GIM July/August 2022

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J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 2 2

features

Table of contents

50 ON THE WATERFRONT: Darien’s shoreline has a long history, and with new construction popping up, it seems poised for a long-awaited revitalization.

59 BESSIE JONES: The folk singer, performer, and teacher may have passed in the early 1980s, but her legacy of sharing the music of her ancestors is alive and well today.

65 THE MAGIC OF LITTLE ST. SIMONS ISLAND: Larry Hobbs has a special affinity for this pristine piece of coastline and he shares his perspective after one of his many visits to the island.

72 WHERE THE EAGLES FLY: The Isles’ most majestic residents can be found in the skies. Bald eagles enjoy nesting in the tall trees around the waterways, raising their hatchlings along the marshy coast.

78 THE ELEGANT OGLETHORPE HOTEL: The Brunswick landmark was a city treasure for decades before it was torn down in the 1960s. Tyler Bagwell shares the history of the resort and how it impacted the future of downtown.

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Photo by Tom Sweeney


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COLUMNS & DEPARTMENTS 12

EDITOR’S NOTE

14

WORD ON THE STREET

17

COASTAL QUEUE

36

DUE SOUTH

38

BY DESIGN

40

NATURE CONNECTION

42

LIVING WELL

44

MONEY TALKS

46

GAME CHANGERS

48

THE DISH

84

NOISEMAKERS THE PAGE BROTHERS

85 COASTAL SEEN


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3011 Altama Ave, Brunswick GA 31520

Publisher

Buff Leavy Lindsey Adkison

Editor Director of Advertising Jenn Agnew and Marketing

TAKE THE FIRST STEP TOWARD VEIN TREATMENT TODAY!

Assistant Editor Proofer

Lauren McDonald Heather Murray

Account Executive

Kasey Rowell

Contributing Writers

Tyler Bagwell Dana Brown Taylor Cooper Sebastian Emmanuel Sam Ghioto Larry Hobbs Brittany Tate Anna Weinbauer Tim Wilson

Contributing Photographers

Derrick Davis Debbie Dean Terry Dickson Sam Ghioto Tamara Gibson Bobby Haven Michelle Holton Teresa Jones Steve Kendall Annaliese Kondo Kenny Nobles Donna Pinter Tom Sweeney John Valadas

Illustration

David Millman

Contributing Designers

Stacey Nichols Donte Nunnally Terry Wilson

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Golden Isles Magazine is published six times per year by Brunswick News Publishing Company To subscribe online to Golden Isles Magazine, go to goldenislesmagazine.com/subscribe

(912) 265.0492 www.stephenkitchenmd.com 8

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About the Cover: This stunning image of shrimp boats docked McIntosh County’s Valona was captured by local photographer Kenny Nobles. In this issue, we dive deep into the magic of hidden places, like those in McIntosh.


SEE THE JEKYLL ISLAND

Tours depart daily from Mosaic, jekyll island museum. RESERVE your spot:


3011 Altama Ave, Brunswick GA 31520

Submissions Golden Isles Magazine is in need of talented contributors. Unsolicited queries and submissions of art and stories are welcome. Please include an email address and telephone number. Submit by email to the editor, Lindsey Adkison: ladkison@goldenislesmagazine.com or by mail to 3011 Altama Ave, Brunswick. Only work accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope will be returned.

Advertising Information regarding advertising and rates is available by contacting Jenn Agnew at 912-265-8320, ext. 356 or by email at jagnew@thebrunswicknews.com; or Kasey Rowell at 912265-8320 ext. 334 or krowell@thebrunswicknews.com.

