|Edisto Memories Publications
Copyright © 1990 by Mike Bailey
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, fax transmission,
recording or by any informational storage or retrieval system
– except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a
review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper – without
permission in writing from the publisher.
This book is for
Deanna, Barbara, Jimmy, and the kids.
I love each of you with all my heart.
Without you, there would be no memories.
Marietta, Georgia 1990
The story you are about to read is true. Even the names have not been changed to protect the
innocent — if I'm going to hang, they can hang, too!
How do you capture and hold a lifetime of memories? It's like trying to pick the right size pot to
pop popcorn. No matter which one you choose, it's always too small and you've got extra popcorn all
over the kitchen floor. Memories have that magical something that makes you think of more with
each one you explore.
Some of these remembrances are very specific; others are composites of similar events that have
occurred over and over again through the years.
There are also times that I share my own personal reflections on Edisto, family and friends, and
life in general, because all three are indelibly linked together.
I hope that my memories of Edisto trigger your memories and that you will be reminded of all the
good times you have shared with your family.
This book is NOT about where to stay, where to fish, how to cook, where to eat or how to do
anything else on Edisto Island except relax. Besides, as a confirmed renter, I change houses
regularly and couldn't catch a fish in a sink. The last time I tried to cook, I reduced the
hamburgers to charred brickbats the size of dimes, and my wife says my idea of a good meal out is
getting a drink and a pack of crackers at the gas station.
What this book IS about, are memories of Edisto Island as seen through the eyes of one man.
Edisto was love at first sight and for that, I will be forever thankful.
It was cold that night. The wind blowing across the marsh felt like cutting spear points to the old
man huddled by a small fire. Watching a spark drift upwards from the fire into the star-filled
night, he was overwhelmed by the vastness and magic of it all. Gazing into the night sky as he had
done so many times before, he let his memories of this place he called home warm him against the
chilling night winds.
He thought of the peacefulness of the marsh that surrounded him, yet he knew of the life and
death struggles that took place there every day. He could smell the life blood of the world
around him, knowing that it provided both substance and meaning for him and those with him.
In the distance, he could hear the pounding of the waves as they reached their destination on
the beach. Where did they come from? He didn't know the answer but he was sure there was a
reason for them to try, day after day, to reach his home.
He thought of all those who had come before him and he knew that they had also felt the joy and
fulfillment of being at such a wondrous place — a place filled with bountiful life, unmatched
natural beauty, and a special magic of its own that charmed and nurtured all those within
As the fire burned lower and the dark of night was slowly painted out with the first touches of the
rising sun, the old man smiled as he thought of his family sleeping securely beside him. They
lived and shared life together. They shared in the excitement of catching the fish and the agonies
of grabbing a crab too quickly. They delighted in opening the oysters and laughing when one of
them was caught in the merciless grip of the mud. They envied the birds that soared so freely
above them and the squirrels who could reach the fruit in the tops of the trees.
He remembered also, the endless talks about where the pelicans slept, who was smiling at them
when the moon was full, and why the waters around them rose and fell to a rhythm they did not
understand. Memories, he thought — I am truly blessed.
As the last wisp of darkness faded, the old man stood and gently awoke his family — another day
was here to explore and enjoy. Facing the warming breeze now arising across the marsh, he
thought about all those who would come after him. He prayed that they would also feel and enjoy
the special magic of this place he called home.
It was cold that night, 4,000 years ago. All those years, all those memories — they kept him, and
all that followed, feeling like their life had meaning and purpose.
Enriched with the spirit of the old man and memories of their own, each generation that has come
this way has been blessed by this place he called home — Edisto.
All stories must begin somewhere and mine starts at home — miles from the beach and getting
ready for departure day.
In the early years, when the kids were small and the money was thin, we took everything with us to
Edisto and I mean EVERYTHING — groceries, clothes, water bottles, games, books, tools, toys,
fishing gear, bed linens, chairs, tons of towels, pots, pans, rafts, fans, fans, fans, and paper!
Paper — you would not believe how much paper we took with us. Paper plates, paper cups, paper
napkins, paper towels, paper this, paper that, and last but not least, toilet paper — rolls, and rolls,
and rolls. I prayed we would never get caught in the rain with the windows down in the car once we
were packed — I was sure the paper in the car would soak up and hold at least a million
gallons of water.
My wife, Deanna, started saving and buying things for the beach in January. A case of drinks here,
paper plates there, etc. We even had a huge wooden box that was called the "beach box." Food of
all sorts was stored here and we topped it off on departure day with last minute necessities.
For more years than I can remember, Deanna's sister, Barbara Davis, and her family have always
gone to the beach with us. Of course, while Deanna was HOARDING for the beach, Barbara was
repeating just about the same steps.
Long before departure day, the sisters were in constant touch with each other over the phone ...
"You bring that," "I'll bring this." Finally, it would reach the point where they would start calling
each other in the middle of the night! "Mike, tell Deanna I just remembered something else she's
supposed to bring to the beach." At 2 a.m., it was a good thing I loved my sister-in-law.
Keep in mind that with my family of four, Barbara's family of five, PLUS assorted friends of the
kids who always went with us, we were scrambling to make sure we had enough of everything to
last two weeks.
Do you know how many canned drinks eight or nine kids can drink in just ONE day? — it's mind
boggling. How about food for meal preparations? Lets see — an average of 13 people times 3 meals a
day times 14 days equals 546 meals! Looking back on it now, I'm beginning to understand why my car
looked like a grocery store on wheels when we left for the beach.
In the early days, if we didn't take all this stuff with us, we would have paid dearly for it when we
got to the beach because there were no convenient grocery stores around. The few stores that
were available for shopping had limited selections and had prices that we just couldn't afford,
considering the quantities we needed.
During these same years, packing the car for Edisto with all the stuff we had accumulated over a
period of several months was an adventure itself! The way the car was packed, and I mean packed,
both inside and out, it's a wonder it would move. We were only going for two weeks but it looked
like we were planning on settling once we got there. Sometimes I was sure the kids had borrowed
stuff from the neighbors just to see if I would notice and could get it packed in the car.
There was one time when I was sure the State Patrol was going to pull me over and give me a ticket
— we must have looked like we were doing something wrong or that the car was unfit to drive
The car had water bottles tied to the sides, bicycles on the front and rear bumpers, folding chairs
stacked 6 feet high on the roof, brooms and mops tied along side the chairs, suitcases hanging on
by ropes tied to the stack of chairs, and kids peeking out of windows that showed the inside of the
car was just as cluttered as the outside.
Except for just where we sat (the kids always said I packed them), every square inch was filled
with cases of drinks, fans, food stuff, paper products, toys, and who knows what else.
As the trooper pulled along side, the kids waved, he looked us over, and then he just shook his head
and moved on ahead.
Waves of relief spread over my body. Why didn't he stop us? Then I thought, maybe he had taken
his family on vacation to Edisto and he understood why we looked like something out of a
Speaking of cars, I'm convinced that they have a mind of their own. I swear mine knew when we
were getting ready to go to Edisto. The months and weeks prior to leaving were fine — no problems.
As the magical date approached, "things" started to happen.
The treads on the tires seemed to disappear over night. "When did that water pump start leaking?"
"Daddy, did you know the car makes a funny noise when you go around a curve?" The list kept
I guess the old car knew that it was about to be loaded to the gills and driven hundreds of miles in
the hot broiling sun. Looking back on it now, I smile. Maybe the old girl did know what we were
getting ready to do and was only trying to help us before we packed up and roared off to the beach.
As time went by, the kids got bigger, Deanna and Barbara found more dollars, a grocery store went
up on the beach, and all in all, life became much easier as we prepared for our annual pilgrimage to
Now when we head to Edisto, we pack a few clothes, a couple of good books, a few special pieces of
our favorite cookware, and we're off. Sometimes I look back on the old departure days and just
laugh. They were good days, hectic, but good. We were a family together and were blazing
We always arrive at the beach early. I don't care what time check-in is for the house we have
rented, we are on the beach that morning (unless we get hung up at the Dawhoo Bridge).
The Dawhoo Bridge — that aging workhorse of an old swing bridge. Linking the mainland to Edisto
Island, she spans the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
After many hours on the road, seeing that old bridge is like dying and finding yourself at the pearly
gates (even if the gates are sometimes closed). When you do get caught with the bridge swung open
for boat traffic on the waterway, the wait is worthwhile just more time to dream of the magic that
lies just beyond her rusting short span.
To some, this old bridge is a pain — slow, creaky, open for boat traffic at the wrong times, and just
downright ugly. Not to me. To me, she's a graceful link between times gone by and the present.
She's the sentinel who guards a very special place — Edisto.
Even the approach to the bridge, with the graceful Live Oaks caressing the road with shade and
hints of the past, starts the healing process one undergoes while on Edisto. Every time I cross this
bridge, I feel as if the bridge operator magically lifts all of my troubles and pressures away. It's
like coming home — familiar, secure, and caring.
Many years ago, we drove all night so we could get to Edisto at first light. As luck would have it,
the bridge was just starting to swing open and cars were already stopped in a lengthening line of
anxious visitors to the island.
The scene and mood there that morning was like something out of an old war movie. As dawn
approached, we waited there near the water. Motors were purring softly all around us — ready to
jump to life at a moments notice. Ahead of us, boats lined up in the deep channel, each waiting on
its turn to move. Several people milled about their vehicles and tightened down any loose cargo.
Voices floated over the still morning air, excitement and anticipation hung on every word. It was
like we were an invasion force, all geared up for action. All the months of careful planning were
about to payoff. We were ready when the bridge opened — it would be our signal to start
We could see the lights of boats moving past in front of us, their engines throbbing to life to push
them faster through the water. Then we heard noises sounding like metal scrapping against metal
— a deep moaning sound made by something not really wanting to move. The kids started yelling
"the bridge is closing, the bridge is closing." Next, we heard bells starting to ring and we could
see red flashing lights moving slowly — the signal to push off had finally been given!
People scurried back to their vehicles. Motors roared to life all around us and the cars close to
the bridge began to move forward as soon as the flashing light barrier slowly moved out of
When it was our turn, we took off and crossed over the old bridge. D-Day — the invasion of Edisto
After months of waiting, my family was ready to reap all the rewards that Edisto so freely bestowed
on all who come to her. We crossed over that bridge not to conquer, but to enjoy!
The last few miles
The trip to the ocean from the Dawhoo Bridge in the early morning is always filled with laughter,
excitement, and picking out all the familiar landmarks. All of these landmarks make our arrivals so
much fun — the bed swing hanging from a huge old oak tree, the road-side vegetable stands
(especially the sign for George and Pinks), the little white church across the marsh on Botany Bay
Road, and countless others.
Memories from past trips start filling our minds with endless visions — it's as if we had never left
Past the State Park sign, around the last curve, across the causeway crossing the last marsh and
there she is, the beautiful Atlantic Ocean glimmering in the morning sun.
Some mornings, we see sea gulls filling the sky as they hover behind shrimp boats pulling their nets.
We can always count on spotting a flight or two of Brown pelicans already making one of their
endless journeys up or down the beach. On some mornings, we've even spotted a Dolphin or two
breaking the surface of the ocean as they slowly made their way along the coastline.
I will never forget the first time I saw all of this 40 years ago — it still looks the same in my eyes.
That trip was the first time I had ever seen the ocean or the marshes and even though I was only 7
years old at the time, I was overwhelmed with their majestic beauty.
Ending a long trip to Edisto in the early hours of the morning is my favorite arrival time. In the cool
morning air, I get to see Edisto wake up.
Cars and bicycles are beginning to move about, each taking their time to reach their destinations.
People are already moving about the pier; others are down on the beach starting their day off with
an early swim or quiet stroll. Sometimes the campers are lined up at the entrance to the State Park
Campground, waiting for the park to open. All around me are signs of peace and relaxation — life in
the slow lane.
As I sit there and watch all this, I can't help but feel that this is going to be a beautiful day.
Setting up house
After what seems like a month of waiting and killing time until check-in time, we finally get the keys
for our rental house and take off — down the boulevard, searching for our house.
Arriving at the house, it's every man for himself. It's a mad rush to check out the house — this
bedroom is mine, no its mine!, how many bathrooms?, look at this sun deck, it has a screen porch!, its
got TWO bathrooms! On and on, it's fun every year. It doesn't even matter if we've stayed at this
house before — the first day scramble to check out the house always happens.
Remember that loaded-down car I described earlier? Well, it's unload time. No matter how
heavily loaded my car was, Barbara and her husband, Jimmy, always arrived in a car that is loaded
down even more. To this day, I've never figured out how they and their kids came so far so
While Jimmy and I start unloading, the girls start checking out the kitchen. What they are looking
for has always been a mystery to me and Jimmy. What's amazing is that by the time we get the
cars unloaded, they have mysteriously finished checking out the kitchen. To this day we still don't
know what they were doing!
Posting of the rules
Back when the kids were small, and because they usually brought friends (we're talking about a
house full of people), everybody gathered around the refrigerator when the dust of moving in
The dreaded DUTY SHEET had been posted! Before leaving for Edisto, Deanna and Barbara had
drawn up the Duty Sheet. This was a simple but effective plan that listed every day at the beach
and who had cleanup, who set the tables for meals, and who helped with meal preparations for each
The RULES and REGULATIONS SHEET was posted next to the Duty Sheet. This was primarily
for the kids — no swimming alone, tell someone where you're going, etc., etc. Of course there were
several rules on there that applied to us big kids as well — clean up after yourself, make up your
beds, and be present for meals (no show, no food).
Deanna always stuck a little note at the bottom of the lists that said "Of course, all of the above
WILL be done with a smile on your face!"
You would not believe all the moaning, groaning, and day swapping that went on. You know of course,
whose names were NOT on the list! Actually though, all the moaning and groaning was in fun and the
two lists were life savers. It helped all of us, young and old, to see the need for team work, sharing
of duties, and responsibilities.
The day swapping was for real though — a veteran horse trader would have been proud of some of
the deals that were made.
I recall one sham Barbara and Jimmy's son, Brian, used to love to pull. Brian always seemed able to
predict accurately which day we would choose to go on our annual sightseeing tour of Charleston. He
would look at the list to see who had that day and which day was assigned to him.
Seeking out his prey, he would say "Tell you what, you take my day this week, and I'll take yours
next week. That way, you'll get your duty day out of the way and you can relax for the rest of the
time." "Really, Brian? You'd do that for me?"
It took some of the kids a few years to realize that on Charleston day, we were gone all day long
and that duties on that day were light, if not nonexistent.
Searching for water
Water! The water at the beach has never bothered me that much, but then again, what can you say
about someone's taste who loves ketchup on his scrambled eggs.
I can still hear my daughter Ashley running up to me when she was a little girl and telling me that
her brother had done something to the water ... "Daddy, Daddy, Michael put rotten eggs in the
water." My son has always kidded his sister unmercifully and I'm sure he had said something to her
about the water.
For many years, one of the first duties on arrival day was to gather up all the water jugs and head
for Marion Whaley's Store. There at the gas pumps was one lone water spigot, dispensing good
water to thousands of people who turned her magical handle. I never have understood why the
water there was so good but I have always admired Marion for freely letting people come and go
to get the water.
Several years ago, the town of Edisto Beach installed a machine next to the fire department that
dispenses good drinking water. Reverse osmosis — that's what the sign on the machine says. I had
enough trouble in high school figuring out what osmosis was, and now this! Seems like to me that if
you reversed it, you'd end up with the same thing you started out with. Oh well.
The rest of the time on arrival days at Edisto is usually devoted to everybody sort of getting
themselves ready for the rest of the stay — each taking care of his own needs.
Jimmy loves to ride bicycles on the Island and he would be down under the house getting them
ready. He calls them bicycles — I call them moving pieces of junk.
Wheels that have long since seen a rounded shape are attached by hand-made straps to rusted
frames. The frames, showing many repairs from previous mishaps, are warped and out of alignment.
Everything that is supposed to move, does so with squeaks and moans. The fenders are all dented
up, the chains are solid lengths of rust, the tires are cracking and full of patches, and the seats
and handle bars constantly move about.
After several hours of tinkering and applying gallons of oil to all the squeaky joints, Jimmy would
be off to explore Edisto.
Brian is always ready to go FISHING! If he knew for a fact that there was only one fish in the
entire Atlantic ocean, he'd go for it ... "That sucker is good as caught!" he would say on his way
out the door. Michael was usually right on his footsteps.
