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West Ashley Flashback — A Celebration of Progress

Exchange Club of St. Andrew’s Parish helped mold our community

The artwork of Major Henry F. Church, whose initials are in the lower right corner, graced the cover of the souvenir booklet of the Exchange Club of St. Andrew’s Parish in 1943. (Permission courtesy of the office of the National Exchange Club)The artwork of Major Henry F. Church, whose initials are in the lower right corner, graced the cover of the souvenir booklet of the Exchange Club of St. Andrew’s Parish in 1943. (Permission courtesy of the office of the National Exchange Club)


January 9, 2018
By Donna Jacobs | Contributing Writer

Late in 1941, H. A. Petit of Windermere had the idea that the time had come to form an Exchange Club in St. Andrew’s Parish. This type of club could act as a service club, a chamber of commerce and a community club. With the threat of war, it would provide a mechanism for communication and coordination of the Parish’s resources and manpower.

The idea moved quickly into execution. By February of 1942 the permanent organizational meeting was held at the Country Club of Charleston and officers were elected. The official charter of the National Exchange was presented to the local club on Feb. 18, 1942 at a Charter Presentation Banquet. More than 60 members, their wives, and representatives from around South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia were in attendance.

Initially, elections were held semi-annually. Then it was determined that a yearly tenure was necessary to bring real projects to fruition. In the “Celebration of Progress” brochure produced by the Exchange Club of St. Andrew’s Parish in October of 1943, a “History of the St. Andrew’s Parish Exchange Club” explains that: “The forming of this club in the Parish has done much toward welding the various developments into a closely knit community and has filled a very definite need.” This club was considered a “Most Hopeful Sign” for the community and was the subject of an editorial that appeared in the News and Courier.

One large section of this brochure is entitled: “Saint Andrew’s Parish: Its Historic Past — Its Progressive Present — Its Glorious Future”. The adjectives in the title are indicative of the author’s strong feeling for the Parish. The community pride swells from the text of this section and in the last paragraph the author states: “Much more can be written of the loves and lives of St. Andrew’s Parish and of its ascendency and decline as a political, economic and social factor in the Carolina Low Country, and of the effect its early culture had on many parts of America, but it is not possible in the scope of this modest brochure to do more. Predictions of the future of St. Andrew’s Parish also are beyond the scope of this book, but it is obvious that, with the continued growth in population and the many progressive steps taken in recent years to give residents all facilities of urban life, it takes no eye of prophecy to foretell that the future of St. Andrew’s Parish is to be a substantial one and that during the post war period she will contribute much to the welfare of her State and Nation and will return again to the glories that were part of her past.”

In two years, the leaders of the community went from executing an idea for a club to organizing a “Celebration of Progress”. So what exactly was the progress the club was celebrating? In a previous West Ashley Flashback, I speculated that progress was the general growth of the community. The reality is that this brochure and day of celebration was all organized around water, a vital infrastructure to a rapidly growing area. “City Water Now Flowing to Developments Across Ashley” was the headline that ran in the September 29, 1943 edition of The Charleston Evening Post. The story behind this accomplishment is a testament to the leadership of a few individuals in the face of war, politics, budgets, numerous governmental bureaucracies and what properly seemed like insurmountable odds. No was not an option. Stay tuned. The story will take a few Flashbacks to tell.

Parish Community Pride stories? Contact Donna Jacobs at westashleybook@gmail.com

 

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