A good plan includes knowing when to take action You’ve thought about it and examined the options. Let Addington Place of Brunswick help you meet your needs. Whether you are well into your research, or overwhelmed about where to start, let Addington Place of Brunswick be your guiding light. To schedule your personal consultation and tour with Hilary Kent, call 912-513-4288. 890 Scranton Road | Brunswick, GA 31525 Assisted Living | Memory Care | ALC000223 WWW.SENIORLIFESTYLE.COM

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All content is copyright of Golden Isles Magazine, a publication of Brunswick News Publishing Company. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without express written permission from the publisher. We have sought to ensure accuracy and completeness of the content herein, but neither Golden Isles Magazine nor the publisher assumes responsibility for any errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or other inconsistencies, including those related to quotations. We reserve the right to refuse advertising. All advertisements appearing herein are accepted and published on the representation that the advertiser is properly authorized to publish the entire contents and subject matter thereof. All ads are paid advertisements and/or gifts given as part of a contractual agreement regarding Brunswick News Publishing Company. Neither Golden Isles Magazine nor the publisher is responsible for any statements, claims, or representations made by contributing writers, columnists, or photographers. Golden Isles Magazine and the publisher are also not responsible for anyone’s reliance on the content included in the publication. All projects described in this publication are for private, noncommercial use only. No right for commercial use or exploitation is given or implied.



Editor’s Note

The Hidden Places The greatest secrets are often right in front of us. That lesson was reinforced after multiple “re-directions” by Siri on a crisp spring morning. But finally I found my way to a paint-cracked sign which read, Union Memorial Cemetery, and beneath it stenciled letters added, “also known as Strangers’ Cemetery circa 1874.”

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As I wound my way over the dirt road toward the iron gate, I had a sinking feeling that I should turn around. I’ve always had an unshakeable belief in spirits and have done my best to stay well out of their way. Today, I felt like an intruder. Stepping out of the car, I moved cautiously through the gates into the silence of the graveyard. Nestled beneath the canopy of live oaks, this hallowed ground held the earthly remains of Ms. Bessie Jones. She was the granddaughter of a former slave and lived in Glynn County, where she shared the songs and games of her ancestors. Born in 1904, she was one of the few to have a direct link to these traditions. Bessie was a recording artist, performer, and teacher. She appeared across the country, as well as in local elementary schools. She also joined the early incarnations of the Sea Island Singers and became a folk music queen. I didn’t know exactly where she was, but as I took a step to find her — a gust swept through the trees. The moss twisted then whispered … go. And, I did. I didn’t run mind you … but, I didn’t exactly walk either. I beat it back to my office without breathing a word of what happened to anyone.

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Even so, something in the back of my mind pushed me to try again. So I enlisted the help of my friend and amazing photographer, Sam Ghioto, who agreed to shoot the location for Brittany’s piece on Bessie for this issue. As we were planning, we learned that the gates are often closed. I hadn’t bet on that, but we resolved to try again — on Good Friday. I said more than a few prayers that

morning. I also stopped to pick up some flowers for Bessie, a bright bouquet of springtime blooms. As I drove over the causeway, I still didn’t know whether the gate would be open or not. For luck, I decided to put on Bessie’s Spotify channel. Right at that moment, I got a message from Sam — the gates were open … and a huge horned owl had greeted him there. It was a truly an auspicious sign. The song on the speaker changed to Bessie’s “O’ Death” from the album “Get in Union.” I smiled. Get in Union … like Union Memorial. When I arrived, the sun was warm and we felt welcome. The gates were truly open. The horned owl watched over us as we respectfully entered. As the headstones spread out before us, I asked Sam how we’d find her. We started moving to the left when something in my mind stopped me. Go … right. Go right. And there she was. Sunshine settled on the stone as we nestled the flowers close to her name. It was a beautiful moment with a true legend. The unfamiliar can be scary or challenging, though it’s almost always worth the effort. That is what this issue is all about, remembering and uncovering. From the ghost of the Oglethorpe Hotel to the secret sands of Little St. Simons, the bald eagles camouflaged along the coast to the historic Darien waterfront, we are sharing it all. We hope you enjoy the journey. Here’s to hidden things — Lindsey


PRIME

COM M UNI T Y BUI LDERS

L to R: Susan Bates, Owner, Tipsy McSway’s and Joe Riccio, Senior Commercial Lender, PrimeSouth Bank.

AT TIPSY MCSWAY’S, SUCCESS ISN’T JUST LOCATION, IT IS WELL PLACED FAITH A Bar And Grill With A Great Name And A Bank That Has Earned A Good One.

