Charleston300

Charleston of course is the home town of the Charleston dance, which resulted indirectly from a new law passed by President Wilson after the First World War that permitted US citizens to be silly in public. The "Megaphone Post", which also originated at this time and involved people shouting their messages through a loudhailer to a recipient across town, was more short-lived. Charleston was slightly less famous for its many salt and pepper-mill makers, who made the city an absolute mecca for those wanting the very latest hand-crafted condiment accessories. 

By the 1930s, a whole block in the middle of town was taken up by salt and pepper-mill manufacturers and the area became known as "Grind Alley". There were occasional misunderstandings when young women wrote their parents they had obtained employment in Grind Alley, but, by and large, it was a prosperous area until the collapse of the industry in the early 1970s, which many attribute to the scene in Easy Rider in which Peter Fonda uses a stainless steel cruet set in a bikers' cafe as a modernist statement satirising the status-based aspirations of the bourgeoisie. 

This followed earlier protests from the country's religious right that salt-and-pepper grinders were, in both shape and mechanism, morally compromising. Watch out for the infamous "spittle" scene in the 1964 film Night of the Iguana, initially deleted owing to the censor's complaint that Richard Burton rotated his pepper-grinder too slowly. Cameron Carter

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday