Last weekend, we finally cracked and gave Bubba Gump a try. I can’t think of a more cynical Hollywood spinoff, but we were hungry, and the Aquarium restaurant was stuffed. Bubba’s food was not bad. The kids actually ate—there’s something to blog home about.
What struck me was one of the myriad bits of nostalgia: a map of the Beaufort, South Carolina area.
When I was a little boy, my family lived in five South Carolina towns in the space of less than three years. The first one was Frogmore, near Beaufort. You are unlikely to find it on a map, because they renamed it to Saint Helena, after the island that the village rests upon. Kind of a shame. At least you can still find Frogmore stew.
By the time we arrived, 104 years later, not much had changed. We had modern conveniences like plumbing, though ours was backed up into the bath tub when we arrived. The place was still isolated. Blonde hair was still a novelty among the island children.
I was of course too young to remember our residence in Frogmore. According to Mom, my life there consisted mostly of being bitten by sand flies in my crib. There were also occasional walks outside with my oldest sister Duska, and I’m guessing I was brought along for some of the proselytizing.
It may be rightly said that Frogmore was the Geneva of the South in 1966, though I’m told that Joe Frazier, himself a Beaufort native, called it the slum of the South. It was in Frogmore, at Penn Center, that Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young, Jessie Jackson, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference met every year. Locals, including our family, were invited to attend the November 1966 conference, during which, I’m told, much debate took place regarding the pros and cons of nonviolent activism. I have read that it was at this conference that King expanded his vision from civil rights to human rights.
Laura Towne and Ellen Murray spent the remainder of their lives serving the islanders—a combined 85 years. We couldn’t hold on quite that long, and returned to California in early 1967, though we did visit Frogmore when we returned to South Carolina several years later. I remember spirituals being sung in a hall there. I remember one particular Baha’i song called “We Are Soldiers In God’s Army”. I haven’t heard it in a long time. I can tell you unequivocally that it most certainly rocked!
I also remember my brother Al catching a hammerhead shark and a ray off the pier. That could be a manufactured memory, but I remember it vividly.