Susan Bates always felt downtown Brunswick needed more. When a perfectly located building came up for sale, she knew the perfect tenant! Tipsy McSway: a character Susan created. Part Dolly Parton, part favorite Barbie, Tipsy’s name and spirit would soon come to life in her namesake neighborhood bar and grill. Susan immediately sold us on her idea, as we knew her character, and had faith that her energy would help revitalize downtown. Now, we are her regulars, and helping her take off with Tipsy McFly’s Airport Bar and Grill, her newest venture.

Learn more at: PrimeSouth.com


HOME + GARDEN

Discover a 1950s

Beach Cottage Renovation

Word On The Street Discover Island

Club Patio Perfection

Cover @seafoamstudio: Beautiful! @bytamaragibson: Tammy Johnson Fluech: Ohhhh nice palette!

Your reactions sent to us by emails, posts, & tweets

TIME TO GET SOCIAL

A Pavillon in the Trees @joiner2ramba: Gorgeous! @juliewillis: @erinphotos: What a fantastic reno.

facebook.com/goldenislesmag

Susan Busby Thornton: I was a “traditionalist” most of my life, but in recent years fallen in love with mid-century furniture. I love it and I’m sure I will love this edition.

instagram.com/goldenislesmag twitter.com/goldenislesmag

If you prefer to send us your comments by email, contact Editor Lindsey Adkison at ladkison@goldenislesmagazine.com. Anything posted to our social media accounts or emailed directly to the editor will be considered for publication. Comments may be edited for clarity or grammar.

Gin Durham: Beautiful! I want that sink!! Bright, Bold, Beachy feature

Susan Ryles: LOVE IT!

Coastal Sophistication: At Home with Pat Hodnett Cooper

@janicelmorgan:

Jasmine Zurst: What a fun home! Love all the different colors!

Betsy Howard: Beautiful house. Beautiful person.

Laura Parker: I love Heather and her design talent! Such a good article about her!

Belinda Thomas: Beautiful! I know you’re thrilled, Pat. Beautiful job, Gail!

@oneloveorganics: Yesss to all the colors!!! @bizzylizzydesigns: The very talented Heather Jowers! 14

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Q AN INFORMATIVE LINEUP OF THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE GOLDEN ISLES

WILD THE

ALTAMAHA SOUND WORDS AND PHOTOS BY SAM GHIOTO

M

My “real introduction” to the world of the saltwater marsh ecosystem was when I became a kayak tour guide for SouthEast Adventure Outfitters. Initially, I thought this job was going to be a great way to expand my photography portfolio. Little did I know that I’d become enamored by the history and ecology of the Georgia Coast and its significance in relation to neighboring states and the world at large.

and back. For the past couple of years, I’ve wanted to paddle in this expansive landscape, which looks so big on the map, but I hadn’t had a chance. So I jumped at the opportunity.

Recently, Joe Cook, who is writing an Altamaha River guidebook, reached out to my company to see if anyone would join him on a paddle from the Champney River dock to the Altamaha Sound

We began at dawn on the second day. The weather proved to be perfect, so we were lucky (a word of caution: this area can be very rough). At 10 a.m., we arrived at the mouth of a calm Altamaha Sound, right off

The first night we paddled to and camped on Rhett’s Island. The mosquitoes were huge, even penetrating our multilayered clothing.

JU LY/AU G US T 2022

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CARING TREATMENT FOR PATIENTS WITH KIDNEY DISEASE AND HYPERTENSION

ACCEPTING NEW PATIENTS

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND | SEA ISLAND JEKYLL ISLAND | BRUNSWICK office: 912.638.1144 | 1.800.639.1144 105 Main St., St. Simons

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Egg Island. It was an hour before low tide — certain areas are impassable then — and what we witnessed was remarkable. The entire area is a haven for birds and they were everywhere. It felt like I was witnessing an episode of Planet Earth in my own backyard. You could turn on Netflix and watch some foreign landscape with exotic animals, but we have a vibrant ecosystem here. It’s easy to miss if you don’t look.

