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Sonny's Stories

Sonny's Stories

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Prom Dress Perpetrator

Posted by [email protected] on July 25, 2013 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (1)

In 1957, my bride to be was a first year school teacher in Beaufort. Being a single female, she was required to stay at the Teacherage, a dorm type large home run by the district. Back in the day, a single female of good reputation did not rent an apartment alone. That was a time when having teachers of sterling background was important. The Teacherage is now a bed and breakfast called the Two Suns Inn on Bay Street. (She could have stayed with her family if they lived here.)


Since I was finishing school, she worked the year before we married. One holiday, all of the teachers and the housemother left for the weekend, so she would be alone in that huge house. I offered to ask my grandmother, who ran a boarding house in town, to let her stay there, but she refused.


So after a date at the local drive-in movie, I was to drop her off at the dark building. She didn’t refuse my offer to check the house out before leaving.


So I made the rounds, checking doors and windows and closets. I got to one closet and the hackles raised on my neck. I went into combat mode thinking with all senses on alert. I grabbed the doorknob with my left hand, had my right fist balled up if needed and pulled the door open very quickly.


Something suddenly flew out the door and landed on my face and chest. I heard a crackling noise and instinctively started pounded it with both fists. Short one-two punches as hard as I could. Then the perpetrator fell away onto the floor.


My bride showed up as I was still panting and asked, “What was all that noise?” I explained that when I opened the door, IT suddenly flew out and I started hitting IT.


We both looked at IT on the floor. IT was a girl’s pink hoop style formal prom dress with a tattered paper cover. She laughed first and then I did. Apparently when I opened the door quickly, the air rushed in and blew the dress off the hanger into my face.


We decided to keep it a secret. I could see the headline in the then weekly Beaufort Gazette, “LOCAL MAN UNINJURED AFTER BEING ATTACKED BY GIRL’S PROM DRESS.”


She found another paper cover and we checked the dress for damage and there was none, not even one torn seam.


You know, they just don’t make prom dresses that strong anymore.


Ghosts Under the Bed

Posted by [email protected] on July 25, 2013 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

When I was at the "ghosts under the bed and behind the closet door" stage, I used to cry out for mom to check for ghosts. She would reassure me and my brother Steve that there were no ghosts and we would believe her and go to sleep.

But one night, I must have had anxiety attacks and on the third call to check for ghosts, she told me that "There are no more ghosts because a long time ago, they jumped into the river and the fish ate all of them up."

Well the good news was that I wasn't bothered by ghosts after that and every evening was a quiet snooze time.

The bad news was that I didn't eat fish for a loooong time.


German Spies

Posted by [email protected] on July 25, 2013 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

During WW II, German submarines were known to be patrolling along the US coast, mostly for getting shipping reports, etc.


An article in the Beaufort Gazette, then a weekly newspaper, posted an article in the 1940s that I remember and is paraphrased here.


It seems that the few residents on Hilton Head Island never dreamed that they would be a part of the war. Seasons changed and the farming and fishing continued as usual,except for the rationing and shortages of staples, but most lived off the land, so it was as if there were no war.


However, it seems that two strangers were seen walking along one of the dirt roads and stopped a local resident to ask how to get to Savannah. The strangers were pale, wore rumpled suits, even though it was a weekday and asked their questions in a strange accent. They were told that they would have to catch the ferryboat and take Highway 17 to Savannah.


The resident was immediately suspicious, since the few whites there were well tanned and no one wore a suit except maybe on Sunday. He contacted the local constable. The constable contacted a local volunteer group keeping watch along the beaches. They formed a posse and located the two strangers heading for the ferry. They asked them questions and immediately knew that they had to be German spies.


As it turned out they were arrested and placed in a camp near Savannah. They were cooperative, hoping for nice treatment and admitted that they were spies and were to get info about the shipping from Savannah.


Apparently the captain of the German U-boat mixed up his location and landed them on that sparsely populated barrier island with no bridge and populated mostly by black farmers called Hilton Head instead of Tybee Island.