Deanna and Barbara would finish squaring away the kitchen and then off to the store. If we
brought 25 trillion things with us, we always forgot something!
Ashley and my nieces, Marcie and Sandra, plus their friends, would be off in one of the bedrooms
making plans for their stay — sunbathing times, boys, boys, boys, and who knows what else!
Me? Well, I'm always off to the beach to hunt for sharks' teeth the first chance I get.
As time went by and the kids got older and didn't come with us, arrival days became less hectic.
The truth is, I miss those early-year arrival days — so much laughter, so much love, so much
Over the years, people have asked me why I have such fond remembrances of beach houses. To
them, a house was a house and that was it. Maybe I'm just sentimental or something (my son says
it's a sure sign of getting old), but I love the unique characteristics and personalities of
When I first walk through the door of the house we have rented, l feel as if I'm home. I can sense
the presence of all the good times that have taken place here before, therefore, I know that in the
coming two weeks, my family will also have the opportunity just to relax and to have loads of fun.
The family and I have our favorite houses — sometimes we all agree, sometimes we don't. One thing
is for sure though, we have enjoyed every single house we have ever rented at Edisto.
Of course, which house at the beach we rent is directly related to how much money we have left
over after April 15th! We have always stayed on the beachfront at Edisto so I guess some of my
memories might be slightly different from someone who was staying on 2nd row or elsewhere.
Every house at Edisto is different. One of the first things we learned at Edisto was not to let the
outside appearance of the house bother us and/or affect our decision on whether or not to rent it.
Like the old saying "beauty is only skin deep," the house's real beauty and charm lies within. Each
house reflects the owner's taste and the practicalities of it's being a rental house. We've stayed in
the rustic all the way up to the Ritz.
Personally, I love the middle-of-the-road houses and those downwards toward the rustic. It's not
the money (in the old days it definitely was), but rather it's the sense of being there. We are
beach folks — carefree, laid back, a little sand on the floor folks. If I wanted super clean floors
and lots of amenities, I could have stayed home or checked into a hotel over in Charleston.
Before I was married, I stayed at numerous houses at Edisto belonging to friends of mine that I
grew up with. These were all great houses. However, the houses that my family and I have stayed
in since I've been married, take on a whole different perspective as far as fond remembrances
Old, but not forgotten
The first house we rented so many years ago is still Deanna's and my favorite. The house is still
there — old, small, narrow, and bravely facing the ocean at her doorstep.
Notice that I said her doorstep. I usually refer to houses as being feminine because they are
loving, beautiful, caring, and will give you heck if you don't take care of them.
We had some great times in this old house. You could look at the floor in the morning and if you saw
light through the cracks, you knew the dawn was breaking! The floors have since been covered but I
miss the old ones (made it awful easy to sweep out the sand).
This house also had one of those driveways that could make a believer out of you about the power
of sand versus spinning car wheels. Year after year the problem has persisted. I've seen all sorts
of material thrown down in the driveway in an attempt to make the drive easier — boards, Palmetto
fronds, rocks, old inner tubes, more sand (somebody was really desperate), barbecue briquettes,
and deflated rafts.
All was in vain — all of them failed for me and everybody else who has tried them!
If you had the right speed, the right angle on the car, the right weight in the trunk, and it was
either two days before a full moon or 3 hours since high tide, you might, you just might make it all
the way from the house to the street without getting stuck!
I've got a 4-wheel drive vehicle now and I'm ready for that driveway — although it will be my luck
that by the time I rent this house again, they will have paved my own personal obstacle course!
We've stayed in a lot of houses since then but this one will always be our first love. In fact, every
now and then when we want to just get away for a few days, we rent this house just for the
two of us.
See what I mean about memories? Every time Deanna and I drive by this old house (or even stay in
it), we just smile and recall the good times we had there. For a moment or two, we are allowed to
step back in time and relive a part of our lives. We are reminded of why we are still together —
we get to see, feel, and recall those events in our lives that gave meaning to ourselves and to
Memories. They are the continuity between the past and now — the glue that makes us whole.
Leaning, but still working
One of the earlier houses we stayed in only had one bathroom. This in itself was nothing unusual
as there are lots of houses with just one. What was different about this particular one was that
the toilet leaned at almost a 20-degree angle from the floor. It was soundly mounted, but time
and weight had allowed the floor to sag just a wee bit too much!
More jokes and fun were made out of this unique fixture. The kids laughed every time they went
into the bathroom. It was funny — you couldn't help but laugh while sitting there with your head
on the wall to keep from sliding off.
It still amazes me that after all these years, the kid's recollection of the leaning toilet is so strong
in their minds. Even now when we check into a new house, one of the first things the kids do is race
to the bathroom and check out the toilet. Then they immediately start laughing ... "Remember that
time you fell off the toilet?" Trails of laughter always follow them as they take off to explore the
rest of the house.
Every now and then, the roof leaks
Rain at Edisto is nothing unusual. In fact, over the years we've come to welcome the short showers
— they make great instant air-conditioners. However, every now and then comes a real frog
strangler, complete with wind, thunder, and lightning.
I remember one night in particular that such a storm hit — the night we almost drowned. Lord was
it raining! I was absolutely convinced that the house we were staying in at the time had been put
there by the government to test how many leaks could occur simultaneously in one house! I can
assure you that the house we were staying in that night exceeded their wildest guess.
Looking back on it now, it was funny. We had every pot, every pan, cups, glasses, anything that
would hold water spread out all over the house. The water was coming in everywhere — under
the doors, up and over the windows, from the ceiling, everywhere. We were frantically running
around like mad, emptying containers, knocking others over — a real live Chinese fire drill!
It was at this time (drowning inside of the house), that Deanna exclaimed her now almost famous
saying "what the heck, we're on vacation!" Standing there with water streaming down her face,
she completely quelled the calamity we were facing by uttering those few words.
We all looked at each other and broke out laughing. All of us, standing there soaking wet, realized
she was right. The rest of the evening went fine — we laughed, mopped, sang and got wet.
After that fateful night many years ago, we've never let rain bother us again at the beach
(whether it was raining in the house or even outside where it was supposed to be).
Close to the action
One house we rented many years in a row was the favorite of the kids. The house was not too far
down from the pier, and the back of the house sat right on Palmetto Boulevard. "Close to the
action." That's what the kids used to call it.
In the teenage years, the kids felt it was absolutely mandatory that they be able to see
EVERYBODY who might be riding up and down the boulevard. Just as important, they wanted to
make sure the folks in the cars could see them.
The girls fought with the boys over who was going to be out on the back porch. Regardless of who
won, it all sounded the same to us old folks inside. Waving, hollering, screaming and whistling, they
greeted all of those who passed beneath them.
The only thing that bothered me was the fact that the porch was very small and was two stories
above the ground. I just knew that one of them was going to flip over the side as they got caught
up in their greetings.
Beneath the deck on the beach side of the house was a swing. Usually claimed by us older folks,
this pleasant addition to the house was pure contentment — shady, cool breezes, and dozing off
while gently swinging back and forth.
"Move, Move, Move!" Several of the girls were again hollering for us to get out of THEIR swing.
By now, we knew this meant that either some new prospects were making their way up the beach
(the girls needed the close-up view that the swing provided) or, that the girls had already flagged
some down on the street and they were coming around the house to meet the girls at the swing.
"Swings are for kids anyway," they would say as we grudgingly left.
From the front porch to the swing, from the swing to the deck, from the deck back to the front
porch — an endless cycle of boy (or girl) watching, greetings, and encounters.
Yes, the kids loved this house, but then again, so did all of us. It seems just like yesterday that
the kids were up there on that back porch — waving, smiling, and innocently flirting with life.
Over the years, I've been rewarded with the houses that we have rented at Edisto. Each house
gave me the unique privilege of enjoying a total fun-filled relaxed vacation and also, a front-row
seat to experience nature at her finest.
I was able to laugh unselfishly a lot, take off my shoes, lie back and relax, track a little sand
through the house, OPEN those windows and feel the breezes blowing, and hear the surf pounding
as I lay there in bed at night.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt wonderful!
5 a.m. — it's dark outside. I can hear the surf already tapping on the beach as I lie there in bed.
Another day to explore the magic of Edisto is about to begin. As I have done hundreds of times
before, I quietly get out of bed, dress, and head for the kitchen.
I'm getting quite good at making coffee in the dark. After getting the coffee going, I slip into the
bathroom and shave. By the time I finish all the morning rituals, the coffee is done and my day
really starts to get going.
Cup in hand, I thread my way through the house and out on to the deck facing the ocean. Some
mornings it's so quiet — no breeze, no surf, nothing except the blackness of the night. Other times,
there's already a cool stiff breeze and the waves are pounding the beach. What I love about all
this is that it is NEVER the same.
The shrimp boats are all lit up with their running and working lights as they make their way out
to their favorite spots. The red, green, and white lights — like Christmas trees dancing on the
ocean. Some mornings, when the breeze is right and the boats are close in, I can hear the voices of
the men on the boats as they continue to make their boat ready for another day of shrimping.
Joining me on the deck almost every morning for as long as I can remember, has been Jimmy —
my brother-in-law, my best friend.
Sitting there on the deck is like having a front row seat to one of the greatest shows on earth —
daybreak. Jimmy and I quietly talk and watch the show together. Sometimes we don't talk — we
just sit there, each in our own little world.
During these quiet times, I think of all the good times my family and I have had here at Edisto.
Good memories — they make you feel warm when the breezes are cool.
Looking up the beach and to the East, I watch as the night is slowly painted from black to faint
hues of gray. Slowly, as if "someone" were painting with a delicate hand, the grays are touched
with colors of rose, orange, violet, and finally red.
Everyday is a new painting, a new beginning.
The brightness of Aldebaran fades in the constellation Taurus, the sun breaks into the day, and
I head for the beach. Jimmy ducks under the house, grabs his bike and heads off for his morning
Daybreak — our day at Edisto has begun.
How do you describe the beach to someone who has never seen it? What makes the beach so
difficult to explain is that it never sits still. The waves, tides, people, shells, sand — everything is
in constant motion.
I love everything about the beach at Edisto. The groins (jetties), fossils, people, swimming, strange
sights, and endless walks have filled me with countless memories over the years.
When I'm on the beach at Edisto, I always take the time to watch what is going on around me. Over
the years, I've come to realize that if I didn't look, I probably would have missed some of the
funniest, oddest, strangest, and most beautiful sights I've ever seen.
Guideposts on the beach
One of my oldest memories of Edisto is of the groins — those strange dark fingers made by man
that inch out from the sand and into the ocean.
Originally constructed of large telephone poles and heavy wooden timbers, they were placed on the
beach to help control beach erosion. I can remember when they stood tall and looked almost new —
they looked indestructible.
Sadly, time and constant wave action have played havoc with them. Now, most of them are a lot
shorter than they used to be and also, many of them have had to be shored up by having huge rocks
piled on top of them.
What I have always liked about the groins is that they act as permanent boundaries. They are
guideposts to help both the young and old to pinpoint where you are and where your house is. Losing
your perspective on the beach is very easy, especially if you're moving and if you're young.
I've always felt like the beach between the two groins that marked where our house was located
was OUR beach. As a general rule, except for the long walkers like myself, most people at Edisto
tend to stay in their front yard on their beach.
When the kids were young, we would go down to the beach with them and point out the boundaries
of our yard for that year. I would tell them, "You can play between this groin and that groin."
They would look both ways and then say, "sure Dad," as they made a bee-line for the water.
When you're 7 years old, there's an awful lot of beach between two groins at Edisto. The front
yard I just told them that they could play in must have looked huge in their eyes.
Sometimes, I can look up and down the beach and see three people in that groin area, 20 people in
this one, and no one in that one. The population of the mini-beaches changes as the day changes —
the sun-bathers, swimmers, and walkers constantly coming and going.
What's so great though, is that every yard belongs to everyone. As a walker, I have grown to sense
this, even when the next yard was empty. As I walk from yard to yard, I'm greeted with smiles,
"howdies", and an all-around feeling of sharing.
Walking like this from yard to yard reminds me of the days when I was a kid and the kid next door
called me over to play in his yard for the first time — oh boy!, something new, new territory
Quiet strolls and reflections
Over the years, I have discovered that there is nothing on the face of this earth that will allow me
the pleasure of thinking things out as much as a simple stroll down the beach will do every time.
Quiet walks on the beach — a gift from above.
Maybe it's the wind blowing in my face or the waves dancing at my feet or watching the
Sandpiper's dazzling footwork as they seek out their dinner from the receding waves — I just
don't know. Whatever it is, it works.
As I walk the beach, pressures seem to just drift away, my mind starts to soak in all the pleasures
around me, and I start hearing myself think of things long since forgotten. Memories flood over me
— the fossils I have found, the first wave my son rode his raft on and the good times I've had with
How can anyone be sad on the beach? When I there, I see and feel all of God's beauty and magic
around me. They calm me, inspire me, and they allow me to know myself without all the pressures of
the world we live in crushing me.
Sometimes, I sit awhile and just watch. Watching a small child as he builds his sand castle or digs a
hole that keeps filling up with water can be fascinating — such innocence and contentment.
Safely sitting out on a groin, especially when the tide is ripping in around you, is a great place to
let your mind wander and to just dream.
Occasionally, when I'm sitting out there, memories of the years I was stationed on submarines in
the Navy flood over me — being up on the bridge of my submarine, cutting through the North
Atlantic with the wind and salt spray in my face, cruising to far away places.
I also watch the Brown Pelicans as they ride the air currents just above the wave tops, and
occasionally, see one soar upwards and then plunge downwards into the ocean — his dinner firmly
tucked away in his bill. How they survive the dive has always fascinated me.
Maybe that's why they fly up and down the beach all the time — they've been hit on the head so
many times they don't know if they are supposed to be going or coming (and I still don't know
where they all go at night.)
Peace — simple, quiet walks on the beach and stopping every now and then to just sit quietly and
reflect on life in general and to dream.
Long, tiring miles
I love quiet walks on the beach. These are usually short in duration and distances traveled — just
right for examining the beach up close. These walks are great, but my favorite walks are the long
walks, the ones covering many tiring miles.
I have walked every inch of the beach on the island from where the old Coast Guard station used to
be down on the South Edisto River, all the way north up to the North Edisto River. Usually, I walk
5 to 10 miles a day, constantly looking for sharks' teeth and other fossils. Most of the time, you can
find me somewhere between the pier and the south point (where the beach curves back in towards
the South Edisto River).
In fact, with increasing age, I've started staying even closer to the house we rent. I don't know if
it's the fear of missing a meal or being too far from a bathroom or what. To be young again — you
could hold it for days!
At least once every trip to Edisto, I head up to Jeremy's Inlet at the north end of the State Park.
I try to get as many people as possible to go with me because the trip (about 4 miles round trip) is
well worth it. The beach along here is wide and unbroken by the groins found south of the pier.
It's hard to judge distances here, because points of reference for forward progress are so far
away. Walking on this stretch of beach is so rewarding. As I walk past the end of the State Park
campground, I feel like I'm on my own — surrounded only by the ocean, the sand, and the marshes.
Gone are all signs of man's footprints.
The inlet is a fascinating place to visit. It looks so weird to see water rushing out from the marshes
into the pounding waves of the ocean. You can't help but ask yourself, how is this possible? Why
doesn't the ocean just rush in and take over the creek? The inlet changes every year — sandbar
here, new outlet there. At low tide you can safely walk across the inlet over to old
If you're up to it, crossing the inlet and heading up towards Frampton's Inlet can be quite an eye-
opening experience. I'll never forget the first time I saw the Old Edingsville Beach at low tide.
Gone were the sandy beaches that once graced this beautiful stretch of ocean. It looked like a
war zone to me — dead trees buried in the muck, exposed old oyster beds, sea grasses, old bricks
from the houses that once were there, and very little sand.
In the mid 1800's, this was the place to be — houses, people, and beautiful beaches. All were wiped
away by the big hurricane just before 1900. The houses are all gone now, and the beach has never
Even though there is so much beach erosion here, there is still so much beauty. From a distance and
at twilight, the dead trees look like sentinels, quietly and patiently guarding their beach.
On a couple of occasions, I've walked to the north end of Edingsville Beach and swam across
Frampton's Inlet and continued on northward to the northern most stretch of beach on Edisto.
These extended trips beyond Jeremy Inlet take time and endurance.
Whenever I make one of these extended trips, I always take water with me and have something to
munch on that's high in food energy. Deanna usually prepares a trail mix for me — nuts, raisins,
M&Ms, and chocolate chips.
