By Holly Kearns Lambert
Growing up in Beaufort during the 60s and 70s was carefree and fearless. Windows stayed open all night and doors were never locked. Our parents didn’t think twice about us leaving the house at the crack of dawn and returning in time for dinner. It was safe back then. Everyone knew who everyone was and looked out for each other.
My neighborhood, Hundred Pines, had families with kids of all ages. There was never a time when you didn’t have someone to play with. If we weren’t building forts on Battery Creek’s river bank, we sold lemonade in the median where Hermitage Road forks north and south. Many an afternoon friends would flock to our front yard to play with daddy’s old parachute. And summer time meant attending two weeks of the Humpty Dumpty Day School — a school-themed babysitting service first initiated by my sister, Connie, and her friends Judy Chambers, Eileen Harvey and Helen Lipson. It was such a success with the neighborhood moms that my friends, Carroll Chambers and Margaret Harvey, and I continued the tradition for several summers.
Whether we walked or rode our bikes, a trip to town always included a stop at Koth’s grocery. There, we bought a bag of freshly boiled peanuts and a fountain drink from Mr. J.M., then hurried across the street to find a shady spot under the bayside oaks. Once we worked our way downtown, we’d run in and out of every store: The Piggly Wiggly on Port Republic, Edwards, Wallace and Danner, Lipsitz’s and the most memorable, Schein’s. You never went into Schein’s without showing Mrs. Bell your hands. She checked to make sure they were clean because we had a tendency to touch every piece of clothing we passed as we worked our way to the coke machine at the back of the store. But the day wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t get to see slingshot yielding Tutti-Frutti blow his whistle and direct traffic.
Depending on the time of year, Saturday afternoons would be spent watching a double feature at the Breeze Theatre, cooking burgers out on the sandbar or swimming at the Lady’s Island Country Club pool under the vigilant eye of our lifeguard, Wallace Thomas.
I recall the “Beaufort Beatles” singing on the blue, shell-shaped stage in the downtown parking lot and waving at “Happy Rain” as she passed by in the Christmas parade.
And whether I watched my brother play a “Bubbles” football game or I cheered for the “Ripples” at the Pigeon Point football field, Basil Green was always in the background. There wasn’t a child in Beaufort who hung on a fence or left a snow cone cup on the ground for fear of being caught by Mr. Green. He was strict but fair and I don’t believe anyone who knew him would argue the fact that our parks were anything but the best.
The memories I have of growing up in Beaufort help me hold on to the things that I loved, the things that helped shape who I became and the things I never want to lose. A happy childhood can never be erased, and I had a happy childhood.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.