The Family That Used to Live at Record Stop Charleston
The Only City in the World with a Dance Named After It
We all know Charleston is a special place. It's got incredible food, shopping, the beaches, "Southern Charm" / Southern Hospitality and all that. It also occupies the most unique places in music and pop culture in that it has both a famous song AND dance named after it.
Sure, songs about cities abound - New York, New York, Chicago, Havana - heck, you can even have London Calling, One Night in Bangkok or can leave your heart in San Francisco. But do any of them have a famous dance named after them? Nope! (Sorry Electric Slide, "the Hustle" & Macarena). Only Charleston.
The Freedman Family Moves to Charleston
1926 was also the year a man named Alter Benzion Freedman moved to Charleston. Alter, who served the Polish Jewish Orthodox synagogue during the 1920s in Charleston and was trained as a rabbi, cantor, and kosher butcher, moved his family here from Hagerstown, Maryland.
On a recent visit to Charleston, our team at Record Stop was recently visited by relatives of Mr. Freedman, who informed us that the store at 426 King Street actually used to be a home, and was the very place that Alter Freedman and his family had lived in. The trio - consisting of several generations of relatives: Stacey Silverman (great-granddaughter of Alter) and Olivia & Samantha Zelling (great-great-granddaughters) stopped in to our store and began telling us the incredible story of their family's life in Charleston. Stacey's grandmother, Freyda Freedman Barenholtz, can be seen sitting on the right side on the armchair of her mother Ida - Alter's wife.
They relayed to us that in 1981, Morris Freedman, the second eldest son (seen here at the far right), hand-typed a memoir of his life, titled "My Odyssey" - a 35-page retrospective - which contained a number of pages dedicated to Charleston. In it, he describes life on King Street, mentioning daily activities, such as playing tennis and football on the old Army/Citadel parade grounds (which he called "the Greens" - now Marion Square); attending high school at Charleston High School (with strict schoolmasters); camping at a Boy Scout camp on the Wando River; taking a hike from downtown to Folly Beach; and other daily living in 1926 Charleston.
One passage we found most interesting, was the one in which he describes the residence at 426 King. In it, he describes the "winding staircase" and "ornate bathrooms." He mentions the fountain at the corner of Calhoun and King Streets, how he and his brother (Meyer) "would drink from the Fountain, in spite of the 'rotten-egg' odor and the warmth of the water." (Some things in Charleston never change.)
You can view this excerpt here:
Other stories in the document detail riding bikes to catch crabs off the Battery, riding trucks into the country to sell furniture with the Solomon family, where they would buy watermelons. One great story was about the time when US Navy ships "commemorated the bombing of Fort Moultrie by the British in the War of 1812." He recounted, quote: "several of us, dressed in our Boy Scout Uniform were picked up (literally!) by several Sailors and placed on a large ship, and (taken) to Fort Moultrie, to see the complete reenactment, including seeing the US Flag being shot down, and Sergeant Jasper running forward to raise it back on the ramparts."
In an email exchange, 2x-great-granddaughter Olivia (below center) wrote: "It is incredibly meaningful to us how their house is currently a Jewish-owned record store — as our grandfather was a trained cantor and a music lover. We are descended from Freyda, the baby (b. 1917)."
We at Record Stop Charleston are grateful to Samantha, Stacey and Olivia for stopping by and sharing the remarkable story of how 426 King Street used to be a home, and for providing us with the photos and memoir of their great-uncle Morris' "Odyssey" here in Charleston in the 1920s. Charleston has always had a timeless quality, and it is fascinating to hear stories from almost 100 years ago, which might still be relevant today. And while the spiral staircase and ornate woodwork no longer exists in the building, we now have a warmth in the store, knowing a family used to live here. We also have a few records which hearken back to the 1920s - including a selection of rare 78 records.
Thanks so much to the Freedman family descendants for sharing such an amazing story! Stop in & maybe one day your relatives will have a story about finding the perfect record at Record Stop Charleston!
About Record Stop
Family-owned & operated since 1974, with shops in Patchogue/Long Island, NY (the original) and Charleston, SC (at 426 King Street), Record Stop specializes in new & used vinyl records, CDs, turntables and music accessories. Find us online at record-stop.com. Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/recordstopchs/