Beaufort worth the trip to view “A Nativity Celebration”

By Deena C. Bouknight/Photography by Sissy Perryman

unnamed (4)For the last eight years, First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort – a two-hour drive from Columbia – has hosted A Nativity Celebration, featuring 100-plus unique and artistic natvity scenes hand-made in various spots around the world. Perusing the creches during the three-day event, from December 7-9, is like taking a visual global tour. Each is distinct and many convey aspects of a country’s culture.

The nativities are shared by local residents and church members as well as provided on loan from others outside the community. Each stands alone as an aesthetic vignette narrative of the birth of Christ. Styles range from whimiscal snow globes to eleborate porcelain sets. Some natvities make repeat appearances each year, while others are new. Some are so small they fit in a matchbox, while others sprawl across an entire table. Most are traditional table displays; a few hang.

They might be constructed of bent nails, recycled metals, or even local oyster shells.

There are German Hummel figurines as well as sets from Vietnam, Phillipines, Cameroon, and many other countries.

“It is amazing to see how the Christmas story is depicted by artists from all over the world,” says Donna Sheetz, FPC’s volunteer nativity coordinator. “Whether they are made from banana leaves or oyster shells, wood or fine porcelain – each nativity tells a story unique to the artist’s culture.”

Nativity photos by Sissy Perryman-Beaufort

The three-day event draws school children, assisted living and nursing home residents, tourists, locals, and more.

The goal, explains Donna, is to show the true meaning of Christmas through the eyes of the world. A Nativity Celebration is located in First Presbyterian Church of Beautfort, 1201 North Street, and is a “gift” to the public – free of charge.






None of us are born wanting to share. Allowing a sibling to play with a favorite toy for a few minutes can be a bitter test for even the sweetest child. And a generous spirit doesn’t always come easily as adults either, especially when considering treasures like time, resources, or special holiday traditions that are limited and valuable. On the flip side, when children are exposed to people lacking basic needs, these young hearts often exhibit a tenderness that can grow numb with age and the practicality that dominates everyday adult life. Yet, families who model community-minded, selfless giving can set the clock for a child to exhibit a philanthropic lifestyle for decades.

In our home growing up, we were exposed to sacrificial giving as a way of life primarily through riding around with John Fling in his iconic blue pickup truck. My mother wanted us to see what a true heart for caring for the community looked like, and so she arranged for my sister, Mary, and me to ride around with him on his rounds of giving to the poor, to go to his dinners for the blind, and to help with his big Kmart annual Christmas shopping spree. Mary and I were astounded to see how much want for basic necessities existed in our own city, and even more so by going to the Flings’ home and realizing that he was hardly better off than those to whom he gave everything. Mr. Fling also taught me the joy and fun of outreach.

Another person who modeled thoughtful giving during my youth was a boy named Zach. My then 11-year-old sister, Helen, was in the hospital fighting stage 4 cancer when she received a shoebox full of age and gender appropriate treats from Zach. A letter explained that he had once been sick in the hospital but now was healthy again and living a normal life. This simple gift encouraged Helen in her fight to live, and once she too was healthy again, she decided to pay it forward and started a charity called “Helen’s Hugs” through the Central Carolina Community Foundation to take teddy bears to children in the hospital. This domino effect of charity shows the exponential ways that a gift can grow. Zach’s one shoebox more than 12 years ago has multiplied into thousands of Build-A-Bears received by other sick children.

So many approaches, basic and creative, encourage giving and a spirit of community in young children, and to say that the stories shared in From Here to Philanthropy on page 36 are inspiring is an understatement. From forgoing birthday gifts in order to raise money for families in need, to spending Christmas morning giving to the homeless in Finlay Park before opening presents at home, these families are doing their part to cultivate a spirit of philanthropy in the next generation.

Merry Christmas!



By Deena C. Bouknight

Egyptian art in Columbia? Those who have lived or worked in the Mill District of Columbia, where cotton mills Olympia, Whaley, and Granby once thrived, are familiar with the large depiction of Ra, the Egyptian sun god, painted on the remains of an old railroad trestle. While some park-goers may have – at first glance – wondered how an Egyptian artifact found a home in Columbia, closer inspection revealed the fading remains of a 20th century painting.Sp9M6C2Q Until recently.