I normally wait until the end of the second week before I set out on one of these trips because by
that time, I've got a good tan and my legs have strengthened up from all the previous walks on
I also let someone know where and when I am going in case they have to call the Coast Guard to
come fetch my tired, sunburned, and crazy body!
Yes, the long walks are great — tiring but worth every step taken. They also have one additional
benefit — I'll sleep like a baby that night!
Getting up close to the birds that call the beach home has it's moments. Seeing them at work as
they go about the timeless search for food is both fascinating and thought provoking. We take so
much for granted, like looking in the refrigerator for food. Here then is a beautiful bird that
searches all day long for food for himself and most likely, for his family somewhere safely hidden.
I remember one time getting very close to a Sandpiper who was intent on getting his morning meal.
I don't know if it was the wind direction, if he was deaf or what, but I got to within 2 feet of him
before he sensed my presence.
As he turned around towards me with a Sand Flea firmly clenched in his bill, both of us were
startled out of our wits. His bill flew open dropping the Sand Flea, his wings shot out like
outstretched arms, and he fell backwards squawking at me as I started laughing and jumping away
As he recovered from his close encounter with a beach person, he flew off, and continued to give
me the "dickens" for messing up his routine and making him miss his meal. The Three Stooges
couldn't have planned that episode any better.
Being on the beach also allows me to be somebody other than that systems analyst back home, or
that amateur gardener trying to get his dying, bug-infested flowers to look like the ones his
neighbors bought at the nursery.
There are no offices on the beach, just me and nature. The beach doesn't mind it one bit if I'm
lazy, my hair is all messed up, and I'm just enjoying myself walking, swimming, or just sitting there
doing absolutely nothing.
I saw a man on the beach one day and at first, I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the image
appearing before my eyes. Was I having flash backs to my office or what? Then it hit me. Here
was a man on vacation, on the beach, and WORKING. Sitting there at a small table under his
umbrella, he was talking on his portable mobile phone and looking at papers he'd just removed from
I almost went over to him and demanded that he hang up the phone, put away his work toys, and to
just kick back and relax.
I can almost guarantee you that when he got back home, his body was still going to be asking him
"are we going on vacation this year or what?"
Here was a man with a golden opportunity to unwind and to let a few of life's pressures just fade
away. Lost opportunities — some people just never learn how to relax on the beach or how to find
a few moments of peace.
Lost and found
Do you know what you can find while you're on the beach? Just about anything under the sun. Oh,
I know you can find all the natural things, like beautiful sea shells, sharks' teeth and colorful Sea
Whips (looks like tiny dead trees with all the leafless limbs covered in a red, orange, purple,
yellow, or white crust).
No, what I'm talking about is the other stuff — one shoe, the top to a bathing suit, a pair of sun
glasses, a coconut, the list is endless. All sorts of visions dance before you — where is the other
shoe? Can you imagine losing part of your bathing suit on a crowded beach?
Over the years I have found lots of strange things on the beach at Edisto. Coconuts — did they
really wash up here from some strange exotic place or was somebody trying to make a new type of
One time I found all in a row, a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and a half dollar. What happened to
the silver dollar? Who placed them on the beach that way? Another time, I found one horse shoe
(the kind you play with). What happened to the rest of them?
I used to bring all sorts of found items back to the house with me, such as lumber of all sizes,
driftwood, pieces of rope, you name it. Deanna says I'm a sucker for junk anyway — a pack rat in
her words. She questions everything I bring back with "what are you going to use that for?" "How
do I know, I might need it later," is always my stock answer.
I guess she is afraid the beach house will end up like our garage at home, so over the years, I have
trimmed back my scavenger habits — now I only bring back what I can hide in my pockets!
I guess the moral of the story is to keep your eyes open when you're on the beach — you never
know what you might find.
The beach at Edisto has always provided me with some unique opportunities for great adventures
and fun times. For example, have you ever water skied on the ocean?
The first pair of water skis I ever strapped on my feet was at Edisto. Most people learn to water
ski on smooth, calm, inland lakes. Not me — I was dumb enough to try to learn how to ski in the
ocean. After many attempts (and I emphasize that word), I finally got the hang of it.
Of course, all of this was way back when I was in high school and still daring, fool hardy, and
strong. You've got to be strong to ski in the ocean — everything is trying to knock you flat on
On calm days, we would ski up and down the coast of Edisto. The view of Edisto from out there in
the water as you go whizzing by is so different. The swells lift and drop you — your view of the
beach and the houses rises and falls like the tides. All you can hear is the whine of the boat pulling
you, drowning out the shouts and laughter of those on the beach egging you on.
We were on top of the world in those days — ski kings of the ocean.
Another adventuresome folly we used to indulge in was "shooting the rapids, Jeremy style!" That's
what we used to call it when we would take rafts as far back up in Jeremy's Creek as we could and
hop on. When the outgoing tide is just right, the ride down the creek and out through the inlet into
the breakers is fantastic.
Sadly, I never see anyone doing these crazy but fun things anymore. People just don't know what
they are missing — where are the adventurers of today?
The rituals of sunbathing
What would the beach be without the sun? These two beauties of nature go hand in hand. This
magic combination, of course, provides for another adventure. Sunbathing — the ritual of getting
burnt to a crisp!
I've never understood why people willfully lie there under the hot broiling sun, trying to get a tan
so they can prove to the folks back home that they have been on vacation. I've got nothing against
tanning (I get toasted every year), its just the manner in which the girls in our clan go about it.
Me, well I get my tan the easy way — I gunk up my body with just two sun screens (one for the
body and one for the balding head), walk down to the beach, a quick assessment of which direction
might yield most sharks teeth, and then I take off walking.
Not the girls. Its a full blown production when they hit the beach. It is unbelievable what they go
through just to get a tan. When I say "they", I mean all the girls except Barbara because what she
does defies known laws of science — she never gets sunburned!
Always being organized and never one to mess around Barbara puts her bathing suit on, grabs a
towel picks up her lounge chair, and heads straight down to the beach. We're talking about 4
minutes flat, from bedroom to the beach!
No sun tan lotions, no sun screens, no umbrella — NOTHING! She lies there exactly 30 minutes,
gets up and comes back into the house. At the end of our vacation, she's got the best tan. My
niece, Marcie, would look at Barbara and say, "It's just not fair! I'm your daughter — why do I
get burnt to a crisp?"
How or why Barbara never gets sunburned has amazed me.
Now, getting back to the rest of the girls and what they go through to lie in the sun for an hour
First, they have to select the right sun screens for that day. There are numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, and
right up to a number 36!
Sun screen block number 36! — why bother to go on the beach. It says right on the bottle you
aren't going to get any sun. Might as well stay inside where it's cool and read a book — the results
will be the same.
Of course, besides the number of the sun screen to choose, they next have to choose what type of
sun screen to use — oil, cream, gel, etc. The combinations are staggering. With so much in the news
today about sunbathing and with so many products on the market, picking the right one can be an
all day affair!
With the sun screens picked for this specific day (yes, they factor in the temperature, wind
direction, cloud cover, and the average number of rain days at Edisto), they next start rounding up
all the other supplies they will need with them on the beach.
After what seems like an ordeal to me, they arrive at the beach. They've got towels, beach towels,
and face towels with them. They've got folding chairs, lounge chairs, and those crazy sunbathing
chairs — the ones that the top and bottom halves fold and lock into any position you put them in.
I can never get one of these stupid chairs to work for me — either I get the top locked in too far
forward or the bottom is too low, or it ends up shaped like a "U" with me crunched in the middle.
I'll take a beach towel any day!
To keep them occupied while they lie there and cook, they've brought books, magazines, radios, and
cassette players with them. Of course, while all the sunbathing and gossiping is going on, they are
indulging in the rest of the essential beach supplies that they brought with them — food and drinks.
When they get ready to hit the beach, they do everything themselves. But when it's time to leave
the beach, they're looking for one of us guys to help them carry all their stuff back to the house
— the chairs covered is sand and oils, the wet towels, the empty drink cans, and all the other
paraphernalia they've managed to lug down to the beach.
I've seen Ashley and Sandra stay on the beach an extra hour, all covered up to prevent any
further burning, waiting for their husbands, Scott and Vinnie, to show up to help them get back
to the house — talk about being resourceful!
I guess that even with all the rigors involved, the daily pilgrimages to the beach were worthwhile
for the girls — they so dearly loved soaking up the sun. Many trips have been made to the beach
over the years — they've been blessed with lots of sun, fun and good times.
Riding the waves
Of course, when everybody is down on the beach, sooner or later you've got to go swimming in the
ocean. Better still is riding the waves — a fast and sometimes funny trip to the beach.
Some of the best times I've ever had with my family has been when we all acted like daring circus
acrobats and tried to ride the waves in at Edisto. We have used everything you can think of that
will float — rafts of every size and texture, boards, inner tubes (truck tires were the best), you
name it, we used it.
I can still see my wife and Barbara trying to get up on a raft or an inner tube when a big wave was
coming — so much laughing and giggling, legs in the air, and an unceremonious dumping on the beach
at the end. They would pull themselves up from the beach and stand there looking dazed — sea
shells in their hair, their mouths, and in their bathing suits.
Once, after one of these flying dumps onto the beach, I overheard Barbara asking Deanna "Are we
having fun yet or what?" I guess they were, because they both went tearing off into the ocean
again to catch the next big one!
Marcie, Sandra, Ashley, their friends, Marie Townsend and Kristie Cothren, would all try to get on
one inner tube or raft at the same time. They slipped and slid and giggled – arms and legs
everywhere! As I've said before, the Three Stooges would have been proud. In all the hundreds of
times they tried to accomplish the almost impossible, I don't think they ever made it once.
I don't think it ever dawned on them that the more they laughed and giggled, the harder the task
became. But what the heck, they were on vacation!
All of the kids use to love tricking me into body surfing. As Brian would say, "Rafts are for wimps
— be a man and body surf!" Sandra and Ashley made it look so easy. Michael and Brian would show
me how to ride the big ones — all the way up to the beach. Kids — they've got the magic touch.
When it was my turn, I took off like a crazed rocket out of control.
I've been buried in the beach head first, feet first, and you name it first. I've lost my bathing
suit, had it filled with 50 pounds of sea shells, and had it wrapped around my head. Give me a raft
Do you know what it is like to lose your bathing suit at the beach? I'm not talking about having it
come off and then just putting it back on.
No, I'm talking about gone, so long, good-bye, I'm in deep-trouble lost!
On the day that I lost mine, the waves were really pounding the beach. We were body surfing and
each trip to the beach was a fast and furious ride, especially when you approached the beach.
Sometimes, we'd hit the quickly approaching beach at the right time and angle, and would go flying
smoothly up onto the beach.
Then there were the other times. The angle or the timing would be off and the waves would literally
lift you up and then try with all their might to flip, twist, and turn you before finally dumping your
dazed body on the beach.
At first I was stunned by the dumping I had just received. Then I realized that something was
wrong — my bathing suit was gone and worst yet, it was NOWHERE in sight!
Madly scrambling to get covered, I could hear the giggles and laughter already coming from the
beach. For a moment or two, I even thought it was funny. Then fear and panic set in.
Knowing the zany group that I was with (my own family), I just knew I wasn't going to get any help
from them — they wouldn't quit laughing even long enough to hear my cries of despair. Finally,
after much pleading, begging, and promised favors had been made, Deanna reluctantly threw me a
towel and I sneaked off the beach in embarrassment.
On that day, I forever changed the style of bathing suits that I wore — if it did NOT have a draw
string, I didn't wear it, period!
All in all, riding the waves is exhilarating — the salt water stinging in your eyes, the surf boiling
around you, and the feel of unstoppable speed as you crest a wave and come flying ashore!
The Edisto two-step
Over the years, I've found other ways to entertain myself on the beach other than burying my
body head first into the beach after a wild uncontrolled body surfing ride. One of these is
watching other people's journeys to the beach — not always an easy task but usually an
I've found that the best place to observe the show is to sit on a groin near one of the busy beach
entrances. The best time is mid-day, when the sun is hot and so is the sand. Now, some people come
down to the beach prepared, they've got shoes on. These people are not part of the show (although
you might see a few crazy things once in a while). No, it's the people who do not have shoes on —
the ones doing all the fancy foot work trying to reach the safety of the cool wet sand.
They're dancing, jumping, doing the Edisto two-step, doing anything to reach the cool sand below.
The two-step — those crazed, comical, jumping, hopping movements and groans of despair as they
vow for all to hear, "If I ever get to the water, I'll never leave home without my shoes again!"
Talk about life in the fast lane? I've seen kids go from Palmetto Boulevard down to the beach in
what looked like about 3 seconds flat!
Of course, mixed in with the hot sand before reaching the dunes are the dreaded stickers. I do
believe that Edisto stickers could puncture a tractor tire — tender feet are no match for them!
Just when they thought it was safe to relax, they came upon the shell beds that are usually the
heaviest around the groins. Watching people trying to tip-toe through shell beds is funny. The
things they do to avoid stepping on the shells — you've got to see them to believe them.
One time I saw this man approaching the shell beds and after one painful step forward, he suddenly
stopped. I could see that he was trying to figure out how to get out of this mess. Then he
remembered the walking stick in his left hand. Laying it down across the shells, he tried valiantly to
do a tight-rope walking act across the stick.
Arms thrashing in the air to help him retain his balance, he bravely inched forward, one step at a
time. After about four steps, he suddenly nose dived into the shell bed.
As he looked about in total disgust, he spotted me over on the groin laughing my head off. After
picking himself up, he snatched up his walking stick and limped off through the shell beds — giving
me stares that would cut a rock in half and mumbling under his breath.
I know I shouldn't be there having such a good time at the expense of all those people's misery,
but as Deanna is so fond of saying, "What the heck, I'm on vacation."
Another one of my favorite pastimes on the beach is developing my yet unproven theory about
After you stay at Edisto a few times, you can start to tell which day it is by watching the people
on the beach. If the majority of the people need a tan, then it's either Saturday, Sunday, or
Monday (check-in times are either Saturday or Monday).
If the tan is getting darker, but a good bit of red is still showing, then it's either Tuesday or
Wednesday. When the skin starts showing more tan than red, then it's either Thursday or Friday.
Who needs a watch anyway? We're on vacation!
Of course, there are always exceptions to great pieces of scientific research — like our kids. For
more sunburned years than I can remember, our kids tried their best to get tanned on day one.
Searching for the big ones
There are favorite pastimes on the beach at Edisto and then there are passions. For me it's fossil
hunting — a life-long hobby.
Lord, am I hooked on finding sharks' teeth. After finding my first one over 40 years ago, I've
been hooked, lined, and sinkered for life!
Between the teeth and the other excellent fossils that can be found on the beach, I must have
found well over a hundred thousand of them in the last 40 years. I always worried that if my home
in Marietta was ever destroyed by a flood, the insurance adjuster would disallow the claim because
he would be convinced that there's no way an ocean tidal wave could have damaged my home in
There are several good books on how and where to hunt fossils on Edisto, so I'm not even going to
try to describe the process in detail. I will however, pass on three time-worn tips that have served
First, I always hunt by myself — looking and talking breaks my concentration.
Second, I have found that if I look for small ones, that's all I'll find. I try to keep a mental image
in my mind of all types, shapes, colors, and sizes of teeth (and other fossils). As I walk, I
constantly view in my mind what I'm looking for.
Third, I hunt during what I call the magic half-in — that one hour or so when the tide is either half
way in or half way out. Standing slightly in the surf, I look upwards towards the beach and watch
the tide as it digs into the sand and washes the teeth out for me to grasp. Also, hunting them this
way allows for some of the best "You should have seen the one that I missed" stories you've
Not only do I love hunting sharks' teeth, I love to show and tell others about them. Nothing gives
me more pleasure than to see the gleam in a child's eye as I talk about the teeth — where they
came from, how old they are, and where to find them. It's not too long before they're off on their
own, probably hooked for life just as I became.
After many years, I think I've finally figured out why there are so many teeth on the beach at
Edisto — there are so many kids yet to come.
There are other events that can occur on the beach at Edisto that can fill me with just as much
excitement as finding that big shark's tooth. One of these is the arrival of the Loggerhead Sea
Turtles — the magic of the deep.
If you've never seen the giant sea turtles crawl up out of the ocean and make their way up to the
high beach, then you have truly missed one of nature's best shows. I have not seen that many
myself, but each one is always exciting.
