Way before my time, the Gold Eagle Tavern in Beaufort served culinary perfection to locals and travelers.
On the site of the home of William Henry DeSaussure, whom George Washington appointed to direct the U.S. Mint. Mr. DeSaussure had the idea for the “gold eagle” coin to be struck in the late 18th Century. The Gold Eagle Tavern sat at the dead end of Bay Street where it turned left and became New Street. Kate Gleason, late of Beaufort, developed the property. So much history on that little plot of land on the Point in Beaufort.
After the Gold Eagle Tavern closed, Peggy Mitchell knocked down the old building and built a house on the site. In a bit of irony, Mrs. Mitchell’s house has since been knocked down, too.
Growing up, we heard tales of the lavish food, the wonderful parties, the high jinks during regattas and early days of the Water Festival.
Dreka Stokes once held sway at the Gold Eagle Tavern. Later, she would hold sway at The Anchorage on Bay Street. Even when I was little, Mrs. Stokes was ancient. Like Methuselah ancient. Like Hanging Gardens of Babylon Ancient. I’m sure she wasn’t much older than I am now, but she had a head of white hair, a tiny stature, and bird-like movements.
Sometime in the late 70s, the Beaufort County Open Land Trust members came up with the idea of writing a cookbook to raise money to acquire land in a rapidly developing town in order to preserve open spaces. Published for the first time in 1980, Sea Island Seasons remains in publication to this day. It’s a treasure trove of Beaufort cooking of a certain time. Locals submitted receipts for inclusion. See, e.g, Grits Casserole, submission by Mrs. George O’Kelley.
It being a cold, rainy, horrible, no good weather weekend this Memorial Day, I pulled out my splattered, ripped up, tattered, torn edition of Sea Island Seasons, and turned to page 254, to make Dreka Stokes’ Gold Eagle Benne Delight. From the Gold Eagle Tavern.
A totally diabetic, sinful, delicious ice cream topping sprinkled with toasted benne seeds. (Sesame seeds for those of you not from round here)
I serve it over vanilla ice cream as directed by Mrs. Stokes. I swear I haven’t made this in twenty years due to its heart-racing sugar content. But, law, it’s so damned good every twenty years or so.
Just remember, that one time this was fine dining at its height. I still think it is.
Gold Eagle Benne Delight
1 stick butter
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
2 cups light brown sugar, well packed
1 cup small marshmallows
Toasted benne seed (I buy the toasted sesame seeds in the spice section of the store)
Combine all ingredients except the benne seed in the top of a double boiler. I put it all in a stainless steel bowl over simmering water. Cook until “soft” and marshmallows are melted. (Mrs. Stokes’ original directions say that it’s to be “soft”). Basically, until it all melts and comes together. Stir regularly while the marshmallows melt. Let cool and pour into a quart jar/container and reheat as needed. Serve hot over vanilla ice cream and sprinkle with toasted benne seeds. Makes a quart of sauce.
From Carolina’s and Magnolia’s and SNOB and Garibaldi’s and Hominy Grill days of the late 80s and early 90s
To now not getting into any place without a Resy, Open Table, connection to the chef to get into anywhere
Magnolia’s used to have a locals only line
Oh, if only such still existed
Swarms of bachelorette parties have now taken all the tables
E.g., out to supper a couple of weeks ago with another family. Behind us was a table of 10. One bride and her bachelorettes. They were popping champagne, swilling espresso martinis, and being incredibly loud. And they got louder and louder.
Well, “get off my lawn” here stood up, turned around and said, “Ladies, I know y’all are here for a good time, but some of us actually live here. Please quiet down”
My table was mortified
I don’t care anymore
Bad manners are o.k., as long as you’re from off
The scene is ruint
I feel for the owners of the restaurants
They can’t keep open on the backs of tourists and locals are finished with it all
I have my name on a brass plaque on a bar at a local joint
Can’t get in there now
I’m listed as a VIP in some Resy lists for some places
Can’t get in those places, either
FIG? Good luck
Vern’s? You ain’t getting in
Chubby Fish? Better line up at 1 p.m.
