The unhappy whistler

He made his happy sounds on Sullivan’s Island, and now he’s busted:

Town Council approved an ordinance last week that added whistling, hooting, hollering and singing on a public street to a list of potentially disturbing noises.

According to the proposed law, it would be illegal to yell, shout, hoot, whistle or sing on public streets especially overnight from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. or at any time or place if it’s annoying people nearby, in an office or in a home.

The place has obviously changed since Edgar Allan Poe was there:

This island is a very singular one. It consists of little else than the sea sand, and is about three miles long. Its breadth at no point exceeds a quarter of a mile. It is separated from the mainland by a scarcely perceptible creek, oozing its way through a wilderness of reeds and slime, a favorite resort of the marsh-hen. The vegetation, as might be supposed, is scant, or at least dwarfish. No trees of any magnitude are to be seen. Near the western extremity, where Fort Moultrie stands, and where are some miserable frame buildings, tenanted, during summer, by the fugitives from Charleston dust and fever, may be found, indeed, the bristly palmetto; but the whole island, with the exception of this western point, and a line of hard, white beach on the sea-coast, is covered with a dense undergrowth of the sweet myrtle so much prized by the horticulturists of England.

Now that I think about it, it hadn’t changed much from that the last time I was there, which would be early 1969.

Of course, there’s an explanation for this:

[L]ike it or not, Charleston is a town of transplants. A destination town. A lot of expatriate New Yorkers, people from Ohio looking for a warm place to sit, and a bunch of escapees from Atlanta’s rat race. Mostly east coast people, though. I was once considered an oddity because of my California roots (although that’s considered to be plenty odd anywhere). Now, there’s a bunch more like me. Maybe I should apologize for kicking that door open; everybody wants to be the last person to move to a new area … write this down. People who move to another area tend to want a couple of things: First, they’re seeking a new life. And, once that’s achieved (or not), they seek to make that new town Just Like Home …

Or at least just like North Charleston, whose anti-noise ordinance was largely copied by the present-day island fathers.

(Inspired by this post by Fishersville Mike.)





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