Weighing over 300 pounds and about 3 feet long, these gentle creatures use their flippers to pull
themselves slowly up onto the beach to high ground. There she will dig a nest about 2 feet deep
and lay her eggs — usually over 100 and looking like soft ping-pong balls.
The strength, the determination each turtle makes as she comes ashore to lay her eggs has always
inspired me. Who knows how many miles she has traveled, how many difficulties she has endured to
come back home.
A sea turtle coming ashore is exciting, but it's nothing compared to when the eggs hatch. All those
cute little baby turtles, each one so desperately trying to reach the ocean. You can't help but love
them and want to help them. I've been told, however, that help should only be used when it is
absolutely necessary, when, without it the turtle would never reach the ocean on its own.
As I watch each hatchling make his way down to the water, I find myself cheering him on — go, go,
go! When he finally makes the water and quickly disappears beneath the waves, I feel wonderful
and sad at the same time. I'm glad he's off on life's journey, maybe to even return to this very
spot some time in the future. But I'm also aware of the dangers he faces on his journey to
adulthood and I wish him good luck because I know that the odds are overwhelmingly against him.
The magic and splendor of sea life, right there at my door step. All I had to do was just look
Weaving her magic
I guess the biggest event on the beach at Edisto is watching her weave her special magic on
everything she touches. Watching also means that you are there and therefore, the magic
Yes, the beach is magical. It can be beautiful, peaceful relaxing, and yes, even frightening at times.
There is nothing you can compare to the ocean when she is angry — the wind howling with a vengeful
scream, the waves thundering down on the beach as if to destroy it, the salt foam building and
clinging to everything it touches, the sky darkening and then set ablaze by lightning flashing angrily
towards the water.
It's during these times that I can feel, smell, and sense the creation of our world and realize how
very fragile I really am on this planet called Earth.
My impressions of the beach at Edisto are life lasting with me. I have seen her during her most
peaceful and beautiful moods and when she was very angry. I have found myself and inner peace as
I have walked her beach. I think of those who will follow me, knowing that if they will take the
time, their lives will also be enriched by the beach around them.
As the storms and tides recede, so will the scars on the beach — clean, pristine, and ready for the
next set of footprints.
From a distance (or from close up if you're careful), the marshes at Edisto are absolutely beautiful.
The tall green grasses waving in the breezes, the birds darting about as they search for food — life
Life yes, but death also. Here the food chain for so many forms of life takes root. The tides that
rise and fall nourish all those that call this place home. Even the decay of one form gives rise to life
The marshes are so beautiful, so full of life, so full of memories. Sooner or later, everyone who
comes to Edisto wanders out into the marshes to go fishing, crabbing, or just to get a close up view.
The fiddler crabs, scurrying about to make the most of their time before the tides cover them, are
fascinating to watch. What are they doing? Do they know what they are doing? How do they know
which hole belongs to them? So many questions. Take a child with you into the marshes and you will
find out right quick how many questions you cannot answer!
One day many years ago, my wife was dying a horrible death — so she thought at the time.
Everybody around her was laughing their heads off. There she was in all her glory, her right leg
stretched straight outwards while her left leg was buried in the MUD — all the way from her new
tennis shoe up to her waist! She was waving frantically, squirming to get free. With every twist and
turn, the deeper she went, the louder she screamed and the louder we laughed. Being the good
sports we were, we finally came to her rescue.
Deanna was mad, real mad — not because she was covered in mud from head to toe, not because her
clothes we're probably ruined, but because her left shoe was missing "It STOLE one of my new
shoes," she kept screaming! She would slap the mud, scream at it again, and then slap it some more.
The more she slapped, the dirtier she got!
Mud — tennis-shoe-stealing mud. Not just any old mud but the special mud found only in the
marshes. This slippery, pungent, black earth called pluff mud had just welcomed Deanna and the
rest of us on a crabbing expedition into marshes of Edisto.
On the eventful day described above, all of my family my brother, Storm, and his family were
tromping through the marshes, looking for that secret place Storm knew of to catch the biggest
crabs on Edisto Island. I don't know about the biggest, but we sure caught a bunch of them that
day. Storm had been Superintendent of Edisto State Park in the late 50s and he said he knew
where the crabs loved to hang out along Jeremy's Creek.
Crabbing from a dock or along the side of a road is fun, but nothing can equal the adventure we all
had that day. By the time we left the marshes, we had too much sun, lost too many shoes, were
covered in mud and bug bites, and had lots of crabs. All in all, it was a great day — full of
excitement, laughter, and tears when you grabbed a crab too quickly, and a great sense of peace
There is one thing though that has always puzzled me. Have you ever tried to hide in the marshes?
How could there be a secret place? You could have seen the 10 of us thrashing about in the marshes
that day from five miles away! Oh well, an older brother knows best.
Fishing the hard way
Years ago when Storm was Superintendent at the State Park, I got my first lesson in throwing cast
nets — you know, the round ones that are so simple to use.
Someone had given Storm an old small boat and he and his wife, Betty, and I decided to try it out
and go fishing. We made our way out through the creeks in the marsh until we got near a point
where Storm said, "This is the spot." Climbing out of the boat, we made our way up the slippery
creek bank up onto the firm ground above the creek. You haven't lived until you've tried to climb
a creek bank in the marshes — don't wear new clothes and don't have both hands full!
We walked over to a bend in the creek where a deep hole had formed. The fish were tearing up the
water — I'd never seen so many fish in one place before in my life. Taking the net in his hand, with
part of it clenched in his teeth, Storm threw the net out over the hole, releasing the net in his
mouth at the same time. The net soared like a perfect disk out over the water and finally splashed
down dead center in the hole. Standing there, I thought this looked easy as can be — a piece
Pulling on the rope attached to the net to close it up, he finally retrieved the cast net — loaded
with fish. I could not believe my eyes — so easy, so many fish. Storm and Betty took turns for a
while, each throw a graceful success. Finally, it was my turn.
I knew I was in trouble the minute they both backed away from me. Trying to remember all that I
had seen Storm do, I went through all the motions and wham! — the next thing I knew, I was on my
behind in the mud with the net unceremoniously wrapped over my head.
I did one little thing wrong. I forgot to open my mouth as I threw the nets. Laughter, lots of knee-
jerk laughter filled my ears.
What they had forgotten to tell me was that they had been practicing for months — a bunch of
pros slickering a greenhorn. I got up, wiped the mud off, and after several more riotous attempts,
I finally got the net in the water. One fish. After all I had gone through — one fish! — more
laughter from the pros. I told Storm that one day I'd get even.
The fish we caught that day were mullet. All of our lives we'd heard that they were only good for
bait, not eating. Standing there looking at all those big beautiful fish we had caught, nobody
wanted to throw them back in.
I can still see Betty as she stood there with her hands on her hips, thinking things over. Betty is a
jewel — sharp, witty, funny, loving, caring, and unflappable. No matter what happens, she will make
the most out of it.
Finally she said "What the hell, lets cook'em on the grill" Cut into thin steaks, soaked in lemon juice,
and cooked on the barbecue grill — they were the best fish I've eaten.
Sinking a boat is easy
Remember that small boat (about 9 feet long) I just talked about when I went cast net fishing in
the creek? Well, not wanting to mention any names, but it seems that one time at Edisto there was
this rocket scientist who had a brilliant idea. He thought it would be fun to put a motor on the back
of his small boat. Not just any motor, but one that someone had given him and he had just repaired
— a 70 horsepower motor!
Amidst much fanfare and laughter, the motor was installed, the cord pulled, and the boat took off
like a rocket — straight down under the water, with everybody bailing out and laughing their heads
off as the boat and motor disappeared into Scott Creek!
See Storm, I told you I'd never use your name when I told the story about the infamous boat ride.
Getting even, is fun sometimes — even if it does take 32 years.
Searching for buried treasures
Not to be outdone by the marshes surrounding Edisto, are the woodlands. These woodlands are
better described as jungle, though, as anyone who has attempted to go through them knows.
I can remember when you could go through the jungle where Fairfield Ocean Ridge is now. We
would leave civilization down around Jenkins or Edings Streets and head inland — the adventure
We were the "Jungle Jims" of Edisto. Not too far inland were the ancient sand dunes. There were
places where they must have been over 15 feet high. Of course they were covered in Live Oaks and
Palmetto trees, but just the same, we were certain that buried treasure left by Blackbeard or some
other pirate was only a few steps away.
Keep in mind that this WAS a Jungle. At times, without a machete, we could not go 2 feet. There
was ample wildlife within the jungle, including some of the biggest rattlesnakes I've ever seen.
I knew in the back of my mind that snakes were on the island, and even though I'd seen small
rattlesnakes before, I was not prepared for my first encounter with the biggest real live Edisto
jungle don't-bother-me rattle snake I'd ever seen in my life.
I had just finished hacking my way through some vine-covered underbrush when I heard that spine-
chilling rattle! My heart stopped, I could not move or speak. The rattling was so loud, so close — I
was petrified. I knew that I had to find the snake so I'd know which way to run if my legs ever
decided to move again.
I just knew he was going to strike me — the rattle sounded like cannons going off in my ears.
Where was he? I could not see him! By now, I was so scared I was trembling. I was gripping the
machete in my right hand so tightly that my hand was hurting.
Then I saw him, just 4 feet in front of me! He was partially hidden under a little bush — coiled,
tail, high and shaking furiously, and ready to strike if I moved one inch closer!
After what seemed like ten years had passed, he dropped his tail and moved on through the bushes.
He looked like he was close to 7 feet long and as big around as a softball! When I saw how big he
was, I started trembling again. It was a long time before I moved from where I was standing — my
legs kept telling me, "We ain't going no where!"
Barring unexpected encounters like the day I met the snake, we would normally explore for hours
and finally make our way back out to civilization. We were usually scratched from head to toe,
tired, but feeling great. We just knew Jungle Jim or Tarzan would be proud of us.
Most of the old sand dunes and jungle are gone now, fallen to the progress of settling the land.
Today, if you poke around some of the streets behind Whaley's store that run through the middle
of Edisto Beach, you can still catch a glimpse or two of the way it was in times past.
Go before you go!
One good way to see the woodlands surrounding the marshes at Edisto is to take the nature trail in
the State Park out to the old Indian Mound. This trail is over 4 miles round trip, so be prepared —
both in bathroom use (there are none, so go before you go) and in dealing with the insect population
(there are LOTS).
Several years ago, Jimmy and I decided to take the wives and kids on the trail. Everybody was so
excited about going and seeing all kinds of neat new things. However, several folks forgot about
rule number one — go before you go, and rule number two — carry plenty of bug spray!
About half way there, the girls had to go! Well, the boys and I moved on a ways and acted as
bathroom guards. After a few minutes, we could hear all this uncontrolled giggling coming from
where the girls were hiding. Not wanting to intrude, but dying to find out what was going on, we
could not wait to hear what was happening over behind the bushes.
Upon emerging from the bushes, Deanna, still giggling, explained what had happened. "There we
were, bent over one at a time, cheeks to the wind, one going and one standing behind spraying insect
repellent. We were laughing so hard at our own predicament — trying to hurry, swatting and
spraying bugs, laughing, and praying that the one can of bug spray we had would last!"
Bathroom use and bugs aside, the trail is fantastic. You get to wander through the forest, skirting
the edges of the marsh. If you are quiet, you might see deer, raccoons, and possibly a wildcat or
two. All sorts of plants can be identified along the way.
Taking your time, the trail can be very rewarding, both visually and sensory — sights, sounds, and
smells not found over on the beach will greet you every step of the way.
Arriving at the mound, you can see Edisto Beach across the marsh. The marshes and the
woodlands — they go together. Each complements the other, each draws strength from the other.
Together they enrich all those who seek them for refuge, for life, and for beauty.
Walking around the mound (made of thousands and thousands of discarded oyster shells), you can't
help but wonder about those who lived here so long ago. Archaeologists for the State of South
Carolina say that these mounds were built by Indians that lived here over 4,000 years ago.
I will never forget the very first time that I came out to the mound. As I stood there alone looking
out over the marshes, the wind suddenly dropped off and I could not hear a single sound — it was so
quiet it was almost frightening.
My heart started to race and I felt tingly all over. I was 15 years old at the time and I was not
quite sure what was happening.
Then, I became engulfed with the overwhelming feeling that long ago, I had stood here on this very
same spot — I could sense the memories of Edisto in times past rushing through my mind.
I felt so at peace that day.
Mealtimes at Edisto were a combination of riotous laughter, smiling faces, and hungry people. Each
of the day's three meals took on a performance of it's own.
Considering the number of people who were usually staying in the house, some meals took on the
atmosphere of a 3-ring circus. Most houses had large eating areas with big, long tables — these
were great for our clan. There's something special about everybody in a family sitting around one
huge table — laughing, gobbling food down, passing jokes around, and carrying on 12 different
conversations at once.
The final reward at any meal was seeing a totally wiped out table in front of you — not one crumb
of food left and a huge mess created by satisfied customers!
Breakfast usually brought out the most horse trading for food. Back when the groups were large
and bacon was a real treat, each person got exactly so many pieces of bacon and no more.
The first question out of everybody's mouth was, "How many pieces of bacon do I get?" No one
asked what the main course was, that didn't matter — only the bacon counted. Remember the horse
trading about cleaning duties that occurred on arrival day? Well the trading that went on
concerning getting extra pieces of bacon would rival it anytime.
Sandra lived for the days when someone was not there for breakfast. She was first in line to call
"dibs" on their share of bacon.
Ashley loves pancakes. She was always first in line when Jimmy cooked breakfast. His specialty has
always been pancakes. Unfortunately for Jimmy, everybody loves his pancakes. This meant that he
always ended up eating by himself because everybody ate every one that he cooked as fast as they
came off the griddle.
It wasn't too bad, though, because he kept up a running banter with the troops eating away at his
pancakes, threatening to cut them off, and laughing all the time.
"Green Pancakes?" the kids would exclaim. Jimmy, always fooling with the kids, had done it again.
He had found some food coloring somewhere and had doctored up his "pannies" as he loves to
Not only were the pancakes liable to come out in different colors but in different shapes too —
fish, turtles, crabs, squares, triangles, you name it, he made one. Didn't matter though, because
amidst the laughter, everyone of them disappeared.
Most people fix toast simply — put it on a pan, butter it, slip it into the oven, and serve when done.
Not Jimmy. Oh, he did these same things all right, but with a slight twist — he put everybody's
initials on the toast with the butter.
After the toast was done and stacked on the plate, you could only eat the pieces of toast with
YOUR initials on it. Can you imagine what initials look like after being drawn with butter and then
melted by the stove?
"Who's got my other BD" Brian yelled. "BD? I thought it said SD so I ate it!" Sandra laughingly
yelled back. "Hey Dad, can I change my name to something other than Brian Davis?" shouted Brian
into the kitchen. "I'm starving to death out here!"
Breakfasts were special on days when Jimmy cooked.
Who stole my sandwich?
Noon-time meals were sort of drawn out. Everybody was basically on his own, dropping in when
ready, each fixing his own meal — usually sandwiches.
I tried to get in early before the crowd hit the kitchen. Have you ever seen 10 people making
sandwiches? — at the same time, in the same kitchen? Believe me, it was much easier to either
come in early or to be the last one in the kitchen, or just to skip lunch that day.
The poor kitchen. As soon as it was cleaned up, it was messed up again. What made it so funny at
times was the fact that so many people were in various stages of fixing their own meal. You'd get
one piece of bread covered with mayo and then — "Hey, what happened to the mayo?" "I put it
back up, I was finished with it!"
You'd no sooner get the other slice of bread covered when you'd realize that the tomatoes had now
vanished back into the refrigerator by someone else.
I swear, sometimes I think we had a ghost staying with us — a hungry one at that. Just because
you actually succeeded in making a whole sandwich didn't mean you got to eat it. After being
preoccupied trying to fix something to drink, you could find yourself looking at an empty kitchen
counter — your masterpiece had vanished!
I ate lots of cookies for lunch at Edisto.
The kids have always amazed me with what they can come up with when they fix their own
sandwiches. Ashley and Marcie can make sandwiches out of things you'd never believe possible.
Have you ever heard of a cheese and tortilla-chip sandwich?
There are no words to describe what Michael and Brian could do to a sandwich. They usually put
too much stuff in theirs and then had to mash it, or crush it long ways, or in general, mangle it so
that they could take a bite out of it!
Sandra, Marie, and Kristie? They made normal sandwiches. Messy, but normal.
Yes, noon-time meals were crazy, unorganized, funny, unpredictable, and mysterious — I never did
find out who made so many of my sandwiches vanish!
