Four women left Richburg for Chester with simple plans in their heads. First, they were to stop at Ezell's Hardware, then on to Anna's Arbor for lunch and then a quick retreat home for a short nap. A thing that most all ladies over the age of, well, say 27 do on a Saturday afternoon. This afternoon turned out to be a bit different.
They went to Ezell's, purchased brooms and some glue and looked at all of the heavy cast iron pots whose lids they couldn't even lift. They admired the old, worn floors that held great secrets of history, some known and others long buried in the minds of men and women who lie resting in Evergreen.
The only person in the group of four who remembered shopping in that very store with her mother when she was a little girl was Sylvia Leckie Jennings. She talked about the meat market next door, where all of the carnivores of Lando were served great stews, steaks and chicken-fried delights for years in her grandmother's boarding house, simply known as "Grannies."
As we continued up Gadsden Street, Sylvia told of stores and people she remembered when Anna's Arbor was McCrorey's, a store that played a great part in all the young girl's lives. Tangee lipstick and Blue Waltz Perfume added to the secret ritual of getting dressed and being brave when a touch of that "natural" lip color was added to their fashion mystique.
Lunch was, as always, delicious, and we all declined dessert, although in our hearts we were longing for a slice of that extravagant chocolate cake or the humble buttermilk pie that made taste buds water in delight. As we left, we saw the flier for the upcoming Friday night Valentine's dinner. It looked wonderful: dining by candlelight, salad, soup or sorbet, surf and turf, sinful dessert and glass of house wine. Then there is a band and dancing. If you would like to go, just call (803) 581-2666.
As we made our way back to the car, the discussion went to, "While we are here, why not visit Pat Dennis' antiques shop at the top of the hill and see the renovations that have been done?"
"Why not?" Sylvia answered. "It is only a little after 1," and off we went, the naps forgotten.
Up Country Antiques, was a delight: new things, new shelves, a shiny floor and elegant displays. The glory of the visit was running into Martha Taylor of Lowrys. Imagine, on a Saturday afternoon, there they were, Sylvia, Kate, and Phyllis O'Connell, all from the Richburg-Edgemoor area, shopping and having a grand womanly time, talking, laughing and sharing gossip. It is simply the way Southern women are. We love to meet friends we saw only yesterday, making this day as if it were a moment in history. It is simply our way. We hug, laugh and take great pleasure in seeing someone we like or don't like. However, we are what we are, generous, social and effervescent. We are South Carolinians and act accordingly.
Now, to the new store in town, Hilltop Antiques, right where the Runyan Jewelry Store once held court. Where brides selected their china, crystal and silver, where young men stood in line to buy glamorous engagement rings, Valentine's gifts or anniversary presents, a store that was a vital part of the social and romantic life of Chester. That venerable place now holds antiques and things of another time. We did some shopping. One of us bought a chair and loaded that in the car. After much noise making and kissing, we were off again to the car to return home. No, not yet -- we were now on the move and the big search at what was, at one time, the Pryor Hospital, The Borhanian House and now Dianne LaPointe's restored Southern mansion, where she is selling things of value at what we were told is a "real buy". The four wheels carrying four eager women rush to the York Street address.
Ah, we have found our place. Dishes, teacups of royal vintage, an old china bowl and pitcher with matching hot water pot and shaving mug resting on the dining room table. We began a walk through one lovely old room after another. Rare Turkish and Persian rugs covered the floor and leaned up against history-laden walls. Teapots and hand-embroidered tablecloths waited to be introduced to a new table in a new home and us opening wallets and pocketbooks trying to make just a little better deal. But Miss LaPointe understands her things and their value. Nevertheless, the car went home laden down, and all three women are owners of things they do not need.
We headed up York Street toward home, and then came the question, "What about Hall's Lumber Co.?" Straight down the road to see the Kelseys and all of their wonderful antiques.
Due to her good luck and honest living, one of the group discovered Hall's had crystal doorknobs. Ah, what a blessing and what a find, rare things in the world of collectors, things that are searched for and treasured. More time was spent looking and oohing and aahing over old crocks, old chairs, vintage clothes and hats, a grand collection of chapeaus from a long time ago. Drop on one of those little Jackie Kennedy pillboxes and look equally chic.
The fourth person in the adventure was the writer, and writing is all I do. No money spent, no wants unfulfilled, just sublimely happy with a story of three ladies who can outshop and outspend the average American woman and do it all without a nap.