'Nekkid' chickens, slow fleas and pass the grits, please

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comAugust 14, 2012 

Whenever anyone asks you to pull up a chair in the Lowcountry, always say yes.

Ed Pinckney, Doug Corkern and Ed Wiggins invited me to join them for their regular Saturday breakfast at the Golden Corral in Bluffton.

They've known each other for 60 years. As architects and a land planner here since the early days of Sea Pines, these three Lowcountry natives and Clemson University graduates helped set the standard and the look for Hilton Head Island.

But at breakfast, they indulge in the Lowcountry art of shooting the breeze around a friendly restaurant table.

Inside, stories and laughter flow like coffee and cream.

I learned that Sea Pines had some sharp salesmen in its early glory years -- one who sold the same lot three times in a single day.

The first big job for Corkern Wiggins and Associates was the new high school after Bluffton High burned. It was 1964, and they unrolled plans for the first air-conditioned school in these parts. They had a spiel for the school board on how much money they would save with no windows. But Corkern learned later from board member Johnny White of Hilton Head why they got his vote.

"He said he voted for us because I had a hole in the sleeve of my shirt and it looked like we needed the job," Corkern said.

Some of their little-known facts border on the astounding.

Stiles Harper -- better known in Bluffton for his gorgeous orchids -- has some "naked neck chickens." Who knew? They have no feathers on their necks, but apparently make up for it. "Ugly chicken, beautiful eggs" is what Corkern calls his watercolor painting of the pitiful birds.

In Beaufort, Harry's Restaurant held court on Bay Street for 47 years, with a group of regulars gathered in what became known as the "Booth of Knowledge."

I was talking to its owner, Harry Chakides, who said he loved to listen to the regulars. Lawsuits were settled, yachts were sold, and a word of the day was always dissected.

He remembers a big flap over how a fly lands on the ceiling. Does it walk up the wall? Does it suddenly start flying upside down? Does it take its nose and stick it to the ceiling and flip its body over?

"One time they called the commanding officer at the Marine Corps Air Station about it," Chakides said, struggling through laughter to complete the sentence.

He said the short response went something like this: "I'm trying to run a #*% air station!"

Another time, they tried to figure out how long it would take a flea that was walking on the outer edge of a bicycle tire to get to the center of the spokes if the bicycle were going a certain speed.

One of the Paul brothers in the Booth of Knowledge had a son working for NASA, so they asked NASA. A couple weeks later, a book full of mathematical equations came in the mail.

It was called "The Flight of the Flea."

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service