This gentleman [known on the island as The Original Crabman] was getting his crab trap ready when I was walking out to the end of the pier to photograph the progress on the Golden Ray cleanup effort. As is typical, he was using a chicken neck and fish head as bait. After dropping his trap in the water off the pier for just a few minutes, he brought it back up with several crabs.
Tag Archives: Coastal Georgia Documentary
I recently had the pleasure of revisiting and photographing the wonderful Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters at the 2020 African-American Festival at Fort Frederica National Monument. Visit this link to learn more about the history of the ring shout and the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters. As I’ve told nearly everyone who will listen, the Shouters are a real treasure and I encourage all to attend one of their performances if they have the opportunity. I’m presenting these photographs as a gallery, without captions, as I think the photographs speak for themselves.
At 88 years young Annie Lucille Greene doesn’t seem to be caught up in the past, yet her work draws heavily from memory. Mrs. Greene, who grew up in Hinesville in the 1940s, tells her life story through yarn art, a process which first involves drawing images on a surface, then gluing different pieces of colored yarn to create a seamless mosaic. There’s a strong similarity to the Impressionist style known as Pointillism. Mrs. Greene actually refers to it as yarn “painting” and upon seeing the work in person, one completely understands. Presently, she is exhibiting What Color is Water: Tales and Art About a Segregated South as the featured event of the Black History Art and Humanities Program at the McIntosh Art Association in Darien. I’m honored to have met and photographed this amazing lady.
Annie’s parents, Henry William and Ella Mae Tarver, were both pioneering black educators. They encouraged her doodling and drawing from an early age and they supported her creative efforts by buying art supplies. When Annie was 12, the family moved to Hogansville to work in the black school there.
Summers were spent visiting her maternal grandparents on their farm near Adel. Mrs. Greene told me she didn’t like the farm work, but she loved the food. “The food was really good,” she recalled.
Annie spent her first year in college at Spelman but wasn’t happy there. She transferred to Albany State and loved it, Upon graduating in 1954 she was offered a job teaching in LaGrange. It was there that she married Oliver Nathaniel Greene, a Social Studies teacher. They had two children, and while Nathaniel was in New York, completing his Masters in Education at Columbia University, Annie stayed home and took a break from teaching. Dean Robert Simmons encouraged her to go to New York University and she graduated from there in 1956. She received her Masters Degree in Art Education in 1961 and went on to have a long and successful career in the Troup County school system.
Her third and latest book, which is available at the McIntosh Art Association, presents a blend of her work, from early memories to the Civil Rights activism of the 1960s. The images are much better seen in person and I encourage anyone in the Darien area to visit the exhibit. Details can be found here.
The opening reception at the McIntosh Art Association was very well attended and I think everyone enjoyed meeting Mrs. Greene and her husband.
She has exhibited and toured her fine work all over the Southeast but doesn’t keep as busy a schedule as she once did. As a result, you might want to visit this one as soon as you can.
On a Bullock Wagon at Fairhope, Real Photo Postcard, Photographer Unknown, 20 March 1916. Collection of Brian Brown*
A group of businessmen from Akron, Ohio, purchased 7000 acres on the Sapelo River at the site of the old Mallow Plantation in 1911 and planned a community known as Fairhope. According to Buddy Sullivan (Early Days on the Georgia Tidewater), the Fairhope Land Company built a three-story hotel at the site in 1915, though “it never turned a profit and the Fairhope plan struggled to stay afloat.” By early appearances it had a promising future. In addition to the hotel, a few private lots were sold and a post office operated from 1913-1916. A couple of stores were also present. The biggest boost came from a rail spur run by the Georgia Coast and Piedmont Railroad from Eulonia to the town site. But the resort community didn’t materialize as planned and the Land Company was bankrupt by early 1916. After changing hands at least twice, it came into the ownership of the Georgia Land and Livestock Company in late 1916, at which time it came to be known by its present name, Pine Harbor. The name was suggested by surveyor Ravenel Gignilliat. The hotel was dismantled in 1931 and the lumber sold for scrap in Savannah. The old depot was moved to the waterfront and remodeled as a residence. Other than Fairhope Road at Pine Harbor, little evidence of the community can be found today.
*- This antique card from my personal collection was mailed to Cleveland, Ohio, on the date indicated at the caption and sends news to the recipient that an older couple, the Millers, are going to stay on at Fairhope for a short time before returning home. This was mailed from the short-lived Fairhope post office not long before it closed and the women on the bullock wagon were likely investors in the community. The structure depicted is not the hotel, so it was likely one of the few private residences constructed as part of the failed venture.
