THAT'S LAUDERDALE

Exotic car gets 'Beaufort's Raconteur Extraordinaire' in hot water

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comOctober 31, 2013 

This painting by Coby Whitmore is of the late Roger Pinckney X of Beaufort with his 1956 Bentley.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

The Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d'Elegance cruises into town this weekend.

People from across America will display their exotic cars, and some will leave with prizes.

But none will be as nice as the prize Chloe Martin Pinckney of Beaufort once milked out of a long, sleek, silver Bentley. Her prize was a dock in the creek behind her home.

The 1956 Bentley belonged to her husband, the late Roger Pinckney X. He was the Beaufort County coroner for 35 years, and his father was the coroner before him. Roger was an engineer and wood craftsman, but when he was buried in 2001, his tombstone proclaimed him to be "Beaufort's Raconteur Extraordinaire."

Mostly, Roger Pinckney X was a dock builder. And as the Lowcountry bloomed in the 1970s, it seemed he built a dock behind every new house in the county -- except his own.

In fact, he got the Bentley in trade for building a dock in Bluffton.

That didn't sit well at home, where Chloe and the kids all but grew fins flapping around in the mud and the marsh. So steeped in the creek is Chloe that she proclaimed this week: "I gave my children the best thing I could give them, and that was to be born and bred in Beaufort, and the jackasses have all left."

You can see how Roger barely survived bringing home the Bentley he claimed he'd always wanted.

"I said, 'Yeah, and I've wanted a beach house all my life,' " Chloe recalls.

But things really hit the fan when Roger built another dock in trade -- this one for a portrait of himself with the Bentley. It was painted by Coby Whitmore of Hilton Head. Whitmore was a painter and hall-of-fame illustrator whose work in the 1940s and '50s graced the golden age of America's magazines. In the 1970s and '80s, he helped establish Hilton Head as a place for fine art.

But back on the creek in Beaufort, Chloe said, "I went into a conniption fit, which I'm good at. I told him, 'That painting will never hang in my house until I walk on my dock.' "

For years, it hung in the coroner's office. When Roger retired, he put it in the basement, hanging it facing the wall, Chloe said. But Roger did finally build a nice, long dock behind his own house, with a floating dock that Chloe still sometimes hangs onto, kicking her feet in the delicious water and gossiping with her octogenarian friends.

The dashing Whitmore painting has long hung over the mantel.

Roger's final problem with the Bentley was that the steering wheel was on the wrong side.

"Daddy sideswiped an oncoming car somewhere around Low Bottom," said Roger Pinckney XI, a writer and raconteur on Daufuskie Island.

It sat in a shed for years and was finally sold to someone who wanted to restore it.

Maybe its new owner has it up for a grand prize at the Concours d'Elegance. Lord knows the locals have wrung every drop they can get from it.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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