Ollie's truck tree and a walk down memory lane

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Ollie's truck tree and a walk down memory lane

Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013   |  562 Words  |  

I walk by the Fripp-Lowden house at the corner of Calhoun and Bridge streets sometimes twice a day. It is a charming little cottage built in 1909 for Sallie and Alfred Fripp.

In 1915, Mr. Fripp built a store in the front yard on the corner of the property. It stood there in perfect condition until one night in 1984 when someone drove their car into the building, destroying much of the structure. I got a group of friends together to see if we could put it back together, but alas it had to be torn down.

The Fripps had a daughter named Imogene who was married to Ollie Lowden. Ollie had a knack for fixing just about anything that needed to be fixed, so he was often seen about town in his old truck.

Imogene and Ollie moved in with Miss Sallie when Alfred died. Imogene and Miss Sallie loved to work in the yard. Both ladies were known for their green thumbs. Miss Sallie produced a new variety of camellia never seen before, and it was named "the Sallie Fripp." At one time many Bluffon gardeners had one in their yards, grown from Miss Sallie's cuttings. Miss Sallie was a tiny lady of few words and could often be seen clipping and snipping amongst her flowers.

Another treat in the sideyard is the Ginkgo tree that grows near the garage. I tried to grow one once but couldn't. Every fall that tree is so gorgeous. The leaves turn a beautiful gold color and then all of the leaves fall off at once. I don't know if it was planted or just appeared, but whatever the case I love it.

One day Ollie parked his old truck on the sideyard of the Bluffton Telephone Company, which was right across the street from his house. The telephone company is now the May River Montessori School. The truck was left in that spot for years because it wouldn't start again. A tree sprouted under it and began to grow right through the back. Nobody thought anything about it because it was a "Bluffton thing," and that was that.

Everyone I knew thought that was pretty cool.

In 1978, I started the Bluffton Village Festival. I was open to all sorts of ideas about T-shirts and festival memorabilia. Compy Groff and Ben Turner got the brilliant idea of making a T-shirt using an image of Ollie's truck on the back of the shirt and the infamous "30 miles per hour" on the front pocket. It was a really swell idea.

The day before the first-ever festival I got a frantic phone call. Some unknown person had decided to clean up for the upcoming festivities and, horror upon horrors, had cut down the tree and hauled off Ollie's truck. We were horrified. I can still see the truck parked with that forlorn little tree that had wiggled its way out to the sun.

Nonetheless the T-shirts were a smashing success and soon became highly sought after. And, I am glad to say, the festival continues to delight people.

Several different families have lived in the house and each has loved the garden.

Miss Sallie and Imogene would love that.