Beaufort Then & Now: Memories of Tabernacle Baptist and life downtown

By Michael Keyserling
One of my fondest memories of growing up in Beaufort in the 1940s and ’50s is that of listening to the Gospel music emanating from the Tabernacle Baptist Church on Craven Street.  It’s still there and pretty much in the same shape as it was those 60 years past.
Our house, now a parking lot, directly across Craven Street from the church, had the typical wrap-around front and side porches with the big rocking chairs and a swing.  During the warmer months, the church doors and windows were always opened for ventilation and during the services the music would just flow out. We would sit on the porch and listen to that wonderful music, so beautiful and moving and so unlike the music that we had in our church.
Then once the services were over we would walk down Charles Street headed toward Bay.  On the way, we would pass by a house on the west side of Charles that faced south and abutted the sidewalk.  On its front porch was a large bird cage that contained a parrot that to this day was the most colorful bird I have ever seen.  Its cage was in the corner next to the sidewalk and we would always stop and try to get the bird to say, “Polly wants a cracker.”  Every great once in a while we would be successful, but most of the time we would be rewarded only with a squawk of annoyance.
Then it was on to Luther’s Drug Store, where they had what is now considered an old-fashioned soda fountain where for a nickel you could get a six-ounce glass of Coca-Cola and for another penny, a squirt of cherry syrup and, voila, cherry coke. They sold comic books there, so you would then gather up a few comics, find an empty booth and while away the afternoon reading comics and nursing your cherry coke.

This moment in Beaufort’s history is an excerpt from the book “Beaufort … Then and Now,” an anthology of memories compiled by Holly Kearns Lambert. Copies of this book may be purchased at Beaufort Book Store.  For information or to contribute your memory, contact Holly at lowcountrymemories@hotmail.com or beaufortmemories@gmail.com.

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