Growing up in Beaufort explains all blessings bestowed upon Alice Connelly-Moore, the local renaissance woman and budding author says.
"God gives us all gifts," she believes, and among hers are hair styling, floral design, animal advocacy and spinning a yarn, either in conversation or in a lifetime's collection of poetry and prose. The 74-year-old may refer to herself as "old" occasionally, but her memory is razor-sharp, and she loves to talk, especially about her life in Beaufort.
Her first literary work, "Inspired Words," is a collection of poems and short prose, many centered on life in the Lowcountry.
"I pulled out all my poems from over the years. I wanted a simple, down-to-earth book, and I wanted it to be beautiful," she said.
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Moore grew up in a house her father, Harry Connelly, built on Greene Street. Her father had come to Beaufort looking for a job during the Great Depression.
When Moore was growing up, her father was a janitor for Beaufort's schools, a sometime-shop teacher and the principal's disciplinarian for boys, though Moore said he was more adept at talking to the wrong-doer than rendering corporal punishment.
He was an outgoing man whom everyone in town knew and liked, and his youngest daughter was just like him.
"I always followed my daddy around everywhere," Moore recalled with a laugh. "I was always welcome to sit on anyone's porch and talk."
Her book has many pictures, most taken by Moore herself, featuring some of her pets over the years.
"I've had a life full of animals. I've always loved them and always advocated for them," she said. "I have been threatened to be shot. I have walked into yards to rescue (mistreated) dogs. ... I've been in trouble for it, but I think it's the right thing to do."
She feels Fella -- a German shepherd mix she rescued from an abusive, neglectful neighbor -- saved her life late one night when she was working alone at her flower shop. She hadn't locked the store's doors, and three men walked in with what were clearly bad intentions. Moore tried to keep her cool and told them her husband was out back. When Fella, who went to the shop with her every day, rose and put his front paws on the counter, the men moved away.
"He was very gentle unless someone went to touch me, so I told them that he wouldn't do anything unless I said a certain word," Moore recalled. Unwilling to try their luck, the men backed all the way out the door.
"Maybe I should write a book about my life with animals," she mused, though she doesn't presently lack for material.
With her impressive recall and her love for storytelling, Moore has written six novels and has at least six short stories under her belt. Her biggest project is getting them into shape to send to a publisher.
She began writing at a very early age, she recalled, scribbling down poems. As a young mother, a University of South Carolina Beaufort English professor told her that her work was publishable, but she didn't do so until recently.
She worked at many stores in downtown Beaufort when she was a young teenager. At 13, she walked down to Bay Street to buy jeans and a shirt. The store she walked in "was a mess," so she told the owners, "You all ought to hire me to clean this place up."
On her first day of work, she watched a woman slip a bottle of Evening in Paris perfume into her handbag. When the shoplifter tried to leave, Moore said, " 'Lady, I don't have the money. You need to go back there to pay for that,' so she'd know I'd seen her. And she went back and paid for it."
Stints at various Bay Street businesses, including Bobby's Shoe Store and Wallace and Danner Department Store, followed. Everywhere she worked she took every opportunity to learn skills that would help her in her own careers.
She met her future husband, Bruce Moore, when she was in seventh grade and he was a high school senior. He graduated and joined the Navy, and when he was home on leave, he wanted to take her out, but, "Daddy was very particular about who we dated, with three girls. He didn't want us being around military men. But both my sisters married Marines."
She married Bruce when she was 18. They had been married nearly 50 years when he passed away in 2002. The couple had two daughters, Alison and Jane.
Soon after she married, Moore obtained her certification and worked in hair salons, then had her own for 22 years.
"We called them beauty shops then, which was different than a barber shop," but hers was the first in Beaufort to cut men's hair.
She had joined the garden club when she was 20 and found that she had a natural ability with floral design. So when she wanted out of the beauty business, she opened a floral shop and eventually ended up with three.
A devoted member of the Baptist Church of Beaufort, Moore found religion at a tent revival when she was 9. She went to it with a friend whose parents owned a Boundary Street watering hole, and the revival was set up just across the street from the bar.
"I'd been going to Sunday school with my aunt ... and whatever that preacher said touched my heart, so I went up and gave my life to Jesus Christ." Soon after, she was baptized at the church.
These days she spends her time there, gardening when her health permits and working on her writing. She's considering joining the Historic Beaufort Foundation and recently told her stories to the Beaufort Three-Century Project.
"I've had a whole lot of life," she said with a smile, "and I thank God for being here in Beaufort. I'd never want to be anywhere else."