$26.00 for a sandwich and a bottle of water at the Mercato on Broad Street
Reservations at Fast & French for the first time since they opened
“Local” produce arriving in the Sisco and US Foods trucks
Shrimp from aquaculture mercury ridden farms in Southeast Asia
No semblance of the culture that created this scene
Whither shrimp and hominy?
Whither red rice?
Whither fried oysters?
Whither shad roe in the spring?
Just like the food scene
“Top 10 Food Town”
No, we aren’t
When all locals stopped going to the Wine + Food, well, that tells you everything you need to know
When all locals just retreat to home cooking and their various clubs to go out, that tells you everything you need to know
Why bother to get in anywhere?
It’s not THAT good
Having been to New York twice in the last two months, I can confidently say that we pay more here than they do in Manhattan
Having been to Europe in the last year, I can confidently say that we pay WAY more here than they do cross the pond
I’m so over it
I’ll miss what we had
But, I’m sure that bachelorette crew from Atlanta will appreciate it in our stead
My daughters go to a school where someone showed up with a gun one day. A disturbed young woman. She did not shoot anyone thanks to the quick thinking of the then head of the Upper School
All schools in Charleston now have Resource Officers
All schools, public, private, parochial
All schools in Charleston practice active shooter drills
We never had such concerns or thoughts
We did have fire drills, tornado drills, and, it being the Cold War, nuclear bomb drills. I’m sure crouching under our desks would have been a great defense for a 10 ton hydrogen bomb coming in hot from a silo outside of Leningrad. That all seems so quaint in comparison to the reality of today’s students
I bet the children in Nashville had active shooter drills, too
I am a big believer in our Constitution
I am an even bigger believer in our Bill of Rights, those first ten amendments to that document much wiser people than I wrote to form a more perfect Union
But, something is amiss in our Union these days
I wish I knew what it was
And, none of us do
Despite what you think you know
Guns don’t kill people…people kill people
But, you don’t hear much about school knifings
But, you don’t hear much about school bludgeonings
And, the media loves it
Absolutely loves it
I think it all goes back to Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado
I remember Katie Couric holding hands with one of the deceased children’s fathers
It really goes back to our beginnings.
During Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1764, four men entered a school house in Pennsylvania, shot the school master and either nine or ten of his students
In 1886 right here in Charleston, a young woman killed a man during a Sunday school class at a church
We have a gruesome history of school shootings
But, it’s become more gruesome since 1999
Here is a list of the communities affected by school shootings, Columbine to today:
Columbine, Conyers, Deming, Fort Gibson, Asheville, Libson, Renton, Mount Healthy, Glendale, Carrollton, Caro, Oxnard, Detroit, El Cajon, Covington, Santee, Monroe, Mattawa, Ennis, Jackson, Carmichael, Los Angeles, Scurry, Olive Hill, New Orleans, Red Lion, Wellsboro, Lawndale, Cold Spring, Spokane, Marion, Henderson, East Greenbush, Red Lake, Farmington, Jacksboro, Reno, Chapel Hill, Northampton, Hillsborough, Cazenovia, Baily, Joplin, Nickel Mines, Cincinnati, Blacksburg, Gresham, Oroville, Cleveland, DeKalb, Stockton Springs, Larose, Littleton – again, Madison, Portsmouth, Blountville, Conway, Carlsbad, Marinette, Omaha, Seattle, Chardon, Jacksonville, Oakland, Perry Hall, Normal
Ocala, Santa Fe, Noblesville, Dixon, Edlridge, Charlotte, Baltimore, Portland, Stone Mountain, Highlands Ranch, Mobile, Santa Clara, Jersey City, Knoxville, San Diego, Columbia, Rigby, Savannah, Philadelphia, Oxford, Houston, Washington
New Orleans, Little Rock, Byhalia, Clarksville, Groveport, Bismarck, Oakland, Dover, South Bend, Richfield, Newburgh, Tulsa, Tucson, Toledo, Baltimore, St. Louis, West Harford, Orlando, Clinton, Albuquerque, Tallahassee, Fuquay-Varina, Chicago, Detroit, Rochester, Newport News, Portland, Stanford, Des Moines, Middletown, New York, Pittsburgh, Waterville, Dallas, Denver
I guaranty we all know someone in these places
The grandmother of a murdered Newtown student used to live in Charleston and taught music here
She moved back to Connecticut to be closer to her people after that tragedy
So many communities
So many lives
So many traumas
So many tragedies
So many thoughts
So many prayers
And, still, we do nothing
We do nothing about sensible firearms regulations
We do nothing about addressing mental health
We do nothing about making schools safer
And, we won’t after Nashville
Because we don’t
We don’t care
We don’t care
We just don’t
As a country
We say we do
All the social media feeds fill up with outrage and calls for bans on weapons and debates about mental health and blaming the [Congress] [President] [Governor] [Mayor] [Police] [Sheriff] [NRA] [this group] [that group] and pictures of anguished children and broken heart emojis and thousands of “I statements” of how this affects the poster.
