Hilton Head Prep Proves You CAN Go Home Again – Celebrate 50 Years of HHPrep!

Entryway to Hilton Head Prep

         Welcome to Hilton Head Prep

Thomas Wolfe once wrote a book called, You Can’t Go Home Again.  He was my favorite novelist when I was a teenager on Hilton Head in the late 1970’s.  It was very romantic, nostalgic, and sad I recall, when the young protagonist, George Webber, came home to the United States, only to find that things had changed while he was away in Europe, and nothing was as he remembered.

And that is very similar to my experience as a youth on Hilton Head in the 1970’s, leaving for college later on, staying away for seventeen or so years, and then returning to find that my high school alma mater has changed quite drastically, and yet, in quite an exceptional way.

Recently, I was invited to lunch at the new, improved, Hilton Head Prep to introduce me to the newest headmaster, Jon A. Hopman, and re-introduce me to what Hilton Head Prep offers the Island community.  Which is quite a lot, I have to say.

Jon Hopman

Headmaster, Jon Hopman

Prep English teacher Peg Hamilton,

English Teacher

Teacher of English, Peg Hamilton

who attended the luncheon meeting – along with Margot Brown (Director of Development and Finance)

Margot Brown, bio

Margot Brown, Director of Development & Finance

Bethany Wilkinson (Director of Communications and Alumni Relations), and Headmaster Hopman – reminded me that Hilton Head Prep is entering its fiftieth year, as a private island school.

Bethany Wilkinson

Bethany Wilkinson, Director of Communication & Alumni Relations

Rather alarmingly, it occurred to me that I was also into my fiftieth year.  Hmmm…..

“The Super Bowl began officially, in 1965,” said Ms. Hamilton.  As did, “the movie, Dr. Zhivago, the Voting Rights Act, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the song, I Got You Babe (Sonny & Cher, in case you forgot), Medicare/Medicaid was enacted, the Grateful Dead was touring, and the Beatles played at Shea Stadium to adoring crowds,” she noted with pride.  Yours truly, was born then as well; apparently this was an auspicious time for first-year, Gen-Xer’s.  Yeahhh.

Trophy Case

Hilton Head Prep Trophy Case in the Joe Fraser Athletic Building.

All that was going on, while a little building in Sea Pines, was gearing up for classrooms, so that the few residents of Hilton Head at the time, could send their kids to a private school located on the island.  In those days, most kids like Mike Lynes (Islander extraordinaire – see Island Packet, Only On Hilton Head – August 22, 2015), had to trek by boat, or school bus, or in some cases, carpools, all the way to Beaufort, Savannah, and Bluffton (before the Cross Island Parkway) – that was a haul, to traverse this island back then.   


Prep Alumni Social

Don’t forget Prep, SPA, and MRA Alumni, this Fri. 10/09/15  is HHPrep Homecoming. Dolphins vs. Thomas Heyward Rebelsbegins at 4:30.  Alumni Social starts at 7 pm at the Lucky Rooster in South Island Square.

Girl Reading Statue

Student Reading Sculpture has Been on the Campus for Many Years.

In the seventh grade, we had to drive to Savannah in late August, to buy back-to-school supplies and clothes.  It was also cool in the 1970’s to smoke cigarettes while driving (just watch any film made during that decade).  And Sea Pines Academy (known as SPA prior to 1985; the year May River Academy – of Bluffton – merged with SPA to form Hilton Head Prep) was right up there in the ‘cool’ sphere, when seniors were allowed to smoke at the picnic tables by the lagoon, next to the parking lot, where they were also allowed to park their cars.  So, they could drive to school WHILE smoking (a 1976 ‘cool’ bundle), park, and stroll into the rear door just in time for morning meeting.  I couldn’t wait to be a senior, so I could drive, smoke cigarettes, and park by the lagoon.

Yearbook Soccer Team

SPA Varsity Soccer Team, circa 1977


Present-day Outdoor Basketball Court, with Palmetto Tree in the Foreground

This was also back in the day, when we were proud to have as an alum, one of the famous Heritage Golf Course streakers, whose name nobody would give up to the authorities, not even today.  And not even now, would I tell you what I know, because this is a well-guarded Prep Alumni secret, along the lines of where Jimmy Hoffa is buried and where Whitey Bulger was hiding out all those years.

As you can imagine, times have changed somewhat, and of course, there is no longer a sequestered place at the school for seniors to hang out, and smoke… anything.  Yes, you will be glad to know, the Sea Pines family culture has evolved to healthier past times here on Hilton Head Isle (or so I’m told).

Signs at School

Modern-day Directions Through a Sprawling Campus. Before the ’80’s, the School wasn’t Big Enough to Need Signage.

We have also moved forward from, doggin’-it outside to the math trailer, to ‘integrating to an online curriculum at the Digital Learning Academy’.  Wow.  They’ve got way more technology and learning programs than we ever did, back in the day.

School Gymnasium

Joseph Fraser Field House – Beautiful Gymnasium by the Forest Preserve

Not only that, but Hilton Head Prep has a boarding school for international students, and also assists qualifying families with financial aid procedures, and there’s even an Alumni Legacy Scholarship.

