Uptown/Downtown in Old Charleston: Sketches and Stories

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9781570039096: Uptown/Downtown in Old Charleston: Sketches and Stories

Growing up in Charleston in the 1930s and 1940s, accomplished storyteller Louis Rubin witnessed firsthand the subtle gradations of caste and class among neighborhoods, from south of Broad Street where established families, ancestral glories, and traditional mores held sway, to the various enclaves of Uptown in which middle-class and blue-collar families went about their own diverse lives and routines. Changing circumstances within his own family impelled his absorption in what seemed to be two separate worlds, and granted him a remarkable perspective into Charleston's evolving identity as an historic seaport on the cusp of modernity during the Great Depression and the onset of World War II.

In Uptown/Downtown in Old Charleston, Rubin draws on equal parts autobiography and imagination in a series of briskly paced renderings of his native Charleston that capture the atmosphere of the Holy City during this era when the population had not yet swelled above sixty-five thousand, when oldtimers still spoke with awe of the 1886 earthquake, and when the coming social and economic revolutions that shaped the latter half of the twentieth century had not yet found a toehold in the old city. Rubin's wide-eyed narrator is an earnest and observant guide, who ably takes readers on excursions to and through recognizable landmarks, including Adger's Wharf, the Battery, Union Terminal, the shops of King Street, the High School of Charleston, the Majestic Theater, and the College of Charleston. With youthful glee he watches the barges and shrimp trawlers along the waterfront, rides streetcars down Rutledge Avenue and trains to Savannah and Richmond, paddles the Ashley River in a leaky homemade boat, pitches left-handed for the youngest team in the Twilight Baseball League, ponders the curious chanting coming from the Jewish Community Center, and catches magical glimpses of the Morris Island lighthouse from atop the Folly Beach Ferris wheel. His fascination with the gas-electric Boll Weevil train epitomizes his appreciation for the freedom of movement between the worlds of Uptown and Downtown that defines his youth in Charleston.

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From the Inside Flap:

A series of briskly paced renderings of the Holy City's dual identities, written by an acclaimed native son

About the Author:

Louis D. Rubin, Jr., has been an author, an editor, a publisher, an artist, a newspaperman, and a university professor during his distinguished career. Rubin has served as chancellor of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, president of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, and chairman of the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association. Cofounder of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, he has written and edited more than fifty books, including most recently The Summer the Archduke Died: Essays on Wars and Warriors, Where the Southern Cross the Yellow Dog: On Writers and Writing, and My Father's People: A Family of Southern Jews.

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Louis D. Rubin Jr.
Published by University of South Carolina Press (2010)
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