As Mr. Rodgers said, “Look for the helpers”
Well, we are they
And, still, we do nothing
For three days, the news will report live from the scene and talk to the mayors, the governors, get sound bites from the Press Room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, no matter who is sleeping upstairs in the Residence
We have seen this play
Absurdist theater at its finest
The left blames the right
The right blames the left
And, still we do nothing
May be we can go a week without another school shooting in America
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
Abraham, the Angel, the Lamb, the Laughter… The Sacrifice of Isaac, Caravaggio, 1598, Piasecka-Johnson Collection, Princeton, New Jersey
Another friend died
Another friend died
And, then, there was this party
I made cheese straws for the bar of said party
The bartenders asked me if I would like to try a couple
“No, thanks” was my reply
The widow of the deceased howled when I told her I don’t like them. Twas she who asked me to make them. We love her and her husband so it hurts. Death always hurts the living
It was also she who told one of her dearest pals for whom she serves as her child’s godmama that there would be no ducking tears. None
“Don’t you ducking cry”. I didn’t type ducking. But Apple….
And, by God, there weren’t ducking tears
Truly a celebration
An Irish wake without the keening
A Southern celebration with barbecue and cocktails
And pretty much everyone we love in this town
And lots of humor
The one we were celebrating would have loved it
L O V E D it
Multiple generations of families
Multiple generations of friendships
So many streams crossed
Talking to someone I have not seen since 2010, I said, and I quote, “Unlike us well, [So and So] never said a bad word about anyone”
That someone agreed and said, “Unlike us is right”. With laughter
We were all so glad to see each other. We had the mundane conversations. We had the trivial dribble drip from our lips
But, we all knew what we were saying
I love you
I love you
I love you
Especially when we made each other laugh
Mainly in the laughter
We don’t stop laughing at such gatherings in this part of the world. And, by God, I think it is the most holy way to honor the dead. The truest form of praising the Lord and remembering the dead.
Remember when Abraham and Sarah finally had a son, they named him Isaac meaning “laughter”
Remember that God required Abraham to sacrifice his Laughter then supplied a lamb
Remember that God substituted all our sin with His Son but He did not take our Laughter. Isaac He left. Laughter He left. A full sacrifice. But, He left us Laughter. I think it’s holy. I think we should all laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh in our grief. It’s holy.
As I write to everyone who loses someone close to them Jesus wept at the loss of a friend. Then, who are we to not. We can and should weep. And, we can and should laugh
And,, we laughed celebrating a son who died before his parents and his bride…waaay too young
So, our laughs were holy
So, our laughs were close to God
So, we laughed and hugged and kissed and knew we were with the deceased and with God
And we went into it fully laughing
As we will continue to go into it all not knowing what the future may hold
Last year during a trial an expert witness compared the critical path for a construction case to making Thanksgiving dinner
“You know, you have to think about when to start the mashed potatoes in conjunction with the turkey being ready”
It being a Charleston courtroom with a lot of locals, there were many sotto voce “mashed potatoes” “we eat rice” “what is he talking about”
Even the Judge said, “Sir, you might want to change that to rice and gravy”. The Courtroom erupted with laughter
The expert witness was from off
I would eat rice and gravy every night. Like every.
