A first! We did it! With husband’s Preston’s help, I gave my largest private tour yet. FAUSA, a Federation of American Women who have lived overseas, came on my tour. Sue and Hugh Ripps came to Charleston earlier to check me out. I rented two vans of 14 passengers with my husband driving one and and with me driving the other. Charleston native guide and friend, Angie Hewitt Chakeris, gave the tour in Preston’s van as he drove to the private houses and gardens. We had yet another vehicle, Sue and Hugh’s car filled with people. Sue brought along high technology: walkie talkies! They worked beautifully, a lot better than when my brother Bunky and I had them as children. They could hear everything I said perfectly as they followed behind me. That was a first for me which I will invest in for the future!
Dick Bennington, furniture restorer, returned my recaned chairs and loaned me 11 more. Preston took two days off from his office to help me be prepared. Somehow, we managed to seat 32 people in our front drawing room, which is as wide as the front of our Charleston Double House. We served lunch and tea with Varnetta’s help and the unexpected help from my father’s lovely wife, Joyce Wichmann. The FAUSA group also used the occasion seated together in our home to have their meeting. Their ice breaker question President Louise posed was what was the most unusual and favorite dish they learned to prepare and in what country. These ladies have lived ALL over the world. They have had such varied experiences. Cooking, of course, immerses you in the culture, changing and sealing you forever as a part of that culture. Gardening abroad does the same.
For Sue, the treasurer and organizer to say those magic words, “It was perfect”, makes all the headache of preparing worthwhile. Her smile and faith in me are with me still, refreshing me, making me believe I can do it again for others. I sold them my first freshly made batch of Calamondin Marmalade as well, which we served over roasted pumpkin cake, and used the proceeds to treat our family that night to the movie, Courageous, an inspirational film for our times.
I wish I could have got to know all the ladies better and to hear all their adventures from the far corners of the world. They have a zest for life from living abroad, but have not forgot to be proud to be an American. Thank you to all who were pulling for me in this venture outside my routine of typically touring small groups of up to six. At our Saturday night dinner party with good friends, Preston could talk of nothing else but our tour. This was a rare opportunity for my man to step into my shoes for a day, breaking routine himself. He was proud of me! And I was thankful for him.