Story of peripatetic grandparents proves how small world is

thestoresc@gmail.comMay 6, 2014 

My paternal grandparents were world travelers. When they first married, my grandfather Frederic Andre Paris, who was Swiss, bought land in Africa, where my grandparents started a coffee plantation. After almost seven years of hard work -- and not much success -- the family left for Hawaii.

By this time there were four children -- two girls and two boys. My grandfather and W.R. Grace were friends, and together they began growing pineapples on a large tract of land. The children were sent to Punahou School near Honolulu, which is the oldest elementary school west of the Mississippi River. When the children were of high school age, the girls were sent to school in Switzerland and the boys to prep school in New England. After 10 years in Hawaii, my grandparents moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., and after that to Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

In 1938, my grandfather decided to raise sheep. He bought a large farm and built a huge barn to shelter his newly acquired herd of 500 sheep. But Mother Nature had other plans. One of the most powerful and destructive storms to hit New England since 1869 was on its way.

The weather reporting was nothing like it is now so no one really knew what was happening. The storm struck with a great vengeance and destroyed almost everything in its path, including my grandfather's new barn. The storm washed away his herd of sheep, killed 700 people and left 63,000 homeless.

I found a writeup about it on the Internet, and it is fascinating.

My grandparents were so undone about the whole affair, they sold their farm on the Vineyard and moved to Princeton, N.J., where they lived next door to Albert Einstein, the famous scientist.

One day earlier this year, two beautiful blondes came into my store. Mother and daughter Lynda and Phoebe Dandeneau had been tooling around Bluffton enjoying its charm and decided to walk around to see more.

They introduced themselves, and we started talking. Lynda is a floral and event designer with studios on Martha's Vineyard and in Vermont. Lynda's oldest daughter, Kelsey, is in college in New England, and Phoebe is a rising senior at Hilton Head Island High School.

Lynda's husband, Jay, has just been offered a new position as a project manager for a large development in New Hampshire, so the couple will travel to and from quite a bit. I told Lynda about my grandfather's farm on Martha's Vineyard and -- this is unbelievable -- she has styled several weddings there.

The farm is still intact and is owned by The Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society in West Tisbury. Lynda says there is a great venue on the property for events.

Several lucky promgoers got to enjoy her design efforts at a dinner last weekend at a party at Spanish Wells before the Hilton Head Island High School junior-senior prom. I saw the pictures, and it looked fabulous. If you want to see Lynda's gorgeous event designs, look up Dandeneau Flowers online.

  • In Paris, on the third Sunday of each month for two hours, a group of people gather on certain street corners to swap books. This started in 2004 and there are now 20 locations.

  • The books are never for sale; they may only be traded. A person can take as many as he or she wants, as long as they take care of them. The next month, members of the group bring back the books they swapped from the month before. After the swapping, they head to a local pub or bistro to chat about their finds and sip a coffee or a glass of wine.

    All of this sounds very nice to me.

  • I came upon something rather startling in one of my magazines. IV therapy boutiques are popping up in many towns. If you have been out all night drinking in, say, Las Vegas and you have to snap out of it quickly, simply drop in to one of these storefronts.

  • Board-certified doctors mix up concoctions, fill pediatric-sized IV bags and after 45 minutes you are a normal person again.

    Nothing normal about this to me -- in fact, it seems rather crazy. Binge drinking and binge recovery. What next?

    Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street.


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