David Lauderdale

Rural ways of old Bluffton pushed aside

From left, Agnes Pinckney, Kate Pinckney, Robert Pinckney and Karen Floyd stand next to their family’s old car that sat next to the Pinckney Colony Road on their property in Bluffton for more than 20 years. They were recently contacted by the county and asked to move it so that it wasn’t visible from the road.
From left, Agnes Pinckney, Kate Pinckney, Robert Pinckney and Karen Floyd stand next to their family’s old car that sat next to the Pinckney Colony Road on their property in Bluffton for more than 20 years. They were recently contacted by the county and asked to move it so that it wasn’t visible from the road. dearley@islandpacket.com

Was it an old junked car, or a state of mind in Bluffton?

Either way, it’s been shoved aside.

Beaufort County code enforcement officers recently demanded that the 1965 Ford Fairlane, its original baby blue paint mostly covered by rust, had to be moved away from the spot where it died more than 20 years ago at the end of Pinckney Colony Road.

By county ordinance, it had to be out of sight from the roadway.

As Agnes Pinckney and her children complied — wondering why the old car was suddenly seen as offensive — they couldn’t help but view it as another sad blow to the Lowcountry as the Lowcountry.

It’s not as if a lot of people could see it.

Pinckney Colony remains a quiet niche of God’s country, knock on wood. Great history — a Catholic outpost, a research monkey farm — lurks in its tall pines. So does the fierce Pinckney family pride in preserving the Lowcountry’s beauty.

But the road runs off of a now roaring, six-lane U.S. 278. It lies on the outskirts of Bluffton, one of South Carolina’s fastest growing municipalities.

Still, a lot of people in the modern world saw beauty in the old Ford.

Photographers flocked to it, staging wedding pictures and baby pictures and, one time, 30 kids dressed for the prom.

“I guess it’s because we’re losing this part of Bluffton,” Agnes said, musing at the outlawed scene’s pull on photographers.

She wondered if the county would make her tear down the old corn crib that the photographers also love.

“I hate to see Bluffton change so much,” she said. “Everybody thinks it’s wonderful, but I don’t know.”

The car belonged to her late father-in-law, William Eustace “Bill” Pinckney Jr.

“He drove it until we had to take it away,” she said.

Bill Pinckney had one of several dairy farms near Pinckney Point, a breathtaking peninsula surrounded by the Okatie and Colleton rivers. Developers recently wanted to plop 76 luxury homes on it until Beaufort County ended up with the land at a cost of $6.95 million. Without Agnes Pinckney’s fight, it would probably be developed.

Like others in the Pinckney family, she clings to a slice of the 400 acres her husband’s grandfather, William Eustace “Mr. Willie” Pinckney, “the sage of the Okatie,” bought in 1900.

“I went on my honeymoon in that car,” Agnes says. Her Volkswagen was deemed unsafe for the long drive to New Orleans when she married David Pinckney, who ran a dairy farm on their 50 acres until the mid-1980s.

Their four children — Kelly, Kate, Karen and Robert — used to drive the old car up the dirt lane from the house to catch the school bus at the main road. The older ones had already learned to drive in trucks working the hay fields, but they were nowhere near old enough for a driver’s license.

“Don’t you dare tell Beaufort County,” Agnes said.

That’s the way they rolled in these parts, when Bluffton was a state of mind.

Agnes was told no one filed a complaint about the old car, which was not all that easy to see from the road.

But Robert got on the tractor and pulled it behind the tree line, where it rests near the old dairy barn on land today’s Lowcountry would value at $1,000 a square inch.

Robert — like his sisters — lives on the family place. He and Aubrey had their wedding pictures taken by the car in 2011. And one of their two little boys has baby pictures taken on the hood.

Robert admits “it’s a piece of junk.”

“It really is,” he said. “It’s rusting out. It’s been there forever. But while a part of me says it’s a piece of junk, it ain’t bothering nobody. It does represent how times have changed.”

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale

The law

Beaufort County ordinance

“Junked, wrecked, or abandoned vehicles are not allowed to be parked, stored, or kept on any public or private property visible from any public or private street, right of way, or adjacent property. This includes vehicles not being used for their original purpose or which are incapable of being used, as well as those that have been destroyed, badly damaged, or which are in a state of disrepair.”

For more information or to report a code violation, call 843-255-2066 or visit the Beaufort County Code Enforcement office website.

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