After construction workers demolished an old railroad trestle in the Olympia neighborhood in 1989, a large portion refused to crumble. South Carolina artist and muralist, Richard Lane, decided the weathered sandstone pillar appeared ancient, so he envisioned and then painted an Egyptian scene complete with various symbols and hieroglyphs in 1993. The piece became known locally as the Ra Obelisk.

In 2004, the structure actually became the centerpiece of what is considered a “pocket park” at 904 Heyward Street; benches were added as well as a sidewalk leading to the painting.

In late October, two artists – Jeff Donovan and Georgia Lake – matched colors and repainted the mural, strivingqgLJ-Uq8.jpeg to maintain the original work by Richard Lane. One Columbia Executive Director Lee Snelgrove believes the spruced up painting, which will be a key location on the forthcoming Mill District public art trail (developed by the 701 Center for Contemporary Art), revitalizes the area’s energy. “The Mill District has a history as a place for workers and artists,” she says, “and it continues to be a community of passionate people. Public art physically demonstrates a place of pride, and One Columbia is privileged to be a part of preserving the unique creative spirit of the Mill District.”




Margaret Clay for From the Editor



Camaraderie by a fire provides such simple yet profound contentment. Whether you are roasting hot dogs and s’mores around a campfire, chatting with friends around the backyard fire pit (also known as a cave man’s TV), or enjoying an indoor fire lit for a party, fires evoke a certain soothing ambiance in any scenario. They offer a primal pleasure from their warmth, the dancing flames, and the dazzling, ever-changing patterns in the glowing embers.

That is, unless Mother Nature objects.

Once at a seated dinner party, as we lit the first fire of the season, an angry family of indignant wasps came hurtling out of the chimney to wage a fierce battle against their inconsiderate assailants. This, in turn, caused a hurtling back of chairs as we all dove under the table, all decorum cast asunder. Thankfully, the stinger-laden insects proved to be sufficiently stunned from the smoke and settled on the tops of the windows, allowing everyone a peaceful continuance of the evening, albeit with an occasional glance up.

Many families enjoy the tradition of teaching children how to make s’mores, and ours was no exception. However, we did have an added complication in that as toddlers, my sisters and I did not initially like marshmallows. Rather than simply moving on to the chocolate, I made myself consume the hot, gooey mouthful and then reach to roast another so I too could “enjoy” this favorite pastime around the fire. I then had the pleasure of witnessing my sisters go through the same familial initiation as 3-year-olds of forcing themselves to eat marshmallow after marshmallow with contorted grimaces until acquiring the taste. Now, as a roasted marshmallow devotee, I must concur with the religious detail described by Jimbo Haynes in “The Birds, the Bees, and Chimney Disease” on page 82 on the proper due process for crafting a true s’more.

For more sophisticated repast in anticipation of Thanksgiving, glean ideas for entertaining with freshly harvested wild game from local experts in “Wild about Game” on page 54. Tired of your usual venison or dove recipes? Try Michael Boozer’s reverse seared venison loin or Ben Myers’ bacon-wrapped dove poppers. Then, for dessert, read Susan Slack’s article on page 42 for creative twists on fall-flavored baking. I heartily recommend her five-spice carrot cake and cranberry plum streusel bars! And for tips on crafting the perfect centerpiece for this incredible meal, look no further than Melissa Andrews’ article on page 66 with step-by-step instructions from Cricket Newman and Sarah Swinson Shell on creating a stunning autumnal focal point for your table.

From your s’mores gathering around the fire to a seated dinner around an elegant white linen tablecloth, we extend you all our best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!




Darius Rucker, Jim Sonefeld, Dean Felber, and Mark Bryan have not forgotten about the community that embraced their careers when they formed Hootie & the Blowfish in 1986 in Columbia. The four met as freshmen at the University of South Carolina and became one of the most popular American rock bands in the 1990s, experiencing platinum albums and a Grammy Award win.

Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation logoThe band members created an endowment that ensures the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation will last into perpetuity by providing financial support to charitable initiatives throughout South Carolina and beyond. In October, Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation awarded $90,000 to three South Carolina non-profits benefitting child welfare and youth arts programs. They are:

  • Epworth Children’s Home’s Epworth’s Family Care Center, which is a program allowing mothers and their children to stay together while receiving treatment as a whole family.
  • Abbeville County School District’s Putting Students First, One Beat at a Time, which is a program to assist the district’s schools with purchasing musical instruments for students who have an interest in band.
  • Dillon School District Four’s Stayin’ the Chorus, which is a program to send choral students to regional performances and competitions and help with the purchase of a music classroom mat.

The Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation has awarded more than $2.9 million in grants since its creation in 2000. Hootie & the Blowfish established their donor-advised fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, to strengthen the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation’s philanthropic efforts.  The Community Foundation acts as a centralized point of contact for all grant requests and manages its grant administration, evaluation, outreach, and distribution.


Lexington Medical Center Event Honors Breast Cancer Survivors and Families

By Deena C. Bouknight

On October 16th, 800 are expected to attend an evening out hosted by Lexington Medical Center. As a way of honoring women who have survived breast cancer, as well as families and friends who have supported them, “Women’s Night Out” will take place at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in downtown Columbia.

Ariella Hughes is this year’s event’s keynote speaker. Ariella will share her journey of being diagnosed with breast cancer twice, and she will detail how the experience helped her to “live beyond better.”Ariella_Hughes049.JPG

The schedule for “Women’s Night Out” includes: at 5 p.m., a silent auction and physician exhibit; the program begins at 7 p.m. with a fashion show featuring breast cancer survivors, dinner, and the keynote address.

Proceeds from “Women’s Night Out” will benefit the Crystal Smith Breast Cancer Fund to support the “Campaign for Clarity,” a capital campaign designed to expand 3-D mammography throughout the Lexington Medical Center network of care. Annually, Lexington Medical Center diagnoses more than 300 breast cancer patients.

For more information about “Women’s Night Out,” call (803) 936-8850, or visit http://www.lexmed.com/wno. Individual tickets are $40, but there are also opportunities to sponsor a table.


Margaret Clay for From the Editor

Heritage and History

BY Margaret Clay

On rainy days as a child, I would sometimes amuse myself by looking through the old family books in my parents’ library in search of the earliest copyright date in the house. The patinaed, worn leather of 19th century spines filled with delicate, foxed pages acted like a time machine on my senses and whirled me back through the ages as I wondered whose fingers had graced these same pages for the first time. Old books still hold for me a kind of magic, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about them and their proper care from experts like David Hodges featured in Aïda Rogers’ article on page 46.

Like most children, I also grew up with a fascination for ghost stories, though I was limited in my permitted exposure to them (my mother was too smart to risk her sleep to my inevitable nightmares). The tradition of ghost stories crosses all cultures, and South Carolinians show no exception in exhibiting humanity’s intrinsic delight in the macabre. For an entertaining sampling of our local and statewide spectral legends to stimulate your Halloween spirit, read Janet Scouten’s article on page 42.

Another article in this issue highlighting history and traditions is Deena Bouknight’s story about the St. Paul Campground tent revival that has been taking place every October since 1880, timed for a celebration of the harvest. This week of fellowship and worship was established by Little Salem A.M.E. Church, and fifth generation descendants still carry on their forefathers’ practice of song, prayer, laughter, and good food to this day. Read more about their inspiring heritage on page 64.

Lastly, Susan Slack shares the exotic traditions of fermenting food from all around the world, hearkening back to as early as the Stone Age. While the Korean dish of kimchi is perhaps what first comes to mind (and indeed, she has provided a fantastic recipe!), most people unwittingly consume fermented food every day, from sourdough bread to yogurt, olives, or even hot sauce. Learn how to harness safely the hitherto unwanted kitchen guests of mold, bacteria, and fungus for a surprisingly appetizing and healthy cuisine from across the globe on page 98.

Whatever your family history and heritage, we wish you a very festive (and traditional!) October.

WALK for Palmetto Health Breast Center

Don pink and participate

By Deena C. Bouknight

Every fall, a sea of pink parades through Columbia. Hundreds, in fact, will participate in this year’s 28th annual Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon, 5K and 10K, held Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Each year’s event helps fund equipment, technology, and/or supplies needed for the Palmetto Health Breast Center at Richland. Proceeds from this event stay in the greater Columbia community to help fund an Upright Stereotactic Breast Biopsy room, with 3D mammography technology as well as educational materials, breast bears, and post-mastectomy camisoles. So far, nearly $9.5 million has been raised through this event for Palmetto Health Breast Center. 

