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Growing Up At Fort Moultrie

The following letter was written in September 1995 by Lloyd Johnson McClellan, who lived on Sullivan’s Island in the 1930s. The letter was provided to The Island Eye News by local resident Larry Kobrovsky.

The Fort was a very safe and happy place to live. Several children lived near the Fort, and it was our playground. Wonderful place to learn to skate.

We were pets of the soldiers and spoiled by them. We would go into the barracks, and they would give us candy and fruit (mostly bananas).

At least once one soldier got tired of me because he carried me down to the dungeon where Oceola was locked and put me in a cell. I was terrified but too butthead to admit it. Daddy came in and was proud because I didn’t show my fear. I would have done anything to keep his pride in me. That’s where I got my (boy’s name) from.

I was named for Daddy, and I was his tomboy.

Once Mother told Daddy he just had to whip me. I can’t remember what my crime had been, but it must have been terrible because Mother didn’t believe in whipping.

Daddy took me in the bathroom and locked the door. Winking at me, he took off his garrison belt (worn by the men in the Army at that time, along with the leggings) and told me, “When I hit the bed, you yell.” He would hit the bed and I’d yell. Mother was torn with remorse and was pulling at the door crying and begging Daddy to stop, that he was killing me. He never touched me. He was a softy.

One of the old time Army, a Sarg. who got recognition for being in charge of sporting events at the Fort.

Baseball and boxing top on the list, not always into following the rules.

There are several ranks of Sarg. and he would get to the top and be busted back, then would go up again.

Was in three wars and won a lot of medals. Was wounded three times, earning three Purple Hearts. A cousin, Dr. Bonner, and I buried some of his medals and some of Mother’s silver down by the edge of the creek during a game of pirates. We marked the spot with a stick and when the tide came in the stic washed away. We never found them. I inherited his way of not always following the rules.

We got our gro. at the Commissary, where Harriet and I would go, pulling our little red wagon and a list. I remember going up steps to get in the store. They would put the gro. in the wagon. Every now and then as a special treat we would get butterscotch pudding, which came in a little glass dish.

Money was so scarce that it was a really big thing to get a treat. I remember Mother having nothing to feed us on and she found a quarter on the sidewalk and so could buy food. How deeply thankful she was.

At that time, it was right as the Depression was lighting up, so no one had much money.

Felt so important to be getting the gro. for Mother.

The deepest impression made on me that affected my whole life was the respect of the flag that was drilled into me. Every day we went to the parade ground and watched as the flag was taken down. It was a very moving ceremony, the company’s standing at attention, the Taps sounding.

To this day, when I hear the National Anthem played on radio or whatever, I have to stand and place my hand over my heart.

 It upsets me very much to ever see the flag not be treated with utmost respect.

It is the symbol that many men and women gave their lives for. Something never to be taken lightly.

When we would go down to the

dungeon where Oceola was held captive, even as a child I would feel deep shame.

I always was told that he wasn’t treated right. His grave was a place I loved. Felt he was peaceful and at rest. Really made an impression on me.

There was a cistern to hold water in our back yard. There was a (??????) in the concrete that I would curl up in and that was my reading and dreaming place. For some reason, I felt all safe there. I guess we all need a special place.

The Fort was very special to me.

It is a symbol of so very many very happy memories and all the people who contributed to making it so wonderful.

Someday I dream of having a chance to go back there and just walk around it and go down memory lane. Maybe you could go with me.

There were a bunch of little ones who played together all over the Fort. My sister, Harriet, loved to play dolls. Got a red-haired doll for Christmas one year.

Since Harriet was red-haired, she really loved it. I was into playing Indians with a crowd of the boys. We tied Harriet’s doll to the stake and burnt it. Almost never got forgiven for that.

 One Easter, I remember looking out of the window and spotting an egg. The Easter Bunny had come.

Of course, I realized later that Daddy had hidden the eggs but I still believed in the Bunny at that time.

Later when I realized Daddy had hidden them it made it even more special.

I am sure that no one ever had better parents than I did. I still miss them.

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