My Response to the New York Times’ Google Article: What They left Out. A Lot!

Source: My Response to the New York Times’ Google Article: What They left Out. A Lot!

And to my dear friend, Morna McDermott, thanks for keeping them honest, because at the end of the day, this is what democracy looks like:

Morna the protestor

Morna McDermott, Activist, Educator, Author, Sister

Thanks to Island Elves, No More ‘Dumb’ Easter Bunnies on Heritage Sunday

Easter Pail Deliveries in Sea Pines

Easter Elves, Elissa Ealey, Christien Turner, and Sharon McDonnell prepare Easter pails for morning deliveries in Sea Pines.

A great secret about being on Hilton Head at special times of the year is that island families and visitors are protected by elves that live underground.  Through the years, they have observed the island’s growth from their quiet little nooks, sneaking out at dusk and in the wee hours to assist us in areas of our evolution where we need help – but didn’t always know it – and at certain times of the year, like Easter, they hire assistants to help with overflow.  Right now the assistants work for Sea Pines Resort, and are taking calls for Easter Bunny pails, at $40/each, and a wagon ride, at 843-842-1979. They are under the careful supervision of head Easter elf, Jen Westerfeld, and yes, reservations are necessary.

Sea Pines Easter Bunny

The Sea Pines Easter Bunny delivers on time, and also offers a wagon ride.

Easter elves became necessary due to a story about a family whose parents would like to remain nameless.  But whom nevertheless, had set a rather demanding precedent for their darling children, known as Carmen and Preston of Baynard Cove environs, whereby the Easter Bunny always left full, and overflowing baskets of chocolate eggs, goodies, and pastel-colored sundries next to the fireplace Easter’s Eve, giving much incentive for the little angels to snap awake early for church in the am each year.

But woe, one season back in the 1970’s, the sacred Sunday fell on the same day as the sacred Heritage Golf Tournament Final Sunday round (just like this year, of our Lord, 2017).  Which also meant that sometimes, the rituals accompanying the hallowed Saturday Eves, also conflicted with one another, resulting in opposing early, Bunny tee-times, and church bells.

To wit; due to the aforementioned conflicting rituals the night before, the Easter Bunny did not make it to the fireplace of Casa Hawkins one Easter/Heritage Sunday morning, back in the day.  You can imagine, upon bounding out to the fireplace in bunny pajama finery at sunrise finding no Easter baskets, the children were none-too-pleased.

As later family relations have retold this tale, the wise Queen-Mum, and her visiting sister, snuck out the back porch on the 11th tee in their dressing gowns with baskets, candy, and painted eggs (whilst the CBS cameramen were setting up on the 15th for the final day wondering to each other, what will the Hilton Head residents think of next, as they remembered that the year before, two streakers ran across the 17th fairway on live tv).  Unconcerned at what the cameramen might be thinking, the sisters quickly arranged the baskets nicely at the front door of the Hawkins’ residence.

Pleased with their work, the lovely debutantes, tiptoed back around into the house, as though this was all normal, Easter-Sunday-morning-Hilton-Head-goings-on, and said, “Well, what’s wrong Preston?  Why are you frowning this lovely dawn?”

And Carmen, who was older, and a little wisenheimer at this point in life said, “He’s mad because the Easter Bunny didn’t come this year.”

To which, the Queen’s sister said, “Well, has he checked out the front door?  Maybe the Easter Bunny couldn’t get down the fireplace last night.” (We were also new to the Sea Pines neighborhood, so certain child-ish beliefs of a general theme were getting spun to us in odd variations as we matured).

Frowning, Preston marched his little padded hoofies to the front door, swung it open, where, SURPRISE!  There were TWO Easter baskets filled with chocolate eggs, colored cellophane wrappers, with price tags, pine straw sticking out, and Spanish moss dripping off the sides.  Preston stood looking down for a few minutes, and finally said, “Dumb, Easter Bunny.”

[Just a heads-up; if you weren’t living here before 1980, the rest of this might be really boring.]

Which brings me to my earlier point about the elves that have been watching island humanoids (they call us, ‘Fumbling Island Ogres’ in case you were wondering), to see what kinds of antics we might be up to, in the course of a weekly episode.

