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.
All of this sounds very nice to me.
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.