I’m not sure when Preston and I became Facebook friends with a man named Chuck Pardue, or even why. I certainly did not know him. All I knew was that he owned a roadside antique store a few miles from my home. In the many, many years that this shop has been in business near the epicenter of downtown Heath Springs, South Carolina, we had never stopped in. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because my 6 foot 5 giant would be like a bull in a china shop. The Raggedy Man is housed in an older home. The yard is full of neatly stacked firewood, and odds and ends that are for sale.
Heath Springs is a tiny little town that has one caution light….but no stop light. You’ll miss this town of 49(ok, I’m exaggerating a bit!) if you blink your eyes. Seriously, it’s a quaint little place full of sidewalks, a play ground, and it’s very own train depot. It’s a place full of history and where everybody knows your name. I have some dear friends who own the pizzeria that is in between a sandwich shop and the post office, and also across the street from the dentist and the bank. You get the picture….. Americana.
From my Facebook posts, Chuck knew of Preston’s journey and also knew of our Bible ministry. He reached out to me one day and told me that he was collecting some Bibles for me. He later contacted me and asked me to bring Preston by the shop because he had something for him. Let me remind you that I’m not a customer, have never paid him anything for him to do something nice for Preston. I soon learned that’s just how Chuck is.
I took Preston by the shop and was stunned from the moment I walked in the door. There is “inventory” everywhere! I refuse to call it “stuff”. It’s so much more than that! Every room is filled from the floor to the ceiling. There is a wall that took me back to my childhood. It’s lined with the kitchen glasses that adorn the Smurfs logo that used to come in the happy meals in what seems a lifetime ago. There’s another room that contains some very hard to find Wagner cast iron pieces. There’s depression glass, there’s fine china. My first time there, I couldn’t resist two pottery plates that are made to hold your corn on the cob, while letting them bask in butter.
That day, Chuck handed me a bag full of bibles he had collected. He handed Preston a gift. It was a beautiful shirt that he had his daughter make that said “To be free is to walk daily with God – Prestonism”. Such a gift meant so much to my tall guy who often wonders if he makes an impact on others in this journey he is on. As we talked to Chuck, we learned how much this gentle giant loves his family. His eyes brimmed with tears as he spoke of his daughter and her battle with cancer. He spoke of his love for God. His own plate was full, yet he was doing something for a stranger like Preston. We walked out knowing that God had blessed us with a new friends.
Not long after, we ran into Chuck and his daughter in a county over, shopping at a Sam’s Club. We were able to thank her personally. Again, his love for his only child was so palpable. I remember thinking that my Pop looks at me the same way. It’s a wonderful feeling.
This past weekend, we stopped in once again to pick up more Bibles that Chuck had collected. I have to stop and insert this tidbit of information…. When Preston and I married in 2012, my grandmother was unable to attend our wedding because she had a longtime trip planned out west. She returned with a wedding gift from the Navajo Indian reservation. It’s a beautiful wedding vase made from pottery, horsehair, and turquoise that has a long history and cultural meaning. Navajo wedding vases are a part of the ceremony and are two sided, which represents the coming together of two families. No two are identical and the chances of you finding one around here are slimmer than you finding an arrowhead. Up until Preston’s illness, he would buy me one every anniversary.
It’s been many years since I’ve been able to add to my collection. Saturday, when we walked into the shop, one was literally sitting on the first shelf of the hallway. I couldn’t believe it! Preston bought it for me! Right in a little shop near downtown Heath Springs, SC.
I’m telling you this place is full of gems, hidden and in the wide open. I could spend all day in there. and if the pieces would talk, I’d never leave. I’m currently fascinated with two very old pictures that are framed. From my understanding, only wealthy people had pictures made like these. I want to know who these people are, and how they ended up in this antique shop, far away from their families.
Me and my nosey self asked Chuck if I could please write a blog about his shop. He agreed. I hope he’s still my friend after I publish this. Hah! I asked him where his love of antiques came from, and he shared that his grandfather ran an antique shop for years. Ya’ll know I’m an accountant and I’m doing the math….. can you imagine the goodies grandpa must have had waaaaaayyy back then? Chuck said that at one time he had some bottles dated back to the late 1800’s.
Before I left on Saturday, I made the comment that while I’m an accountant and know the current state of our struggling small businesses, I know he is living the American Dream. To be able to retire into something you love. He did not skip a beat and gave God all the glory and guaranteed that he is living the American Dream.
Lastly, I want to add that while I was foaming at the mouth over finding my vase, Chuck asked me who he needed to write a check to in order to sponsor a Bible at Antioch Academy. I told him that that particular project was fully funded and not to worry about it. Again, he asked who to make the check payable to. He is a man of his word.
He’s also a man that does NOT go to the same church as me. But he surely lives by my church’s motto…. loving God, loving others, serving both. Preston and I are honored to share the same pasture and serve the same shepherd as Mr. Chuck Pardue.
To his daughter Ashley, although I didn’t ask him, I have no doubt that daddy’s donation is in loving honor of you.
Go check out Raggedy Man Antiques!