For more examples (besides just the ‘Laughingstock Hawkins Clan of Baynard Cove,’), at one time in Hilton Head’s development, early Island Ogres thought it might be nifty to erect green stop signs (so unique, even Horace Sutton mentioned it in the Chicago Tribune in 1969) and to have directional signage hanging from boat oars, to keep things recreational-looking, and resort-ish for vacationers.

Seriously.  Old-timers like Bart Whiteman, Clan Berrigan, Steve Plowden, and all of Charles Perry’s kids will back me up on this.

Bart Whiteman

Bartman, Island Realtor extraordinaire, remembers all.

As everyone now knows, landscaped rotary circles were the answer to stoplights; adorned with trees and foliage, hiding the other side of the road, so newcomers to the island would not know if the road ended, or went around to the other side, or dead-ended, or what the heck?  Why doesn’t this Godforsaken place have streetlights?

Elves noticed immediately (of course, amidst much glee and knee-slapping), that Fumbling Ogres could not discern color from text when it came to disassociating the shade of green, from the word, ‘Stop’.  Nor, could they retreat quickly enough from making a right turn, where the sign that said HarbourTown, with a white, painted left arrow, was hanging from a brown oar with the paddle-end pointed towards the right.  This was especially funny, if it was the posted instructional sign on the rotary circle, and the paddle happened to be hanging leftward.

One can only imagine the resulting noise-pollution issues; horn honking, and finger-gesturing; lots of foreign-language shouting, which resembled much too closely, the cities from whence the Visiting Fumbling Ogres came.

So, after much more belly-laughing, the elves set about quietly adjusting mistakes for the Fumbling Island Ogres, who had to keep marching forward in this experiment known as the Shambala Hilton Head Island.

Sadly, no longer could the elves enjoy the escapades of Fumbling Ogres imbibing too much of the vine, falling from tavern into the bay, as weekend entertainment.

So, within a few short years, the green stop signs turned back to red, bike paths became more clearly marked with lots of little red stop signs, magnets appeared on refrigerators that told visitors not to feed alligators, and to turn off beach-oriented lights so the loggerhead turtle hatchlings could find their way to the ocean.  Then, signs appeared on beach pathways reminding everyone to pick up after their pets, and later signs that came with plastic bags to pick up after their pets (because the elves watched Fumbling Ogres ignore the first sign, so they had to actually build a roll of plastic bags into the sign – phew – Fumbling Ogres needed lots of help).

And yes, now you can call for the Easter Bunny, so that a little kid doesn’t have to stand at the front door, shaking his head saying, “Dumb Easter Bunny” late Sunday morning.


For a Bunny pail delivery call, 843-842-1979, or go to https://www.seapines.com/events/Easter-Pail-Deliveries/April-2017 within Sea Pines Resort only.  The Easter Bunny will bring a pail filled with beach toys and Easter candy, plus an elf will come along to assist.  The cost is $40./pail.  If you would like a pail reserved for your child and you are not staying in side Sea Pines, you can still order an Easter Pail, with 24 hours notice, and pick it up at the Sea Pines Fitness Center on Lighthouse Rd.

Hilton Head Lighthouse Barbershoppers

barbershop-chorus

Bill Andrus conducts the Hilton Head Lighthouse Chorus, December 2 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bluffton, SC (HHIBarbershoppers.org)

[The following unedited article is the PG-13 version of Sunday’s Island Packet, ‘Only on Hilton Head’, found in the Features section on page, C9, behind the half-page ad for activating your online digital Packet.]

If it weren’t for barbershop quartets, I probably wouldn’t know the second or third verses of most popular songs.  That’s because not only to barbershop singers know how to harmonize like nobody’s business, they also ANNUNCIATE clearly each word, so that we’re not all bellowing perfectly, “GLOR…OORR…oorr…oorr…or…RIA, in excelsis Deo!” and then mumbling into, “Shemp and Moe…m-hm…Curly… Why mhm…Gus trains…beer bong…” trailing on similarly for two more excruciating lines until we all belt out, “GLOR…OORR…OORR…oorr…or…RIA,” like we really mean it, darn it.  Alleluja, Angels We Have Heard on High.  Ta-da!