It is so not mid
And for Thanksgiving, I make the gravy weeks ahead
Here’s the way I do it
About a month before Thanksgiving, I roast a chicken. Roasted yard bird is the true mark of a cook. Salt and pepper and a little thyme in the cavity with half a lemon.
Then, I take that bird’s carcass and throw it in a pot with some onion, celery, pepper, and cover with water and boil it for a couple of hours. I strain and place the stock in deli containers in the freezer
Two weeks before the big day I cut a couple of onions, with their skin on them, and place them on a baking sheet. I throw four turkey necks on the sheet and salt and pepper them and spray them with Pam®. Then into a 400 degree oven for an hour.
After an hour, I remove the baking sheet and add a cup of water. I scrape up all that browned goodness and strain into a pot with one of those frozen quarts of chicken broth and some other things I’ll explain below
I then freeze the turkey stock and make the gravy on the day before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, I add giblets and drippings and go from there. I also add boiled eggs, because I’m stuck in 1901.
Happy Rice and Gravy
Make Ahead Gravy
1 quart chicken broth – homemade or store bought. See, broth, supra
4 turkey necks
Salt and pepper
Pam® cooking spray – trust me
1 stalk celery
1 green onion or half small yellow onion
1 tbsp thyme (dried or fresh)
5 pepper corns
1 cup water
1 stick butter
3/4 cup flour
Any turkey drippings from the bird on the day of Thanksgiving
Giblets – liver, heart, gizzard, boiled in a little water on the same day
3 boiled eggs, sliced thinly
Two weeks before the big day, it’s time to start
Preheat (or as we say “cut on”) the oven to 400
Cut the onions with their skin on and place on a baking sheet. The onion skins help with the drippings being a great dark color. Place turkey necks on the same sheet and salt and pepper the necks and the onions. Spray with Pam. Roast at 400 for an hour
While the necks and onions are roasting, place the celery, carrot, onion, thyme, pepper corns, and broth into at least a 6 quart pot or Dutch oven
After the necks have roasted with the onions, remove from the oven and put the necks in the pot with the broth. Leave the onions and add a cup of water and scrape up all the onions and browned bits. I use a whisk. Strain through a mesh strainer into the pot with the necks and broth. Bring to a boil and boil for an hour until the broth has reduced some and turns that golden brown.
Let the broth cool on the stove for an hour or two and then put overnight in the fridge and skim off any fat
Place the broth into quart containers or plastic bags and freeze
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, thaw the turkey broth by leaving it on the counter overnight.
On the day before, melt the butter in a 4 -6 quart pot. When it foams, add the flour and whisk until it smells like toasted nuts after about 2- 3 minutes. Then add a cup of the turkey broth. Whisk all the time. Add the rest of the broth. Whisk until the desired gravy consistency. Flour and fat and liquid only thicken when boiling. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. I usually don’t add salt since Thanksgiving is basically a salt lick
On the big day, after the bird is roasted, put any drippings into a fat separator and add the drippings that aren’t fat. (You’ll add a little fat because those fat separators always have a bit of fat in the neck. And fat is our friend it turns out) Also add the giblets which you have boiled in a little water and chopped into tiny mince. Also add the eggs
This is SO many steps, but it’s SO worth it instead of sweating
and whisking and doing all those steps as the bird rests
as Aunt So and So asks “what can I do to help?” while you secretly think to yourself, “Oh, dear heart, too late”
as your nephew announces he’s now a vegan
as your father-in-law says he needs a refill on his Bloody Mary, which of course he does not
as your dog is sniffing round that resting bird
as your divorced cousin says he’s sorry he’s late and “Do you remember [name of current girlfriend]?”
