Part of a family that spans six generations of Beaufort women, mother and daughter Alice Hollingsworth and Addie Lee have never wanted to be anywhere else. To them, life on Lady's Island, surrounded by family and friends and infused with memories of "the good old days," is more precious than all the riches in the world.
As they sit at home and talk about their family, the two women pull out old photos and newspaper clippings, most of which highlight the life of Alice's mother-Addie's grandmother. Addie Lee Miller, an amazing woman known affectionately around Beaufort as "Mom," owned and operated a general store for 38 years.
"Grandma got free labor," said Addie. "If it wasn't the kids, it was the grandkids. I remember working the candy counter and seeing a little of everybody. They all knew you so you better not get in any trouble because your parents would know about it before you even got home. It was a good time to live in Beaufort."
"Mom" Miller didn't get her nickname for nothing; she not only comforted children in distress by wiping their tears with a corner of her apron and giving them a moon pie and a Dixie cola, but she also made sure they stayed in line. Anyone underage trying to buy cigarettes or beer from Mom would get an admonishing, "Does your momma know you're buying this? I'm gonna call her!" Even adult men, members of the "5 o'clock Club" who dropped by the store to drink beer and talk politics every evening after work, knew better than to use any profanities within Mom's earshot.
"In Momma's store, there were generations of Beaufortonians of all different races that came in," recalls Alice. "It didn't matter who you were, we were all people."
Addie tells the story of how one of her sons went to work at a bank in Beaufort. One day, an elderly black woman he didn't know came in and gave him a cake. He thanked her, but asked her why she had done this. She explained that once, when she was a little girl whose family had just moved to the area, she got lost in town and ended up in Mom's store in tears. Not only was she cheered up and given an apple, but several of Mom's sons found her family for her. She had never forgotten this kindness and wanted to honor Mom Miller by baking her grandson a cake.
Times may not be so simple anymore. Beaufort has grown, population has soared, and everybody doesn't know everybody like they did back then. But at least among Mom Miller's descendents, people still look out for each other.
"I have two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren," said Alice, who could proudly talk for hours about the doings of all her young family members. "With the exception of one granddaughter and one great-granddaughter, they all live right around here. Addie and I are just four doors apart."
Besides the physical proximity, the stories that Alice and Addie tell illustrate how close-knit the family is.
"Beaufort has changed, but one of the things that hasn't changed is our family," said Addie. "We're still very tight, and we have some of the same friends we've had forever. For us, there's still that hometown feeling."
Alice Career: retired accountant for the County Treasurer's Office Hobbies: reading, going out with friends, involvement in Sea Island Presbyterian Church and the Women's Republican Club Favorite music: country gospel and country Three words to describe herself: social, caring, Christian
Addie Career: works for Beaufort County Clerk of Court Hobbies: reading, crafts, listening to music, and involvement in the schools, Water Festival, Sea Island Presbyterian Church and the Women's Republican Club Favorite music: country, adult contemporary and Irish music Three words to describe herself: loyal, Christian, family-oriented