As one might guess, we paid close attention to the lyrics during the Holiday Serenade at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Malphrus Road, in Bluffton, Friday, December 2.  It helped that the programs they handed out included lyrics to all the carols so we could sing along (no fudging it that night with the Stooges, no siree). And might I say, what a lovely treat to hear Christmas carols sung in perfect and whimsical harmony by our own Hilton Head Island Lighthouse Chorus (www.hhibarbershoppers.org), a chapter within the Carolinas District of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

My neighbor Dennis Miller, sings bass in his own quartet within the Hilton Head chapter, and is busy making the rounds of assisted living facilities, offices, and churches this time of year.  Anyone who hasn’t booked a barbershop serenade, or attended a concert of barbershop chorus singers, is missing out on a very special, sometimes forgotten art in American vocal music history.

Barbershop singing began in the early 1800’s in American towns, before there was easy access to any kind of public entertainment.  Men would gather around barbershops – literally, it was a hangout back then – and sing harmony to amuse themselves and impress the ladies.  The art of harmonizing has tentacles reaching out to urban areas where city dwellers gathered to make music without instruments.  Remember the vocals of the Drifters, Temptations, the Four Seasons, and so on, all have their roots in the barbershop style of harmonizing.

And while they entertained themselves, America most certainly benefited from a whole industry and genre of inspiring sounds that permeate churches, holidays, and Americana. And speaking of holidays, if you miss out on a Christmas serenade, the next big one is definitely Valentine’s Day.

“Every year, we are booked all day long on Valentine’s Day.  We charge a small fee for two songs, a rose, and a card, delivered to your sweetheart’s door.  And the songs are as hokie as you could possibly want.  ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’ is always one of them,” said Dennis.  This last is a song I can only hear in my head off-key, in Alfalfa’s trembling, cracking voice singing to Darla with bubbles flying out of his mouth, so maybe Johnny D will surprise me with a little hokie barbershop serenade this year, and I’ll finally hear how ‘Sweetheart’ is supposed to be sung.

(You definitely have to watch this, okay? Now, you will totally appreciate the harmonious, harmonizing of the Hilton Head Barbershoppers)

Barbershop choruses donate portions of their proceeds to benefit area music non-profits, like high school programs that need rebuilding. Currently, much of the Lighthouse Chorus proceeds are going towards rebuilding their own membership.  Sadly, the area chapter of harmonizers has dwindled from about forty singers ten years ago, to sixteen or so, presently, as interest in the genre has waned.  Participating in competitions is also part of the annual schedule of events for members, an added perk of traveling that they enjoy.

The Hilton Head chapter encourages anyone interested in participating or listening to them rehearse or simply learning more about how to become a chorus singer (you only need to love to sing, the program says), to attend any of their weekly rehearsals on Tuesday night at 7 pm at the Cypress Clubhouse in Hilton Head Plantation, 20 Ladyslipper Lane, 29926.  You can call for more information, (843) 290-9517 or email, contactus@hhibarbershoppers.org.

A ‘Spectre’ of Light After the Dark

Only on Hilton Head

Unedited version submitted for the Island Packet, Sunday, October 30, 2016

After three weeks of hurricane disaster news and heroic recovery efforts, it’s good to know that anticipated, community-oriented events are still being planned and executed by business leaders who themselves are also recovering from Matthew’s devastation.

Mann's in Cinema Foyer

Larry and Lucie Mann enjoy intermission with wine and popcorn at their movie theater in Park Plaza, Hilton Head, SC.

Lucie and Larry Mann, owners/operators of Mann’s Park Plaza Cinema are hosting the Concours d’Elegance kick-off event Thursday, November 3, 2016, in a grand, silver screen party in the courtyard of their business located at 33 Office Park Rd, Ste 201, in Park Plaza just outside the main Sea Pines gate, next to Harris Teeter.

“We’ve been clearing debris from around our business and house, but as they say, the show must go on,” said Lucie on Sunday while she and her husband worked selling movie tickets, bartending, and conducting a Q&A via Skype with the filmmakers of an independent documentary about eating a plant-based diet called, “Eating Your Heart Out.”

