On the Town

In Old Town, ‘Parlor Dolls’ were always welcome visitors

Babbie Guscio
Babbie Guscio

Don and I, along with Laura and Jim McIntosh, used to own the property where the Vaux Law Firm and Pepper's Porch sit on May River Road.

Jenny Kelly , Laura and I had an antique store called Deer Tongue Trading Company in the building now called Pepper's Porch. We rented the farmhouse to a lawn care company. Before the old Deer Tongue building was moved about 100 feet or so, there was a small scuppernong trellis and an orchard of pear and fig trees where the little houses now sit.

We bought the property from Joel Bailey who wanted to move back home to Virginia. We were so excited about the purchase. We had always loved the little farmhouse and the location. In the early 1980s Bluffton was quite small and the property was like a small farm in the middle of town. Hugh O’Quinn lived right across the street and would come over to sit a spell once a week or so and spin tales about the early days in the area.

Laura and I thought we should do something really fun to celebrate our grand purchase so we put our heads together and came up with a great idea. Through a friend of my mother’s I had met a lady named Mildred Huie who lived in St. Simons, Ga., and was a very accomplished artist who dabbled in all sorts of things. Mildred was a widow who lived by herself in a rather large house there and sometimes felt uneasy at night and when she traveled by herself. So “Parlor Dolls” was invented.

That was the name Mildred gave to her life-like creations she fashioned to look as though one had company at home or in the car. There were men and women she designed made of muslin and stuffed and dressed just like you or I would be. She used wigs and all sorts of hats and painted and drew on the faces.

Well, you can imagine this was right up my alley so I asked Mildred if she would join us for a garden party under the scuppernong vines. And, and of course I invited the “dolls.” In turned out this idea was a grand thing for Mildred so she sewed and stuffed her heart out to ready for the big day.

I knew a lady who made quilts and a potter or two and someone who made jams and jellies. Mildred was to arrive at noon with her entourage on the appointed day. We had sent out invitations and put a small ad in The Island Packet. Mildred arrived right on time in a large, black Lincoln loaded to the gills with her stuffed “friends.” We unloaded everyone and set up our little display near the trellis , hung quilts over tree limbs, mixed up a few libations and waited for the fun to begin.

Mildred was enthralled and so were our guests.

One couple who had arrived in a small sports car decided to take one of the occupants back home and return so that they could get the two dolls purchased in the car. It was quite a sight seeing a small, red Mercedes convertible driving off with two peculiar looking passengers that neither smiled nor waved to passers by.

We all had a wonderful time that passed all too quickly. We bid adieu to Mildred and were invited to drive down to St. Simons to see her art gallery - The Left Bank - as soon as we could. One day not long after we hopped in the car and were off to visit our new-found friends and see the art we had been told quite a bit about.

The gallery was in an old Spanish style house that could be the setting for a wonderful southern gothic novel.

Mildred's daughter, Mildred Huie Wilcox - Millie - now runs the gallery and carries on her mother's love of art and fun. Millie is quite famous in her own right. She was a model in New York, has graced the cover of Vogue and other magazines and has been given many wonderful awards for her philanthropy and cultural achievements.

Mildred was interviewed by Charles Osgood for CBS in 1986 and has been written about in too many publications to list.

Millie carries on the family's cultural interests with great charm and wit.

People like Mildred Huie, and now her daughter Millie, have become as scarce as hen's teeth.

A trip to The Left Bank Gallery is on St. Simons Island is a wonderful day trip from Bluffton.

Celebrate the dog days

There is another fun Sunset Party on the horizon from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Chris Jones and The Will Snyder Band will rock away the night at a food court and craft beer garden. There will be a kids' play zone, face painting, knockerball and lots more kiddie playtime.

The event benefits The American Red Cross.

Tickets are $5 each and children under twelve are free.

The Bluffton Oyster Factory Park, on Bridge Street in Old Town, is your place to be.

Celebrate the “dog days of summer” with your well-behaved four-legged friends on leashes.

Go to blufftonsunsetparty.com for more information.

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