By Anne Christensen Pollitzer
My father, Niels Christensen III, was 13 years old on the summer day in 1927 when the bridge to Lady’s Island was officially opened for the first time. His father, Niels Christensen Jr., was the senator from Beaufort County and the accomplishment of getting the bridge built was his final effort after 20 years in the S.C. senate. (He had also gotten the Whale Branch Bridge put in and a number of roads built, had the new highway system — mostly treacherous dirt roads — mapped and set up the licensing system for automobile drivers, among other things).
The opening day was bright and sunny and a big celebration was planned. The Marine Corps band came over from Parris Island; a platform for speakers was set up. There were sandwiches, cookies, and large barrels of fresh lemonade with the lemons floating around on the top. Everyone in the town was there, and young Niels was allowed to ride with his father in the first car to cross the bridge. It was great fun and very exciting.
As the day wore on, the goodies were eaten and the levels in the lemonade barrels went down. After all of the speech making and the first experiences of walking or riding across the long, new bridge, many people had gone home.
The town was so small at that time that everyone knew each other and the boys were all gathering, eating, playing together. As boys that age sometimes do, the younger crowd began to get bored and soon someone grabbed a lemon from a barrel and threw it at another boy. Soon a fusillade of soft, squeezed lemons was flying through the air behind the unwary backs of the grownups.
Suddenly, a wagon appeared with buckets of fresh lemonade to replenish the barrels that were depleted. The boys watched in horror as the new batches were poured into the big barrels beside the sandwich tables. No one said a word as they recalled the dirty hands that had recently plunged in to get lemons to throw. The onlookers soon came back to the tables for more refreshments and the boys never mentioned their antics.
The grownups never knew about this boyish prank and my father told me the story when he was 80 years old — it had stayed in his mind for that long. He could recall all the details and even the names of his friends, his partners in crime.
Beaufort Then & Now: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.