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W Several islands sit in a cluster protected by federal regulations in the Altamaha Sound. Egg Island, Little Egg Island, and Wolf Island are part of the Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge. No one is allowed to land on any of these islands, so we enjoyed them from our boats. Egg Island, which sits just north of Little St. Simons, serves as a vital breeding and nesting ground for many birds. This island of sand, oysters, and marsh grass makes up roughly 600 acres.


Oysters blanketed Egg Island and dozens of American Oyster Catchers, migratory shorebirds, dotted the landscape, prying open shells with their sharp, orange beaks. Terns of all types acrobatically dove into the water at high velocities and with great skill. There were also countless birds, unidentifiable without a good lens or binoculars, feeding in the exposed sand and mud.

WILD

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Little Egg Island is the most eastern section of sand, with dunes practically connecting it to Egg Island at low tide via mud, sand, and oysters. I beheld it all in fascination and wondered, “in another state, would this be covered by bridges, housing, and commercial developments pushing higher than six stories?”

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Saving a Sliver on the Georgia Coast According to Paul Bolster’s book, Saving the Georgia Coast, there were several characters involved in conserving the Georgia Coast. Jane Yarn, one of the board of directors of the Nature Conservancy, was among them. After a family vacation to Kenya where she witnessed the beautiful, wild Serengeti and other areas in disarray from human activity, Yarn experienced an inner transformation. She convinced her husband, prominent surgeon Charles Yarn, to help make the purchase of Egg Island, which they bought for $25,000 via the Nature Conservancy. Eventually, it was contributed to the Wolf Island National Wilderness. The preservation of Egg Island helped buoy the Conservancy’s efforts to protect swaths of the Altamaha River, which stretches for 137 miles. In the end, Yarn was part and parcel of the conservation movement that has protected the wild, undeveloped Georgia Coast from industry and private development, and this makes this sliver of coastline a diamond in the rough.

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Q

Summer WORDS BY DANA BROWN

Beach Reads

G.J. Ford Bookshop Beach Reads Recommendations The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews Known as one of the “Queen of Beach Reads,” author Mary Kay Andrews combines laughter, love, and a little mystery to create a page-turning summer read you won’t want to miss. Her newest release, The Homewreckers , follows a young widow, Hattie, and a series of unfortunate events in her professional and personal lives. Starring in a reality television show about renovating a house in Savannah, Hattie’s life grows complicated when costar and designer Trae wants to be more than friends and the body of a missing woman is found during the renovation. 22

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W

e can’t help you escape from the summer heat, but we can help you escape into exciting new worlds without ever leaving home. Our 2022 summer reads list is here, and with it comes colorful characters, love, heartbreak, mystery, and more. With recommendations from GJ Ford Bookshop’s Mary Jane Reed and Righton Books’ Darryl Peck, there is a summer read on this list for every interest. Whether you’re taking a trip to the pool, the beach, or the front porch swing, make sure to grab these sweet summer finds.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb The Violin Conspiracy is a novel of inspiration, intrigue, and an inside look at the world of classical music. The story follows Ray McMillian, a classical musician who pursues his passion and enters into the international Tchaikovsky Competition. The night before his performance, however, his valuable heirloom violin is stolen. Will he find the culprit behind the theft and succeed in the competition? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing was released in 2018, but it’s been back in the spotlight with the movie premiering July 15. The story is the perfect blend of a realistic coming-of-age story and a thrilling mystery of a small-town murder. The story follows Kya Clark, otherwise known as the “marsh girl.” Kya is a mysterious and wild figure who does not follow or fit into polite, Southern society. When a beloved good old boy of the town is found dead, however, Kya’s mysterious life makes her a prime suspect.


This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Righton Books’ Recommendations

This Time Tomorrow is a time-traveling page-turner that takes readers on a heart-warming journey to decades past. When 40-year-old Alice wakes up in her 16-year-old body, she has the chance many of us wish for: a do-over of life, love, and past regrets. In this 13 Going on 30 style novel, Alice takes readers to her past and inspires them to revisit their own lives through a trip down memory lane.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus Set in the 1960s, Elizabeth Zott, a chemist, falls in love, has a child, and becomes a struggling single mother. To make ends meet, she reluctantly agrees to host a cooking show, during which she uses chemistry and wit to upturn the status quo, and also inspires other women who have been stuck in the menial domestic roles of the times. Journey with Elizabeth as she struggles to find meaning and equality in a man’s world.

