Pumping Past

The 1803 Joseph Manigault House was converted into an Esso station in 1922, and a fill up got you a free tour of the historic garden. The gas station closed by World War II, and the historic house served as a USO dance hall for service people in the area. I was saved by demolition by being bought by the Charleston Museum and converted into a museum house, where today touring visitors can enjoy its remarkable Federal-style architecture.

German Guests

The first World War II prisoners brought to Charleston were German submariners who were captured by the Coast Guard cutter Icarus in 1942, and a year later the West Ashley stockade was opened for Italian and German army prisoners, who were more than likely happy to have square meals instead of round bullets. The Axis prisoners had a near celebrity status, as Charlestoniains would drive past the camp on highway 61 to see them. And with farm hands off fighting in the war, the prisoners were loaned to local famers and marched into fields to harvest crops. One group of Germans was harvesting tomatoes for the first time in 1944 when a farmer gave them a midday break and brought out cases of Coca-Cola. The prisoners loved it, and the next week harvesting on another farm, were eagerly awaiting Coca-Colas at midday, but this particular farmer just kept them working to the point the Germans refused to go back to work unless they got the cokes. Although the war ended in 1945, farmers were reluctant to give up their cheap labor, and Axis prisoners were still in Charleston as late as 1946 before being shipped home.