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October Porchin’: Drinking with a Ghost (with video)

Find additional recipes, photos and behind-the-scenes video from October’s featured porch, connected to a historic home located in the All Joy neighborhood of Bluffton.

Photography and video by Mark and Lisa Staff

Porches are an integral part of Southern culture. For generations, Lowcountry families and friends have gathered on them to tell stories, play checkers, talk politics, gossip and more.

All it takes to “porch-sit” in the Lowcountry is a porch (obviously), a comfortable chair, a refreshing beverage and another local to interact with. Bluffton chef Geist Ussery recently hosted a porch party at a historic home that locals call “the old parsonage.”

The home, built in 1906, was featured in the Stephen S. Howie biography, “The Bluffton Charge: One Preacher’s Struggle for Civil Rights.” Ussery invited an interesting mix of people to this special soirée, including Druella Schultz, Brenda Linblad Barco, Beth Woods, Carolyn Smith, Ashley Shuck, Mary Vaux-Bell, Marti Golson and his charming mother, Reinalda Ussery.

As the sun faded and music of Lynyrd Skynyrd played, guests were treated to incredible food and drinks (mini tomato sandwiches, mini pimento cheese sandwiches, goose liver pate with crostini and bourbon maple apple cider).

Many laughs and stories were shared. One topic of conversation was another guest at the party – the ghost that lives at the old parsonage.

“When you are here, you get the sense that somebody is looking at you,” said Carolyn Smith, daughter of Martha Crapse, who moved the home in 1970 from Boundary Street to its current location in the All Joy neighborhood. “It’s like a cold wave. You feel this sense of something.”

Ussery, who lives there now, confirmed its presence: “He makes himself known when you first get here. TVs come on. You can hear walking and banging on the walls. The second week I moved, I put my briefcase and a water bottle on a chair near the door. Later that night as I was lying in bed, I heard a loud bang, like somebody threw something against the door. I peeked out from the bedroom and saw that water bottle rolling toward me.”

The ghost behaved itself on this particular evening and a good time was had by all.


Bourbon Maple Apple Cider [makes 2]

6 ounces bourbon
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4-6 teaspoons pure maple syrup, to taste
1 cup spiced apple cider
1 bottle of ginger beer
Apple slices for garnish
Cubed ice

1. Fill glasses and a cocktail shaker with ice. To shaker, add bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup, and apple cider; shake vigorously.
2. Strain into glasses and top off with ginger beer and garnish each with a slice of apple. Enjoy!


Mini Tomato Sandwiches
Roma Tomatos
White Bread
Dukes or Hellmans Mayo

Cut white bread with round biscuit cutter and assemble sandwich.