And, this year, Hilton Head Prep implements the American College Testing (ACT) and SAT Prep Courses for high school students who want to amp up to college with all kinds of elevated aptitude test scores.  Also new, Prep gets to utilize the generous donation of the Main Street Theater for performances during the school year.  That, along with outreach programs that work with Smith Stearns and Van Der Meer Tennis Academy students, Junior Players Golf Academy (JPGA), and Lawton Stables Riding Academy students, has brought Prep standards to greater new heights.

Signs and statues

Always Putting Students First at Hilton Head Prep

Boy, it’s come a long way from walking to a math trailer after lunch, and smoking cigarettes by the lagoon.  Looking back, I would have to say that most Prep changes are definitely for the better.  I think I’ll make it to a couple of football and basketball games this season, just to see how much the campus has changed and grown. 

School Cafeteria

Hilton Head Prep              School Cafeteria

There will be a lot of commemorative events this upcoming 2015-16 school year, especially during February, 2016 – HHPrep’s Official Jubilee Celebration Month – as Hilton Head Prep celebrates fifty continuous years educating Hilton Head children.  If you’re new to the island, or coming home again, stop by and check it out. 

And below, you might enjoy a trip down memory lane. The whole student body joined together in 2012 to shout out, “Thank you for making a difference,” for the making of an alumni dvd.

Call for directions, 843-671-2286, or visit their website for a calendar of upcoming activities and events, http://www.hhprep.org/.

Just remember to leave your cigarettes at home.  I’ve heard there’s no smoking allowed on the grounds, now.

Support American Capitalism; Buy Jewelry from Hilton Head Blog Angel

necklace sets at Italian Heritage Festival

Jewelry Sets Did Very Well at the Italian Heritage Festival Last Saturday, September 19, 2015.

Segueing into my new business from the Italian Heritage Festival, I promise not to use up too much of my precious WordPress blog space promoting my new line of jewelry.  So, I’ll keep this one short and to the point.

(“Right,” I can hear you thinking.  “She wouldn’t know short-and-to-the-point if it smacked her on her keister.”  And you’d be right, for the most part.  But, I’m really going to try on this one, so give me a break.)

Sam the beach beagle on his cloud

Sammytones, Works Hard Assisting Blog Angel on His Cloud.

In order to maintain my lifestyle of sitting on my duff days in the Carolina room of our Hilton Head condo watching Sammy, the Beach Beagle, hold down the cloud (his white blanket-draped couch) in front of me, I must somehow generate revenue.  Being that my musings on all people, places, and things Hilton Head – while they may be pithy – do not put bacon or veggies on the table, or scarves and jewelry around my neck, or cars in my driveway, (my little, red, 2006 Sentra – AKA, the family ‘dog-car’ – paid for, thank you very much, although Sam has made sure that it trails sand, and frayed seat belts when you ride with me), I have decided to venture into the online retail business.

Johnny Carmen and Sam at the beach

Johnny, Carmen, and Sam – Hilton Head Island – circa, 2010

Jewelry is the name, and affordable, fun, and colorful, is the game.  I have picked out pieces that are perfect for an active lifestyle; unpretentious, while versatile.  Please enjoy, and let me know if you’d like to see something in particular.  I am currently designing some originals, and will have more choices soon.  For now, shop my website, take advantage of some of my opening deals while I work out the kinks and designs, and decorate yourself!

For those of you more comfortable with Etsy or Shopify, go ahead and check out the discounted necklaces there.  The holidays are upon us, and now is the time to think about that which you don’t really want to think about.  Affordable gifts.

All of which to say; let me help you, help me, sit on my duff, on Hilton Head Island, and entertain you.  Otherwise, I’ll have to go to work like everyone else – eight hours a day in an office – complain about how hard I’ve got it, and how no one understands me, how my boss doesn’t know as much as I do, get fired, and start all over again.  And remember, while I’m working for the Man, I’m usually too tired, burned out, and annoyed, to blog about anything remotely funny.  I don’t even have the energy to make fun of Johnny D, after recovering from a whole week of sucking it up in an office.  Okay?

Carmen DeCecco on the beach

Hilton Head Blog Angel Sitting
on Her Duff

We don’t need to go through all that recurrently, do we? Buy Jewelry Gifts For Less today, and keep me in my place, which is over here, looking out at the Spanish Moss sachaying down live oaks, and far away from the cubicles and the office norm.

They really don’t want me back, the Big Companies.  And when you think about it, you’d be doing Corporate America a favor by purchasing my jewelry.  See, if I can make a go of it out here, in entrepreneur-land, then they won’t have to put up with me, and my lousy attitude anymore.  So, that’s your incentive.  Support American Capitalism and Corporate conformity.  Buy Hilton Head Blog Angel jewelry so we can maintain the status quo!

In closing (I told you this would be short, and to-the-point, didn’t I?); remember when the Johnny and Carmen Project moved to Hilton Head a few years ago?  Some of you received an announcement that looked like this:

Family on beach with beagle

DeCecco Deal Newsletter, Hilton Head Island – circa, 2010

Well, we thank you all for the empathy, and support, and pats-on-the-back we received after we sent this out.  But, now we’re really in the business of being in business down here.  And I’m still writing cheesy family newsletters, only they’re called ‘blogs’, and we still want to hear about your cheese, wherever you are.  So go ahead, Like, Follow, Friend, Fan, Tweet, Toot, Pin, Tumble, Stumble, post, share, comment, and above all, BUY, so we can get off our duffs, and fly up to visit all of you, during the holidays and for weddings, and funerals… our patient, tolerant, dear friends, and readers.

