Every Monday morning, I deliver an East Cooper Meals on Wheels hot lunch to thirteen people who have lived and have lived in Mt. Pleasant, SC longer than I have. That’s saying a lot since I’m a born and raised native of Mt. Pleasant for nearly 42 years.
Late last month, I stopped to talk for a while with one of the children/caregivers of a recipient, and in our conversation, he asked me what I think of how Mt. Pleasant has changed since we were kids who went to the same (old) Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary School on Rifle Range Road at Myrick Road, (old) Laing Middle School on Highway 17 N at Six Mile Road, and (old) Wando High School on Mathis Ferry Road.
For context, here’s a glimpse of the Mt. Pleasant I knew as a child and teenager:
- The stoplight at Bowman Road and Highway 17 was the last stoplight before you got to Georgetown.
- East Cooper Family Practice (now Roper St. Francis Physician Partners on Wingo Way) functioned as the emergency room because there was no hospital at all on our side of the bridge.
- Boone Hall Farm was just another farm to drive by on the way from Mt. Pleasant to Georgetown or Myrtle Beach.
- Rifle Range Road was a simple 2-lane back road with no stoplights or even stop signs and was the local drag strip for daredevils on Friday and Saturday nights. The now traffic circle at Porchers (pronounced poor-shay) Bluff was all dirt and gravel and was better known as Dead Man’s Curve.
Do I miss the much smaller town that could boast these memories? Of course, I do – in the same way I miss nap time in kindergarten, recess in elementary school, and the days when my folks footed my clothing bill before school started. Just as I grew up, so did my small town, and in some amazing ways:
- The stoplight at Bowman has been replaced by a 4-lane flyover, reducing the number of stops during rush hour. That allows the nearly double the population to get home to kids, evening activities, churches, and beaches more quickly, enjoying more of life in a still-small town with ever more engaging life activities to choose.
- Our side of the bridge has gone from zero hospitals to having three hospitals, with East Cooper Medical Center exclusively dedicated to our East Cooper/Mt. Pleasant community. Improved medical care means that we who live in Mt. Pleasant get to enjoy it more and longer.
- Boone Hall Farm has grown into a huge, year-round local produce provider through community supported agriculture along with its farm stand and farm store. Its leading support from the community played a large role in the establishment and growth of the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market located at Moultrie Middle School.
- Rifle Range Road has opened up to new schools serving both existing and new neighborhoods, and our East Cooper Moultrie District #2 Schools are top in the Lowcountry and among the best in the state.
It's easy to complain about the increase in traffic and paved roads, the loss of wooded land, the number of people who simply weren’t here when the first Wal-mart (now Pivotal Fitness) was built for our small community. These are some of the reasons Mt. Pleasant has earned the nicknames “Mt. Plastic” and Mt. Perfect.” The thing is, that’s not their fault.
It’s our responsibility – we natives and decades-long residents – to cherish and continually share the evolution of our East Cooper Mt. Pleasant community with those who choose now to make it their home. While new residents can’t share in an experienced history, we can all shape our wonderful still-small town together.
CeCe Mikell is a 41-year-old native of Mt. Pleasant, SC. She is best known as a writer, teacher, singer, and home cook. After a successful career as a college professor in New York, CeCe returned to Mt. Pleasant to care for her family. Today she is a consultant with Armstrong Consulting, specializing in project management, business start-ups, and non-profit initiatives. Follow CeCe’s cooking, singing, and every day adventures on her blog SingingAboutCooking.com.
*Photos courtesy @experiencemp