A Love Letter from CeCe Mikell

CeCe:

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  • The stoplight at Bowman has been replaced by a 4-lane flyover, reducing the number of stops during rush hour.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.

Bio:
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. 

A Love Letter from Emily White

Emily White:

Dear Lowcountry,

You have raised me. I was born in July of 2000 at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, and from there I was brought home to James Island. I was the first child my parents had, and it remained that way for another two years, until my brother was born. We all lived together in a cozy home that I don’t remember much of, except that there was a koi pond, sunflowers, and big trees. We remained there for the next four years, until my parents decided to move to Mount Pleasant. The following years, I was signed up for numerous sports and attended many city coordinated activities with my family. We were never bored.

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

This past summer, for the first time, I went West Coast. West Coast, Best Coast was a saying I had heard many times, and before my trip, I believed it to be true. We drove all along the California coast, and it being the dead of summer, we stopped at more than a few beaches, and to put it candidly, they didn’t meet my expectations. The beaches could not compare to the ones I had back home. I desperately missed Isle of Palms (IOP), Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach, where you were guaranteed water at the perfect temperature, and beaches that weren’t too crowded (especially if you went to the right spot during the right time). Another thing I frequently missed when traveling was our famous Charleston sunsets. I have never traveled anywhere where the sunset was as beautiful and colorful as it is in Charleston, South Carolina. My family’s go to spots to witness this Lowcountry treasure are the Pitt Street Bridge, and the Waterfront Park Pier, but our own backyard also serves the sight justice. 

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

One of the other many things that I love about my home is the opportunity it has given me. I am able to go to one of the best high schools in the nation, hang out downtown with my friends, play Ultimate Frisbee with my parents, and run the Ravenel Bridge whenever I want (something 40,000 people from all over the country come to do once a year). And, if the rare feeling of boredom comes about, you can guarantee that a city activity is happening.

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

Today, I begin my junior year of high school, so the topic of college keeps working its way into the conversations I have with relatives, advisors, and friends. I was born and bred in the Lowcountry and I carry that with me everywhere I go. I’m excited to make my own way, but I also dread the day I may have to say goodbye to the only home I have ever known. Regardless, I know with full confidence that the Lowcountry will always be part of me. For now I am enjoying the next two years under my parent's roof and care in this wonderful city. I am also enjoying the beaches, the sunsets, the weather, and the people whom are unlike any other that I will ever experience anywhere else.

Love,
Emily 

Bio (By Emily Gildea):
Emily lives in Mt. Pleasant with her parents, Eric and Meredith, and her two siblings, Lewis and Molly. Today, she starts her junior year of Academic Magnet High School with her brother starting as a freshman. Emily is an active community volunteer and wrote this letter without any coaxing from a parental unit. I personally connect to Emily through our shared namesake and height advantages.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Snee Farm

The first 12 years of my life were spent in one home. From that point on I moved about once a year (family job transfers, college, and more), until I was in my mid 20s, finally settling down in the Lowcountry. And exactly three years ago, I purchased my first home in Snee Farm, where we live today. 

My home, for the first 12 years of my life in Bristol, VA.

My home, for the first 12 years of my life in Bristol, VA.

One of my first memories of homeownership was a call from the Homeowner's Association, just a few days after I had moved in. If my memory serves me right, it was the president of the board and she was calling to welcome me and review a few 'rules' of my new neighborhood. But what really stuck with me was a comment she made casually while we were chatting, "Oh honey, I've lived here since it really was a farm". It seemed unbelievable. Who was this gal? She sounded decently young. So, I went to research Snee Farm as a farm and found it really wasn't that long ago that this part of Mt. Pleasant was considered 'far out' and farm land. The full early history of Snee Farm (going all the way back to the ice age and including references to Sewee Indians and president, George Washington) is documented by the community foundation, but an excerpt below explains the transformation into a neighborhood:

"In 1966, the plantation was purchased by Snee Farm Golf Club, and the (main) house and adjoining grounds by Joyce and Guilds Hollowell. The Hollowells continued restoration, and in 1974 the house was designated a National Historical Landmark. The Friends of Snee Farm purchased the historic house and its 28 acres in the late 1980’s. The core of Snee Farm is now known as the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service." - Originally Researched and Written in 1976 by Skippy Adkins Amended October, 2007 by Dottie Teetor, Assisted by Carlin Timmons of the National Park Service

Stretching it out after a bike ride

Stretching it out after a bike ride

And what a neighborhood it is!  Today, it has over 900 single family homes on the residential side of the property. Some of our dog-walking friends (whose ears must have been burning because they called me while I was writing this) have owned their home since the early 1980s, when most homes were just breaking ground. A snippet from the Dunes site on Snee Farm:

"Today, Snee Farm is at the very heart of Mount Pleasant, only 5 minutes from the Isle of Palms beach, tons of shopping and 20 minutes to downtown Charleston. With a beautiful 18-hole golf course, lagoons, large lots and majestic oaks, Snee Farm is unique to the area.

The homes in this neighborhood range in price from $150,000 for townhomes to $800,000 for homes in the Manor Section, overlooking the golf course or lagoons. With a wide variety of architecture, Snee Farm has a home to match everyone’s style, whether it is contemporary, colonial, ranch, lowcountry, or tudor." - DunesProperties.com

My family (that's my husband, Trevor and dog, Miles) particularly enjoy the lake views on our walks and bike rides, access to Palmetto Islands County Park, and the short drive to Boone Hall Farms (our CSA starts this month!). Last year on July 4th, we had friends in town and were on our way to the beach when we made a u-turn to ditch traffic and head back to our neighborhood pool. Once we arrived, we realized there was a celebration planned, where parents were participating in competitive pool games like the 'kid toss' and oiled watermelon pass. Endless entertainment, I'll tell you. To say the Snee Farm Swim Team is popular with residents, would be an understatement. This summer is the team's 45th anniversary and they've won nearly 30 championships. The team practices twice a day, also offering swim lessons to residents and beyond.

Bike ride this winter

Bike ride this winter

Other notables:
Location- With three entrances 
School Information- Elementary: Jennie Moore, Middle: Laing, High School: Wando
Country Club- How to join (tennis, golf, swim) here
Healthcare- Over half a dozen healthcare facilities within 10 miles
Homes- Currently for sale in Snee Farm