Shortly after departing the Port of Brunswick in the early hours of 8 September 2019, the 656′ cargo ship Golden Ray capsized in the waters of St. Simons Sound, between Driftwood Beach (Jekyll Island) and St. Simons Island. Loaded with around 4000 new Hyundai and Kia automobile en route to the Port of Baltimore, the ship sent out an emergency call around 2:00 AM and within two hours, 20 crew were rescued. 4 remained unaccounted for and a fire was raging on the unstable vessel. Holes were cut in the hull and they were extracted safely by the Coast Guard on Monday. Sector Charleston Capt. John Reed told reporters it was the best day of his career.
It was initially thought that the ship could be saved, but that proved to be infeasible. A recent report in the Navy Times suggests that it could remain in the sea for the next year. Coast Guard Cmdr. Matt Bear says “…the Golden Ray has been slowly sinking in the sand because of the powerful tides…and…the situation makes it impossible to get the ship upright without breaking it apart and creating an even bigger problem.”
One of the biggest immediate concerns at present is the environmental impact of the wreck. The ship’s 30,000-gallon fuel supply has been removed but contaminants from the 4000 vehicles yet to be extracted from the wreckage continue to pose a threat and oil continues to leak. Altamaha Riverkeeper has been monitoring pollution impact and has discovered oil slicks and tarballs in the marshes and tidal rivers of St. Simons and Jekyll Islands. While any environmental impact is potentially problematic for the area’s tourist and fishing economies, it isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, according to the Riverkeeper. The incident well illustrates the balance that must be struck between economic and environmental concerns.
Locals will quickly point you to Jodee Sadowsky’s legendary Breakfast Club, on the corner of Butler Avenue & 15th Street near the Tybee Pier. There’s nothing pretentious about the place and you can tell when you walk in the door that it’s a temple to good food. It’s made right in front of you by friendly cooks and the staff are as welcoming to tourists as they are to locals, always a good sign. But you likely won’t find it with any empty stools unless you go in the winter and even then that’s not guaranteed. Blogger Nick Dekker sums up Breakfast Club “etiquette”: …The place runs like a well-oiled machine, so you need to know how the process works. First, expect a line. Things move quickly at Breakfast Club (don’t hang around when you’re done eating), but waiting is often part of the game. Line up outside, and server will poke his/her head out once in a while to check on your group size (your whole group needs to be present to get seated).
It may cost slightly more than a breakfast at McDonald’s but it’s exponentially better. The Breakfast Club makes their own sausage and uses as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.
When the weather on the coast turns cooler an invitation to an oyster roast is the one most coveted by locals. Whether an impromptu affair in one’s backyard or an orchestrated event benefiting a special cause, these gatherings are central to the folklife of the coast and it’s not a recent phenomenon. The Guale people perfected the art of roasting oysters long before Europeans ever arrived.
Oyster etiquette, if such a thing exists, requires no more than an open fire, a sheet of metal (often the inverted hood of an old junk car or truck), and enough wet burlap to cover your bivalves. Beer and other adult beverages also figure mightily into the ritual.
Folks who live along the Gulf of Mexico will argue for their oysters’ superiority but they only have size on their side. It’s true that ours live in complex razor-sharp beds known as clusters and as a result don’t get as large as Gulf oysters, but what we sacrifice in size we more than make up in taste. Georgia’s oysters are more flavorful, hands down, with a sweet saltiness not found in their Gulf counterparts.
The tender at this particular roast (known as Clam Jam) benefiting Altamaha Riverkeeper at Altama Plantation was busy all evening taking shovelfuls of freshly steamed oysters from fire to table in short order.
Newcomers to oyster roasts are often put off by the shucking but there are always folks around who will help the uninitiated. Most locals have their own gloves and oyster knives. Tables with long legs that position the oysters in easy reach of the diner are essential at a large gathering like this one.
Thanks to Jen Hilburn for inviting me to Clam Jam 2017. Mike McCall and I had fun showing guests around the Altama property while waiting for supper.
Croquet was a favorite of the millionaires who were members of the exclusive Jekyll Island Club in the late 19th century, and in honor of that tradition a beautiful croquet law is still maintained for visitors of the Jekyll Island Club Resort.
Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark
True Life Ministries of Atlanta has been conducting “open water” baptisms on St. Simons Island for 21 years. The church welcomes all who want to take part and have baptized over 1000 since they began the annual event. It’s a wonderful thing to see, no matter your background or faith.
Often associated with African-Americans, mass baptisms were equally popular with white churches (especially rural congregations) into the mid-20th century. Indoor baptismal pools have largely replaced the outdoor ritual today.