as your mother asks if these are her table linens because she doesn’t remember giving hers to you and, no, ma’am, they aren’t because Gen X expects nothing
as your brother-in-law wants to bring up politics and says to you in the kitchen as you put out dishes, “Did you read [fill in the blank slanted news source]?”
as your neighbor asks if they can put their casseroles in your oven because theirs just went on the fritz five minutes before you gather your people to give thanks in prayer while the biscuits/rolls/bread heat in that turned off oven
as your being silently judged by your children for not having the meal ready yet
as you’re rifling through the serving pieces realizing you didn’t polish the cold meat fork
Or perhaps that’s just what happens round here
I really love gravy
And, this does sound like insanity in terms of steps and critical paths, but it does make Thanksgiving so easy.
And thanks be to God for all of our families’ crazy
In the summer, we Beaufort kids would stick close to home. Why not? Beaufort in the summer was heaven for teenagers back then
Did some kids go to Europe? Did some take jobs at camps out of town? Did some go to the beach? Did some go to the mountains? Of course
But, most of us came home, got jobs, worked hard, played harder
We were kind of wild
Numerous trips to hospitals were made in the summer. Stomach pumpings and stitchings of wounds were common. Our parents would shrug and say, “Well, you know young people.”
It is amazing none of us died
With that background, know that most of our fun was had on the water messing about in boats, as the quote goes from Wind in The Willows. But, we weren’t on the Thames waiting to see what the larder held for tea
No, we were all over northern Beaufort County waiting to see who had been able to procure Miller Lite, Bud Lite, Busch Lite, Schaefer Lite, Bud Heavy, and any and all forms of suds purchased at permissive stores out on St. Helena Island (If you knew The Sycamore, you knew The Sycamore. If you knew the Ann Fripp Mini Mart, you knew the Ann Fripp Mini Mart)
Obligatory buckets of fried chicken and tri-taters from Maryland Fried Chicken in tow, we would load coolers and bags for full days on the water, down the river, at the sandbar
Girls in bikinis, boys in Patagucci baggies and Birdwells
Marlboro Lights, Vantage Ultra Lights, Camel Lights also in tow. It takes a special set of legs to tread water while keeping the cigarette lit and the koozied beer in the other hand above water fighting a ripping current
With that background, know that one year our pal Christian Trask came up with a great idea for a throw down, a party, an event, a real live hootenanny
Christian went to Budget Print and made fliers which he then went around town and put in his friends’, pals’, acquaintances’ parents’ mailboxes
The flyer advertised that one and all should get in whatever boat one could find and head on down to Joiner Bank for a full day of fun in the sun
Back then, Joiner Bank was a sand spit off the north east coast of Hilton Head Island where Port Royal Sound meets the Atlantic Ocean. Back then, it almost always had part of its sandy beach exposed at high tide. That has since changed
For us Beaufort kids, it was a straight shot down the Beaufort River, past town, past Port Royal, past Parris Island, across Port Royal Sound to the sandy spit in the ocean.
Phone calls were made. Buckets of chicken were ordered. Coolers were iced. And, then, the flotilla made its way. For at least 3 or 4 summers
Crossing Port Royal sound in 13 foot, 17 foot, 20 foot boats seems kind of stupid now, but, back then, it seemed NBD. Like really. NBD.