The event will begin and end at Spirit Communications Park, 1640 Freed Drive in Columbia.  Register at WalkForLifeColumbia.org. Registration includes a bright pink cotton t-shirt for walkers and a bright pink performance shirt for runners. Breast cancer survivors will receive a commemorative pink hat.

Nearly 40,000 mammograms are performed annually at Palmetto Health Breast Center. One of last year’s event speakers, Adrienne Wright, first learned she had cancer in her late 20s after she had a mammogram. She was treated at Palmetto Health Breast Center and not only partipcates in the October event, but also encourages women to schedule annual mammograms.

To learn more, visit WalkForLifeColumbia.org.


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I Scream, You Scream

I absolutely love fly fishing. For this sea loving lady, saltwater fly fishing is particularly exciting. Thus, I was quite keen on every aspect of the outstanding article Oliver Hartner wrote on the subject for this issue.

As I read Oliver’s descriptions about Columbians who have the opportunity to fish on a regular basis, I could only smile — with a twinge of envy. And then I wondered if such regular pursuits might not, once and for all, help me overcome my weird, if not embarrassing, reaction when I hook a large fish. And that is I scream. I mean the kind of scream that has caused grown men on boats with me to drop their rods. I always think my last scream is just that, my last scream. I delude myself into thinking I’ve moved past that out of body reaction that puts Henry, my husband, into hysterics and startles my three daughters, every time.

Some years ago, I went on a trip to Belize with my dear friend, Jenny Walker, to fly fish for bonefish. We arrived at Turneffe Island and met Dubs, our guide for the next few days. Jenny poked me in my side. “Should you tell him that you scream?”

With complete confidence, “No,” I replied. “I don’t scream any more. Maybe we should tell him you won’t wade fish in water deeper than your knees because you’re scared of barracudas.” We both decided to keep our secrets to ourselves. The first day out, we fished on Dub’s 20-foot boat and caught one- and two-pound bonefish. All was safe. Jenny didn’t have to wade fish, and the smaller bones, while still quite feisty, didn’t prompt any outburst from me.

The next day we went for the big boys, wading up to schools of bones with fins barely poking out of the water that looked like miniature sailboats in a regatta. Jenny, an excellent fisherman, hooked a large one on her first try, a solid 8-pound bonefish. The only problem was, as she stood in clear blue water up to her thighs, she wanted Dubs and me to track her fish and yell directions while she watched the surrounding waters for some man-eating barracuda that her bonefish in distress might attract. I wanted to enjoy poking fun at her, but it was short lived when Dubs said he, too, was terrified of barracudas. We celebrated when Jenny landed her trophy with all 10 fingers and toes intact!

Now it was my turn. As Dubs did with Jenny, he stood right beside me to guide my casting. That part went well, but every time I had a strike, I snatched the fly out of the fish’s mouth. I tried to remain calm and set the hook, but fish after fish, I kept missing. I cast again and Dubs, in his kindness, saddled up closer to me with his cheek only inches from mine as we leaned over my line. Strip, strip, strip. Another fish hit.

“Steady,” Dubs said, still cheek to cheek. Remaining momentarily calm, I hooked the fish with a short tug of my line, the fish took off like a freight train, and then it happened. That bloodcurdling scream came bubbling out with no restraint. It swirled around Dub’s head and lifted straight up to the heavens. Certain that his worst nightmare of a Godzilla barracuda coming to eat him alive, Dubs took off high stepping it across the thigh deep water to get to his skiff. Jenny was no help as she was doubled over, struggling to breathe in her fits of laughter.

After a few moments, I settled into fighting this amazing fish; Jenny motioned for Dubs to come help me land it; and, finally, I too caught a nice bonefish that I still enjoy reliving.

As you turn to page 84, I hope the opening shot of the redfish swirling on top of the surface gives you a moment of awe — wondering just what it might be like to hook into an exciting fight for a short while, giving you a memory for a lifetime.

And if you give a little grunt or maybe a yelp when you hook a fish, think of me.

Emily Clay