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand Named for the setting of the novel, The Hotel Nantucket details the history of an island hotel and the staff, both present and past, who run the place. Main character and hotel manager Lizbet Keaton, along with a dynamic cast of characters as her hotel staff, attempt to overcome the hotel’s bad reputation and make the place a top summer destination once again. Filled with romance, drama, and even the ghost of a past employee, The Hotel Nantucket is a must-read for the summer.

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Tue


Big Photo Show Q

The

to be displayed through July 30

Photo by Michelle Holton

WORDS BY LAUREN MCDONALD PHOTOS BY MEMBERS OF THE COASTAL GEORGIA PHOTOGRAPHY GUILD The blues and oranges of the sunrise shot move around a still and fallen tree resting on the beach.

of nature, and Holton wanted to bring the outside world to her while she was sick indoors.

This captured moment on Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach hangs on Michelle Holton’s wall, in memory of the love her mother held for the photograph.

These kinds of captured moments, which evoke different feelings in all who view them, will be on display throughout July as part of this year’s Big Photo Show, hosted by the Coastal Photographers Guild.

Holton, a professional photographer and videographer, took the photo years ago and brought it to her mother while she was in assisted living. Her mother loved photos 24

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The 14th annual Big Photo Show will be on display July 1-30 at SoGlo Gallery, 1413 Newcastle St. in Brunswick.

The show is a photography exhibit that features new works by members of the Coastal Photographers Guild. Photographers will present images of nature, landscapes, people, and other scenes from near and far. The Coastal Photographers Guild aims to promote an interest in photography in the Golden Isles. “We try to appeal to all photographers, whether they be extreme novices or accomplished profes-


sionals, because we are trying to create a supportive community for photographers and photography here in the area,” says Jim Squires, a member of the guild who serves on the Big Photo Show’s steering committee. The show’s venue is moving from its typical St. Simons location this year. Local artists do the judging for what Squires says is a friendly competition. “The whole goal is really to help each one of us as photographers be inspired, expand our creativity, and sharpen our skills,” he says. And each person brings their own personal touch or interest to the work. “Some people have special niches like drone photography or specific subjects,” Squires says. “I like underwater photography, so I try to throw in at least one underwater photograph for the venue.” The contest showcases photographers in the area as well as the Golden Isles’ natural beauty, although submitted photos can be taken anywhere. “The Golden Isles is more than just the beach and the marsh,” Squires says. “It’s a way to also give back to the community a little bit.” Holton will be among the photographers presenting work in the show. Many of her photos feature nature and landscape shots. Photography is a personal endeavor for Holton, who began taking more nature photos when her mother became sick in 2018.

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“Cypress Sunrise” by Steve Kendall

Photo by Michelle Holton

“She had to go into assisted living, so I started getting into nature photography as a way to still show her stuff outside,” Holton says. “She always wanted to go outside. She loved the beach. She loved nature.” Holton would bring photos back or have them turned into puzzles she and her mom could complete together. “She unfortunately passed away in May of 2020, but I still use nature photography and landscape photography as a way to feel close to her,” Holton says. “My work is very personal to me.” The Big Photo show is an opportunity for photographers with varying amounts of experience to showcase their work together, Holton says. “The Big Photo Show is meant to encourage even aspiring photographers to present their work,” she says. The show added an “Aspiring Photographer” category to the competition last year. “You don’t have to be a professional photographer to present your work in a gallery setting,” Holton says.

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“Pure Joy” by Donna Pinter

Carol Anne Wages, a member of the guild who is known for her wildlife photography, says the Big Photo Show, like the guild, features a wide variety of perspectives. “You’re with people that have totally different views and styles but the same basic love of photography,” she says. The youngest member of the guild this year is 6 years old. She recently won a state photography contest for kindergarten students, and she’ll have work in the show. “Some people can pick up a camera and they just have the eye,” Wages says. “They can compose.” Some of the most memorable photos Wages has seen in the Big Photo Show transported the viewer to another world and evoked some kind of strong emotion. “It’s like you feel the picture, and that’s what I like about a good photograph is you can actually feel what is happening,” she says. “Even if it’s a landscape, you should be able to feel the picture. And I think those are the ones that make for the best photography, and that’s the ones that touch me the most.”


