Chloe Pinckney celebrates 'the beautiful, the beautiful river'

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comApril 22, 2014 

Chloe Pinckney and her friends relived the joys of childhood at her backyard dock in Beaufort's Pigeon Point neighborhood.

DAVID LAUDERDALE — Staff photo Buy Photo

Chloe Martin Pinckney would rather have been laid to rest in the river than in St. Helena's Church Cemetery.

But her friends and family, dressed in pink as instructed, stood in warm sunshine Tuesday as she was placed next to her husband, Roger Pinckney X, while the bell tolled at the old church in downtown Beaufort.

Chloe was a "Point Kid," born in 1924 and raised in the Point neighborhood in Beaufort. She had the freedom to explore its every creek and street as her widowed mother worked to make a living as a newspaper writer.

Charmian Paul Webb was with her on most of those adventures. She relished recalling them during the reception in the Parish Hall.

"One day we heard that someone had just died in Pigeon Point," she said. "We picked some fresh flowers and went up and knocked on the door. We said we were there to view the body. They welcomed us inside."

She said they ate in whatever home they were near at mealtime.

Once, they stole some packages of Feen-a-Mint from a home. They thought it would be good to eat. It was a laxative.

"Oh, boy," Charmian said, resplendent in her dark-pink sweater.

But their fondest memories are of the river.

"We liked to jump in the water and swim across to a marsh and get up in it to see what we could find," Charmian said. "It was usually nothing except fiddler crabs. We were very close to fiddler crabs then. We weren't nice to them, I'm ashamed to say. But they were not good to us."

Many years later, when Chloe pitched a conniption fit, her husband finally built her a dock behind the house. It was at that floating dock with a gazebo that she relived the joys of her childhood. And it was there that her family hosted friends on "Chloe's Creek" after the funeral.

Friends who called themselves "The Olympic Creek Swimmers" gathered there well into their 80s.

Helen French used to come. She was legally blind but lived aboard a boat downtown. She got married on Valentine's Day when she was 91; the groom was 90.

Dottie McDaniel once told me that she and Mary Hagy wore large straw hats into the river. "The Marine pilots must have thought we were mushrooms," she said.

Hagy was the youngest. On Tuesday she stood in the churchyard and tried to put into words the pull of the river. They would bobble around through a high tide, a low tide and then a rising moon. They would rejoice each spring when the Spartina grass turned green.

"It's freedom," she said.

Chloe chose "Shall We Gather at the River" as her closing hymn.

"Yes, we'll gather at the river,

The beautiful, the beautiful river;

Gather with the saints at the river

That flows by the throne of God."

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