1964 - SUMMER OF THE BLUE BASS WEEJUNS

In the Summer of 1964 the Bishop England High School Class of 1968 was preparing to enter the hallowed halls on Calhoun Street as freshmen and among them was my sister, Patty.  With her required summer reading accomplished, her uniform skirts in the process of being made, the green blazer and Peter Pan collar white blouses purchased, all she had left to do was find that perfect pair of shoes and in her mind, that was a pair of Bass Weejuns – not just any pair mind you, but a blue pair and so the search began.

First stop was Condon’s Department Store at King and Warren.  The only store I had ever been in that had a “skyway” connecting the two buildings on opposite sides of the street.  During the Christmas holidays it was transformed into a mini North Pole complete with a live Santa.  However, in the heat of a Charleston August, we found no elves nor any blue Bass Weejuns.  (Perhaps there was no such pair in existence.  Maybe they were just a figment of her imagination.) 

But it was no big problem.  Kerrison’s and Belk’s were nearby and certainly one of them would have her shoes in stock.  Unfortunately, neither one did.  What’s a girl to do?  These days, she would whip out her iPhone, connect to the internet, search “blue Bass Weejuns” on Amazon, click on the best deal, choose overnight delivery and in less than 24 hours, her heart’s desire would be cheerfully delivered to her doorstep by FedEx’s finest.  There is more than one problem with this scenario.  In 1964, there were no iPhones, nor an internet.  An Amazon was a female warrior found in Greek mythology and FedEx was not even a “light bulb moment” yet.   

Suffering such great disappointment in Charleston, the only thing to do was to head out to “the front porch of the Lowcountry” also known as Walterboro.  Now you’d think that if you couldn’t find them in Charleston, your chances of finding them in the small town of Walterboro would be slim to none.  However, Walterboro was home to Warshaw’s Department Store and Warshaw’s had everything.  If they didn’t have it, then you really didn’t need it.  August was as hot back then as it is now, so 50 miles in a car without air-conditioning was no treat. 

Recently, we made the trip from Charleston to Walterboro with Jonathan and Joanna to check out Walterboro’s historic downtown antique shops. Fortunately, the truck’s AC worked just fine.  I’m afraid we are truly spoiled.

Among the shops we visited was Antiques and Collectibles of Walterboro, LLC.  I’d be lying if I said I recognized the destination of our long ago Weejun-hunting expedition.  However, we were in the old Warshaw’s Department Store building (the name on the outside gave it away).  So once again, the search was on for a pair of blue Bass Weejuns.  Of course it’s no longer Warshaw’s so I really did not expect to find them this time - unlike the visit in 1964 when Patty returned to the car victorious with her coveted pair of blue Bass Weejuns and thus, began her high school days in style.  Instead I came away with the sheet music to Music Box Dancer, a fitting surprise for the family musician.