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Fireworks, Fun, and Freedom The Golden Isles celebrate July 4th

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WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON AND TAYLOR COOPER | PHOTOS BY BOBBY HAVEN AND TERRY DICKSON

In the Golden Isles we always believe in being gracious hosts, but we really roll out the red carpet come the Fourth of July. Independence Day encompasses so much of what we love here — family, freedom, and of course, food.

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We’ve taken the liberty of compiling a basic list to help you enjoy all that is offered across the county. The staff at Golden Isles Magazine wishes you a happy and safe Fourth of July.


St. Simons Island St. Simons Island’s annual Fourth of July bash kicks off with the Golden Isles Track Club’s Sunshine Festival 5K and 1-mile Fun Run. To beat some of the heat, the 5K starts early, at 7 a.m. at 601 Mallery St. The Fun Run begins at 8 a.m. at the same location. Prizes will be awarded in the various age groups. The 5K is $35 and the Fun Run is $25. Registration is due by June 30 and may be completed at goldenislestrack. club. After the race, the Village comes alive with shops and restaurants opening their doors. Many will offer live music and specials. At about 2:30 p.m., the ever-popular golf cart parade will promenade from the baseball fields down Mallery Street. That evening, Neptune Park is the ideal spot to lay down a picnic blanket and watch the show. What: St. Simons Island Sunshine Festival Where: Pier Village on St. Simons When: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Brunswick Brunswick’s annual Old Fashioned Independence Day festival is held at Mary Ross Waterfront Park downtown. There’s something for families and kids of all ages, from free games and watermelon to live music and fireworks at dusk. The event will also feature a performance by the Golden Isles Penguin Project. What: Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration Where: Mary Ross Waterfront Park When: 6 p.m. with fireworks beginning at 9 p.m.

Jekyll Island Jekyll Island will welcome visitors to celebrate the holiday at any one of the island’s many attractions, whether that’s the beach, pool, golf course, or Summer Waves Water Park. Jekyll’s toll fee will increase to $12 on the Fourth. What: Independence Day fireworks Where: Best viewed from Great Dunes Beach Park or Oceanview Beach Park When: 9:30 p.m.

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Capturing the Coast:

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T he Pho to g raphy of Ken n y N obles

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON | PHOTOS BY KENNY NOBLES

A secluded maritime forest. A lone heron in a marsh. A line of shrimp boats frozen on the water. There’s a silence that speaks from each of Kenny Nobles’ photographs. The Ludowici native has spent 30 years learning and refining his art. Through it all, Nobles has learned much about the craft but even more about the world around him. “Even though photography is an old technique (since 1826), there is still something magical about it. Photographs record a place in time which may seem to have little importance to us at the time it was taken,” he says. “When you view a photograph that was taken a few years 30

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back, you then realize how fast things change. I wish I had started taking photos a lot earlier than I did. I can look back on some of my images now that are only five to seven years old and they reveal a lot of the changes of time.” The interpretation evolves, as well. Nobles says one image may evoke a certain feeling or memory for one person and something very different for another. “Photography is a form of art. An image can have a different meaning for each viewer. I have sold the exact same image to different individuals and they all give me a different reason of why they are buying it,” he says. Many of the photos he captures and eventually sells are places tucked away within the Golden Isles. Like many,


Nobles enjoys capturing plants and animals that call the coast home, but he also enjoys seeking out lesser-known locales. “Wolf Island and Egg Island near the Altamaha are great locations to photograph birds, especially in the spring and fall during the migration. Our undeveloped barrier islands are especially photogenic, but they have to be reached by boat,” he says. “One of my favorite subjects is old, wooden hull shrimp trawlers in our area. Most are located on private property and requires permission to access.”

Nobles’ advice for budding photographers

Regardless of the subject, Nobles typically has an idea of what he’ll be shooting when he ventures out on his excursions.

