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'Best spirits in Bluffton' can be found on my front porch

When I opened my store 36 years ago I was surrounded by the "cream of the crop" in Bluffton.

I had Luke Peeples, well known Bluffton composer, on one side; Thomas Niver across the street; Paul Pinckney, down on Lawton Street; and Hasell Heyward around the corner on Boundary Street.

I was in heaven and in the real "Bluffton State of Mind"

Every day, at least two, sometimes three, of these gentlemen would gather in front of my store to swap tales of Bluffton long ago. If only the walls could talk, but maybe it is a good thing they can't.

Mr. Niver and Luke would tease each other that when they died they just wanted someone to use a post hole digger and plant them in the front yard so they could watch everyone on Calhoun Street. If Mr. Niver tarried in his storytelling, you could hear Mrs. Niver calling his name, "Thomas," in a loud voice. It was like the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons when the lady would yell THOMMMAS! It was so funny because Mr. Niver would sheepishly go across the street and pick up a rake, as though he had been raking the whole time.

Luke thought that was hilarious and so did I.

Hasell Heyward was a very handsome, kind person. He and his wife, Margaret, lived in the house that now is the headquarters of the Bluffton Historical Society. Margaret had a beauty shop that she operated in the back of their house. Many Blufftonians were cut and curled under her able hands while sharing bits of local gossip.

There must have been something about raking Bluffton yards because quite often Hasell could be seen raking and puttering in his. He always went about this task in a very cheerful manner. He would walk over to my store two or three times a week to share a few tidbits with Luke. Luke was always willing to talk and was a mainstay on my porch. Hasell was my first supporter when I wanted to start the Bluffton Village Festival. The mayor of Bluffton at the time was horrified I even thought of the idea and was deadset against the whole thing. One reason I did not give up was because of Hasell, who told me to pay no attention to the "old coot." He thought the idea was wonderful, and that the people of Bluffton would love it.

He will always be in my heart because of that.

Paul Pinckney lived down the way on Lawton Street. He was the most charming person, and, like the rest of the Pinckney clan, a wonderful storyteller. I wish I had recorded his voice, it was so mesmerizing. I loved it when he visited with Luke. He would have us all laughing long after he had gone home. You can imagine him if you know his sisters Nonie Colonna Johnson or Dot Gnann -- they have the same joie de vivre.

Luke has two nieces who live in Savannah. They have written a book about him and his music. It is now in the hands of an editor, and they hope it will be published soon. I can't wait because the autograph party will be at The Store. I feel certain everyone who loves Bluffton will want a copy. I will certainly let you know when it will be.

I can still hear my old Bluffton friends telling their stories on my porch. Every once in a while someone asks me if my store is haunted. I just look at them and think, if only you knew. I have the best spirits in town.

* We had a birthday party Thursday night to celebrate our granddaughter Campbell's first birthday. Her cousins Patterson and Lili were in attendance too. Campbell was thrilled most of all by the balloons and by the fact that she got to smear chocolate cake and frosting all over the place. She has never really eaten sweets before so she was very happy about the whole affair. Our cats hid the entire time because of all of the squealing. Maybe sometime during the week they will reappear.