It was like watching those motorized housekeepers on that old cartoon, The Jetsons, zipping around on motorized wheels, sweeping, while taking corners, smiling, talking, fielding questions about completely unrelated topics, films, and causes, heads swiveling to take in the whole business while staying focused on the conversation at hand.  I thought to myself, “I want what she’s having,” like the woman in that Rob Reiner movie.

Understand, this kind of multi-tasking is awesome to me.  I had just left my car parked in front of the box office and completely forgot about it for like, fifteen minutes because I had to remember both, buying popcorn, AND getting my mother seated AT THE SAME TIME.  Lucie carefully, kindly, and discreetly, tiptoed down the aisle and leaned over to me in the dark, saying, “Carmen, can you please move your car, so others can drop off their guests in front of the theater?”

Delicately implied at the end of that question, of course, was the word “numbnuts?”.

Hand-made earrings by Lucie Mann

Lucie Mann’s original, hand-crafted earrings, “No Two Are Alike”, are sold in the movie theater for $15 – $30/pair.

Lucie and Larry both bring an array of skills and talents to their partnership, which always culminates in amazing productions at their business.  Lucie is an architect by trade.  She also crafts her own earrings, and participates in local events that promote healthy, organic cooking and eating.  Larry’s background in contracting dovetails perfectly with their shared passion for neighborhood and community events, and of course all of these interests logically pointed them to buying a movie theater, right?

So, thanks to their shared passions, on November 3, 2016 at 5:30 pm, islanders will get a glimpse of Hollywood glamour, in the shape of one of the ten Aston Martin DB10’s made specifically for Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond movie, Spectre, (which will get it’s premiere Hilton Head screening also at Mann’s Nov. 3rd event).  This custom made car – estimated worth $3 million – is the only one currently being displayed in the United States as EON Productions rolls out its latest Bond movie, which also marks a fifty-year partnership between Astin Martin and EON, the company behind the 007 franchise.

Ilya Kagan, regional manager for Aston Martin, explained the precision and detail that went into the creation of the DB10, as well as the difference between “hero” cars, and “stunt” cars, when it comes to custom designing a car for a film.

James Bond and Astin Martin

Daniel Craig as James Bond, Agent 007, poses with one of 10 Aston Martin DB10’s made for the movie, Spectre, premiering on Hilton Head November 3, 2016 at Park Plaza Cinemas.

For the movie, Spectre, ten Aston Martin DB10’s were made.  Some were stunt cars, driven by the stunt doubles for the movie’s action sequences, and others, termed hero cars, are piloted by Daniel Craig as James Bond.  Unfortunately we, drooling cinematic plebeians, don’t get to know which of these cars will be on site at the Park Plaza Cinema courtyard on November 3, 2016.  But hey, who cares, right?  A three million dollar car is a three million dollar car, no matter whose derriere graced the driver’s seat, in my book.

“We at Aston Martin The Americas are excited to be able to bring this piece of cinematic history to a local movie showing at Hilton Head, SC. This is a very extraordinary vehicle, with only ten of them made, and with one of the examples of this car being sold On 19 February 2016, at a special auction at Christie’s in London for £2,424,500, or about $3.5 million, it makes for a very rare opportunity to see something like this in person,” said Kagan.

Attendees will get photo-ops with the DB10, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a screening of

Rows of red chairs in theater

Spectre attendees will enjoy the screening in Park Plaza Cinema’s new luxury reclining red theater chairs.

Spectre on Park Plaza Cinema’s BRAND NEW, RED, LUXURY, RECLINING, MOVIE CHAIRS!

Sounds like Vincent Chase’s sneak preview party in the movie Entourage, right?  Only, we’ll all keep our clothes on during the party, ‘kay?

Proceeds from Thursday’s event will go towards the Concours D’Elegance, and to the non-profit, Driving Young America (DYA), A Hilton Head Island High School program that supports students interested in pursuing a career in the automotive industry. Local vendors participating include, Ruby Lee’s, It’s Greek to Me, Delishee Yo, Whole Foods, Java Burrito, Signe’s Bakery & Café, Butch Hirsch Productions, TR Media World, and Crush Entertainment, Hugo’s Seafood & Steakhouse, 843 The Restaurant,

 Tickets Are Going Fast, So Buy Now

Spectre Event Specifics:

What –  Spectre Screening; Concourse D’Elegance Kick-Off Event
Food, wine, photo-op with Aston Martin from film
When – 5:30 pm, Thursday, November 3, 2016,
Where – Mann’s Park Plaza Cinemas, 33 Office Park Rd, Hilton Head
Tickets – $25.00 online here, Spectre Event Tickets or visit              www.mannsparkplazacinemas.com for more info.
Contact – 843-785-5001

A First Date with Joe Maffo

Man holds alligator

Joe adorns me with a snake necklace while showing off  one of his toys; a baby (live) alligator.