Evening meals at Edisto were special — they were a family gathering.
Deanna and Barbara usually prepared the main courses for the evening meals. Usually, there were
others in the kitchen helping them out — setting the table, making a salad, or whatever the girls
needed help with.
However, there were also others in the kitchen. They were lifting lids on the pots, trying to snitch
a taste of everything they could get their hands on, and generally just getting in the way.
Jimmy loved to time his afternoon bike ride to end just prior to supper. He would come bounding
up the stairs, singing, "Hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry" to a tune well familiar to all of us. He
would stand there at the entrance to the kitchen with a smile as big as Edisto firmly planted on his
With his nose tipped, sniffing the aromas, he exclaimed mmm-mmm as he carefully examined
everything in the kitchen. "Oh, that's my favorite" he would say to everything. Cooking for Jimmy
is one of life's small pleasures — he loves everything put in front of him.
"Home-grown tomatoes, mmm-mmm" he would shout when his eyes caught sight of the platter of
freshly sliced tomatoes. "What would life be without home-grown tomatoes?" he would say as he
attempted to snitch one.
These were the meals that I enjoyed — I'd walk in from the beach and just sit down to an already
prepared evening meal. However, there were the other days! These were the days that Jimmy and I
had to cook hamburgers or something outside on the grill.
Cooking on a grill, especially on front row at Edisto, can be exasperating to say the least. We'd get
our bag of charcoal (always broken by now) and at least a gallon of charcoal starter fluid and then
head outdoors for the grill — the ordeal was about to begin!
We'd set up the grill, stack all of those messy briquettes up into a neat little pile (just like it
showed on the side of the bag), soak it in starter fluid, and then set a match to the whole mess. Oh,
it would flame up and look great for a while, and then, poof! — the wind would blow it out.
After pouring more starter fluid over the smoldering ruins (by now, even the neat little pile of
briquettes had toppled over), we'd strike another match and start the whole process all over again.
Finally, after just about using up our whole gallon of starter fluid, we would succeed in keeping
that one stupid little fire going long enough to cook on — or so we thought.
Do you know what a constant 15-20 mph breeze coming in off the ocean can do to a charcoal fire?
We're talking about red-hot fires — it looked like we were setting up a blacksmith shop!
The flames would shoot out the side of the grill 2 feet, constantly fed by the wind and the grease
dripping from whatever we were attempting to cook. We'd run back into the house to get some
water so we could sprinkle it on the fire, hoping we could knock it back down to a manageable level.
Sometimes, we were too successful — we put the fire completely out. Back to square one, we'd
start the whole process all over again. Why did we put up with this agonizing torture? I don't know
— maybe the beers helped a little bit.
There were times when the fire got so hot that the grill piece holding the hamburgers up would
melt and start to sag badly. Needless to say, hamburgers on these days were cooked to charred
brickbats the size of dimes!
However, when we did manage to burn the hamburgers to a crisp, all was not lost. Even our charred
hamburgers tasted great when they were covered with mayonnaise, ketchup, fresh lettuce, a touch
of onion, and topped off with a couple of slices of juicy, red, home-grown tomatoes!
I'm sure there are some people who enjoy the excitement of outdoor cooking in a stiff breeze. Not
me — give me a quiet, calm kitchen any day!
Eventually, the evening meal would hit the tables, regardless of who did the cooking — the girls or
the frustrated firefighters! It was always a mad scramble for chairs and to get food piled on your
plate in a hurry. You see, we also had another rule about meals — "He who hesitates, starves!"
After all the plates were filled to overflowing, the rest of the evening meal was spent discussing all
the days activities, excitements, new friends found on the beach, and everything else in general.
Sometimes it was so hard to eat — the laughter and excited story telling kept everyone off track.
Someone different each night always gave the blessing before the meal disappeared. Some were
short, some were long. We always kidded Barbara when it was her turn. She could go on and on.
"The food will get cold", "Will this be breakfast?" — the "barbs" flew left and right before
In truth though, we each were thankful to Barbara for she always found those special words that
made us realize how much we really had to be thankful for.
Barbara — always strong, confident in herself, and always so willing to share her life with those
around her or to help them when all seems lost and hopeless. When it comes to children, she would
march through the fires of Hell to help them.
I'm sure this is why she's so good in her life's profession — helping and counseling school children.
The best meals
Good meals? You bet! The best meals I have ever eaten were right here at Edisto — on the long
tables our families gathered around every night.
We were a family, we were having fun, we were in love with life.
Good times. That's what Edisto is all about. The pressures are off your shoulders, you're together
all day long as a family, the surroundings are beautiful, and you're on vacation.
How do you describe good times? To me, they are those precious moments in my life that are
surrounded by outrageous laughter, total exhilaration, unquestioning friendship, or unselfish love.
So many of my recollections of Edisto with my family are wrapped in that special aura of good
times. Therefore, I've tried to capture the essence of several good times that have occurred over
he years. Some of them, such as singing, dancing, and card playing, are repeated year after year.
Doing the Hokey Pokey
For as long as I can remember, the girls have put on at least one dancing show while we were at
Edisto. "You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out...." Without a doubt, the funniest
thing to see on Edisto is the girls in our clan doing the Hokey Pokey out on the front deck.
There they are, out in full view of the neighbors, doing this crazy dance while singing, laughing,
and giggling at the top of their lungs. The more they laugh, they more they mess up. The more they
mess up, the louder they giggle. Jumping around, singing, laughing — so much love and togetherness.
Usually they draw a crowd. Standing there in total amazement, the crowd is drawn into all the
excitement — smiling, laughing, even moving an arm or two to the rhythm of the dance. Kids,
especially the small ones, jump right in. They think this is great!
US guys? We're standing off to one side laughing our heads off and at the same time, saying things
like "Who are these crazy people?"
The crowds at Edisto — strangers yes, but neighbors for a week or two. In most places, strangers
remain apart from you. Not here. They feel comfortable around you, they openly share life with you.
They talk to you on the beach, wave at you on the road, and would just as soon join in with a dance
or sing-along with you as they would with their own family.
It's your turn!
Another enduring good time at Edisto has been games — card games, word games, you name it,
we've played it. Over the years, we have accumulated a large assortment of games. We got them as
gifts, bought them, or borrowed them and forgot to return them. Whatever, after a few days use,
they ended up in top of the hall closet, forgotten and not used again.
However, come Edisto time, the closet was unloaded and several of our favorites were picked out
and packed away in the wooden beach box. We have made good use of them during mid-day at the
beach, when the sun is really cooking, and everybody is inside sort of resting up for the other
activities later on in the afternoon.
Of course, night time was also great for game playing. Many years passed before we ever had a
house that had a TV in it. Games, lots of games, filled many enjoyable nights at Edisto. Even in
recent years when we have rented a house with a TV in it, it is seldom turned on — old habits are
hard to change.
I have to admit that the simpler the game was, the more people that played and had great fun
together. I mean, haw many adults do you know that get all wrapped up in playing Candyland or Go
Fish? I think what made these simple games so much fun was that the kids played them with us.
With us — that's the key. They delighted in beating us in a game they understood and had fun
playing. I found out a long time ago that kids can be pretty sharp, especially when they are doing
something they like and enjoy. Sounds like there's a lesson in there somewhere, doesn't it?
We also had the tougher games like Probe and Trivial Pursuit. While us grown-ups usually played
these, we always encouraged the kids to join us or to play with us as a partner. Playing as a partner
with one of us, they had some of the pressures removed and felt more at ease to learn the games
and to make some plays.
As time went by, the kids learned more, grew stronger in their playing skills, and finally, could
beat the pants off of us old-timers as they are so fond of saying now. We don't play with the kids
anymore — we never win!
Oh Hell! That's the name of a card game that Deanna, Barbara, Jimmy, and I have played together
for over 25 years. I'm sure the game is probably known by other names, and the rules for it (them)
can be found in several card game rule books.
When we play Oh Hell, Jimmy always keeps score. Since the number of cards dealt out changes
with each hand, and each person's bid must be recorded before the hand is played, the score
keeping can be quite a chore.
Why we continue to let Jimmy keep score is a mystery to me. He always messes up — wrong number
of cards dealt out, bids recorded wrong, and scores that never add up right. Maybe that's why we
let him keep score. If we played the game right, it probably would be boring as the devil!
Anyway, I guess the reason why Jimmy messes up the scores occasionally, is that he's so busy
eating, laughing, talking, drinking, and figuring out ways to beat Barbara, that he loses
Beating Barbara — I think that's what this game is really all about. She wins about 90 percent of
the time! We figure that sooner or later, somebody will find a way to consistently outsmart her.
After 25 years though, I'm beginning to wonder!
If you want a simple, but challenging card game to learn, then this is it. I wish I had a nickel for
every game we have played — I'd almost be rich. There have been some days when we went all day
and well into the night. Crazy huh? But what the heck, "We're on vacation!"
Oh, the messes we made while playing games — food, drinks, sticky fingers, you name it. Sometimes
we would have to call a truce in the middle of a game so we could clear the table — the game pieces
were getting lost or worse, probably eaten up. It's a wonder that all of us, kids included, didn't gain
20 pounds from all the munching during game times.
Games. We've played our share of them over the years at Edisto. They provided so much fun, so
much love and togetherness. We got to know each other better and especially, we got to know our
kids better. For that, all us old-timers will be forever grateful.
Snores, lots of snores
At Edisto, everything slows down enough so that I can hear my body talking to me ... "Hey man, I'm
bushed, let's relax a minute." Back home, I think I'm moving so fast that I lose some of my sense
of hearing. Every year when I leave Edisto, I swear I'm going to listen to my body more when I
I recall one time going out in the middle of the day to get some tomatoes for supper. Pulling up to
one of our favorite vegetable stands, I got to thinking about the heat and why so few people seem
to be out and around.
"Yessah, we takes our naps at Edisto...," the elderly man at the vegetable stand was explaining to
me why things seem to quiet down in mid-afternoon on the Island. "Go too hard, jest might drop
Sitting there in the shade of an old oak tree, he looked fresh and ready to tackle the rest of the
day's offerings — not bad for a man well into his 70's. I remember that scene of 15 years ago as
if it was yesterday. I've often wished I could have thanked him for the simple lesson he taught me
All sorts of activities at Edisto can wear you out. Long walks, swimming, sunbathing, and riding the
waves all have that special ability to make you feel zapped and sleepy. Fortunately there is a cure.
Naps — one of life's simple pleasures.
"Throughout the house, not a creature was stirring...." I had just returned from one of my long
beach walks (I even missed lunch) when I stumbled into a very quiet house. Snores, lots of snores,
greeted my ears. The clan was deeply involved in one of their favorite Edisto good times — taking
Creatures were everywhere — stretched out on top of every bed in the house, propped up in chairs,
and covering every couch in the house. This particular scene was during a stay at a house that
allowed pets and even our two small dogs were doing their duty — catching a few winks with their
feet limply hanging in the air above them.
As usual, Jimmy was stretched out with a book propped up on his chest. He always holds something
to read when he naps — a book, a newspaper, anything. He pretends not to be napping. If you make
a noise or say something to him, he quietly turns a page as if everything is normal Sorry Jimmy, the
cat's out of the bag — we all know you are napping so just kick back and enjoy it.
It has always amazed me that women think they don' snore. Let me tell you girls something right
now — snoring, is not one of man's exclusive pastimes. On this particular day, the noise that Deanna
and Barbara were making would keep a bear awake in the winter time, Sandra and Ashley sounded
like birds at daybreak and Marcie sounded like she was 5 miles away and answering then back!
I go all year without taking a nap during the middle of the day. But when I get to Edisto — it's nap
time! It is unbelievable what a short nap does for me at the beach. It's like getting a battery
charge — I'm raring to go again as soon as I wake up. Oh, did I fail to mention that Deanna says
that when I nap, my snoring sounds like two chain saws that need a tune-up?
Sounds aside, I guess we all made some pretty funny noises as we all indulged in one of life's small
pleasures — napping at Edisto.
One mile out and climbing!
Another very simple way to enjoy the beach at Edisto is to just walk out the front door and go fly
"One mile out and climbing!" screamed the kids. Edisto was made to fly kites. If you can't get a kite
in the air here, well, let's just say you really need a vacation. Everybody, from the toddlers to the
grandparents, has held on to a kite string at one time or another at Edisto. A kite has that special
magic that makes all of us kids again when we grab that string.
I'm not kidding about one mile out. The kids long ago gave up on the short strings that come with
the kites they fly. Fishing line, spools and spools of it — that's the string of choice. The kids rig up
all sorts of devices to let the kite out. Home made cranks, deep-sea fishing rods and reels, you
name it, they've used it.
It's easy to get the kite out on a mile or so of string. The hard part is retrieving it — hours if you
don't have some type of reel device to help you. More than one time somebody has whipped out a
knife and said, "Whoops" as they cut the line.
Most of the time they fly the kites normally (me too when they are not looking). They'll put it up a
hundred feet or so, play with it awhile, reel it in, or tie it off somewhere and leave it flapping
happily in the wind.
I've seen some of our tied off kites stay airborne for days. Each morning, the kids would rush out
to see if their kite had made it through the night. It is amazing that such a simple toy can provide
so much entertainment.
One of the things my son loves to do is make parachutes drop from the kites. Michael will spend
hours making them — cutting up plastic trash bags, using fishing line for the cords and tape to hold
the whole thing together. The trick is the open hook placed on the end where all the cords are tied
together. Placing the hook over the kite string, the parachute will take off up the string, the wind
pulling it up and up.
When he is ready, he will snap the line and the hook will flip off the line. When she pops free and
starts down, all the kids take off after the parachute. I think they've lost many more parachutes
than they have recovered.
What is really great to watch is when the kids have up one of their mile-high kites. Because the line
is so long and heavy by now, the string stays low to the ground for a long way before it starts its
climb to the clouds. Now when the kids put a parachute on, it sails along the invisible line — gaining
altitude slowly, but surely.
The expressions on people faces as they watch this thing fly by them on the beach is priceless. The
little kids on the beach jump up and down running after it, trying to catch this mysterious object.
Kites — the toy for all ages.
Wally the alligator
Many years ago Michael got an alligator — a rubber one about 20 inches long. This crazy thing has
made many trips to Edisto with us and has provided all of us with some great moments.
One of Michael's favorite tricks is to dig a little hole by one of the groins and place the alligator in
it. He then attaches a light weight fishing line to it and hides about 50 feet away.
Sooner or later, some poor unsuspecting soul happens along and Michael starts working the alligator.
He pulls the string, stops, jerks it, and pulls it some more. You would not believe the antics that go
on when the "mark" sees the alligator charging at them after it jumps out of its hole, its mouth
wide open and its tail "just ah flapping."
Total chaos — screams, yelling, jumping up and down, fainting, running, and yes, even laughter. By
this time we are all in hysterics from watching the show on the beach. I must give Michael credit
though because he always chose his marks well — he sensed those that he knew might be hurt by
the trick and those that would appreciate it.
Wally, as the alligator is affectionately known, would show up all over the place. He was good for
at least one good gasp, especially when he would find his way into the shower stalls. I've fixed and
replaced more shower curtains than I can remember.
Whenever Wally had captured a victim in the shower stall, each victim was sworn to secrecy until
all members of the family (and guests, if present) had been had. Of course, Michael also found
other places for Wally to rest as he called it — in the girls suitcases, under their pillows, in the
kitchen cabinets, any unsuspecting place.
Wally always had a great time at Edisto.
My son is 24 now and when he can make it to the beach with us, the first thing he packs is Wally.
Some things never change.
Songs, songs, songs
No trip to Edisto would be complete without our clan frightening the neighbors with some of our
down home group singing. We give free performances out on the deck, on the beach, or anywhere
else for that matter.
I guess all our group singing at the beach is left over from all the camping trips our families have
taken together over the years. Jimmy loves Gospels — knows all of them by heart. He always leads
us — making faces, ginning, directing, the whole bit. Some songs we get through with grace, others
fall apart with laughter.
When Marcie, Sandra, and Ashley get to giggling, everybody goes down the tubes. Sometimes
Barbara and Deanna get so wrapped in one of their favorite songs that they are in a world of their
own. Here we are, belting out an old standby in beautiful harmony and there they are cooing out
some song from their childhood.
Eventually, they realize that we have stopped and are staring at them. They secretly smile at each
other as only two sisters can and join back in with the rest of us opera rejects.
Songs, songs, songs — so many good times, so many laughs.
