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.

In all of its Moorish hand-colored glory, The Gold Eagle Tavern with turreted portion on The Bay 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.

Also puts a smile on your face

So Dead

Oh well. Enough said.

I know it’s over – still I cling

I don’t know where else I can go….

I Know It’s Over

Johnny Marr; Steven Morrisey

The Queen is Dead, 1986

Well, she had a good run

The Holy City as a food town

We’re toast, cooked, over, doomed

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

Tourists only

Bots only

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

It’s horrible

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

And, still, we do nothing

I own weapons

My family hunts

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

I know

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

Such empathy

Such integrity

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

Newtown, Connecticut

Taft, Santa Monica, Decatur, Sparks, Centennial, Roswell, Isla Vista, Troutdale, Manchester, Marysville, Lacey, Franklin, Richmond, Harrisburg, Roseburg, Middletown, Antigo, Townville, Bountiful, West Liberty, Columbus, Rockford, Mattoon, Rancho Tehama Reserve, Aztec, Dalton, Richmond, Italy, Benton,

Parkland, Florida

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

Uvalde, Texas

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

Nashville, Tennessee

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

But, I doubt it.

Go to it Laughing

“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

Every one

And lots of humor

And hugs

And kisses

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.

It’s Biblical

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

But there may be cheese straws


My maternal grandfather’s parents employed a lovely lady as a cook

Martha Shannon James

Martha Shannon to our family

My great grandmother, Eloise, died fairly young from what was then called stomach cancer

Get a colonoscopy, please

Anyway, Martha Shannon and my great grandmother were known to creat amazing dishes on a wood fired stove and oven

Cheese straws

Lemon meringue pies

Fresh coconut pies

Hoe cakes


My grandmother, the daughter-in-law of Eloise, said that Christmas at her in-laws was a treat

My great aunt, daughter of Eloise, said she inherited a lot of her mama’s and Martha’s cooking

In addition to cheese straws at Christmas, there were always what our family call salted nuts

Pecans, pronounced pee cans, toasted in a cast iron skillet with a half a stick of butter and enough salt to raise BP to coronary and stroke levels. So. Much. Salt.

In the 1990s when the whole “Deez Nutz” joke came round thinks to Hip Hop, all I could think was that Salted Nuts were now deez….Deez Nutz

I make Salted Nuts

I like to use Schermer Pecans out of Jawja

They are amazing

Not likely to turn rancid like those grocery store nuts

Every year I make them, even if it’s just for the home crowd

Because of Martha Shannon, who knew me as a young toddler

Because of Aunt Marion, who knew me until I was 32

Because of Grandmama Eloise, who died in 1944, and only knew one of her five grandchildren

Because it’s what we do

Hope y’all make some, too

Salted Nuts

1 lb pecan halves, preferable from Schermer’s out of Thomasville, GA

1/2 stick salted butter, softened, divided into 4 tbps

1 tbsp Kosher salt…my people used table salt but that’s even too salty

10 inch cast iron skillet or a toast tray

Preheat oven to 350 F

Spread out nuts on toast tray and dot with butter, sprinkle evenly with the salt

If using a cast iron skillet, spread half the nuts into the skillet and sprinkle with half the nuts, half the butter, and half the salt. Repeat

Place the toast tray or skillet with the nuts into the oven

And cook

Cook until the nuts smell

Cook until dark brown

Every oven is different

Don’t overcook or they’ll burn

At the same time, cook until brown and gold

At least 20-30 mins

And then dump out onto a brown paper bag under which you’ve placed some newspaper to soak up the butter

Let cool completely. They store well in the same type of tin in which you have your moldy mice, fudge, cheese straws

They go really well with everything, but especially some brown water.

Merry Christmas, Boys and Girls!

Rice Rice n Gravy

I can’t tell you how much I love gravy

Especially over rice

Rice rice n gravy

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 Thanksgiving

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

2 onions

1 stalk celery

1 carrot

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

Because that is for what we are truly thankful

And all that gravy

That One Day

No humidity

Light fading around 6ish

No gnats

No mosquitoes

Porch sitting

Those few orange turned and red turned leaves falling from the crepe myrtle

Skittling behind cars on the road

Summer blooms fading

Caladiums wilting

Hydrangeas rusting

Bluer than blue skies

Lightest breeze

Tea olive about to bloom perfuming with the most evasive of scents

Longer shadows

More leaves rattling across the pavement

AC still running

Tempted to open a door or window

75 ish

Fall sports athletes not sweating to death

May be time to switch to some brown water

May be time to look up how to make a favorite soup

There’s always one day like this in October

Winds shifting out of the east and north

That first whiff of the paper mill meaning cooler temperatures

About the time of the fair

Herbsttag by Rilke

“Wer jetzt allein is, wird es lange blieben”

“Who is alone, will remain alone”

One day in October

Every year.

I Need to See You

We need to see each other

Lay eyes on each other




Be in the same room



A funeral reception is lovely

But it’s too little and too late. Especially for the honoree

I used to look askance at older folks who would say, “We have stop seeing each other only at funerals”

Now I get that

And, it’s now when I need to see everyone

I love you fools


A lot

Let’s please get together

Because I love you all

Funerals are supposed to be celebrations in the Christian faith

A recent funeral was so sad for a contemporary, but the reception after was lovely because there were so many of the deceased’s friends there. Sad because 52 is too young to die.

We all know what we want to say to cancer

The reception after was quite a gathering. Like an old home week

And at least three of the folks there love me


Because we said it to each other

Memento mori. Vanitas vanitatum. St. Jerome writing with a skull on the table

Guess it might be the solid middle of middle age

May be we need a party

A large party

We could do a dry run of my funeral if need be

Or just a cocktail party

Or an oyster roast

Or something

A glass of water and soda crackers

At that reception, we all kissed in recognition of our loss and our love of the deceased and each other

I kissed grown men and women in love and grief

I would rather kiss in celebration

All of you

Or at least the three I know who love me

Saint Jerome Writing. Caravaggio. 1605-1606. Galleria Borghese. Rome.

3rd Annual Joiner Bank Hootenanny

In 1989, I was 17

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

SC Dep’t of Natural Resources website
needs a little updating

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!!!”

Oh law

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?”

“No one”

“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

In Memoriam: Christian Trask (1970 -2018)

The Rainbow Connection

From a Saturday at 3:30 p.m. until a Friday at 10:00 p.m., I wore one pair of shoes, if I wore any shoes at all

In The Bahamas

Rainbow®️ Sandals

Rainbows as they are commonly called



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 recognizable

more collegiate

more beach

more dock

more pool

more boat

more sands

more suds

more surf

more dude

more DUDE

more outdoors

more indoors

more inshore

more offshore

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

more perfect

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.

Still showing a little Bahamian white sand dust and place where tanned toes have left an imprint.
I need to sharpen that mower blade, too.

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

Your Rainbows shall be my Rainbows

Whatever thou wearest, I, too, shall wear

I still wonder who has my pair from Pawleys

Because they are my people

(Apologies to Ruth)