Snow in Summerville: One hour of magic
Editor’s note: My name is Brenda Loyd Allred and I grew up in Summerville when it was a very small town. After graduating from Ashley Hall I went to Brenau College and received a degree in Political Science and History. But best of all I met the love of my life and we celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2010. Les and I now live at Franke at Seaside, which we think is the greatest place and are active members of Holy Cross Church on Sullivan’s Island. One of our favorite activities is attending a writing class named “Word Weavers.” This is where I found the courage to write my stories about growing up.
By Brenda Loyd Allred
Special to the Moultrie News
Snow was something I saw in storybooks or on the calendar hanging in the doctor’s office when I was growing up in Summerville. February was the worst month - dreary days of rain and what we natives thought was cold weather. The only good thing was you finally got to wear your Christmas winter coat.
The Charleston stores all had coat sales in November. You always knew what that big box under the Christmas tree held for you. It was not the bride doll with her luggage and trousseau you had prayed for. Every Summerville child would sadly tell you that Chesterfield coats, the only brand sold at Condon’s Department Store, never wore out. Christmas day was traditionally one of the warmest days of the winter season. People drove around with their convertible tops down. If you were lucky enough to get a new bike it was a perfect day to ride. It would have been a perfect day to play with your bride doll if you had gotten one, but not to wear the coat that would follow you home no matter where you left it. (Trust me on that)
When I was 6 years old a friend of mine named Mary invited me to her February birthday party. Mother and I went to our five and dime store for a gift. I found a beautiful glass bear filled with purple bubble bath. Mother approved the choice and price. The bear and I returned home. The more I looked at this bear with the purple bubble bath, the more I was unsure if Mary really deserved such an elegant gift.
Mother who was way ahead of the rest of the world in re-cycling kept a box of used gift paper. She would always find just the right size, iron the paper to get the wrinkles out and then wrapped a lovely gift topped with a re-gifted bow. Once wrapped, I knew this ended any discussion about who deserved the bear. Mother did remind me that a bear for cake and ice cream was not a bad trade and I had to agree. She always knew if all else failed, just appeal to my greed and I would give in.
All of the mothers were speechless with admiration when they found that Mary’s mother was not having her house wrecked with party games, but was dropping all of us at the theater to see a movie. No one had ever thought of her as such a clever person.
I don’t remember which movie we saw because near the middle of the film the lights came on, the screen went blank and the manager told us to put our coats on and follow him. Off we trooped outside. What to our wandering eyes should appear, not eight tiny reindeer, but something so much better. Snow.
We were marched across the street to the small city park and for the next hour of magic we little southern magnolias, played in the snow. We tasted it. We rolled in it. The bad boys stuffed it down the back of our coats, and we really didn’t care. Like all good things the snow melted and we went back and saw the rest of the movie. The manager called all of our parents and told them we would be an hour late. We came out of the theater and couldn’t wait to tell our mothers or daddies about our magical hour.
It wasn’t until I had re-lived the day about a hundred times that it suddenly hit me. Mary had my beautiful bear with the elegant purple bubble bath, but where was my cake and ice cream? I always held this against Mary. Years later when she got married I wondered if they produced that same birthday cake at the reception and did she share it this time?