And thank you, as always for playing with me.

Gratitude Blog From Hilton Head Blog Angel

Jewelry display at festival

Hilton Head Blog Angel Jewelry Booth at the Italian Heritage Festival at Honey Horn

This past weekend couldn’t have been better, even if we had scripted the event.  Which actually, we did.  Or rather, Paul Caimano, Committee Chairman of the Sixth Annual Italian Heritage Festival at Honey Horn, and his friends at the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head (IACHH) did. (Script the event, that is).

Three people at Italian Heritage Festival 2015

2015 Festival Goers Fan their Beers.

And that’s probably the reason everything at the Italian Heritage Festival at Honey Horn came off without a hitch or a glitch.  That, and the God-wink bestowed upon us, when San Gennaro instructed the heavens to shine sunny and warm all day long on Hilton Head, while his blood liquefied over in Naples, Italy, in front of the astonished, and awed, Catholic congregants.

And now that the Pope is visiting the United States this week, I thought it appropriate to share this great video I snagged off YouTube, of the March 21, 2015 blood miracle that occurred; a phenomenon that was visited by Pope Francis in Naples, just this past spring.  This is the same blood miracle that we celebrate in the United States every year, only it is the September 19th, scheduled, liquefaction that is fêted.  You see, we are fortunate that San Gennaro’s blood liquefaction is a frequent event – AND annual – so that nobody ever misses a moment to party down Vatican style.

Now according to the video, the March melting was just a partial miracle, as you will note, and Pope Francis – the good sport that he is – did not take it personally, but rather joked, that San Gennaro was probably none to happy with the state of the world, as it is.  Ergo, the blood only melts a little, and looks like pudding.  I guess we’ve got some work to do here on earth, to get his blood liquefying, and roiling the way it’s supposed to.  Way to go, World.

George Paletta at Festival 2015

IACHH Vice-President, The George, Happy that the Sun Shined Brightly on Saturday.

I’m just glad that San Gennaro saw fit to bestow a happy, sunny day on us, this past Saturday on Hilton Head, because lots of fun and entertainment was consumed by the Italian-American plebeians, of the New World.  And Yours Truly, reaped some of the spoils, thankfully, due to arduous planting of marketing seeds prior to this auspicious annual Hilton Head event.

San Gennaro Statue

San Gennaro Statue at Las Vegas Feast, sports paper bills for a tie (big surprise).

That is why I am thanking Islanders and visitors from near and far, who trod courageously through the fairgrounds Saturday, fending off pesky fan-wavers, and smoldering scents of pizza and grilled sweet Italian sausage wafting through the air, to brave the crush of local business vendors selling everything from hand-made ceramics, to raffle tickets, wine, and jewelry.

All, to the rousing musical entertainment of Larry Tanelli and his wife, Claudette, whose showstoppers included, “Fly Me to the Moon,” “That’s Amore!” and of course, the ever-popular (and my personal favorite), “Has Anyone Seen Il Presidente, Johnny D?  The Port-o-johns Are Running Low On Toilet Paper!”  That one, as always, drew a standing O.  Interestingly, the ubiquitous Johnny D, was suddenly scarce during that little ditty.

I also want to thank the IACHH Board, Club members, Festival volunteers, and especially the USCB students who assisted the set-up of my booth, and the ROTC who directed traffic and parking.  It would have been a rather amusing, end-of-day activity driving out of Honey Horn without the supervision of these patient, courteous guides, for many festival-goers (and ragged vendors, like me).  As it was, I felt cared for, and looked after by my young attendants.  Great job everyone.

Pink Beaded Necklace

Multiple Shades of Pink Beaded Strands Accent Any Beachy Outfit.

For those of you who couldn’t attend this gala event, and are devastated that you missed the grand opening of Hilton Head Blog Angel Jewelry, fret not.  I have here, the hyperlink needed to go directly to the website (Jewelry Gifts For Less), and choose a lovely, colorful, necklace to wear to almost any festivity that lies ahead in your future. And for those of you who read all the way down to this point, you will know that there is a contest with a free jewelry gift as reward, to the first patient reader/generous customer that sends me a link to any news media reporting on whether or not the blood liquefaction miracle occurred fully this past Saturday in Naples.

I could not find any, and I’m concerned since the last one didn’t, you know, totally liquefy.  I’d like to know if San Gennaro is getting over his Agida with this world full of wanderers from the flock.

In closing, I leave you with a full-blown, ten-minute documentary, explaining the blood miracle (for those of you obsessive, curious geeks, like me) of San Gennaro, that draws an explicit history of this Christian martyr’s journey from teenaged, medieval, Italian priest, to principle patron saint of Naples, seventeen hundred and fifteen years after his death.  Behold.

The Italians Are Coming! The Italians Are Coming…

Cardinals look at Blood Vials

Roman Dignitaries View the Blood Miracle of St. Januarius (San Gennaro)

If you believe recent local media tabloids (CH2, Hilton Head Monthly, and Pink), you might think an Old World invasion was upon us here in the LowCountry.  And you’d be right.  On September 19, 2015, the Italian American Club of Hilton Head Island will be hosting its Sixth Annual Italian Heritage Festival Honoring the Feast of San Gennaro.