• Join a photography group, like the Coastal Photographers’ Guild. He feels the group’s meetings, programs, and annual shows help to polish one’s skills. “They are a great group of folks and any skill level is welcome. The Guild also has monthly meetings and work assignments to improve your skills,” he says.

“Ninety-eight percent of my photographs are planned ahead of time. Once I decide to photo a location, I will keep going back until I get a photo that meets my expectations,” he says. “I also use apps that tell me when, where, and what time the moon and sun rise and set and where the Milky Way will be. I prefer the mornings to do most of my photography. The start of a new day is always different. Most of the time, I will be alone, not many people are up and out at daybreak. The only person I have to please is myself.”

• Choose a niche to master. Nobles says the old phrase being a “Jack of all trades and a master on none,” rings true. Every photographer will eventually gravitate to a particular type of photography and a unique style. • Understand your camera. Invest the time to know how to operate your camera and learn how to use editing software. To be creative with a camera, use manual mode. “My camera stays on this mode 100 percent of the time,” he says. “I like to have control of how the image is taken, not letting the camera make decisions for me. • Practice — a lot. Take a lot of photos — the more you take the better you will become, Nobles says. — Kenny Nobles is a professional photographer in the Golden Isles and beyond. One of his shrimp boat photos graces the cover of this issue. To view more of his work or to purchase prints, visit kennynoblesphotography.com.

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Around the Town Ongoing Events The Friends of the Brunswick Library has a used bookstore open from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. It is also open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at the library, 208 Gloucester St., Brunswick. Paperbacks are $1 and hardbacks are $2. DVDs and audiobooks are also available.

Photo by Michelle Holton

of the Light” are admitted free of charge. For details, visit coastalgeorgiahistory.org.

JULY July 1 First Friday will be held in downtown Brunswick from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Shops will stay open late during the monthly block party. Musicians will also perform in the downtown pocket parks. For details, visit discover-brunswick.com. The Big Photo Show’s 14th Annual Exhibit will be held from July 1 to 31 at the SoGlo Gallery, 1413 Newcastle St., Brunswick. Work from the Coastal Photographer’s Guild will be on display. A reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. July 1 at the gallery in conjunction with the First Friday event. For more information,visit coastalphotographersguild.com. July 10 The Coastal Georgia Historical Society will host A Little Light Music featuring Mainstream Band. The concert begins at 7 p.m. on the lawn of the lighthouse on St. Simons Island. Tickets are $15 for adults. Children under 12 and “Keepers 32

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July 12 to 15 Glynn Visual Arts, 106 Island Dr., St. Simons Island, will host its Comic Book Youth Summer Camp from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the center. The instructor will be Bob Perdarvis, a SCAD professor. The cost is $150 for members and $170 for non-members. For details, visit glynnvisualarts.org.


July 30 Golden Isles Arts and Humanities will host the Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged at 7:30 p.m. at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Brunswick. Members of the Apex Theatre Studio from Jacksonville will perform their way through all 37 of Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies and histories. Member tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors. Non-member tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors. Tickets increase $5 on the day of the show. For details, visit goldenislesarts.org.

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August 5 First Friday will be held in downtown Brunswick from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Shops will stay open late during the monthly block party. Musicians will also perform in the downtown pocket parks. For details, visit discoverbrunswick.com. August 28 Golden Isles Arts and Humanities will host Still Standing: A Tribute to Elton John at 7 p.m. at Neptune Park on St. Simons Island. Attendees should bring a chair or blanket. Picnic suppers are also welcome. Tickets are $15 per person. Those 12 and under will be admitted for free. For more information, visit goldenislesarts.org.

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August 1 and 2 Coastal Outdoor Adventures is hosting a children’s camp called Shark Fest through the summer. The two-day program will include excursions with coastal marine life. The hours are from 9 a.m. to noon. The boat departs from the Hampton River Marina, 1000 Hampton Point Dr., St Simons Island. Only 12 children will be enrolled. It is open for children ages 6-14 and $199 per child. For more information, visit coastaloutdooradventures.com.

