ISLE OF PALMS — Don’t be fooled: The beloved Huey the goose was a foul-tempered brute. But among old-time islanders, the domesticated Chinese fowl is the stuff of legend.
Huey “just flew in one day” in the late 1970s, said Gene White, landing among the mallard ducks that roamed White’s combination Texaco gas station, dock and marina at the west end of the island on the edge of Breach Inlet. The goose made itself at home among the ducks.
In fact, it made itself the enforcer, often charging at people when they’d stop to pour gas, flailing its 6-foot wingspan, the elbows throwing a mean punch.
“He was ornery. If people got too close to the ducklings, he would chase them off. He also liked to chase women in red dresses. He would literally attack them,” White said.
So naturally, Huey became one of those charms of the island, a true character. People who drove to the beach would drop by, grab some gas, drinks or chips just as an excuse to see Huey.
“Huey was the real deal. It’s the kind of stuff people should learn about the island’s history,” said Councilman Jimmy Carroll, who is trying to organize a regular speaker event to tell tales like that.
The only human that had any control over Huey was White, so staff would yell for him when a woman stepped out of a car with a red dress on.
And Huey knew when White was coming. The goose would back off, flail and wrestle as White bear-hugged it to bring in the wings. He’d carry the bird down to the end of the dock and drop it in the Intracoastal Waterway. The goose would hiss and squawk its way to shore, squawk its way through the pluff mud under the pilings and eventually waddle its way back to the pump.
There the bird would preen for its own reflection in the pump wall, courting madly.
“That crazy goose was in love with his reflection,” said Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page. “That goose was a mess.”
White never did find out where Huey came from. Chinese geese were standard farm “watch dogs” at the time, hyper alert and more reliable than dogs. When something strange came along they’d raise a ruckus, White said. So they were around all over the place.
Huey was old when it arrived, and older still when White sold the operation — ducks and goose and all — after several years. So White never did find out what happened to it, but likes to think the goose lived out his days ruling the roost.
“He could knock you down like a grown man could,” White said. “But he was still our mascot, and I put up with him because people loved him.”
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