At Bloomsbury Inn, the veranda is special, and the perfect place for “stories from the veranda”. It invites you to sit, look out, and enjoy the conversations of all those around you. A veranda that welcomes you, embraces you, and takes you back to a time when porch living was central to Southern hospitality. A veranda is a porch that wraps around the home and under the roof line.
The veranda at Bloomsbury is noted in the Encyclopedia of South Carolina as a rain porch. A rain porch is defined by a roof extending beyond the porch with the support columns going from the roof to the ground without connection to the porch. This extension offers a measure of protection from rain for those sitting on the porch. In fact, the whole purpose is to sit during the rain and enjoy the cooling effects. Only the strongest of winds during a thunderstorm will drive you off the Bloomsbury veranda when it is raining.
When the weather is good, Bloomsbury guests enjoy a social hour on this unique veranda. With over a thousand people crossing the veranda to the front door of Bloomsbury per year, many conversations are enjoyed by all..all are fascinating. As one of the owners, I’d like to share…
Stories from the Veranda
Many times, on this veranda, I hear stories from the past, present and hopes for the future. The stories are about career and family; highs and lows; tragedy and victory. In most cases, the stories are joyful, inspirational and just plain entertaining.
It is not uncommon for a hush to come over the guests as they intently listen to a story being told. People will lean forward, frozen in position, and are most hesitant to make a sound that interrupts the storyteller.
One of those fascinating stories comes from one of the most inspirational men to visit Bloomsbury…Severin Fayerman. I can’t capture his story in one sitting on the veranda, so it will continue as I continue the stories from the veranda in the near future.
On 11 March 2012, a car drove up to Bloomsbury. I greeted Severin and his wife, Tony. Mr. Fayerman was quiet, with his wife doing most of the talking during check-in at the Inn. I invited them to join us for the social hour on the veranda, and they accepted.
At half past five o’clock, I was on the veranda waiting for the guests to congregate on the porch. Out came Severin. We struck up a conversation, as the group had yet to consolidate into one topic.
During the conversation, Severin said he had immigrated to the United States after WWII. He said he came over after he got out of prison. Then he said “Auschwitz.” A sudden hush fell over the veranda. It was so silent, I could have heard a pin drop as all conversations immediately stopped and heads turned.
I wasn’t sure what the next question should be. I only knew what I wanted to say, but feared stepping into an area to sensitive to discuss. Finally, summoning my courage, I asked Severin if he would mind talking about it.
He quickly answered that he had no problems talking about it, but just as quickly told me that he would not talk about the many horrific things he had witnessed. But, he added that he would speak only about his experience. The story started. For the next hour everyone sat enthralled in this very personal and firsthand experience of the holocaust.
Severin began with, “How could one not be a member of the resistance, or the underground, and not be a Jew; and yet, find himself thrown into Auschwitz.” He smiled. Everyone smiled back at him, sensing the tragedy of what was to follow.
He was raised in a part of Poland that had originally been in Germany. After WWI, Poland was reconstructed and this part of Germany had become part of Poland. Born in 1922, all he had ever known was Poland.
His grandfather was a blacksmith, who came from generations of blacksmiths (hence Fayerman for a name). Severin worked with his grandfather and become an expert in the tool and die field.
With his skill set required by the Reich, Severin ended up in Auschwitz in 1944. He quickly learned that in order to survive, it was all about food. Privileged prisoner’s (Capos) lived in the barracks, and they had special quarters and better rations.
Severin managed to become a servant to one. In exchange for cleaning the room, washing clothes, and mending clothes the Capo would give him extra food. Which he ate and shared with his Father Henry and Uncle who were also in the same barracks. This kept them alive.
One day, a fellow prisoner asked him if he knew what his Capo was required to do to have special privileges. Severin said, “No”. He then learned his boss was an executioner.
The wind went out of everyone. Severin quickly explained that it was not an executioner in the death camps. My puzzled face was staring at him. Severin said that it was his Capo’s responsibility to execute German soldiers who had been stealing. With all the valuables being confiscated, there was a great temptation for the common soldier. Those caught were executed. It was his Capo’s responsibility to go into the cell with a pistol to end the soldier’s life.
The story continued for an hour between laughter and tears. At this point guests began having to excuse themselves to go to dinner. I did not want the story to end. I was still totally enthralled, but Severin and Tony also had a dinner reservation in downtown Camden.
As I pass on “Stories from the Veranda” in the future, the adventures of Severin Fayerman (1922 – 2015) will continue. Severin was a wonderful man. He is admired for his courage, but even more for his message of hope.
That’s it for now. It is time for supper and the veranda is emptying out. As the sun is setting, I hear the crickets, frogs and the birds wishing a good night to all. Talk to you next time…on the veranda. Bruce