Don't I know you?
Sometimes, the oddest things can provide some funny moments at the beach. Several years ago,
Marcie had this President Nixon face mask. We had more fun with that stupid thing.
The girls would lie on the beach with each one taking turns putting it on. Another place it could
show up was when you'd wake up from a nap and find it strapped on your face. The girls also loved
to drive around the beach with it on — lots of laughs, lots of stares from others.
Sometimes, somebody would be walking around the house with the mask on and someone would say
to them "Don't I know you?"
"Lets see, uh, Dicky, right?" Giggles. "Oh, Oh, I got it, Tricky!" More giggles. "Ah ha! Dicky Tricky,
no, Tricky Dicky Schwartz — I'd recognize you anywhere!" Lots of giggles.
Looking at some of the photos from that year with everyone wearing that stupid mask really
captured some of the craziness that goes on when we are at the beach.
When it gets quiet
Lots of activities at Edisto require physical exertion, group involvement, or noise — or a
combination of all three. There's one activity though, that takes place when all of the above
disappear. Reading — a lost love rediscovered.
As the kids have grown and the noise level decreased in the house, us old-timers have finally gotten
the chance to read. All those books we have been dragging to the beach with us all these years are
finally being read.
Some of them are probably rare first editions by now. Lets see, this one looks interesting —
something about some guy named Kennedy who might run for President....
I love reading my books and I know the other members of the over the hill gang love reading theirs,
but I'd bet two sticks and a kraut maul they wouldn't mind it one bit if the doors flew open and in
piled all the kids. I know I wouldn't — I could finish reading my book next year!
One of the great resources found at Edisto is the sand on the beach. If ever there was something
great to play with, or on, or in, then it's got to be the sand on the beach. Just ask any kid if you
don't believe me.
Of course, no beach would be complete without sand castles — the magic kingdoms built by kids of
all ages. "Hurry up, the tide is coming in." That cry was sounded so many times when we made sand
castles. I'm not talking about little ones, I'm talking about ones that took all day to create.
We'd pick a spot that had good sand and one that we knew high tide would reach. On the falling
tide, we'd start building. Shovels, pots, hands — we used anything we could get our hands on. I must
admit though, that some of the sand castles came out quite well, even in the days when we had little
hands helping us.
What I use to love about building sand castles, was watching the kids that came by and seeing the
wheels turning in their little heads. They'd ask a million question and after a while, they would take
off down the beach.
Without fail, sand castles would start popping up all around us — little ones, big ones, and some even
pretty good copies of the one we had made. We had good times — digging in the dirt, getting a tan,
greeting lots of onlookers, and being creative with what was at hand.
The climax would come with the evening high tide. Little by little, the tide would steal away at the
magic kingdom we had built. Soon the sand was clean and smooth again, with nothing but the
memories of a great day lingering on.
Good times — they are the best of times.
Bike riding is one of the best ways to see Edisto — you get to go slow, see things up close, and can
cover lots of ground.
Jimmy always brings his bikes to the beach. I used to bring mine, but they eventually fell into such
disorder, that I had to give it up. Not Jimmy. He continues nurse his rolling pieces of junk far
beyond their intended life span.
To me, the best time to cruise around the streets of Edisto is early in the morning — it is so quiet
and peaceful. Normally at daybreak, I take off for the beach and Jimmy heads out on his bike.
However, sometimes I forego the beach and hit the trail with Jimmy.
We usually head down towards the back entrance to Fairfield, and cruise through the winding
streets, past the dew-covered golf greens, and then on towards the lakes. If we're lucky, we'll get
to see an alligator or two, plus beautiful birds already stalking their prey. Quietly leaving the
lakes, we peddle our way out the other side of Fairfield and continue on our trip.
Jimmy's knowledge of Edisto is overwhelming — he really makes bike riding interesting when you
tour with him. He knows where every house, tree, rock, car, or lost golf ball can be found on
"Found a golf ball over by that tree five years ago," he rattled off as we went whizzing by the golf
course. "Used to be a deck out back of that house over there — they tore it down last week."
"There's a bird nest up around this next curve — got three babies in it." It amazes me how he can
remember so many things.
Actually, I think he writes all this stuff down, but I haven't been able to spot where he hides his
notebook while we're riding!
One ritual that the kids must go through every year is to go on one of Jimmy's early bird tours.
Kids being kids, they never want to get up in the morning, especially if it involves having to go on a
bike ride at daybreak! They try all sorts of clever ruses to get out of going, but alas, all attempts
fail — they forget that we were young once and know all the tricks.
They moan, they groan. They've got sore feet, cramps in their legs, rashes on their behinds, ringing
in their ears, nothing to wear, it's too cold, too hot, too dark — the list of agonies is unlimited.
Begrudgingly, they always go. But you know, I think that's their best ruse yet. Seems funny how
they always come back laughing, smiling, and bubbling over with excitement as they relate to the
others all of the things that they saw and experienced.
The one thing we've all learned while riding bikes on Edisto is to watch out for stickers — the
biggest, toughest stickers on the face of this world. As I've said before, I swear they could
puncture a tractor tire. Many a return bike trip has been made by walking home with a wounded
bike in tow!
Yes, touring Edisto on bike is fun. Jimmy and I both have spent many hours watching Edisto grow,
change, and greet us with new sights, sounds, and adventures every time we put the tires to
One of my favorite memories is watching Jimmy ride off on his bike, whistling a happy tune and
enjoying life on a cool Edisto morning. Edisto — continuing to have her special magic.
At least once during our stay at Edisto, we hop in the car and go exploring. Over the years, I think
we have been on every single road, both on the beach and the island itself. When I say roads, I
mean all roads — paved roads, dirt roads, and new roads (ones made as we drove through
Over the years though, we have been fortunate. Many roads, now gone or closed and those made
available through friends on the island, have seen our tire tracks at one time or another.
Just like the bike trips we take around Edisto Beach, we repeat the tour by car. We usually wait
until late in the afternoon and then start. Up one road, down the next — we will drive on every
I have always been amazed at how so many people never seem to get off Palmetto Boulevard —
they come to the beach, stay a week, and zip, they're gone. If they'd only take the time — there's
so much more to see and enjoy at Edisto.
Cruising — just poking along all the side streets, seeing new houses, watching a few fall from grace
a wee bit each year, and just plain seeing life in the slow lane. My favorite roads (both on the
beach and on the island) are the dirt roads.
There's something magical about dirt roads. I realize that some people hate them, but then again,
they probably love sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic every day on their way to work. Not me —
I love the past.
Dirt roads by their very nature force me to slow down. Slowing down gives me the time to look
around, see where I am and where I've been. History is all around me at Edisto — the roads
themselves, the plantations, the ruins, and the beautiful old churches.
My two favorite roads on the island are Botany Bay and Old Edingsville Beach Road. Straight out
of the past, these majestic tree-lined dirt roads beg you to travel down them.
A favorite moment of mine is to stop along one of these roads and get out of the car. Walking a
ways past the car, I begin to feel as if I'm slipping in time. It is quiet — the bustling world around
me fades away. Where am I? What year is this? Standing there in the cool of the shady old road, I
can not tell if it is 1989, 1941, or 1776.
History — I can actually feel it, standing there in middle of a well worn and much traveled old
Most of Edisto Island is of course private. We have always tried to respect that and would never
knowingly travel on posted land.
I remember one time we were banging around some old dirt road on the island and we came upon a
man standing there in the middle of the road. He motioned for us to stop and came along the
driver's side of car. In a very stern voice, he asked where we thought we were going. "Anywhere
you would like sir" I replied to the man standing there with a pistol on his hip.
We had been so wrapped up in our exploring that we had failed to see a posted sign somewhere
along the road we were now on. Explaining our motives and giving our apologies, we made our
In addition to exploring Edisto, we usually take a whole day and slip off the island and explore the
surrounding sites. Normally we go over to Charleston to shop, sightsee, and in general, just to have
a good time. The date of the Charleston trip varies. When we go depends on how soon the girls get
fed up with cooking, how soon the kids get too much sun, and how soon we're about to run out of
These trips are always a lot of fun but the climax to the off-island trips is coming back across the
Dawhoo Bridge — home, back on Edisto!
One time many years ago, when we were living in Florida, we'd come to Edisto on our annual
pilgrimage and had gone over to Charleston for the day — a long, hot, steamy, muggy day. I'll never
forget the moment when Ashley (about 7 years old at the time) jumped up in my arms and said
"Daddy, I want to go home." Perplexed, I asked her why she wanted to go back to Florida. "Not
that place Daddy, Edisto!"
I knew at that moment that Edisto had claimed another.
Cruising Edisto over the years has been fun. We've seen the island and the beach grow. We've seen
deer darting across the road in front of us, foxes, alligators, and birds of every description. We've
seen fields being planted and watched some go fallow. Houses have been built right before our eyes
and new roads created through once pristine woodlands.
We realize that progress must come to Edisto — we only hope that it is measured and well
"Look, over there! There goes another one!" Another shooting star had been spotted in the night
sky over Edisto. We have always loved to sit out on the front deck on clear, star-filled nights.
The stars have always fascinated me — so many, so far, so many questions. Of course we loved to
watch for shooting stars, but there were others things that captured our imagination also. Back
when the launched satellites were fairly new, we would gather out on the deck and see if we could
spot them. We soon became pretty good at detecting them, even to the point of figuring out when
they would return again — roughly every 90 minutes or so.
We knew from the news approximately how many the U.S. and the Russians had up, but our count
never matched. We were convinced that either somebody was not telling the truth or that
somebody else was launching satellites — there were just too many extra ones of them sailing
quietly by in the night sky.
Edisto Beach lies almost directly under the airways used by commercial jets that are winging their
way between New York and cities in Florida. At some times of the night, it looked like Grand
Central Station up there — one flight after another, either heading South or heading North.
We'd sit there and discuss the planes. Where were they going, who's on them? Were they serving
dinner on board yet? The kids would make up stories about who was on different flights, what they
were doing, and what they were talking about as they flew over Edisto.
Such imaginations — I guess it's because of that very thing that we're able to sit here now and see
things like planes and satellites fly overhead in the night sky.
I've often wondered if those who flew by so far above us ever realized that someone down below
was watching them, wondering about them, and wishing them a safe journey on their ride amidst
Stars, stars, stars. On clear, moonless nights, I can see thousands of them at Edisto. Over the
years I've tried to teach my kids the constellations that are easily recognized in the night sky.
Ashley does pretty well and can point out quite a few.
One time years ago, we left home long before dawn to come to Edisto. Everybody in the car except
Ashley was fast asleep. Just as the stars were fading against the brightening dawn, Ashley looked
out the window and said "Look Daddy, there's Orion rising in the East — that's where Edisto is,
isn't it?" Not bad I thought, not bad at all. I was so proud of her that morning.
Michael? I love him to death but he couldn't find the Big Dipper if it was in his back pocket!
Some nights, we'd break out the telescopes or binoculars and view the stars up close. I remember
one night I had Jupiter lined up for viewing and everybody was taking turns looking at this
magnificent planet and her moons. When it was Marcie's turn, she looked and then announced to no
one in particular. "That's not fair, she's got more moons than we do!"
On those nights when the moon was full, we'd have a deck full of people. There's something magical
about watching the moon rise up out of the water — a giant disk, casting its shimmering reflection
on the waves in the ocean. Sometimes, as the kids got older, they were conspicuously absent from
the deck — off somewhere else, watching it rise with someone special, I'm sure.
Many nights have been spent out on the deck, looking and enjoying the show. Hundreds of questions
have been batted around amongst us about the stars, life, death, and what it's all about. Alas, many
went unanswered. What we did accomplish though, was to share each other's hopes and fears, and
dreams for the future.
On those nights that I remained out there alone, I gazed at the stars and remembered — memories
of good times warming me against the cool breezes coming in off ocean.
Deanna, Barbara, Jimmy, and I have had a fantastic time watching our kids grow up, especially while
they were at Edisto. Edisto gave all of them that little something extra that made them feel special
— they had been charmed by her magic.
They learned how to laugh and share together, how to love and care for each other, and especially,
how to see and appreciate the smaller things in life.
The early years at the beach were great. It is an absolute magnificent feeling you get while
watching children at the beach — the total curiosity they devote to watching snow crabs scurrying
about on the beach, Sand fleas frantically digging a hole, the waves awash around their feet, and
the magical flights of the Brown Pelicans soaring right above their heads.
We spent many hours with the kids on the beach in those years, not only for safety reasons but
just because it was fun. We laughed and shared together — a bond that has now lasted a life time.
When we went swimming with them, we taught them how to have fun and how to be safe in the
ocean. As a family, we took them on long walks, long bike rides, and romps through the marshes
Looking back on it now, I can see that all we were trying to do was to show our kids the love,
beauty, and magic of Edisto that we had already seen and felt.
I was on the beach one day trying to build a very detailed sand castle when extra little hands
appeared out of nowhere. "Will this help daddy?" With those words, Ashley plopped a bucket of
wet sand on my new masterpiece. As I stared through teary eyes (some grownups do cry when their
toys get mashed) at the beaming face above me, I melted. "Just what I needed." With that, Sandra
appeared out of nowhere and added her bucket of sand to the rapidly changing sand castle.
Realizing how close I came to blowing up frightened me. Was I crazy or what? Here I was on
vacation, relaxing, letting pressures drop left and right, and was being courted by two of the
prettiest girls on the beach. We made a heck of a sand castle together that day.
It was on this day that Edisto made me aware of the importance of sharing my life with my children
and with others that I loved so much.
Ashley, Marcie, and Sandra (and Marie and Kristie when they were there) would spend what seemed
like hours chasing sea gulls and Sand Pipers, giggling and making bird calls along the sandy beach.
Somewhere along in here they also discovered the sun ... "No tan, you ain't been on vacation!" was
their motto. Lord how those girls cooked. I can still see their beet-red skin and pained looks as
they walked around looking like zombies, covered in sunburn cream from head to toe.
There were many times when we held them in our arms at night, feeling the heat racking their
bodies as we tried to comfort them — gently spreading cooling creams on their innocent faces or
stroking their hair, hoping sleep would soon come to mask their pain.
When the surf was up at high tide and the wind was kicking up a salty foam along the shoreline,
they'd trample through it until they looked like they fell out of a washing machine — foam all over
their legs, their arms and even on their heads.
Sometimes, they would put some of the foam around their mouth and hold their hands out in a
menacing way as they growled at each other like mad dogs. Of course it was hard to believe —
whoever heard of a mad dog laughing and giggling between growls?
The girls were free and full of life and laughter. Then one day, they realized they were being
watched — boys!
Our little girls were no more.
Of course while the girls were going from little helpers on the beach to young ladies, the boys were
also growing up — they were usually either swimming or fishing.
"EXCUSE ME! But what in the WORLD is that smell?" Marcie, standing there at the back door of
the house, was the first to greet Michael and Brian back from one of their famous fishing trips.
Surf fishing (anytime of day or all night long), pier fishing (before the pier burnt down), creek
fishing — you name it, they have fished it. Kids have that magic ability not to be able to smell the
bait (shrimp and/or squid) they have so generously rubbed all over their clothes.
It was not uncommon for Brian to walk in with his catch stuffed in his pants pockets! "Heck Mama,
I lost my bucket. What was I suppose to do – throw'em back in?" Laughing all the time, Brian and
Barbara would exchange threats and retaliatory remarks while she shoved him out the door.
The boys loved the water at Edisto. It didn't matter if it was the creeks in the marshes or the
roaring ocean out in front of the house. Either place — they felt at home in their own little worlds.
I can not begin to remember all the inner tubes and rafts we went through in those early years.
The boys would literally wear holes in them — crashing them into the beach time and time again as
they rode the waves in.
One year, Jimmy and I went up to Walterboro to find something the boys could use that would not
wear out so quickly. After searching around several service stations, we finally returned with
several huge truck-tire inner tubes.
We looked so funny coming back down to the beach. Tied to the top of the car, the inner tubes
completely covered the car. We looked like a gigantic rubber raft with wheels on the bottom of it.
These inner tubes were indestructible. We had finally found something the boys could not wear out
in one day! Needless to say, we didn't attempt to take them home with us. We left them at the
house we were staying in, and for all I know, they are still there. I'm sure they gave many a kid a
ride that summer.
