Hilton Head Island is so new that one sometimes forgets it has a past, at least in terms of watering holes.
They may be long gone now but they are certainly not forgotten despite the fact that bar-goers aren’t known for their hard retention of detail.
All of this came to mind recently when the Gold Club on Dunnagans Alley was in the news. Bruce Tuttle, for whom I worked years ago at the Earle of Sandwich, helped me remember. We got an assist from a ton of people on Facebook.
None of us had to think too hard.
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There were places with names like Scratch Magoo’s, Fishermen’s Lagoon, the Purple Turtle, and the Ribbit Room, which later became Sahari’s, now a vacant lot with overgrown trees somewhere in the Arrow Road area of Palmetto Bay.
What is now the Goldsmith Shoppe used to be the Cheshire Cat, before it became Maxwell’s. Maxwell’s was the place fine young men took dinner dates prior to the Sea Pines Academy Prom.
Forty or so years ago, the island didn’t offer a lot in the way of night-time distractions to those of us who were under-age, over-fed, misunderstood, and, let’s face it, somewhat sophomoric in our ideas of what constituted entertainment. Meaning that sneaking through the kitchen entrances of some these establishments in order to crash a lounge act might be considered an option for a night out.
On the other side of things, there were many who tried to dissuade us from such pursuits - business owners, bartenders and the guy in the kitchen.
There were so many choices: Frank’s Oasis, Dos Borrachos (loosely translated; Two Drunks), the White Parrot, The Golden Rose, Hurley House, the Marsh Tacky Tavern, the Grog and Galley, Suzette’s, and of course, one simply called The Cellar.
Like I said, the memories linger.
Here’s one of them. After Sahari’s became over-run by spring-breakers and the alcohol enchanced who spent a portion of their time tripping into the lagoon out back, a private lounge opened in Heritage Plaza for more dignified club-goers.
Discreetly named, Evonne’s, it was supposed to keep out the rabble-rousers by virtue of simply allowing in only those who possessed “the key.” This little gem was named for tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who lived on the island at the time.
For those without the key, there was a place downstairs in the plaza called LTFG’s - an acronym for, Looks Terrible, Feels Great.
Even now, some of us who remember those days still fight the urge to slip in through exit doors or service entrances.
Old habits, like memories, die hard.