(and why I appreciate Beaufort now more than ever!)
By Lanier Laney
Just got back from two weeks in the “Nawth” where luckily I ran into Beaufortonian after Beaufortonian. First stop Boston, flew up with the wonderful realtor Colleen Baisley, who was visiting family there. (And yes, I was the lucky one who got the screaming baby right in front of me the whole flight.) Boston was lovely, bustling with tourists galore, and then onto Portland, Maine, to visit new Beaufortonians Caroline Denham and her painter husband Peter Rolf. Caroline and Peter have been coming to Beaufort for the past nine years, renting houses during the winter months, so you may have met them. She is a super person and he is a nationally renowned
painter whose work sells for five figures. They just bought a house on King Street and they plan to spend much of the year here now (with Peter painting many scenes around Beaufort). I hope you will join me in welcoming them. The second day there we all went to the beautiful Maine waterside home of Jock and Day Copperthwaite’s called The Narrows where they treated us all to a luncheon of fresh lobsters caught right off the dock! An amazing experience for a first time Mainer like myself. Jock and Day use to own Bonny Hall plantation, and now live most of the year in their home on Lady’s Island. Lots of Beaufortonians like Heather Winch have visited their home in Maine and they mentioned a list of other Beaufortonians who have houses not far away. (Who knew Beaufort were so well represented in Maine?!)
Maine is beautiful and just like the paintings by the legendary Andrew Wyeth, who also has a Beaufort connection. His sole dealer Frank Fowler lives in Sheldon at Dean Hall Plantation. His wife Gay told me to go visit the Olsen house not far from the Copperthwaites’ which was just put on the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It the one made famous by the painting “Christina’s World” which I am sure you remember. The woman lying in a field looking back at her old Maine home. What you may not know is that Christina was cripple and that was as far from the house she could drag herself (thus Christina’s ‘World’). Wyeth said he was driving down the road and saw a woman dragging herself through her vegetable garden and was transfixed. What resulted was 20 years of painting her house and family and the creation of one of America’s most famous works of art.
Maine was just beautiful, so neat and trim. But it turned out to be a heat wave and was 101 and most people have no air conditioners. It’s a lot like South Carolina, without the friendliness though. Neighbors sitting on porches were shocked in some cases when I said hello and said nothing in return. The one who did say “hey” back turned out to be from Virginia.
Next stop was Sag Harbor in the Hamptons where I missed two fellow Beauftonians by just minutes at the wine store, according to the cashier. Not sure who they were. But also in the town next door (South Hampton) were Beaufortonians Karen Noel, John Horton and Kathy Tupper visiting her sister, who also has a home in Habersham.
We headed home after a few days and got to stop at the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, N.C., which was fun. Ava, of course, for those too young to remember, was one of the world’s most beautiful movie stars. She had never been out of the tiny town of Smithfield until she went to New York on the train to visit her sister at age 17. Her sister was married to a photographer who took her picture her first day there and put it in his storefront window. Someone from MGM walked by and saw the photo and signed her to a seven-year contract with the movie studio the next day. Her sister accompanied her to Hollywood the next week and eight months later Ava married Mickey Rooney, who was the biggest star in the world at the time. Then later married Frank Sinatra. Fast work for a girl from a small Southern town like Beaufort!
What did I learn on my summer vacation? I saw some incredibly beautiful places in Maine and the Hamptons, but when I arrived back in Beaufort, it was just as beautiful as any of the best places I had been. With one big difference: Everyone in Beaufort is nice. And friendly. We are truly blessed with great, fun, friendly people here and should never ever take it for granted! It’s a real rarity in this “me first” world out there. So glad to be home where I can smile and say hi to everyone again.
New restaurant opens in town
There was a trial “soft opening” of the new Port Royal Pasta Company last week to test out the new staff. Everyone I spoke with there that night thought the food was just great. My steak was cooked perfectly, and the wait staff was super friendly and “on it.”
Beaufort native, Keith Potts, of Keith’s Place, is the new general manager and he is being helped out in the kitchen by Josh McLean, most recently the popular chef at Plum’s, and Rory O’Conner, the grill master from Breakwater. Linda Baldwin is the very capable manager. The wine list is excellent and affordable.
It is going to be great to have a good restaurant on the west side of Beaufort. It’s located on Ribaut Road, right at the border of Port Royal near the turn off to the new Lady’s Island bridge in the old “Joe’s Spaghetti House” location, at 1430 Ribaut Rd. It opens this week at 11:30 a.m. for lunch and dinner and will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. (Friday and Saturday till 9:30 p.m.) Good luck to Keith and the great staff there!