When the boys reached their early teens, they discovered another toy to use on the beach —
skimboards. "Hang on Brian, you've got it made," Michael screamed at Brian as he skimmed across
the water at low tide. These two have skimboarded their way up and down the beach at Edisto
They would hold a piece of board (or anything else that was flat and would float) and stand at
water's edge at low tide. When the water looked just right, they would start running and then they
would sail the board out in front of them, skimming it along the top of the water. It was at this
point that they jump onto the board and they both continued skimming along the water's edge.
Sometimes they looked great whizzing along, all poised, and self assured. Other times? It looked
like out takes from one of the Three Stooges movies — wild screams, arms and legs all over the
place, and finally, the board going in one direction while they landed unceremoniously in the water.
No matter what, they were back up on the boards within seconds — laughing, taunting each other,
and daring one of us grown-ups to try it.
I tried it once. Jimmy tried it once. Deanna and Barbara laughed. Jimmy and I quit that day!
However, all was not lost. Along in here somewhere the boys realized that there were others on the
beach who were not laughing — girls.
Our little boys were no more.
Yearning to be free
As we watched our little girls and boys come of age at the beach, we cheerfully thought that the
anxious moments were past. They could take care of themselves on the beach now, etc., and we
were looking forward to a few less hectic days during vacation time. Besides, we couldn't keep up
with them any more — they were running us ragged.
No one EVER told us about taking teenagers to the beach. Little did we realize that the play
wasn't over yet — the fat lady hadn't sung yet!
There is no way to adequately describe to an outsider what it's like to stay at the beach with a
house full of teenagers — it almost defies gravity and sanity at the same time.
Our kids were growing and becoming more a part of the world around them. Their attitudes on
themselves and on the world in general were being shaped during these most hectic but rewarding
years. It seemed like each year at the beach helped mold them into stronger, more caring, happy
kids. They may have been brothers and sisters and first cousins to each other, but they grew as
one close-knit group of the finest, most respectable, hell-raising, fun loving, craziest kids you've
Oh, we still rode the waves together and played games together, sang and danced together, but
things were changing. Not only did they have fun with us, but they were also spending more and
more time with their new friends — other teenagers at the beach.
Sometimes, I've felt you could tell the age of a teenager at the beach by how many clothes they
brought with them — the older they got, the more they brought! At first, they went through one or
two changes a day. As the years passed, I started noticing that the daily cycle of changing clothes
One minute, they've got blue shorts and a red shirt on and 30 minutes later, they will have tan
shorts and a green shirt on!
The boys were fairly good at this, but nothing compared to the girls — Marcie, Ashley, Sandra,
Marie, and Kristie could have opened a girls boutique shop at the drop of a hat. Jimmy and I swore
we were going to start charging the girls money for all the extra baggage we were having to pack
and lug to the beach.
Watching the girls as they cycled through their many changes of clothes was interesting, but it was
nothing compared to the ritual of them getting ready to go out at night.
"Where's my hairdryer?" "Who's got my shorts on?" "Oh Lord, I'll never be ready in time!"
"Mama, I'm sunburned, what will I do?" If you've never witnessed five teenage girls in one small
bathroom getting ready to go out, then you have definitely missed one of life's most
Each girl had with her at least one hairdryer, two curling irons, six makeup kits, four combs, 27
sticks of lipstick, one box of tissue, nine changes of clothes, one radio, two bottles of after-sun
lotion, and at least one canned drink!
Marcie would be laughing outrageously with Kristie about something. Sandra would be babbling
away a mile-a-minute to Ashley and Marie — the conversation switching hands constantly. You could
not inspect red-hot horseshoes any quicker than these damsels in distress could change
conversations with each other — and never miss a beat.
The mystery? How in the world five beautiful young ladies emerged from such total chaos has
always baffled me.
Of course while all of this was going on, the boys were outside of the bathroom, teasing the girls.
What they never understood was that the more they teased, the longer the girls stayed in the
bathroom. Eventually, the girls would finish (or the circuit breaker would trip from hairdryer
overload) and the boys would gain the bathroom for their rituals.
The road to Mecca
"What's that noise?" Jimmy would ask. "Quiet" replied Deanna with a grin from ear to ear. In
what seemed like three minutes or less (as if on some magical cue), all of the kids were finished,
out the door, and on their way up to the pier or were being picked up by their dates. We were
always afraid to look in the bathroom after they had left — we knew we would be sick.
Roaring away from the house, the kids would head for the pier and game room up by the State
park. We knew for a few short hours that they would be having fun and we would have the house
all to ourselves. As Deanna said, the noise that Jimmy heard would soothe our ears for a while —
peace and quiet.
For as long as I can remember, the pier has been THE mecca for the kids (mainly because there
was no where else to go). We use to take the kids up there when they were small — play games,
laugh a lot, and pray for early closings.
On their own now, driving one (or more) of our cars, they would close the place down just about
every night. It usually took about one week before they got it all out of their system. By the start
of week two, they went to the pier less or came home a lot (a whole lot) earlier than the
One of the things we as parents have always felt about Edisto was that it was safe for the kids.
Even before they could drive, we never hesitated about dropping them off at the pier and picking
them up later.
Speaking of that, I would like to take the time right here to thank publicly the Collins family, the
other good folks at the pier and the Town of Edisto Beach for providing and maintaining a safe
place for kids on vacation. As parents, this was (and still is) one of the primary reasons we came as
a family (and still do) to Edisto.
One too many
All during their teenage years at Edisto, the kids were under two special rules. One, NO drinking
and two, under no conditions whatsoever were they to leave Edisto Beach.
To my knowledge, rule two was never broken. Rule one was.
One night, the boys were late coming home. We had gone on to bed but no one was sleeping. We
were getting worried about them, but we kept telling ourselves that if something had happened, we
would have been notified.
Around 2 a.m., we heard a car pull up and then heard all this rambling about down at the bottom of
the house. Hearing the car pull off, we got out of bed and went into the kitchen and waited. Michael
and Brian were standing on the back porch — getting themselves together after dragging each
other up the steps.
"Hi folks, we're home," they grinned sheepishly in their announcement to us as we stood at the door
waiting for them to come into the house. After hours of anxiously awaiting their return home,
seeing them basically OK quickly melted the anger within us. "Have you boys been drinking?"
Thinking over all the possible answers they could give, they both finally nodded yes (like we didn't
know) — a 400 year old rock could have guessed the condition these boys were in. The boys were
all out drunk — on the verge of passing out and being deathly sick.
Relieved that they were safely home, we packed them off to bed. Raising the devil with them would
better be served in the morning. This wasn't the first time nor would it be the last for these two. I
must admit though, that the times got fewer and fewer as they got older — maybe all the talks and
common sense finally paid off.
Did the girls drink? Yes, they sneaked a few beers in their time also. Not making light of the
situation of kids drinking, because it can be deadly serious, they were funny when they came home
and tried all sorts of creative ruses to cover up the fact that they'd had a beer or two. I guess
that they thought we were so old that beer hadn't been invented yet when we were teenagers.
Strangers in the night
As the kids made more and more new friends, more and more kids started showing up at the house.
"Who in the world is that?" said Barbara one morning, pointing to the strangers lying sleeping on
the couches. More than one time when we awoke in the morning, we had extra guests in the house.
Most of the time they were newly acquired friends of the kids. A few times, even the kids didn't
know who they were. They'd usually been at a party somewhere, and everybody was hitching rides
with each other.
At one in the morning, any bed looks good to a kid — no matter where it is.
Being in love
Speaking of more and more kids showing up at the house, summertime at the beach created another
very special situation — being in love. The magic and beauty of falling in love at the beach has no
equal in life's many rewards. All of our kids found their one and only at the beach — many times.
One time when Michael was only 16, he found his special girl. After we had returned home, he came
to me and said he was going to see the girl he had met at the beach. Thinking she lived around home
somewhere, I said, "Sounds great, go for it." However, I knew I was in trouble when he then asked
me if we had an atlas of the East Coast.
To make a long story short, he drove 500 miles (by himself) to see his girl. Deanna and I prayed
for his safe trip the whole time he was gone but we both knew that it was something he felt very
strongly about that he must do.
Why did two responsible adults allow a fairly responsible 16 year old teenager to do such a crazy
thing? I really don't know — I guess we were remembering that we had met at the beach when we
were only 16 and had been in love ever since.
It's amazing the attention your house gets at Edisto if there are teenage girls staying there. There
were times we thought we were running a boarding house for homeless boys.
They're on the front porch when you wake up (and usually there before you go to bed), they drive
by and blow the horn (13,000 times a day), they have lunch with you, play cards with you, sunbathe
with you and go swimming with you. They are everywhere, including the shower. Why not? That way
they won't have to waste time picking the girls up for a date!
Note to parents who stay at Edisto with all teenage boys: Now you know where your boys are!
They're probably at a house like we used to have — one filled with zany, boy-crazy, teenage girls.
So if you're looking for them, just drive around and look for the houses with more than 10 cars out
front — they're in one of them, guaranteed.
Jimmy and I spent lots of nights standing there at the door greeting and quizzing the suitors.
Sometimes it got tricky — one or more of the girls had made more than one date for the same
night. Somehow or another, it would always work out — I think.
Heartbreaks and new loves — they all had their share. They were young, they were free, and they
were at Edisto — a magical combination if ever there was one.
Running out of days
Yes, there were a few trying times along here during the teenage years, but we got through them
together. Whoever said that being parents would be easy obviously had never been to the beach
with teenagers. We learned, as we remembered our own early years at the beach, how to deal with
the difficult times and tried to find the best solutions.
One day, late in the twilight of the kid's teenage years, I was standing out on the deck watching all
of them laughing and acting crazy down on the beach. As I stood there, I was struggling inside with
two emotions — feeling sad and happy at the same time.
I was sad because I knew that their care-free, happy go-lucky days were running out and that they
would soon be living in a much different world.
I was happy because I also knew that in the days and years ahead, they would be able to look back
and laugh about all the crazy, fun-filled things that they did as teenagers at Edisto. They would
have so many wonderful memories to recall, just as I do now when I think back over my years at
Edisto. With tears forming in my eyes, I turned and went back into the house.
I realized at that moment that our kids were teenagers no more.
The new guardians
he kids are all grown up now — they are all getting their lives in order. Ashley and Sandra are
married, Brian and Michael have been in the service and are going to college, Marcie has graduated
from college and is setting the business world on fire, Marie is now going to a technical school, and
Kristie is working in the medical field since she graduated from college.
In the last several years, with the kids in school, married, working, or whatever, us old-timers have
sneaked out of the house and gone on to the beach first. We're usually there a week before the
kids find us — they've just about got it figured out that it doesn't take five days to see a movie!
Just when we thought we were safe, we'd hear this thunderous yell outside of the house. "Yooooh!"
With the enthusiasm of a cavalry charge, the kids bounded up the stairs, threw open the door and
announced, "Weeee're here!" We knew at that moment that life at the beach had suddenly changed
— there would be no more quiet moments at the beach this year.
Yes it changes, but we're tickled to death that we're all together again.
With the marriages came new blood to the clan—Scott and Vinnie. Lord, you'd think they had made
these two out of Edisto sand and sea oats—talk about fitting in? These two guys were at home at
Edisto the first time their big toes touched the island. Scott is constantly torn — trying to decide
whether or not to go fishing with Brian or to hunt sharks' teeth! Scott was hooked the first second
he found one — another life long convert!
Vinnie and Michael spend hours sunbathing and/or skim boarding. If they are not doing either of
these, Michael is probably off somewhere showing Vinnie the finer points of working his almost
famous alligator trick — Wally still lives!
All the kids return to Edisto with us, as often as they can. I don't know if it's the old magic
working or what, but when they hit the beach, their newly acquired adulthood dims somewhat —
they become just as crazy, outrageous, and funny as they ever were. That's OK, we love it.
Yes, I watched our kids grow up at Edisto. I see them now with us at the beach as young adults. I
hear them talking about how it was when they grew up here, remembering all the good times they
had. I see them worried about the future of Edisto, talking about how to best preserve and protect
a place they've loved and called home all their lives.
Seeing and hearing all these things makes me feel good. It gives me assurance that Edisto has
captured another generation totally within her grasp.
Young adults — our little kids are no more.
|The sun awakens and rises|
To gaze upon its image
Reflected by the ocean's mirrored surface.
Sea oats, like the needles of a pin cushion
Pierce the sand dunes
Swaying with the gentle breeze
Waving to the pelicans above,
Floating upon the air as a kite I once flew.
Shrimp boats, first to disturb the morning's tranquility,
Roam the ocean with arms outstretched
Pursuing their prey
While Dolphins follow along side.
Shark teeth, black as pieces of broken coal
Lie gleaming in the morning light,
Churned up from their sleep in the ocean's bed,
To be pocketed and cherished as if they were precious gems.
"Hi, we were in the neighborhood and thought we'd drop by!" Staying at the beach for a week or
two is similar to moving to a new home in a great vacation spot — people you haven't seen in years
show up on your doorstep. Actually though, we love it (maybe we've been in the sun too much — I
Remember what Jimmy always says about tomatoes, "What would life be without home-grown
tomatoes?" Well, you can add to that, "What would life be without friends and relatives?"
Goodies from home
"Grandmother is here, Grandmother is here." Ashley was the first to spot my mother's arrival at
Edisto. For as long as we've been coming to Edisto, Mama comes for a visit. Always accompanying
Mama on her annual inspection tour of the family, is my uncle, Andrew Humphries.
Mama and Uncle Andrew always stay with us anywhere from two to five days — the time depending
on how long it takes them to get tired of putting up with the clan. We can be outrageous at times.
All of us who love good food are already licking our chops — Mama being here means good home
cooking! She always brings fresh vine-ripe tomatoes and other goodies. Goodies. I love that word —
conjures up all sorts of good feelings. Anyway, Mama's goodies are things like peach cobbler,
blackberry cobbler, secretly prepared creamed corn and chicken wings, and a host of other truly
good foods we love to eat — and eat, and eat.
Remember when I described how Deanna and Barbara inspected the kitchen on arrival day? Well, it
gets another inspection when Mama gets here. One of these days, I hope somebody explains to me
what in the world they are looking for.
Mama is a trooper. Even now in her early eighties, she's still raring to go — doesn't sit still for
two minutes. It wasn't until just a few short years ago that she started slowing down. To Mama,
sitting still for two minutes is slowing DOWN! Before Mama finally stopped long enough to see if
anyone was gaining on her, she could out walk, out talk, out cook, out do any of us — kids included!
Many a time after we'd long been pooped, Mama would say, "Well, I just can't believe you all are
just going to give up on me!" Sometimes even mothers show no mercy for the poor and tired.
"I wouldn't put that in my mouth for a million dollars!" was Mama's stock answer whenever we tried
to get her to eat boiled shrimp, stuffed crabs, or even fish. "Now, I probably wouldn't mind trying
to catch them, but I'm sure as heck ain't going to put them in my mouth." You either love seafood
or you don't — Mama definitely does not.
Standing there looking like a movie star out of the past, Mama was ready for her evening walk on
the beach. Not able to stand the bright sun, she stood there with a large flowing hat that
gracefully covered her face, while her arms and legs were delicately covered with the
Every year, Mama waits until evening time to walk on the beach with me. It's impossible for me to
describe how much this means to me. We talk about lots of things — current events, politics,
members of the family, old friends, and past memories.
As I walk and feel her delicate hand in mine, I think back over all the years, both at the beach and
at home. Good years and good memories. I think of all the things she has given me, all the sacrifices
she made for me, and all the love she so generously and unselfishly gave me.
In years past, she'd walk my legs off — I'd have to beg her to turn back. Now the walks are not
quite as far, but the feelings are the same — total love and admiration for the most graceful,
courageous, and loving woman that ever walked the face of this earth.
Mama, I love you.
What does Uncle Andrew bring to the beach with him? Goodies of another sort—lots of good humor
and lots of laughs. All of the kids love him to death — he's Uncle Andrew to all of them (just like
Mama is Grandmother to all of them). What blows the kids' minds is how active he is. They call us
old-timers, but Uncle Andrew, in his mid 70s, really has them wooed.
He comes to the beach prepared — he's got his bathing suit, beach clothes, he's ready to party!
Right off the bat, he's asking, "Who's going swimming with me?" After supper, he's ready to go
cruising — see the sights, meet new people, and have a good time. He loves playing all the games we
play, laughing and cutting up like the rest of us kids.
Yes, Uncle Andrew is special to all of us. He's the most genteel man and unselfish lover of life I've
ever known — a true southern gentleman of the finest tradition.
The wrong house
Sometimes, a visit by a friend can provide a lifetime memory. "I've never seen any of you people
before in my life!" I will never forget those words, said by my friend, WJ Jordan, many years ago.