Hayes Williams made sure I was in his boat along with some of our friends. He always said I made a great mate. Plus, his family’s boat was 4 feet longer than ours, which makes a difference crossing rough inlets on incoming tides
The first year we went to Joiner Bank was great
The second was awesome
The third was a complete and utter drunken debacle. In 1989. The 3rd Annual Hootenanny
The fourth involved a broken dock, someone jumping into the water with a knife in his mouth, tons of rain, and kegs under a pals’ house, but, it was way tamer compared to Number 3
But, back to our Hootenanny
Now, in 1989, Beaufort was still reeling from a trauma that I wont discuss fully here. Suffice it say, the entire group of young people with whom we grew up had suffered that trauma in the form of the untimely death of a beloved 13 year old. We miss him still
May be it was that event that made us all so wild that summer
May be it was just the age
May be it was that some of us were already in college and some of us were about to be
May be we were just wild as bucks and didn’t give a tinker’s damn
May be it’s just a lot of fun
So, Christian Trask went down to Budget Print once more and made his flyers to put into mailboxes from The Point to Spanish Point to Land’s End to Distant Island to Brickyard to Lost Island to Hundred Pines to Mossy Oaks to Bay Street to all points in between
On the appointed Saturday in July, we all jumped in boats and made our way to Joiner Bank
Not a single shred of tenting, umbrellas, sun shades, Bimini tops, or other sun protection device
I am sure we all had the thinnest of t-shirts to protect us from the broiling sun of July. May be a little Ban de Soleil Orange Gelee covered a nose. Perhaps a tube of zinc oxide. I do know that the following Monday at the place I worked, I rubbed my right shoulder against something and four layers of skin degloved right there on the spot. Blood through my work shirt. It was a small price to pay
I also know that the main objective of the day was to have fun. And, have fun we did
Floating in the slew behind Joiner Bank
Chugging cold beer all day
Eating Buck King’s fried yard bird. (Mr. King being the proprietor of Maryland Fried Chicken)
Watching our friends play smacky mouth with each other in and out of the water
Trying to play beach volleyball
Falling down, knee walking later in the day
Laughing with wild abandon about everything
Quoting “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon” and “It don’t get no better than this”
Enjoying being young, dumb, tan, drunk, nicotined
By three or four o’clock, most of us on that sand bar were engaging in glossolalia. By five o’clock, we were beyond cute. We were drunk and ugly drunk
By six o’clock, it was time to head back to Beaufort
We had hours of sunlight left
But not much beer, cigs, food, water
May be a soggy bags of Cheetos
May be one or two tri-taters, which were a triangle of hash browns fried crisp. So damned good. Especially dipped in salt water and then with a little ketchup on the side
One of our pals had brought a book to read on the beach. We asked her how far she got and her reply was “Thish is the besssh book aye ever resshh. This Russshhun lady cheats on a her hussbhand. It’s shoo romanntisch”
“Dude, are you reading Tolstoy?”
“Heez a jeeen-yus”
We threw her in a boat and hoped she would loosen up one day. She never did. But, she probably had to re-read Anna’s tale of woe.
On the crossing back to town, one of the girls in our boat complained of hunger and thirst
“Don’t worry, I’ll quench your thirst,” replied one of the guys as he came at her with mouth open for a full on kiss. Said girl burst out laughing and poured the rest of her beer on his head
At one point heading back across the sound, several boats behind us stopped. We all circled back thinking there was an issue. Nope – just time for a potty break and another round of beer and cooling dip into the water
When we finally made it back to various marinas, docks, landings, most of us were unable to drive. Most of us did so anyway. Terrible. Absolutely terrible.
Before we left Joiner Bank, our pal Brandon Calhoun announced to everyone that he had his house to himself, and there would be an amazing after party. Never a good idea. Like never
“Party at my house!!!”
After dropping various people at various places around town, Hayes Williams and I were the last two left in his boat. We ran it quickly down the river to get the water out of the stern and then headed back to his dock.
His parents were on the dock enjoying the later afternoon breeze. They received us with the full contempt we deserved. Hedy and Ray Williams. “Hedster! Rayble!” I called out.
“I see we had good time, boys” said Hedy
“Boys, go inside,” said Ray. “I think y’all have had enough fun for one day”
“But, Rayble,” I said, “I got to go home. I’ve got my keys”.
“You’re not going anywhere, Bones,” he said. That was his nickname for me. “I’ll call your parents”
The Williams marched us into the house. Hayes and I kept laughing and giggling at anything his parents said and about events of the day
“I think she ate the Cheetos he pissed in”
“I think they hooked up in the water”
“Who y’all talking about?”