“Come one, come all, and don’t fuggetaboutit,” reads one billboard on rte. 170 going east from Savannah to Hilton Head.  Which is Italian for, “remember to bring the escarole”, in case you were wondering.  And escarole, of course, is American-Italian for Il denaro, so you can pay $6.00 for your ticket, and buy local Italian-inspired handmade gifts and crafts, raffle tickets, bid on silent auction items, play festival games like bocce, and Drown the Clown (dunk-tank action), and of course, eat and drink like a respectable Italian.  Which may require a little extra Il denaro, as our Mediterrannean neighbors really put the ‘ate’ in satiate, a long time ago, when Rome reigned supreme.

Painting of St. Januarious

Artist’s Representation of St. Januarius Standing Over His Own Decapitated Head

It was during those reigning days of yore that the legend of San Gennaro came about, in whose name the feast began all over the world, but most auspiciously on New York’s Mulberry Street during the early turn of last century when a vast number of Italian immigrants came to our shores.  The easiest way to understand the devotion to this martyred priest is to rent the Godfather Part II, and/or Mean Streets, imbibe a few sips of cheap chianti, and notice how much carnage and thievery ensures while parade goers dance and chant down the street next to the San Gennaro effigy and Madonna (the Virgin, not the singer) floats.

Now, if you research this history (ie. Google, San Gennaro and click on the Wikipedia link), you will find an interesting – if not disturbing – to us plebeians of non-Catholic backgrounds – bit of detail regarding the legacy of St. Januarius (the latin form of San Gennaro); his fame is based on the “blood miracle” as depicted in one of his relics.

(You may have noted so far, that punctuating this tale is challenging, so bear with me.)

Yes, to review for the pleibs, Catholic tradition places a premium on the body parts of dead martyrs and saints.  The remains are placed in sealed glass boxes known as reliquaries, and put on display to the public (under heavy guard), usually in the home church of the late saint, or some other equally revered, ancient, stone edifice, that visitors often kiss, and place coins in the accompanying alms vessel.

Worshippers sometimes pray to the saint, or in the saint’s name, which is also a curious sidebar, given that the saint usually died a gruesome death, involving scourging, lion-baiting, burning, stretching on a rack, hanging, and beheading.  And not necessarily in that order.  For what, are people praying to these tortured souls?  “In the name of St. Joan of Arc, when it’s my time to go, just take a little off the sides around the ears!”2015_IHF_Ad

Yes, I know, digressing.

A young priest, St. Januarius of Benevento, Italy, was beheaded for his Christian beliefs in 305 AD.  According to Catholic folklore, his execution occurred after extended torture, flogging, flaying, gnashing of teeth, and even attempted cremation (it is said he walked out of the incinerator, unscathed).  Due to his apparent stranglehold on the physical world, his ultimate demise was regarded as somewhat of a triumph by the petrified Christians of the time, who were used to living in fear for their lives under pagan rule.

As was popular testimony to a revered person of the cloth during those days, body parts of the deceased were spirited away by various and sundry of the Christian flock, and stored in vaults for safe-keeping, in case the martyred soul were to return from heaven for his/her… ahem, personal effects.  In the interim, these “relics” became symbols of Christian suffering and courage, and pilgrims began to make their way across the seas to pay homage to the interred skeletal remains of said martyrs.

Italian Heritage Festival Statue

2014 Statuary Contemplates the Festival of the Blood Miracle

Stay with me here patient reader, because the punchline is really worthwhile.  As noted above, after the execution of St. Januarius, members of the Flock came from all over Italy and spirited away his remains.  Okay. You got that.  The head stayed in Naples (where San Gennaro is, to this day, the principal patron saint), the body went to his birthplace, Benevento (where it resides in a Chapel, waiting to be reunited with the head – inter-Vatican politics prevent me from elaborating further on this anatomical/spiritual conflict), and his blood was poured into two delicate glass vials by a devout Catholic woman, so-named Eusebia, who boosted the metaphoric ‘wine’ of the saint, and kept it hidden in a vault.

Fast-forward (as fast as the dogged centuries can go), to 1389, when, upon the vials being displayed on the anniversary of San Gennaro’s death, it was noticed by some Vatican dignitaries to ‘liquefy’, from its coagulated state.

What does this mean?

Well, apparently, this meant a lot to the Roman Catholics of the Middle Ages, who knew somehow, that scientifically, nine-hundred-year-old coagulated blood could not liquefy on its own without some divine intervention.

So began the canonization process for the martyred priest Januarius, now known as San Gennaro.  And there’s more to the story.  (“More to this strange tale?” You’re probably thinking, so go take a break and get an espresso to cap off the ending of this yarn).

Yes, more.

Since the initial liquefaction and re-coagulation of the blood from the veins of this ancient, revered priest, Januarius, the phenomenon has re-occurred.  Yes.  Not once, not twice, but many times throughout the following centuries, the blood liquefaction miracle re-occurs to the delight of on-lookers, pilgrims, cardinals, bishops, AND popes, at various dates on the Roman calendar year (notice all of this trivia leads us back to the Romans; like the roads).