Even though WJ didn't visit us that often at the beach, he knew the rules for meals – no show,
One day, WJ had gone out on the beach to hunt sharks' teeth. Keeping a close eye on his watch, he
realized that it was almost dinner time and he was a long way from home. Running back down the
beach, he turned, crossed the sand dunes, bounded up the stairs, rushed into the house and sat
down at an already crowded table.
After sitting there a few seconds was when WJ issued those now almost famous words. He was in
the wrong house — he truly had never seen any of those people before in his life.
WJ said later that the people didn't say a word — they just sat there looking at him like he was
crazy or something. To fully appreciate the situation, you've got to know WJ, or I should say, his
size. WJ was a former University of South Carolina football player and he was big — tall,
muscular, good looking, you know, the kind of guy that looked like he could eat railroad ties if he
No wonder the people didn't say a word — would you have? I'd given my eye teeth to have
witnessed that episode. To have been able to see WJ bounding in the door, to see the people in
total shock at this huge visitor sitting down with them at their table, and finally to have been able
to see the expression on WJ's face when he looked up and realized that he was in the wrong house
would have been priceless.
Of course, WJ took all of this in stride, including the unmerciful ribbing he got that day from all of
us. Lots of laughs that day.
Wally strikes again
A few years ago, Wally the alligator was in one of his favorite places — the shower stall. He lay
there — resting and waiting.
That year, the house we were staying in had a shower stall under the house used for rinsing off
after having been on the beach. Some friends of ours from Marietta, Chris Hutchinson and his wife,
Becky, were staying with us at the time.
One day, we heard this blood-curdling scream come from under the house. Next we heard what
sounded like someone tearing a door down. To make a long story short, Becky was half way to
Palmetto Boulevard, screaming at the top of her voice, before she realized that her bathing suit
was still hanging on the nail back in the shower stall — more screams!
I thought the crowd in the house was going to die. Jimmy and Deanna were laughing so hard they
had tears running down their cheeks. When Chris, who was also in the shower, realized that the
streaker was making a bee-line for the street, he started laughing and frantically tried to put his
bathing suit back on.
With his bathing suit halfway on, Chris went running after her with a towel while laughing like the
devil and screaming for her to stop! Needless to say, that was the last time Becky ever used a
shower at our house.
In the years after that almost famous incident, they stayed in their travel trailer over at the
State Park and visited during the day. We all laugh about the alligator incident now,
Wally had outdone himself that day!
Edisto claims another
For years, we bragged about our fabulous Edisto vacations to our next door neighbors, Frank
Owenby and his wife, Peggy. With each return trip, the stories got bigger and better.
They had never been on vacations quite like the ones we were describing — low key, no planned
activities, out of the way place, family oriented fun and games, beautiful surroundings, and
accommodations that closely resembled rustic cabins on some trips.
Oh, they had been to fabulous places like Hawaii and such and thought that was the only way to go.
We kept telling them, "You've got to see Edisto." Finally they succumbed — they agreed to go with
us on our next visit.
For awhile afterwards, I wasn't sure why they had finally agreed to go with us. I didn't know
whether it was because they just wanted to shut us up, or because we had actually convinced them
that Edisto was the greatest place in the world to visit.
I got my answer the day we hit the Dawhoo Bridge. It was love at first sight. I'd never seen Edisto
work her magic so fast — they were caught in her spell as soon as we crossed the Dawhoo Bridge
and started our journey down to the beach.
One night after we had been there a few days, we were all sitting out on the deck, drinking our
coffee and discussing all the things that had happened so far.
After a while, Frank leaned back in his chair, put his feet up on the rail and said to no one in
particular, "Yeap, I could live like this."
I knew at that precise moment that Edisto had claimed another.
As the years have passed, Frank and Peggy have also become Edisto regulars. Now, they take their
own family and friends with them to Edisto — they're building their own Edisto memories.
The three sisters
There was one year when we were at Edisto that I was sure we'd be asked to leave the Island. This
was the year that Deanna and Barbara's sister, Zaundra, and her family joined us at Edisto —
known now as the almost famous three-sister Edisto vacation.
I think we peaked in craziness and outrageous behavior that year. We rented a huge house for the
occasion — all of the Johnson girls were actually vacationing at the same time under one roof.
Zaundra, with her three kids, Johnny, Nylene, and David, plus our usual clan of zanies, plus friends
of the kids, added up to one of the biggest, most riotous, fun — filled vacations any of us ever had
Remember what I said earlier about how long my mother would stay at the beach with us? Well, lets
just say that this year was her shortest visit.
If it hadn't been for the duty sheets that year, we'd all probably have killed each other, divorced
our wives or something. The Army could have sent down a representative to study how we handled
so many people effectively, especially at mealtimes. Even with the duty sheets, the big girls (the
three sisters) worked their buns off that year in the kitchen.
As I write this, I now realize how much they must have quietly labored, far and above the call of
duty, to keep the circus rolling that year. I also realize, that at the time, all of us overlooked their
effort that year. I salute you — you earned your wings that year!
Keep in mind that this three-sister vacation was taken at a time when money was still thin and we
packed in most of what we needed to survive. It seemed like someone was going for water every six
minutes, something was constantly cooking in the oven, empty drink cans were doubling every 30
minutes, and we were constantly out of toilet paper. I honestly believe Jimmy and I could have
opened up a supermarket out on the highway with all the stuff we had to bring that year.
Thank the Lord we either drank it, ate it, or used it up before we went home — the cars would
never have survived two loaded-down trips in one year.
One of the great things about that summer was all the family kids, all first cousins, got to know
each other better and to have fun together. Talk about peas-in-a-pod — you'd swear everyone of
them fell out of the same mold. I was finally convinced that year, that devilishment, outrageous
laughter, continuous sibling mischief and teasing ran in Deanna's family and not in mine. I was
looking at all the inherited proof right in front of my eyes!
When Johnny, David, Brian, and Michael got together, no one was safe. On those days when the
ocean was fairly calm, us old folks loved to lie on our rafts and lazily float around. Unfortunately
though, we became prime targets for the fearsome foursome — they'd sneak out under our rafts
and open the air valves, letting us slowly sink into oblivion.
David thought the crabs he found down on the beach were invented for him — so many ways to
catch your attention while you slept, bathed, or were sunbathing.
He hid them in the shower stalls, under our pillows, in the refrigerator, and also, in the most feared
place of all — the toilet bowl!
Lets just say that if one were in a hurry and not paying too much attention to details, one's
attention could be gotten and HELD real quick!
Their pranks were nonstop, but fun. I don't think a single minute of the day passed without at
least one giggle from that house.
Johnny loved to fish — he and Brian would both come in smelling like they'd invented fish odor. If
he wasn't fishing, he and David, Michael, and Brian would be down on the beach skimboarding up a
storm — challenging anyone on the beach to best their form or endurance on the thin board as it
magically skimmed over the water.
Nylene? She was right in the middle of all the girls — Ashley, Marcie, Sandra, and friends. Nylene's
crazy wit and laughter blended in well with that group. Never one to let an opportunity slip by, she
probably instigated half the pranks that happened that year.
Zaundra. Soft-spoken, sweet, beautiful Zaundra. The oldest of the Johnson girls, Zaundra was
overwhelmed by the activities of the clan and also by Edisto herself. She would quietly sit there,
beaming with love as she watched her children having such a great time amongst what appeared to
her as uncontrolled chaos and riotous laughter.
When she walked on the beach with me, she would squeeze my hand when we saw a Dolphin break
the water, or a Snow Crab scurrying back into it's hole — the squeeze meaning excitement,
wonderment of nature, and a deep sense of love for the little things in life.
You could see Edisto in Zaundra's eyes — peace, patience, beauty, and excitement. Zaundra was as
one with Edisto that year — they melded beautifully together.
The three-sister year was also the year we built the BIG sand castle. We started early in the
morning—me and all the kids going all out. When we had finished that afternoon, the castle was
about 10 feet in diameter and at least 4 feet high. The boys and I did all the heavy construction
while the girls decorated the magic kingdom we were all building.
Each section of the castle reflected those who had created and decorated it. It was fascinating to
see the personalities of each child magically transformed into the sand they were working with —
heavy towers and simple decorations by the boys and delicate structures with beautiful seashell
decorations by the girls.
That night when the tide came in, there were tears in a few eyes as we sadly watched our magic
Yes, we played hard that year. We laughed all the time, did so many crazy things, sang so many
songs, and did so many other things together. The three-sister vacation — we loved each other
every single minute of each day we had together.
Thanks big brother
For many years, my brother and his family also vacationed at Edisto. These were great times. Storm
and I lived so far apart and the annual trip to Edisto was like a family reunion. When Mama would
come down, she'd switch from house to house — saying she just wanted to visit with her boys.
Actually, I think Mama was trying to find the quietest house. You see, Storm and Betty have four
kids, grandchildren, friends, friends of the kids, Betty's mother and brother — sounds familiar
Anyway, these were good times — lots of laughs, hours of catching up on the things going on in our
lives, and good meals. Remember a ways back when I told you about how Betty solved the problem
with the mullet we had caught and didn't know what to do with? Well, this woman can do wonders
with seafood. I don't know what it was, same basic ingredients (crabs, shrimp, fish) as everybody
else, but the results were definitely different.
Drifting back a ways in time (over 30 years ago), Storm and I had climbed the old water tank over
in the State Park. We had been hunting ducks for the past several days with absolutely zero luck.
We'd come around one bend in the marsh creek and they'd scoot around the next bend — on and on,
the smart leading the dumb. Anyway, we'd climbed the tank to see if we could spot them and could
figure out a way to outsmart them.
Standing there on the rim of the tank high above the marsh, with the majesty of Edisto laid out
below us, I think we both came to the same conclusion — the ducks were smarter than we were and
that we would probably be better off if we left them alone.
I've never been duck hunting since.
Storm — my older brother. Finding the words to explain my feelings about my brother is hard.
Memories of the times we were together flood my mind — they cover so many years. He has always
been bigger than life in my eyes—tall, big and strong, self assured and confident in everything he
does, and always striving for the best in himself and those around him. He's the most dynamic man
I've ever met in my life.
When I was growing up, he made me feel that I could cast a net, climb a high water tank, or laugh
at myself when life in general threw me on my behind. He believed in me, convinced me that I could
succeed in life, and taught me to take the time to smell the roses before someone cut them down.
Like so many other things in life he introduced me to, he showed me the real beauty of Edisto and
her magic by taking me with him into the marshes, through the woodlands, into the creeks and bays,
and along her beaches.
I've almost let a lifetime slip by without ever thanking you Storm or telling you that I love you.
Thanks big brother — I love you.
Friends and relatives — memories and memories. Each of those who have visited with us over the
years have added immeasurably to the good times we have had at Edisto. Some stayed only hours,
others for a week or more.
It wasn't the amount of time that they stayed with us that was important. What counted was the
simple fact that they were there with us.
As the sun sinks beneath the clouds in the west, a special aura of light starts to caress the beach
as long shadows start dancing out across the sand. Twilight — that magical diffusion of time, light,
and harshness of reality, is signaling the close of another beautiful day at Edisto.
This is one of my favorite times of the day at Edisto. Although there's plenty of light to see by for
a time, things seem to start smoothing out — the sharp edges of objects dulling in the warm
afterglow of a bright sunny day.
This colorful diminishing light show takes on different characteristics each day because the colors
are controlled by the cloud cover for that day. Sometimes it even looks a little spooky, because
things that you are used to seeing clearly, are now reflecting before your eyes with a hue that
seems to change them or even make them appear unfamiliar to you.
People start pouring out of the beach houses to go for evening walks on the beach. Kids try to get in
that one last game on the beach — volley ball, throwing Frisbees, or whatever suits their fancy at
the moment. Usually, the breeze coming in off the ocean is fairly brisk which makes for some great
kite flying times.
Remember a while back when I talked about quiet walks on the beach? To me, twilight time at
Edisto is the best time to take them. As I walk, all of the day's memories seem to flood over me,
warming me with great feelings of love and peace.
Quiet walks on the beach do not necessarily mean that you can't talk to anyone. Quite the contrary.
Some of my most memorable walks are those when I walked with someone very special in my life —
like the walks I described earlier with my mother.
Quiet sometimes just means low key, relaxed, or just at peace with yourself and everything around
you. Even the noise of the wind ripping past your face and the surf pounding in your ears calms you
— the magic of the beach felt by all who have stood by her side.
When I am with someone special, all things are up for grab as we walk along and just talk to each
other — no subject immune from discussion. The reward of the walks is the simple but
immeasurable pleasure we get from just talking to each other with all the fences down — just us
Everybody has at least one special quiet walk partner. This is the one that you share your hopes
and dreams with as you watch the end of the day fade slowly into the night. You quietly talk and
remember out loud together all the fun times you've had — not only for this day, but for all the
days past. You laugh, giggle, and squeeze hands as you recall thee very special memories you have
My life has meaning and purpose because of the special partner in my life — Deanna. For close to
30 years now, she's been the glue that holds my life together and that of my family. She's the one
memory of my life that will travel with me throughout eternity — a memory of total love,
togetherness, sharing, and gentle unselfish caring for me and my children.
I love you Deanna — until the ends of time, I will love you. Thanks for continuing to be the greatest
memory in my life.
As night falls on Edisto, another day's memories are safely tucked away. Twilight — that magical
time when life long memories are made or remembered.
The last day — the worst day at Edisto. All the good times, laughs, and beach walks are just about
over — memories are being tucked away for a rainy day.
No one really wanted to do much of anything on this day, especially if it meant actually going
through the motions of packing and loading the cars back up. To do so would mean that it was over
— fun would be replaced by work. Each person would try to get in that one last-time thing they
love to do at the beach.
The girls would get a few more hours of sun, Jimmy would take his final bike tour, the boys would
skimboard one last time, and I would hit the beach hoping to find just a few more sharks' teeth.
Packing up the car and closing up the house — I've always hated it. Oh, we always were supposed to
have less to repack than we brought with us (remember, we ate, drank, or used a lot of it), but I've
noticed over the years that things have a way of growing at the beach.
All the clothes came down in four suitcases — why does it always seem like you need six to repack
them? The kitchen stuff came in one box — now we're looking for an extra one to get it all
repacked. "It is impossible we have this many dirty clothes bag!" I would say to everyone. "The
suitcases are already full."
One of the things I used to hate the most about packing was letting the air out of the floats. What
has always amazed me is that when you wanted those stupid little plastic things inflated, so you
could USE them, they were ironing board flat — all the air had leaked out. However, when you got
ready to go home, they were all pumped up — hard as nails and impossible to deflate! Standing on
them, sitting on them, rolling them up — nothing ever seemed to work.
As the years went by, we left more and more rafts at Edisto.
Finally, the last window in the house was shut tight, the final inspection tour of the house was
completed, and the last pieces of our belongings were STUFFED somewhere in the cars.
All the family members would huddle around the cars, saying their so longs — hugging and kissing
with a few tears here and there. And then, we were gone.
As we crossed over the Dawhoo Bridge, we knew that another summer of fun at Edisto had come to
an end. We were sad of course, but at the same time, the memories were already working their
magic — filling us with the good feelings that would tide us over until we came back across the
bridge next year.
I hope that by now you have a sense for my feelings of Edisto. There are really no words to
describe how I feel when I see her fading behind me as my family and I leave the Island.
Sharing my remembrances has been very rewarding to me. In trying to capture the essence of them
for you and my family, I have spent months reliving old memories.
Thinking about all the days that I have spent at Edisto has brought many smiles to my face, and
yes, even a few tears to my eyes. Once again, I can hear all the fun-filled laughter from over the
years ringing in my ears.
It is my hope that some of my Edisto Memories will make you remember a few of your own.
Memories — They have made me feel like my life has meaning and purpose.
Edisto expands time — it has always been here and will be here in the future.
What she is in the future depends upon what we do today. We must think beyond our own lifetimes
if we want the generations of the future to have their memories and to feel the same magic of
Edisto as we do today.
|Sometimes, a life-long memory of Edisto can be held in your hand. Many years ago, when Michael had
just turned 14, he came up to me one day and said, "Here Dad, read this and tell me what you think."
He handed me a single sheet of paper with a small poem written on it. By the time I had finished it,
I was teary eyed. I knew at that moment that my son had been totally captured by the charm and
magic of Edisto.
I would like to share with you his short poem entitled "Edisto."
|Menu of events to help you read about my love of Edisto