Diana Vreeland documentary conjures fabulous memories of Bluffton's past

info@islandpacket.comDecember 19, 2012 

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

    6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

    2 20-ounce cans pineapple chunks, drained but reserve 6 tablespoons juice

    1 cup Ritz Cracker crumbs

    1 stick sweet butter, melted

    Heat oven to 350. Grease 2-quart casserole. Mix sugar, pepper flakes and flour in a large bowl. Stir in cheese. Stir in drained pineapple and mix well. Put in casserole dish. Mix Ritz crumbs, butter and pineapple juice together. Spread over pineapple. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until hot and brown. Serve with barbecue and roasted oysters. Makes: 6-8

I read with some interest about a new documentary featuring the very eccentric editor of Vogue magazine, the late Diana Vreeland. "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel" is now playing at the Coligny Theatre on Hilton Head Island.

One of Vreeland's most famous quotes is "A new dress won't get you anywhere -- it's the life you live in it." Well, we had our own very wonderful fabulous doyenne of glamour living for 10 years or so in the Fripp House on Bridge Street.

Barbara and John Sturgis cruised up and down the coast looking for a house to buy and fix up. The couple lived in Delaware at the time, where John had been retained as a consultant to help restore the Wintertur Museum.

Clare and Tommy Heyward owned the Fripp House and had it on the market because they had moved and built a new house in another part of Bluffton.

It was love at first sight for Barbara and John. The couple had found a wonderful challenge and were eager to start creating. Later that same year their close friend Marion McKinley, a friend from Delaware, decided to move to Bluffton and buy the Card House next door.

John was in heaven with two of Bluffton's historic houses as his canvas, so he and Barbara went to work. They were wild with colors and fabric and faux painting. Walls were marbelized, floors were painted in black and white checks. One room had fabric applied to walls. It was so fabulous, mainly because John changed everything constantly. One never knew what one would find on the next visit.

Entertaining cocktail parties, endless suppers with people coming and going constantly, what fun it was to go to their house. Everybody was dazzled by them. They provided the whole town with something to talk about.

Bluffton was still quite small then, so everyone was included in their soirees, no matter who they were -- which is why it was so charming.

John loved to salvage things -- wood, windows, doors. He and Barbara decided to build an antique shop in their backyard. It, too, was wonderfully decorated. They had such an eclectic mix of objects that people came from miles around to shop there. I sure love the things I bought from them.

Barbara loved to go "junking." At least once a week I would get a call, "Hey kid, you want to go to Charleston or Savannah?" Of course I hopped in the car. I usually drove so she could keep a watchful eye for any roadside shop that looked interesting.

One day Barbara told me John needed a new project and wanted to find another old house to redo. We found a house in Sparta, Ga., that was built in the early 19th century. It was a gigantic two-story beauty they could not resist. So Sparta inherited our splendid duo.

Marion McKinley had fixed up the Card House with help from John and Barbara, and it, too, was great. Marion eventually moved to Moss Creek.

Lynn King now lives in the building that was once the Sturgises' antique shop on Boundary Street. It is beautifully decorated by Lynn, who loves French antiques. Kim and Allan Ward live in the Fripp House, which they have lovingly restored. The Card House is now owned by the Scardino family and has never looked better.

Meanwhile, Bluffton life goes on, but that does not keep me from pining for a bit of the "old days."

  • If you would like to try ice skating you will get a chance Saturday through Dec. 31. A synthetic ice rink will be built at Harbour Town in Sea Pines. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. All ages are welcome to try their skating skills. There is a fee, and skates are included. I don't think many of us have ice skates. Details: 843-842-1979
  • Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street.

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