All this to say, that THIS particular year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Fifteen, the next scheduled blood liquefaction miracle will occur on September 19.  (Hold your breath…)  THE EXACT DATE OF THE HILTON HEAD ITALIAN HERITAGE FESTIVAL HONORING THE FEAST OF SAN GENNARO AT THE COASTAL DISCOVERY MUSEUM AT HISTORIC HONEY HORN! (Exhale, now and ponder).

Where will you be, to commemorate this legendary saint?  Staring at the ancient vials of blood in Italy, or laughing, eating pasta, drinking wine, playing bocce, and listening to live entertainment from Larry Tannelli, on Hilton Head Island?

I think, on hindsight, San Gennaro would approve of our festivities.  Especially, knowing that proceeds from this event go towards local charities and scholarship funds.  So, if you’re in the LowCountry neighborhood, around the weekend of September 19, 2015, drop by The Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn and, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”  (From the first, Godfather, movie).

WHAT: Sixth Annual Italian Heritage Festival

WHERE: Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, Hilton Head, South Carolina

WHEN: 11 am – 4 pm, Saturday, September 19, 2015

COST: $6.00/person.  Parking – free, Advance tickets online: http://iachh.org/festival.html

CONTACT: Paul Caimano, Festival Chair: paccomkt@aol.com, or (412) 897- 1148

WEBSITE: http://iachh.org

As Il Presidente says, “Ciao, for now!”

Hilton Head Prep Revisionist History


By popular request (exactly two people were very upset that they missed the printed edition), the following is the uncut version of the Legend of the Hilton Head Prep Bell, reprinted from the Island Packet, 4/29/15, to lift your mood from pleasure to boredom.
Submitted to the Island Packet on this Day, 29th April, in the Year of Our Lord, 2015
A Collaborative Work, By Erstwhile Prep Scriveners,
Carmen De Cecco (nèe Hawkins), and Charlie Fraser (nèe Fraser)

cbf-1977-returning bell

A Young Charlie Fraser Returns the Bell at Graduation, circa, 1977.

How difficult to research and write collaboratively, about the legendary class time ringer, when the most interesting thing about Hilton Head Prep’s lost bell, is that it rhymes with a four-letter word we were told not to use, back in the day.

So, we won’t say it here.  But, we can ask the question, “Where the hell, is the Hilton Head Prep bell?” or, “Hell‘s bells, where’s the Hilton Head Prep bell?”
And, back in the day – by the way – means precisely, around the vague area of 1974 or ’75.  An era in which we learned not to split hairs about dates, places, and buildings, that could identify our ages, a few decades later (e.g.,  “What happened to the math trailer?”  See, the fact that I used the word, ‘trailer’, with regards to Hilton Head Prep classrooms, predates me to the ‘70’s).
But I digress.

To return to the original thought thread…
Back in the day, Clay Johnson’s mother from Atlanta (Clay Johnson, a Sea Pines Academy graduate from the class of ‘ 77) bestowed a glorious bell to the school, which was originally set on a post, on the Montessori side of the school.

Not satisfied with how it was being displayed – like some poor, lost, soul, – ringing out education all by itself.  No sireeee, by the powers that be; a bell tower, was erected atop the gymnasium in 1976, and then re-introduced, with accompanying, appropriate aplomb, and ceremony.

It was at this point, that things got a little jiggy with the SPA Bell.
It disappeared.  Who’d a thunk it?

Who, pray tell, would creep around a school, the night before seniors were graduating, preparing to blow off a full summer of steam before going to college and actually, steal something?  Well, NOT seniors.  That, we know for sure.
Parenthetically; High school seniors have far more important things on their minds like, “I need to go to bed early, so I can rise early, and work hard all summer, make money, and save the money.  Then, I can help Mom and Dad with college expenses, textbooks, and extraneous technology, that I will need, so I can compete with my new classmates and learn how to be a productive, intelligent, student, and later on, be known in the world as an industry mogul.”

So, okay, maybe it was the HHPrep seniors who stole the bell.

Possible Bell-thieves from the Sea Pines Academy Cold Case Files

Possible Bell-thieves from the Sea Pines Academy                                   Cold Case Files

However, one thoughtful senior, Ricky Marscher, set a fine example of moral integrity, by returning the bell upon his graduation.  He’s probably doing very well these days, somewhere, taking care of the less fortunate, doing things right, and falling into money over, and over.  (That’s the way Karma works, in case you were wondering.  We learned about Karma at Sea Pines Academy, along with trigonometry, and how to predicate an adjective. So, there.  What did you learn at May River Academy?)

Now, how do I know Ricky Marscher set such a good behavioral example?     Because Charlie Fraser, that stalwart alum of yore, returned it (“it,” being, the Sea Pines Bell), the following year, after his class stole it (“it”, the bell, again).  Which set another precedent of good moral behavior for the next graduating class.
You’d think the seniors were getting back on the right track about now, wouldn’t you?  Well NO.  Apparently, the class of 1983, none to happy about the SPA/MRA merger, took it (yes, “It”…still the bell), and kept it amongst themselves, passing it (yes, the bell- PAY ATTENTION), around, ringing it angrily, from student to student for a few years, until they realized,

“Hey, this school-merger thing is even better for all of us than before!
“And my dad – who went to MRA – and my mom – who went to SPA – can rest easy in the knowledge that they did NOT concede to each other by sending me to a happily blended school.”

A Later Group of Suspects in the Missing Bell Case

A Later Group of Suspects in the Missing Bell Case

Of course, that’s not what really happened.

