By Shirley Hiers
The beautiful Tivoli River locale has drawn people for generations. Its sparkling sunrises, magical sunsets and tranquil evenings soothe spirits like few other places. It’s not only the beautiful ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss and the peaceful serpentine Sweet Hill Creek nearby…it’s the ambiance of its surroundings in perfect sync with Mother Nature. To live within a cathedral of oaks of such proportion is to know a deeper meaning of serenity.
Making the choice to live simply along quiet marshes is to choose freedom. In fact, there are few things in life comparable to waking with birds singing outside an open bedroom window, or going to sleep with a chorus of crickets chirping in perfect harmony. Imagine the luminescence of hundreds of lightning bugs rhythmically dancing in your front yard.
Jack Hyde knows about these things. He lives in harmony with his surroundings. Shrugging off the cloak of corporate discipline and complexity, he embraced Mother Nature and followed her to the marshes of Sweet Hill Creek.
After 35 years with Delta Airlines, Jack retired as duty director of the Operational Control Center for World Wide Operations. He literally lived a jet-set life, with all its trappings. He was constantly in the company of the "rich and famous," traveling to exotic places. In one sentence, he describes what his life had become…"It was like living in a clothes dryer." He had a career most people dream of. Yet, he wanted more…a simple life on his terms.
For as long as he could remember, Jack’s heart’s desire was to live near the coast. He yearned to be close to the marsh. While employed by Delta, he would walk outside, lift his face to the soft evening breeze, and swear he smelled the scent of salt air. Perhaps it was a state of mind. During those times, he would talk about moving to the coast and opening a three stool bar. No one believed he would actually do it.
Jack did it. He could have bought a home anywhere. He chose to live peacefully on the marshes of Sweet Hill Creek. In his calm, soothing manner, he said, "I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I am the Captain of my own ship." Not only does he live on the coast, he now owns a 3 Stool Bar and the Lady in the Moon Observatory, as well as a secluded bed and breakfast retreat. Business executives tired of plush hotels clamor for reservations. Though he doesn’t advertise his homey retreat, it’s hard to get a reservation. There’s always good food, drinks and good company.
Most of all, he is free. With a smile as bright as a full moon, he says, "I love it here…I love its smallness. My soul soars every morning when I see a humming bird or painted bunting on my deck. In my other life, I never saw those because I wasn’t looking. You should enjoy life every day…it ain’t no dress rehearsal!"
When Jack graciously offered me the 10-cent tour of the bed and breakfast, 3 Stool Bar and the Lady in the Moon Observatory, I agreed eagerly. To my delight, he showed me every inch of the estate. Lastly, he stopped in front of the abandoned old home place of Ted, Velma, and Faye Butler. (Which he is in the process of renovating.) Intuitively, he looked at me and asked, "Do you remember this place? Would you like to go inside?"
Of course, I remembered it. Velma had been my seamstress. When Jack opened the door, I stepped into what seemed like a time machine. I was swept back to the time I was pregnant with my first son, Kevin, over 40 years ago. The original black and white tiled floor made my head reel. For a moment, I could feel Ms. Velma’s fingers pinning on my first maternity dress and hear her sweet voice asking, "How does it feel?" I don’t know how long I lingered in her small cottage…time stood still and was precious.
Strolling down the boardwalk to Jack’s 3 Stool Bar was extraordinary! Jack, walking slightly ahead, stopped when he heard me say I was afraid of heights. He’s a man who has taught many Fear of Flying classes, yet he didn’t use words to coax me. He nonchalantly held out his shirttail for me to hold on to. That was all I needed to walk confidently the rest of the way. Once inside the 3 Stool Bar, I slipped onto one of the stools and the magic spell was cast.
I had just entered an awesome place as Jack Hyde’s private guest. I couldn’t help but smile! Jack’s guests, world-class musicians and artists, had sat on that very stool. I was sitting with a man of many talents…a graphic artist, poet, meteorologist, pilot, writer, an amazing cook, and one who can play piano by ear. This particular evening, he was simply Jack Hyde…a man who had made his dreams come true.
Although the theme of the 3 Stool Bar is "Thinking Allowed," I didn’t want to think. I wanted only to savor the moment with a man who was Captain of his own ship. After a while, Jack whispered, "The greatest enemy of a manipulator is someone who thinks for himself."
While I pondered his words, a cool breeze brushed against our faces and the smell of the marsh surrounded us. Almost on cue, the Lady in the Moon smiled...
Shirley Hiers was born and raised in Richmond Hill. She writes a weekly column for the Bryan County News. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.