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)

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