Towards the end of January 1987, Dr. Gillespie’s Utopia Seminar was meeting in Thomason Library. Elizabeth and I were in the class together and I finally got up the nerve to ask her out after class on the front steps of the library. She looked excited but then said she had a date for that weekend already. We’d been flirting since the class began. I had first met her my freshman year when she was a KA rush girl in a beautiful red dress and we spent time talking on their deck. I don’t think we had spoken since until we were in the seminar together. Well, she had said no but I decided to keep trying and immediately asked her for the following weekend. She said yes and it wasn’t until some time later that I realized our date was going to be on Valentine’s Day.
Now keep in mind, this is Clinton in the ’80’s. The nearest McDonald’s is still in Laurens. I brilliantly decided, wanting to impress this girl, to take her to Bennigan’s, in Greenville, 30-45 minutes away. (That’s mistake number 2 for those of you counting, the first being to have a first date on V-day) I picked her up in my ’66 Bug and off we went. Family legend has it that we were out of things to talk about by the time we made it to the highway and I went with, “So, tell me about yourself.” Raise your hand if you just smacked your forehead and groaned. Eventually, we made it to Bennigan’s but had I thought to make a reservation? No. Remember, Clinton, ’80’s, who needs a reservation for Hardee’s or WoHo? So we squeezed into the bar to begin our long wait and my cash rapidly dwindled as beers were ordered. And I didn’t like beer back then. Finally, we were seated and ordered. They were literally so busy they were running out of food and had to substitute potatoes for chips on Elizabeth’s nachos. Finally, our long nightmare of a meal ended and we headed back to PC. I had already run through most everything I could think of to talk about. But never fear, Mother Nature helped us out. Outside of Gray Court it started raining. And then my poor little Bug decided to just quit. Perfect. Just perfect.
I got out to start walking through the rain for help. (This was WAY before cell phones kiddies) Elizabeth jumped out and said, “You aren’t leaving me here.” We started walking. No umbrella, no raincoat, February night, it’s raining. We got about a hundred yards up the road and an old station wagon pulls over. It’s a black family, mother, dad, 2 kids. Once again, this is South Carolina in the ’80’s. Race relations weren’t quite up to today’s standards. I’m sure they were as scared of us as we were of them. They all piled into the front seat and we hopped in the back, me on one side, Elizabeth way over on the other. She’s thinking, “I’m never going out with this loser again.” And I’m thinking, “She’s never going out with me again.” They offered to drive us to Gray Court and off we went. As we’re riding down the road the mother smiles at us, hears our story and says, “Well, at least you’ll have a story to tell your grandkids!” As I recall we looked at each other and laughed.
They were true to their word. To this day I still believe they had to be angels. They dropped us off in the hopping town of Gray Court. We went to the police station, which was unlocked with nobody there. I called the Sigma Nu house and Phil and Blood offered to come get us. While we waited we gave ourselves a tour of the police station, complete with checking out the cells. By this time we were laughing about it.
When Phil and Blood showed up things started looking even better. For those who don’t remember, at that time Elizabeth loved beer more than anything and Phil and Blood had brought a cooler full of it. (People knew we were serious later when I started drinking beer too because I couldn’t afford beer and liquor) They drove us back to the house and I swear the only reason she went out with me again was because of Sigma Nu. I went to water the air conditioner, came back, and there’s Elizabeth arguing with Pearsall over gun rights or hunting or something. I think she figured that if these guys were my brothers I couldn’t be all bad. I asked her to Sadie Hawkins and the rest is history. So have faith. If the worst date ever can lead to a wonderful marriage anything can happen.
Elizabeth graduated in 1987 and I graduated in 1988. We were married in 1989. Our PC story wasn’t finished, though. We have 3 wonderful children, Natalie, Emmie, and Conrad. Natalie attended PC from 2008 to 2012 and met her husband Aidan while studying abroad at the University of Stirling. But that’s their PC story.
Elliott ’88 and Elizabeth (King) Heath ’87