“Just some fools”
“I need to drive home,” I repeated
“Hambone, you’re spending the night” said Hedy
“No, ma’am. I don’t have any clothes”
“You can borrow some of Hayes’s”
“I don’t have a toothbrush”
“We have extra”
“I have to go to church tomorrow”
“We will wake you up”
There was no way I was leaving. There was no way.
So we decided we weren’t going to be going anywhere and resigned ourselves to 8 p.m. hangovers in front of the tv in the Williams’ library slash den
We ordered Pizza Hut
We each showered and I was given clothes
We ate the pizzas
We called Brandon Calhoun’s house to tell him we wouldn’t be there
“Awww…come on! Y’all gotta be here,” he said
“Nope, can’t. Mom and Dad won’t let us” said Hayes
That night, the Williams were going to someone else’s house for supper. They left. I was still hungry. They left us before the pizzas arrived but after they took all the car keys in the house. All. The. Keys. And I was still hungry. Like starving.
So, I wandered into the Williams’ kitchen, opened the fridge, and there in a large serving bowl was an entire making of potato salad covered with Saran Wrap. I could see all of its goodness right there. Really kind of Hedy to have made that just for us
I took the bowl back to the Williams’ library
“Hayes, you want any of this? Look what your mom made for us”
“No, but you have some”
I had forgotten bowls and forks. But, I had my hands. So, I shoveled handful of handful of potato salad into my mouth as we watched whatever offering was on HBO that night.
About half way through the bowl, the Williams returned from their night out
“Hamlin! That’s for the church picnic tomorrow!” Hedy exclaimed
“Not any more,” I slurred. “I think I can drive home now”
“No, no you can’t! And you ate all my potato salad!”
“S[l]ure is good”
Thanks be to God that we didn’t go anywhere that night
Apparently, Brandon’s party was a real rager. He even punched a whole in a wall and tried to cover it up with a little dry wall mud and the rearrangement of some furniture
Hayes and I could honestly say we knew nothing about that remodel due to our being too drunk to go anywhere
We were interrogated by his mother when she called both of our houses the next day
“Hamlin, son, I love you. Tell me what happened”
“I can’t,” I replied “We were too drunk to go to your house.”
“Well, that’s just what Hayes said”
At least our stories were the same
At least we weren’t there to witness Brandon punching a wall
At least we weren’t there watching a drunken teenager spackle a wall the next morning
We’d been at a Hootenanny
With love to all of you who went down cross the sound for those fated fetes
Like probably millions since 1972, I have worn Mr. Longley’s Laguna Beach garage’s product of leather and nylon with supported arches and a touch of rubber on the sole.
For a week, as I tanned my toes in the Abacos, these shoes were all I wore.
In the water.
On the land
In every restaurant.
At every store.
From Pelican Cay to Great Guana and all points in between
I refrained from Rainbows in the airports, because, well, closed toed shoes are better
What shoe is more versatile
more wearable 10 months of of the year in these parts
more wearable 12 months out of the year in these parts
more tan lined
more calloused prior to breaking in the nylon
Last summer, over the 4th of July, someone took my pair and I took someone else’s at Pawley’s Island. Almost immediately, I knew they weren’t my Rainbows.
I knew they weren’t mine, as Rainbows conform to the individual owner’s feet almost as well as Birkinstocks
So, on July 6, 2021, I hightailed it to the local Rainbow retailer and bought a new pair
They are shown above after almost a year’s worth of wear
They still have the writing on the bottom of the soles. The leather is just starting to get to that perfect place of give. I will wear these until they fall to shreds, or, rather, until the tread on the soles becomes so slick that I will skid on any wet surface. That’s the true sign that it’s time to make another Rainbow connection
And, to say that these shoes are markers of a certain culture, well, they are. Totally, dude.
I judge people by shoes. Really. I can tell a lot from what a person has on her or his feet. It’s a thing.
If I see another pair of Rainbows, then I know that’s probably my people. And my peoples’ peoples