No, what happened really, was that Charlie Fraser (presently mature, and having his own son Elliott, graduated from Sea Pi- I mean, Hilton Head Prep) remembered that it was donated to the school as a lovely present, and should be searched out, and resurrected.

So, in 2005, after many years of no-bell-in-the-bell-tower above the gym, Charlie Fraser (nee, Fraser, of the original Clan Fraser, son of the late Joseph Fraser, namesake of late brother of Charles, founder of Sea Pines – the Resort, not the school), went off in search of this once-precious gift.

After trying many closed, locked doors, which remained locked, and following empty clues and loose ends – which seemed to get looser – and resorting to threats about getting his, just-out-of-the-can, no-neck, good-buddies, Guido and Sal (not to be confused with his, just-out-of-the-clink, red-neck good buddies, Bubba and Earl), to fine-tune some thumbs, until somebody finally said, “Again, with the bell, Charlie?  I’m sure there are twelve-step programs for obsessive-compulsive bell-seekers, out there.  I’ll even go with you to your first meeting.”

To which his wife, Linda (nèe Steadman, also of Sea Pines Academy pedigree) said, “Do they also have programs for the wives of obsessive-compulsive bell-seekers?  Can I at least get a martini at the wives’ meeting?”

This last query got a response out of none other than Sam Bauer, esq, ’84, who asserted, “That’s it.  My conscience is bothering me too much. I can’t bear to see dear Linda Steadman Fraser traipsing her way to Bell-seekers Anon, especially because I know they don’t serve martinis at those meetings.  (Don’t ask me how I know that, it’s a lawyer/client privilege-thing).” And Mr. Bauer summoned Mr. Fraser to his very lawyerly office, forthwith, where the bell had been residing since – guess when? – 1984.  Duh.

Eventually, the CSI Van was Called in to Continue the Search

Eventually, the Prep CSI Van was Called in to Continue the Search

Sam Bauer, as legal representation of said class of 1984, agreed to return the bell to Charlie at that point, on the condition that nobody was to ever find out where it had been all that time, and that they (they, being the class of’ 84,) had not used the bell as a punch bowl for annual class reunions during the years it had been, ‘disappeared’.
“Ha, ha, ha!” Charlie had crossed his fingers behind his back during this conversation.

Finally, the day came when Charlie’s son, Elliott Fraser, presented the bell to HHPrep’s 2005 Headmistress, Sue Grosbeck, at his graduation.  Ms. Grosbeck was so happy; they had another ceremony at the beginning of the following school year, restoring the bell to its rightful place in the bell tower above the gym.  Indeed, so much elation inspired a new scholarship, Bell Tower Foundation, to pay a dwarfed hunchback to guard the bell after all that brouhaha through the years.  Sadly, nobody could find a dwarfed hunchback who would sacrifice his life for a bell in such a way, in this day and age.

One would think, after all this time and travail, that the bell would be highly prized and respected and honored and would not need such high-level security anyway, wouldn’t one?

Well, apparently the Karmic lessons of yesterday have been lost on today’s ungrateful ingrates.  Because almost as soon as it was rediscovered, it was stolen again the next year by the class of 2006, and not returned, but actually, given covertly, to the next graduating class of – you guessed it – 2007!  Who, in turn, held onto it and secretly snaked it over to the class of 2008, never once bringing it back to hang elegantly in the now-empty bell tower above the gym.

Way to go, guys.

Finally, someone found the bell, which had been submerged for two years in a pond, hiding from gators and stray golf balls, no less, and paid to have it restored, and this person gave it back to Charlie who, rightly, wasn’t too excited to bring it back to the school immediately.

It is here that the legend gets fuzzy again, having read Charlie’s last correspondence, which had become slightly vague, as though written by a wizened, yet enlightened genius on a quest, from a fog-cloaked rowboat in the North Atlantic (just after his last expedition heading south, into the Sea Pines Club Course marsh sunset).     Finally, a compassionate woman, so named Leslie Richardson, stepped into the picture and extrapolated the SPA Bell from Fraser’s frozen hands, which had become clawed from holding onto this bell-seeking dream too tightly for so many years.  It (yes, “it” the bell), now rests undisturbed, in the breezeway at Hilton Head Prep, where millennials race by laughing, talking, and paying no mind to the cracked relic of yore that once rang them gloriously into the next class. For they not know, for whom the bell tolls.

Hilton Head Art, ‘Life is a Carnival’, by Nancy Mitchell

Fire-Eating sculpture, Mr. Inferno

Fire-Eater, “Mr. Inferno,” sculpture hangs on wall.

Want to see what happens if you pursue your heart’s desire?  Check out Nancy Mitchell’s most recent handmade, hand painted sculptures at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’Walter Greer Gallery, sponsored by the Art League of Hilton Head.  Her show is inspired by the Savannah Carnival, put on annually by the Shriners.

Made from clay, wood, and painted with acrylics, each work is an exquisite, detailed creation, comprised of many meaningful levels, and signifiers.  One will observe something new on each viewing of the same piece, and feel the same childlike delight as though seeing it for the first time.

A surprising pleasure; some of the larger sculptures move with motorized parts for an enchanting display, such as the “Country Carousel,” and “Country Ferris Wheel,” (see close-ups below).

