Debby Summey:Cruisin’ Main Street ... in reverse

  • Friday, April 12, 2013

This column is dedicated to all the fine folks at Prince George Healthcare Center, also known as Prince George Nursing Home.  I just spent one of the most enjoyable afternoons there talking to my Mama and two of her friends, Ginny Shea and Nan Peace.  Actually, we spent the afternoon laughing as I probed into Nan’s past.  

Nannie Fitzhugh Peace was born in 1924 in the house she grew up in on Morgan Avenue in Andrews.  Her parents were Washington Fitzhugh Peace (1885-1961) and Mellie Jane Brockington Peace (1885-1973.)  Mr. Peace was a railroad engineer, a result of a lifelong passion for rails and trains.  

There were seven Peace children: brothers William and Gilbert, and five girls; Nan, Vivian, Louise, Margaret and Roberta.  Sadly, Roberta died of a brain tumor at the age of 16.  

They lived only three blocks from school, and while the others walked, Nan was driven to and from school by the mother of her best friend, Frances Morgan (now Gilleland).

Nan and Frances spent their free time together around Andrews cruising the streets in a roadster given to Frances by her grandmother.  “I bet that was fun,” I commented.  Nan said, “Yeah, especially since it would only drive in reverse.”  
Summers were spent at the Morgan’s cottage at Pawleys Island.  There were three cottages on one oceanfront lot on the North End of Pawleys which were all owned by folks from Andrews.  The Morgan cottage was flanked by two others owned by the Gambles and the Rowells.  

I asked if they went to the old Pawleys Pavilion.  “Every night,” Nan replied.  “We’d hitch a ride there and back and Frances’ mother would sit and play solitaire until we were home by our 10 o’clock curfew.”

When Nan was about to enter the 10th grade at Andrews High School, she talked to a friend, Dot Mercer, who was attending  Montreat College in North Carolina.  Montreat offered a four-year preparatory boarding school for high school students and Nan begged her parents to send her.  

So, off she went to Montreat for the 10th grade, but she stayed only one year.  “I was a bad student,” she said.  “I got too many demerits.”  We all wanted to know why.  “Silly things,” she answered.  “Like playing tennis barefooted in the middle of winter, being late for lunch, and once for locking the teacher and the entire class in a classroom.”  Seems the door knob came off in Nan’s hand as she tried to enter the room.  She simply threw it away, leaving those on the inside no way to get out.

Nan returned to Andrews, reentered Andrews High, and played on the basketball team that won the Lower State Championship in the early 1940s.  

Nan stayed in Andrews for awhile, living in her childhood home on Morgan Avenue.  She was involved in the Girl Scouts and was a troop leader, along with Mrs. Everett Ziegler, in 1957.  Nan said that Mrs. Zeigler was in charge of planning activities for the Scouts, and once invited a knife-thrower to entertain the troop. Poor Nan’s role was to stand stock-still against a board while knives were thrown around her body.  “That’s only one of the crazy things we did,” she said.

On Aug. 31, 1962, Nan graduated from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of X-ray Technology, and later that year accepted a position in Rock Hill at the York County Hospital.  She also worked at the Williamsburg County Hospital in Kingstree and was called in one night when she was sick.  During the night, she told the staff she was going to take a nap on a gurney she found empty, even though they questioned her.  She awoke the next morning “between two stiffs”, but still laughs about it.

Nan worked for five years at the Sea Island Comprehensive Health Care Center on Yonges Island before once again returning to Andrews.  She now lives at Prince George, entertaining her neighbors and making sure her homeless furry creatures are fed.  

To Nan Peace ... thanks for the memories.

I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at djsummey@gmail.com.



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