If you haven’t yet been to the Joe Maffo’s exhibit at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, then you are missing out on something special.  Held outside on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, Joe and his staff of students and volunteers educate delighted crowds about reptiles, chickens, and rabbits, among those he had the day I visited with Johnny D.

Brothers  Brothers, Miles and Owen, share a python.

kid holds baby gator

Local student assists Maffo as summer job.

kid with snake

Visitor from Beaufort, Miguel wears a python “hoodie” with Maffo.

Joe carefully wraps onlookers with his friends, then explains how and what they eat, and why they should never be approached in the wild.

“I want people to educate people to respect our wildlife, but not fear it.  We are all part of the same eco-system,”  says Joe.

 

 

 

 

And we’re not the only ones who appreciate Maffo’s expertise.  Featured in August’s Men’s Health magazine, pg. 34, he’s gone nationwide.  Also look for a piece in the Wall Street Journal called What’s in My Bag, for a look at what Joe Maffo carries around with him… maybe you don’t want to know!

chicken on guy's shoulder

Johnny D bonds with a chicken.

For more information about Critter Management call, 843-681-8050

Or check out the exhibit schedule here: http://www.coastaldiscovery.org/home/discover-and-learn/site-tours-programs/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Week to Get a Johnny D Tree at Sonesta Resort, and Help Hilton Head Prep!

Christmas Tree

Hilton Head Prep Decorated Tree for Sale at Sonesta Resort

Season Greetings, Islanders, and Holiday Guests!

This is the last week of Hilton Head Prep’s Annual Festival of Trees at Shipyard’s Sonesta Resort.  Representatives from Hilton Head Preparatory School will be selling these beautifully decorated Christmas trees from 3pm – 7pm.  When Prep representatives are not available, trees can still be purchased at the Sonesta Front Desk.

I call these, Johnny D trees.  For those of you who don’t know my husband, Johnny D, you also may not know that his favorite holiday family activity is NOT packing the family into Sorel snow boots, going to the nearby Christmas tree farm and carefully picking out the perfect fir, cutting it down, loading it into the flatbed in the snow with the kids helping, and driving it home singing Christmas carols.

No.

Johnny D

Johnny D, Tells a Friend About His Day Choosing a Tree.

Finding a Johnny D tree, means sliding barefoot into your Ferragamo driving shoes, taking your convertible Mercedes to a nearby hotel on the beach, choosing the flashiest, most sparkly, already-decorated tree, palming the valet an extra fiver to heave it into the trunk, reward oneself with a glass of pinot grigio at the bar, for a job well done (having braved the traffic circles to get there), and then contributed to the Prep Christmas fund, his wife’s alma mater. High-five Johnny D, and Merry Christmas Hilton Head Prep!

Below, is what’s left on the Festival of Trees schedule this week.  Don’t miss out, get yourself a Johnny D tree, and then pat yourself on the back.

Please join us for the following Special Events coming up this week at 
The Sonesta! 
Christmas Tree

Decorated Christmas Trees Benefit Hilton Head Prep’s Scholarship Program

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Hilton Head Prep’s Strings will perform.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 6:15 pm

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes will perform Lessons and Carols, which is based on a service originally offered at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England in 1918.  The service combines readings about the Christmas story from prophecy of a messiah to the fulfillment of the prophecy in the gospel texts. Carols will be sung by Candace Woodson after each lesson; and students from middle school and lower school will perform the carols in sign language.

Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 6:15 pm

The Chamber Readers of Hilton Head Preparatory School will perform “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore.  The poem, which has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American” is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today.

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.   


Invitation

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

PrepBasketBallCourt

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.

Hilton Head Prep Revisionist History

WELL, WELL.  WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BELL?

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.