Pie-winner on ferris wheel

Blue-ribbon pie-winner rides the moving ferris wheel in “Country Ferris Wheel.”

Carousel sculpture

Detail of motorized, “Country Carousel”








And, each one tells its own story.

Sideshow Tent

Sideshow Sculpture, “Step Right Up.”

Guitar Girl from sideshow

Sideshow close-up of Guitar Girl.

Like the girl playing guitar in the sideshow sculpture (see close-up, left) inspired by Mitchell’s daughter, real-life musician, Hannah Wicklund, singer in the rock band, The Steppin Stones.  Or, the man selling cotton candy, in “Cotton Candyman,” (wall sculpture, below right), based on the Italian vendor who worked the cotton candy stall.

sculpture of cotton candy man

“Cotton Candyman,” wall sculpture.

"Tough Crowd," sculpture

“Tough Crowd,” offers the whimsical perspective of the festival crowd.

Unique angles, whimsical characters, and bright colors hold the gaze as all the details come into focus, as in the sculpture, “Tough Crowd” (below, left). This work provides a rarely explored glimpse of the carnival audience enjoying the show.  A true joy to behold.

Carnival man on stilts

“Things are Looking Up.”

Such it is also, for the tall man on stilts, making balloon animals for kids (right), in the cleverly titled, “Things are Looking Up”.

There are multi-textural, multi-layered works that tell several stories at once.  And you don’t have to be privy to all of them to appreciate the piece in its entirety.  “Rock and Roll Funhouse,” is one such sculpture (below).  To see what Mitchell has added to the guitar’s fingerboard and head stock, you’ll just have to check out the exhibit this month.  Believe me, nothing disappoints.

Guitar-shaped funhouse

“Rock and Roll Funhouse,” displays the artist’s incredible attention to detail.

Wicklund family

Nancy Mitchell flanked by husband, Matthew Wicklund (l) and daughter, Hannah Wicklund (r). Not pictured, son Luke Mitchell.


Mitchell will gift 5% of the proceeds of her sculpture sales to the Shriners Hospital fund, in honor of Mark Bradley, Jr., a childhood friend of Hannah’s, who played drums in her band when they were kids.  After being in a plane crash years ago, he sadly passed on in a Shriners Hospital burn unit, after being treated for three months.  The donation is also a nod to her uncle, who was a Shriner, and is in recognition of the Savannah Carnival, which the organization sponsored annually.

sculpture of kids eating

Playful, “Sweet and Salty” wall sculpture.

Nancy Mitchell’s, “Life is a Carnival,” show of original, hand made sculptures, presented by the Art League of Hilton Head, can be viewed in the Walter Greer Gallery at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina this month.  

An opening reception will be held, Thursday, April 9, from 5 to 7 pm.  Dates – April 7  through May 3, 2015.; Days and Times- 10 am to 4 pm, Tuesday – Saturday; Location-  Mid-island, 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island, SC;  Contact-  (843)681-5060 for more info.    Cost- Featured art is for sale, event is free and open to the public.

Pet-Friendly Hilton Head is Perfect Winter Retreat

Don't Wait For Me

What Are You Waiting For?

Hi!  Sam, again.  As you may, or may not know, Hilton Head Blog Angel has a new gig.  A gig that has absorbed her thoughts to herself, as well as in conversations with family and friends, AND her musings on our walks and beach days.  Obviously, she cannot handle both, a newspaper gig, and, a blog gig, otherwise she’d be plugging in some copy here a little more frequently than once every couple of months.  As it is, I gotta’ keep the machine rolling along like it’s well-oiled, so you guys don’t notice the big, widening gaps in between her blog posts.

Now, you may wonder, why it’s such a big deal, if she’s only writing a column twice a month – every other Monday – about Hilton Head, why then is it so difficult to handle that, AND  a blog?  Well, we were wondering that ourselves, me and Johnny D.  Like, how long does it take to think about a topic, and then write about it, and you only have to do that like, every two weeks, right? Well apparently, we shouldn’t have been wondering that stuff out loud in front of Blog Angel, because, being a fragile, creative, word artiste (as she describes herself on a good day), she is constantly misunderstood by us less-evolved neanderthals.   I really don’t know what she means when she says things like that, but Johnny D doesn’t appreciate it either.  So, we just get up and watch TV in the other room, so she can have her space to, you know, flesh out ideas, and create.

water fountains

A Fountain For Everyone In the Family

Which brings me to my promo.  Those of you who have pets, should ask them where they want to go, and I’ll bet they say, ‘Hilton Head, please!’  And do you know why?  Well, I’ll tell you why.  Two reasons: 1) Great, easy-to understand leash laws for the whole island, including beaches.  And most public places, you’ll see containers with signs offering plastic bags for free, while you’re walking your best friend, in case you forgot to bring your own.  They even set us up with showers and water fountains, here on Hilton Head Isle.

Hi George.

That’s My Man, George Evans. Always ready with a treat.

And b.) the people that work here love pets!  Can you believe it?  Everywhere I go with Mom or Johnny D, I get treats.  There’s even some restaurants that let you sit outside and eat with your dog, like they do in the Old Country.  Wherever that is.  In the mornings, when we walk the golf course, the Guys, like Steve and Grady and Joe, take care of me with biscuits.  They know how hard I work treeing squirrels, so the golfers can play through, undisturbed.  It’s not easy being me, down here.

