GILBRETH COLUMN: Remarkable downtown guinea fowl survive; entertain
Going through some of the mail, Carol and Tom Pinckney enjoyed the column on Peachtree Plantation.
“Now,” she writes, “we think you should visit the old Pinckney-Motte ruins near us at Fairfield called ‘Eldorado.’ It is on the old Santee Gun Club lands north of McClellanville and needs some attention! It was a collaboration between Rebecca Brewton Motte (the local Revolutionary War heroine) and her son-in-law, Thomas Pinckney; circa early 1700s, burned late 1800s.
“On another matter, legend has it that Peachtree is actually a corruption of ‘preach tree,’ a reference to a giant oak on the grounds under which a preacher once held forth???”
Mark Phillips (known to his friends as “Moose” — but don’t tell him I told you) wonders “if Thomas Lynch Jr. is the person for whom the Pee Dee town of Lynchburg is named and the person for whom the Pee Dee’s Lynch’s River is named? You might know that the Ashton Phillips clan came to Charleston from a farming community whose mailing address was RFD Lynchburg, the hometown of former U.S. Sen. Farley ‘Cotton Ed’ Smith.’ ”
Self-referred “James Island Boy” Lawton Posey, now living in West Virginia, says the column reminded him of a childhood journey with his mother to the Brick House ruins on Edisto Island, “where a forebear hung his gun over a door and fathered children whose DNA may rest with me, and who perhaps went to a Presbyterian church where organs were forbidden, pictures were taboo, and where life was tough even for the owners of brick homes.”
On the great Titanic Thompson, Stuart Dawson read the recently published biography by Kevin Cook and loved it. “One of Titanic’s bets was to pick which of two birds on a telephone wire would fly first. He almost always won because he knew that the female almost always flew first.
“Another book in a similar realm is ‘All American Mafioso: The Johnny Rosselli Story’ by Charles Rappleye.” The book apparently tells the story of Rosselli’s mob connections and later collaborative efforts with CIA agents to overthrow Fidel Castro, if not kill him outright.
Punster Jim Augustin is thrilled that the baseball season is now in full swing (my lame words, not his — don’t want to damage his reputation). “What’s not to like about a sport,” he asks, “where a miss is termed a strike?” Jim additionally quotes the great Yogi Berra, who said, “If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.”
It’s been awhile since I mentioned downtown Charleston’s famous guinea fowl that amazingly and unbelievably flew in out of nowhere and landed on our doorstep a little over three years ago and have been hanging out in the neighborhood ever since.
They’ve become local celebrities and everybody loves them, even a couple of neighbors who were concerned that these completely out-of-context farm animals wandering around their porch, pecking hither and yon and leaving unwanted calling cards, might actually hinder the sale of their house.
Well, the house sat there forever and didn’t sell ... until prospective buyers saw the guineas. “Gus” and “Ginny” sealed the deal and now everybody’s happy.
The birds’ social antics are hilarious, and they are never seen outside each other’s company. Over the past three years, they have withstood innumerable close shaves with passing automobiles and attacks by a Northern harrier, a peregrine falcon, a red-shouldered hawk and what we think was a great horned owl during an insidious nighttime attack.
Last summer, Gus was bloodied up by the hawk and had a serious eye injury and a piercing talon wound to the neck. But he fought bravely to protect his hen and two young chicks, and, incredibly, the hawk retreated.
Bloody feathers were strewn all over the place, and we thought there was no way he could survive. But survive he did, with the help of Dr. Doug Berger, DVM, who captured the ailing bird and gave him a shot that seemed to jump-start recovery.
He’s completely back now, attitude and all, brazen enough to sit on an exposed perch at the end of each day and bugle sunset, with a note of defiance to boot.
“Bring it on!” he seems to be saying, with his chest puffed out and silhouetted against the sunset. It’s a thing of beauty.
Meanwhile, the two chicks, “Roberta” and “Fowler” (and aren’t you glad Roberta’s a hen? speaking of bad puns), are two of perhaps 50 hatchlings to make it to maturity without intervention. The long-suffering mother hen now has herself a closely knit family of four, and the rest of us have twice the entertainment.
You can bet I did a double take when I got this letter from a patient, a retired Delta pilot, that sounded like a real scoop:
“A few weeks ago I was at the local Biz Jet airport visiting some old flying buddies. A corporate jet pilot came into the lounge to use the facilities and grab a cup of coffee while refueling.
“Turns out he is Danica Patrick’s pilot. Yes, THE Danica Patrick of Indy car and now NASCAR racing fame.
“She is buying a bigger jet, a Grumman Gulfstream, one that requires two pilots. We got to shooting the breeze, and I told him I had flown B-52’s in the Air Force and had 30 years flying the big Delta jets. He asked for a resume, which I later sent him.
“Ms. Patrick called me (recently) and I guess it was a phone interview of sorts. She seemed happy with my credentials and, with her current pilot’s recommendation, offered me a job flying for her when her new Gulfstream arrives.
“The Gulfstream is scheduled for August. I will go to Grumman in late June for ground school and then to Flight Safety for simulator training.”
As it turned out, it was too good to be true. The letter was intentionally dated April 1, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day.
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.