Memories of the little shops that used to be

By Marrianne Drew Chenault
Mr. Sam Washington was the proprietor of what was once a grocery store on the corner of Charles and Duke streets in Beaufort. My remembrance takes me to the time when he sold mostly kerosene. One of my great-aunts used to send my sister and I to his store at what used to seem to be night but was in actuality after 5 p.m. during late fall or in the winter. It was a fun trip for us because at that time “Mr. Sam,” as we called him, would be nodding in the chair. He would allow us to get the kerosene ourselves and leave the money, or “change” as he called it, on the counter. Then in a rough voice he’d say, “Tell Sadie to stop sending you so late.” Mr. Sam’s youngest daughter now lives in a home on the site of the store.
Mr. Willie Smith had a fish market on the corner of Green and Harrington streets facing Green Street. There was also a fish market on the corners of Duke and Harrington streets only two blocks away. The interesting thing to me was that I can only remember seeing customers at these two markets during the season when drum fish were caught and sold. During drum fish season, the sand gnats were plentiful and biting very strong. It was at this time on our walks to Robert Smalls School, then located on Ribaut Road, we would take notice of men gathered in the back of these markets (not on the same day) scaling the huge fish. Later they would cut the fish to be purchased. There were head portions for head stew, backbones for backbone stew and then the filets were called steaks and purchased for frying. Mr. Smith, “Mr. Willie,” his wife and children would help with the sales at his fish market and the Drone family would operate their shop.
One place that I really enjoyed was a shop called “The Do-Drop-In Shoppe.” I can’t recall if the word do was spelled “do” or “dew.” It was located between West and Charles streets facing King Street. It was a shop that sold ice cream and things made from ice cream; sometimes sandwiches and the like. There were neat little chairs and tables and I believe high stools. The shop reminded me of the soda shoppes that would be seen in comic books like “Archie.” Mr. Prophet Mitchell, his wife Mrs. Margie, and several of his daughters operated the shop. To my knowledge it was opened from Friday evening through Sunday evening. The present United States Post Office in Beaufort now sits on a portion of that property.
At the corner of Prince and Charles streets was a candy store that was operated by a woman we called Ms. Lizzie Allen. Personally, I call it the candy store because that was what I usually purchased from this very petite store. It seems that there were sodas there, too. I vaguely recall a Coca Cola refrigerated box for what was then referred to by some as “dope” (it was called this because it was so strong and not very often given to children), and having the now famous Coke label. Ms. Allen, to me, was an older woman whom I felt should not have been responsible for such a task. Ms. Allen was also a very inquisitive person. She would ask children various questions concerning their family’s personal business. Elders in the community occasionally referred to her as “nosy.” Neighbors near the store would come over to visit and socialize during the day.

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 lowcountrymemories@hotmail.com or beaufortmemories@gmail.com.

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