tricky" Dick Nixon. Hmmm, had not seen the resemblance before.)

Ringo set the beat and the show kicked off with early Beatles hits like "Love Me Do," "I wanna Hold Your Hand," and other "bubble gum" wonders.

Actually, that was closer to the 32-minute show I had covered in San Diego 54 years ago.

But, this time you could hear the lyrics without the screaming emotional young girls!

I was seated in the 8th row this night so had a good view of the overall stage with projected actual Beatles crowds and reaction images as a backdrop.

Added a lot to the show.

Later, toward the end, we were invited to come on down close to the stage.

I sprinted forward because no "real" cameras were allowed and I was using my cellphone one which did a manageable job for the evening.

We were informed that these four young men were actually playing each instrument, sang with similar voices and really looked the part.

Also, we were told there were no recordings, hidden tapes or CDs.

The last mention caused the man playing Paul to ask aloud "Eh, so wot's a CD?"

A rare moment when they stepped out of well-trained character but it got the expected laugh.

Others humorous reactions happened when "Sullivan" remarked about "all the young people in the audience."

Looking around at all the gray hair and bald heads, it obviously was a comment the real Ed Sullivan made back in the 1960s.

 But there was a large family seated near me that qualified as young and who were very much moved by the music.

The two youngest stood and danced for most of the nearly 2-hour show.

Ah, Youth and stamina!

There was a tender moment when "John" sang about "Give Peace a chance."

He was wearing the white suit often seen on the original Beatle and dramatic lighting culminated in forming a word that epitomized his intent.

There were other moving reminders of the loss of two key members of the original group.

Lennon and George Harrison performed songs closely affiliated with them.

The audience was totally in tune with the intent of the evening to bring back warm memories.

A costume change produced long applause to salute the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band and even moments of life in a Yellow Submarine.

The Beatles' 1967 album SgtPepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has a widely recognized album cover that depicts several dozen celebrities and other images. 

... It was created by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake, who in 1967 won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts for their work on it.

Here George and John team up for a colorful reminder of how great the album was.

And the imaginative outfits produced for it.

When we were invited to come closer, there was a lot of good-natured mugging for the cameras - er - cellphones.

I had seen Sir Paul McCartney twice in recent years, performing with an energy level that answered the question:  "Will you still love me when I'm 64?"

This man's version of Paul McCartney added charm and chuckles to the evening.

We all had a chance to get up close and I even held up my palm to receive an offered guitar pick.

I was forgetting for the moment these men were recreating an era from long ago.

(I do have picks handed to me by Buddy Guy, BB King, and c.d.lang.)

 All in all, it was a fun, fanciful evening at the Charleston Music Hall.

In a few days, I will be there again to enjoy another evening with The Taj Mahal Trio.

Don't think it's hard to see that I am a supporter of live music.

Doing my share to keep 'em coming by being part of an appreciative audience.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for coming with me to an evening of live music and great memories. I wish us all many more.

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Monday, February 04, 2019

"Down" doesn't always mean sad or depressed...

 My Photo Group meets on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.

A member suggested we assign a Theme to the photos presented during our monthly "Show & Tell*."

(*This is one way the group encourages each other to get out and take photos and then share them at the next meeting.)

I usually wait until the last minute - toward the end of the meeting - to announce the optional theme for the next month.

This one gave us lots to think about seeing and taking photos that reflect "Down."

Like when I spray painted my wire fence with a shiny new silver coating -  and was too lazy to mask off the plants.

Actually, I did start stuffing an old tarp between the fence railing and the bushes. But soon gave that up.

In hindsight, it would have been easier than snipping off so many of the afflicted leaves and branches.

But, the yard fencing looks a lot nicer.

Had my camera with me downtown and looked around - and down - and saw this short train track I was standing on that ended abruptly.

Hmm,  it started AND ended it's short run by Ann Street and might have been old trolly tracks.

I was standing close to old buildings from the Camden Yards railroad buildings (reflected in the puddle pictured above) so it might be part of an old spur track long ago abandoned.

And, speaking of old railroads downtown, it appears a major renovation is going on with the building housing the BEST FRIEND CHARLESTON locomotive museum on John Street

(This would qualify as Looking Down in history if we were keeping score.)

Do click on the link to see the connection between one of the earliest "commercial" steam engines and its ties to historic Charleston.

It is conveniently located close to the Children's Museum where my youngest grandson Aiden spent a lot of time while visiting.

I could go into a long-winded explanation and point out what area this map represents, but, to be honest, it was just the remains of a rusty sidewalk puddle on Ann Street.

We photographers usually take a long look around when we have our camera in hand.

Behind us, what's above us and, naturally, what we see when we look down.

Tied nicely into the optional theme for February.

This aptly named sign actually disappeared a few years ago.

It was my favorite Irish pub and restaurant on Daniel Island for a while before it closed.

Used to offer a full Irish breakfast..even at 5 o'clock. 

So there I could have a tasty breakfast with a Guinness beer if I wanted.

Sad when it closed...but not "down" sad.

And, speaking of beer, while I was downtown,  I stopped at Palmetto Brewing Company to see how it was faring these days.

I knew a huge apartment building was going up but found it was not just next door, and it was wrapping around the back of the brewery.

In fact, according to Rick Rice, the Location Manager who gave me a brief walk around to see the scope of their new neighbor(s), It stands where the brewery loading dock used to be.

I used to come to the "Dock Concerts" right in front of me and thought THAT indeed was their dock, not tucked around back. 

The city decreed they had to have a dock so - during the day, trucks will come and go where we used to stand and listen to music.

But in the evening tables and chairs would be placed over the sturdy driveway and the popular music shows will be restarted.

Rick said the B.A.R. wanted to see what the new sturdy driveway would look like, so they had a small example built.

I am looking down at the new way the driveway leading to the dock/concert stage will look.

Palmetto is certainly aware of the many, many new customers the apartments represent!

There will be a fence of course, and apartment dwellers will some out to stand on their balconies when the Dock Music Concerts start.

Drinking beers, perhaps.

Hopefully from their nearest neighbor.

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)

I already know what the optional theme will be for March.

Hint: probably the color green is involved..

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