By Connie Kearns Tootle
The Hundred Pines neighborhood of Beaufort in the 1950s and 60s was an idyllic place to live and grow up.
This was a neighborhood that could have mirrored Ozzie and Harriett’s or the Cleaver’s of “Leave it to Beaver.” Our neighborhood had children of every age. Not only did everyone know the neighborhood children’s names but family pets were also known.
This was a time where children made their own fun, imaginations ran wild and you could always find “something to do.” All children were supervised by whatever parent or, in some cases, the family maid who was within viewing of the children. You woke up on a sunny summer morning, ate breakfast and took off barefooted or on your bike to find out what everyone was doing. Wherever you were at lunchtime was where you ate. The afternoon continued as the morning, sometimes changing houses or events.
At the Chamber’s house, we would play in or sit on top of the playhouse or play ball on the basketball court. A favorite activity at our house would be to pull a parachute out onto the front lawn. It was a child magnet and before you knew it, the yard was inundated with kids all holding on to an edge and raising and lowering it until the air filled it and we all let go and ran under it. The parachute would fall on top of us and then we would reposition ourselves and the game would start again. If we went to the Harvey’s house we had the creek in the backyard which offered almost limitless things to do. However, in order to swim in the creek, Helen Harvey would load a group of kids in her station wagon at the beginning of the summer and take us to the health department to have a series of three typhoid shots. Yes, I was probably the only one who cried. But having had the shots, we could then swim off the dock, go bogging, collect fiddler crabs or go crabbing where we would take our bounty and the Harvey’s maid Janie would cook the crabs. Inevitably, the crabs would lock claws and climb out of the boiling water onto the kitchen floor. This had us all screaming and Janie would calmly get the broom and dust pan and dispatch the crabs back into their watery grave.
One popular pastime was to try to make money. For some reason, we were always trying to come up with a plan which would give us enough money to go to Pruitt’s, Koth’s, Edwards’s or the United Five and Dime store or the Breeze Theatre. Just a few of our endeavors included making melted peanut butter rolls (sweet Mrs. Parker Jones bought them and said all they needed was to be chilled and they would be perfect for her bridge club); paper snowflakes (sold to Mrs. Riley, the neighborhood kindergarten teacher); beauty parlor (our mothers were champs); a newspaper (this didn’t quite get off the ground); Little Miss Hundred Pines beauty contest; and the ultimate money grosser was the Humpty Dumpty Day Care which we held for about four summers for two weeks.
In the early 1960s my two best friends, Judy Chambers, daughter of Hank and Betty Chambers, and Eileen Harvey, daughter of Helen and Brantley Harvey, and I embarked on our performing career. We began by singing during the intermission of a local beauty pageant. Linda Jones, daughter of Forrest and Christine Jones, was our manager and pianist. Of course, it didn’t hurt at all that my parents, Ray and Jean Kearns, were Jaycee and Jaycette members and were involved in coordinating the beauty pageant and slipped us in as “entertainment.” We were dubbed the “Conjuleens” and wore our Easter dresses as we sang “Moon River.” The next performance we livened up a bit by singing Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” as we wore stylish matching burgundy wrap-around skirts and pink blouses with burgundy elbow patches. Successful or not, the performance bug had bitten.
Again with Linda Jones organizing us and acting as our manager, we capitalized on the Beatlemania that was sweeping the U.S. and The Beaufort Beatles was born! As there were four Beatles and only three of us, we asked another neighborhood friend, Eve Webb, daughter of Frank and Eva Webb, to join our troupe. Judy was Paul McCartney, Eileen played George Harrison, Eve was Ringo Starr and I played John Lennon. We also had Beth Ann Jones, Linda’s little sister, acting as our Little Beatle. We all wore black Beatle wigs, except for Eve who had the perfect Ringo haircut, borrowed boy’s suits (mine came from Gibbs McDowell) and guitars and we were set. Our group actually lasted several years. We lip sang and danced around the stage and the crowds loved us (at least in our minds.) We performed during numerous beauty pageants, Battery Creek Elementary School, and were actually on two Savannah television shows, “Happy Dan” and “Upchurch Music Corner.” We also rode in convertible in several parades and won third place in a Water Festival parade. Trainne Brown, wife of local photographer Ned Brown, worked for the Beaufort Gazette and wrote a story about us. At one time she wanted to send it to the real Beatles. Whether she ever did or not, I don’t know. The Beaufort Beatles finally broke up and we went on to junior high school and other pursuits. This is just a small taste of the wonderful memories I have of growing up in Beaufort.
By Connie Kearns Tootle