Leaving Sam's scent

Back Roll in the Sand, Leaves a Good Scent for Everyone. Sam was Here!

I know it looks simple, but taking care of Hilton Head Blog Angel and Johnny D, is like, the hardest job you could ever ask for.  You don’t know what I’m up against. So, make sure you are nice to the security guards and the bag boys and caddies while you’re here, because they’ll all take care of you, while you’re here in the middle of the winter, sneaking a break from those crazy snow storms up north, east, and west.  Really.

Who’d ‘a thunk, it would be warm enough to hit the beach this past weekend, right?  But there I am, living large, happy to be here, sharing my scent with anything that will let me roll around backwards and bark.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

2014 in review- Hilton Head Blog Angel Thanks Friends and Family for a Stellar 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Hilton Head Aria Weekend, Like Eating the Icing First, Says Sam, the Beach Beagle

Beagle on sofa

Sam Gears Up For a Night of Arias on Hilton Head

Hi.  Sam here.  It’s been a while, I know, and I wasn’t planning to make this a habit, but Blog Angel asked me to do her a solid.  And apparently, a “solid” doesn’t mean, what I did next to the tennis courts on our way back from yesterday’s run, which is why there was some confusion on my end, about when to get this thing out to the reading public.  You see, my way of getting the daily news, is a whole lot more interesting than the way you guys do it.  I sometimes forget how far behind the homo sapiens species is, when it comes to communicating with one another.

La Scala Poster

IACHH Offers Islanders an Aria Weekend

Be that as it may, HiltonHeadBlogAngel, is quite busy these days promoting the Italians and working for The Man.  Not sure what that means, just checking her notes here, and that’s all she wrote. Literally… that’s all she wrote… down for me, here… so bear with me.  Oh yeah, and she’s still working on some other big project, which is taking up, like, half a life-time, to complete.  It better be some project, is all I can say, because I am tired of picking up the slack around here, I can tell you.  And, she’s tired of picking up after me, is what she would say, in retort to my uppity attitude. All right already, moving on…

For those of you who live in a deep hole in the ground, under a bucket, and also, those of you who may live up there in the New England area, like Rhode Island; you may have missed the biggest, best, Italian Heritage Festival on Hilton Head, there ever was.

But that’s okay, all is not lost.  See, this month, being October, the 10th month of 2014, you can still catch up with those crazy Italians in the American Southeast Coastal Corridor region.  But only, if you’ve got the moxie to just get-up-and-go, for a good time, and a long weekend, of fabulous, classy arias, and Broadway show tunes, and even spend a day at the beach.  Check this out:

Tenor for La Scala weekend on Hilto Head

John Kaneklides, Award-winning Tenor

The Italians on Hilton Head are bringing EIGHT – count ’em – EIGHT, major opera singers to the island to sing only your favorite tunes, with their favorite accompanists.


Krista Rose Wilhelmsen

Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I just want to hear my favorite songs from a story.  Y’know? I don’t want to have to sit through the whole first act, and unfolding plot-points, monologues, and choruses, just to finally get to hear a rousing, rendition of Maria, from “West Side Story”, or to suffer the pontifications of the king in “MacBeth”, just to hear someone finally sing, Come dal ciel precipita, which is what you’re pretty much in for, if you buy tickets to the opera in Vienna, or someplace like that.


Will Jacob

No way.  Not here in Coastal, Italian Lowcountry.  They like to get right to the point of things when it comes to entertainment.  Like, eating the icing off the cake first, so to speak.  Kind of like Johnny D, the president of the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head (IACHH), who pretty much lives his whole life eating the icing off the cake first.  Those of you who know Il Presidente personally, know what I’m talking about.  (FYI: He’s the one who lent me the sunglasses for the photo shoot up there on the leather sofa).

Lacquavia Alston

Lacquavia Alston

So, rather than making you buy an expensive season of tickets to watch a bunch of three-hour shows, just to hear your ONE favorite song, the Italians on Hilton Head, are condensing it into one easy night out: great singers, performing only the best arias and Broadway showstoppers, for a night of pure, uninterrupted, musical joy. Wooo-heee!

Opear Singer

John Fowler to Sing, 10/25 & 26, on Hilton Head

You can’t beat that kind of upscale entertainment with a stick, especially when you consider that all the proceeds go to local charities and scholarship funds.  This is the best of the best, singing the best of the best, all for you, dear music lovers.  So don’t waste any time, buy your tickets today, by clicking here, or you can call 888-860-2787,  or call Johhny D for more information, 401-524-1416.  Then, don your opera-night-out-duds, and have a great time!

Singer Stallard

Tina Milhorn-Stallard

singer headshot

Harold McIntosh

Marc Rattray

Marc Rattray

And this is all being made possible, thanks to the generosity of our presenting sponsor, Coastal States Bank, without whom, it wouldn’t be possible-which- okay… I already said that. Thanks, Coastal States Bank for being our presenting sponsor.

Bank logo

La Scala to Broadway, Presenting Sponsor

So here’s the nuts and bolts:

La Scala to Broadway  is playing ONE NIGHT ONLY at the Arts Center of Hilton Head, on October 25th, 2014.

Buy your tickets online, or call the box office: 888-860-2787, or for more information: 401-524-1416