Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday 1/30/14 Goodbye to Daufuskie Island

Daufuskie Island SC

     The morning was spent finishing editing photos for Melrose Place and Haig Point.  At noon, I met with Yvonne, one of the islands 15 remaining Gullah residents.  Fifty years ago, it is estimated that 3,000 Gullah inhabited the island.  But the pollution of the oyster beds caused one big exodus, and then the increase in property taxes due to the development of the old plantations cause another big exodus.  At one point property taxes tripled, and nothing had changed in the Gullah's world.  But there have been those that have tried to be good stewards of the islands Gullah history, and Yvonne is pictured above in the islands museum.  She is posing with a showcase of her grandfather's tools, which he used to build the church shown in the second photo.  She was a delight to interview.  

     So, a quick stop to photograph a big freighter heading out of the port at Savannah on the 17th hole in the freezing drizzle, and then time to pack and catch the ferry boat back to the mainland.

Melrose Place; Daufuskie Island

     The boat ride back was Haig Point's ferry, and I was able to meet with the Captain in the wheelhouse on the way back to the mainland.  Actually, this trip there were three captains - so I guess we were in pretty good stead for any eventuality.  

Captain Brad, Captain Dave Bogan and Captain Scott

     In the first photo you can see Captain Brad using the set of controls at the rear of the boat to dock/undock. The Captains refer to themselves as glorified bus drivers - the same way my younger brother Ben that flew Chinook Helicopters in Iraq referred to himself.

     Back to the mainland just in time to hit rush hour traffic in Hilton Head.  After a week and a half of driving a golf cart on dirt roads where everyone waves at you on Daufuskie, it was interesting to watch others in traffic.  White knuckles on steering wheels, mad competitions for a few feet of space in a lane, races to maximum speed between stop-lights, extraordinary measures to avoid eye contact - it all had such a comical appearance.  It is amazing what we will allow ourselves to be lulled into thinking is "normal behavior."

     Anyway, an old friend of mine had called a week or so back and said he was going to be doing some management consulting in the Bi-Lo grocery in Hilton Head.  When I asked at the pier where Bi-Lo was, I was told there were two.  I headed over to the closest one, and just as I approached the door, out walked Rob. It was great to see him.  He has been on a mission losing weight, and is about half the man I knew a year ago.

    So, I said goodbye to Daufuskie Island today - I spent ten solid days this trip and five previously, and I feel like I just really began to scratch the surface of this place.  There is an independence, a pioneering spirit to those that move to the island outside the resorts.  With two of the resorts just having been bought out of bankruptcy recently and two new owners coming in, there is a wait and see attitude on the island.  Developers have come and gone, made and broken promises, flourished and failed.  If I can interview a few more folks whose names and numbers I have, I will have the basis of a real solid article on the place.  I have an immense amount of interview material - much that I don't think has been told to anyone before.  So, someday soon I hope, I will find a few days to assimilate it all and put together a coherent article.

    But, I will miss this place and its people.  I am in hopes that I can make a short trip back out before heading into Georgia to finish the last interviews.  I am spending the night at David Russel's in Bluffton, and then I am going to try to "fill in the blank" I left just to the skipping over Beaufort and its sea islands.

Trivia question of the day - what is the following object used for?

  Honey Bees stop moving and hunker down when confronted with smoke.  So this is a smoker.  The main canister is filled with strips of rag with a bit of kerosene or oil on them.  These are ignited, and the lid is screwed on. Then the bellows an the left side are pumped to push air through the chamber, spewing smoke out of the funnel.  And the technical name for a bee keeper?  An apiarist.  

Have an awesome Friday.

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