Boats, babies touch hearts of readers

Nothing I've written about in nearly three years of filling this space has elicited the reaction as did my late February thoughts on the Awendaw shrimp boat.

Who knew so many of you also had seen that boat on the banks of Awendaw Creek and wondered how it got there? Most believed it to be the handiwork of Hurricane Hugo. No one seemed to know it was a mid-1970s project of John Dunn, who ran out of money and patience in an attempt to build a boat for his son.

While most of you were just gratified to know the "untold story," some attached a deeper, metaphorical understanding to the project.

Hiram Webster of Ladson believes "we all have our shrimp boats." Sometimes, the job is bigger than we can tackle and we're forced to walk away.

Another reader, Bob Lang, thought I should look for other objects around the Lowcountry that need explaining. He suggested I start with the pink pelican that is seen from the IOP connector as he crosses the waterway.

My staff is researching that one.

Another column on finding a good, old-fashioned hamburger prompted many memories of juicy burgers that dripped down the forearm to the elbow.

A few of those places still exist and readers were quick to mention them. In many cases, though, the person who suggested I try such-and-such also was the owner.

Jack's Cafe, on George Street for 42 years, is a place that will close in December. For years, college students and business people have ordered the burger, fries and drink special. In just a few months, this will be one of those joints "that used to serve a great burger."

David Holsclaw predicts long lines will form outside Jack's just as they did when Your Place closed years ago at the foot of Market Street.

And what a terrific response to the column about volunteers who rock premature babies in the intensive care unit at The Children's Hospital. There was an influx of young and old who want to surrender two hours a week to little babies who just need to be held and rocked as they cling to life.

There are so many caring people who offered to get involved. Should we judge a book by its cover? If so, then one longtime volunteer at MUSC might have never been enlisted.

As a one-time chair of the Charleston County School Board, Robert New was known for his adversarial and sometimes caustic comments to fellow board members, teachers and occasionally parents. He rarely backed down when it was time to engage in a principled argument.

What you might not know is that New is one of the most faithful and consistent volunteers in the entire hospital. None of that "other" part of his personality is on display when he rocks little babies in his arms as he offers a human touch to the healing process. With most of his own children grown, New finds additional purpose to his life with this volunteer work. He'll probably fuss at me a little for publicly disclosing this about him.

Most of New's time is spent in the ports business. Don't worry about rockin' the boat, Robert, just rock that little baby and I'll try to protect your "street cred."

Reach Warren Peper at 937-5577 or wpeper@