VIDEO INCLUDED Shallotte icon, 71, keeps fit with regular walks, visits with locals

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Cruisin' town

By Laura Lewis, Reporter

Isaac Hardy is a familiar sight around downtown Shallotte.

Just ask local real estate agent Doug Terhune, who struck up a friendship with the 71-year-old resident of Shallotte Assisted Living about four years ago.

Terhune, who regularly eats breakfast at the Purple Onion Café on Main Street, started noticing the fit, elderly man who would stop in at the Shallotte eatery during his routine walks through town.

“I would see him in there, and I would just start talking to him,” Terhune said. “I see him all the time. I’ve probably been talking to him for at least four years now.”

Hardy, he said, is a Shallotte icon, known for his regular walks from the assisted living facility up Mulberry Street to various businesses along Main Street.

“He’s always got a smile on his face,” Terhune said. “He’s bright, chipper and spry.”

In addition to the Purple Onion, Hardy’s regular stops include Jumpin’ Java, At the House Restaurant, and the local Rite Aid drugstore where Terhune buys him pipes to smoke.

He also takes leftovers to feed homeless cats behind Burger King. The cats’ names, Hardy said, are Toby, Skipper, Charlie and Happy.

“He always wears a baseball hat,” said Terhune, who often gives Hardy a little spending money and gave him a wallet, flannel pajama pants, a jacket, sweatshirt and gloves last Christmas, in addition to an array of pipes he has bought for him.

“I contribute,” Terhune said. “I like to keep his wallet full.”

Not long ago, Hardy told Terhune he’d been eyeing a new pipe at the drugstore, so Terhune stopped by to ask about seeing it.

“For Mr. Hardy?” the salesclerk asked.

“He’d had one put aside,” Terhune said, smiling. “I’m the only person who’s ever bought him a pipe. He’s always saying he needs a pipe.”

At the Purple Onion, Hardy has an account of sorts—it’s where he routinely stops by to pick up a slice of his favorite coconut cake to go. That, along with a “Co-Cola,” makes Hardy’s day, Terhune said.

“I make sure he has Co-Cola and coconut cake money,” Terhune said.

Hardy’s latest routine is waiting for Terhune after church on Sundays. When Terhune exits services at Camp United Methodist Church, Hardy is waiting across the street for him at Las Palmeras Mexican restaurant.

“He waits for me to get out of church,” Terhune said, noting Hardy lately has been asking for a new belt.

Ask Hardy his age, depending on the day he might say he’s 17 or 19. But records at the facility where he shares quarters with 63-year-old roommate Wilbur Coker show Hardy is 71.

Hardy moved to the facility from Carolina Beach, said David Goldston, executive director of Shallotte Assisted Living. Otherwise, not much is known about Hardy, and he has no known family.

Hardy said he used to have a kitchen job cleaning dishes every morning in the Wilmington area.

“I want to go to Whiteville,” he says these days, because someone told him about the town in neighboring Columbus County and he’s never been there.

Terhune says he just may take Hardy for a visit.