Beaufort Academy Bomb Scare

Posted by [email protected] on July 25, 2013 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

When I worked in administration at Beaufort Academy, we would get an occasional bomb scare. We followed the routine and called and pulled the fire alarm to get everyone outside.


One of my chores was to go around with two deputies and unlock 400 lockers with a master key. I would get blisters everytime.


We never had a bomb, but we did have a scary moment. One of the deputies found a metal can in one locker and was inspecting it carefully. Both deputies and I were looking at it wondering if it was dangerous. One deputy noticed it had a screw off top and carefully began to unscrew it. As soon as it was loose, something shot out of the can and scared all three of us. On the floor was a Jack in the Box doll with a spring attached. It took several minutes before we recovered enough to think it was funny


Gathering of Souls

Posted by [email protected] on May 7, 2013 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Regarding the gathering of souls, I believe that some of my high school friends and I may have caused some concern back in the 50s.

Back then, my friends and I would spend nearly every weekend camping out on the river banks of some of the islands around here. We nearly always went by boat. Back then we didn't see any "No Trespassing" signs and, in fact, most of the places we went had no one living on them.

All of us played in the high school band and, on one trip, we decided to bring our instruments. We had two trumpets, a saxophone, a flute, a tuba, and my clarinet.

About 2:00 in the morning we were playing marches but our favorites were "When the Saints Come Marching In" and also "Swing Low Sweet Chariot". After we played the last two several times we noticed some house lights coming on across the river. We were sure that hearing this music wafting across the river in the dark night may have alarmed some people and they were gazing out to the starry skies looking for the saints or the chariots descending.

We packed our instruments and decided not to ever take them again.

Unna bile em and bile em........

Posted by [email protected] on May 2, 2013 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

This is a story about Bo Sam McGowan, a local person of interest. Back in the '60s we hired this Gullah woman from our farm labor to help out in the house and look after our two preschool children while we worked. She was an excellent cook, and told us that she worked one time for a man named Capt'n Bo Sam, a local shrimp boat owner.


He shot a great blue heron and brought it home for her to cook. She told us" Unna pic dem feathers til the whole bak yaad be full. Unna cut de nek off cuz dey ain't hav a pot big 'nuf to put de bird in. Unna put de nek in de pot and unna bile an' bile em. Unna chek de meat and 'e be tough. Unna bile em and bile em sum mo'. Capt'n Sam cum in de do' and axe bout de bird. Unna tellum it be cook all dey long. Capt'n. Sam set to de tabul and unna take de nek out and win' roun' and roun’ on de plate. Capt'n. Sam look and look an' study dat nek fo' while and den say "' Gib dis nek to de dawg."' Unna sthro' the nek out de do to de dawg and dat dawg smellum and run an' hide in de woods. Unna had to bury dat nek and de bird fo' dat dawg come home. Unna tell Capt'n. Sam dat if 'e bring somp'in home lak dat 'gain, yunna cin cook fo heself."

Here's the King's English translation:

I picked the feathers until the whole back yard was full. I cut the neck off because they didn't have a pot big enough to put the bird in. I put the neck in the pot and I boiled and boiled it. I checked the meat and it was tough. I boiled it and boiled it some more. Captain Sam came in the door and asked about the bird. I told him it had been cooking all day long. Captain Sam sat at the table and I took the neck out and wound it around and around on the plate. Captain Sam looked and looked and studied the neck for a while and then said, "Give this neck to the dog." I threw the neck out the door to the dog and the dog smelled it and ran and hid in the woods. I had to bury that neck and the bird before the dog came home. I told Captain Sam that if he brought something home like that again he can cook it for himself.

Why Stories?

Posted by [email protected] on April 30, 2013 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

With all the immediate entertainment available to us, the art of storytelling is becoming more and more important. Stories connect us to our history. They introduce us to people we've never met but who have influenced our world and our lives. They give us a greater appreciation for history and help us find meaning to current events.

There's nothing better than sitting down with Sonny Bishop and listening to his stories. Most of them are incredibly funny (he likes those best). Some provide great wisdom. Others help you see what great places Beaufort and St. Helena Island are.

Check here frequently for regular installments of Sonny's Stories. You won't be disappointed!