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Facts

J U ST T H E

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON

Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island The Golden Isles have been #VacationGoals since the hashtag was just the number sign. For decades, visitors from around the world have flocked to the sandy shores of the islands, as well as the mainland, to enjoy all the area has to offer. But one group of visitors doesn’t come to the area for the food or fun, they come to heal. Since 2007, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center has welcomed various species of turtles who are suffering from a variety of

ailments. Some are injured and others are cold stunned when water temperatures plummet in the Northeast. The turtles are treated and then released back into the sea. During their stay, the public can stop by the center, located in the Jekyll Island Historic District, to learn about the different species and their recovery. The Jekyll Island Turtle Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Visit jekyllisland.com or read on to learn some fun facts about the facility:

531,918.24 1,000 531,918.24 volunteer hours served since 2009

218

1,000 sea turtle patients have been admitted to the rehabilitation facility since its opening in 2007

100,000

Jekyll Island has contributed to the birth of approximately 218 adult sea turtles to the world’s population. This is based on the current standard 1:1000 rule of 1 hatchling surviving to adulthood per every 1,000 hatchlings, and why protecting this species is so important More than 100,000 visit the center annually

318,104

2,256.20

318,104 eggs recorded from nests on Jekyll Island since 1993

111.9 34

Largest sea turtle encountered: 111.9 inches straight carapace (shell) length (SCL)

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218,190

218,190 total hatchlings recorded on Jekyll Island since 1993

Approximately 2,256.20 pounds of seafood fed to patients since this time last year


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DUE SOUTH gently and stored in a two-story barn that is multi-purposed: an office for Tink (one he built by hand, which still fills me with amazement), an exercise loft for me, and storage for Christmas trees, outdoor furniture, and some boxes of Tink’s stuff shipped from houses in California and Connecticut at least a dozen years ago. As readers know, I come from poor Appalachian folks who scraped by. Snuff jars became their milk glasses and dresses were made from flour sacks. I, though, was subject to more sophistication because I grew up on Rural Route One where we had a set of CorningWare dishes and plastic tumblers. It was a stunning revelation when I discovered, while in Corning, New York, for a NASCAR race at nearby Watkins Glen, that the same company that made the cheap floral-bordered CorningWare dishes of my childhood also creates Steuben, an incredibly delicate and expensive crystal.

Gems Hidden Here and There

T

WORDS BY RONDA RICH

The Golden Isles do, indeed, have many hidden gems. My favorite are the sea turtles who return yearly and how the islanders have worked heroically and compassionately to create an incubator of hospitality for them. When I drive past Redfern Village, I

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sometimes think of my friend, Edward, and all the floral bouquets that he drives in and out of that shopping center, or the fried green tomato sandwich at Gnat’s Landing. Usually, though, I think of Paul Redfern, a pioneer aviator, who took off from Sea Island Landing Strip in August 1927, intending to make a record-setting nonstop trip from the Golden Isles to Rio de Janeiro. Three thousand turned out to cheer him on, including his wife, Gertrude, who collapsed into sobs as soon as the monoplane was out of sight. Perhaps, intuitively, she knew he was flying out of her life, forever. Somewhere, he disappeared, leaving neither vapor nor trace. On the Rondarosa, lately, we have been finding hidden gems that are wrapped

That sums up our household perfectly: I am CorningWare dishes and Tink is Steuben crystal. Generations of my people had little to pass down and, other than an occasional photo or costume broach, the only things that made it past three generations were cast iron skillets and King James Bibles. Here’s another strong difference in how hidden gems are discovered in our two families: oral storytelling versus handwritten accounts. My Scotch-Irish people believe firmly in the art of storytelling and passing down history by recitation. A few generations back, they were so wedded to it that children were taught to memorize the stories word by word. I feel fairly certain that this came from a lack of literacy. Had it not been for the yearning they had for the guidance of the Bible, they might never have learned to read at all. Tink’s forebears, though, were diarists and letter writers. This is a good thing because Tink’s family is widely acclaimed for having short memories. I toted huge boxes out of the barn and


discovered that most of the gems, which had been casually tossed into an old barn, needed to be transferred to a safe. There was no wondering where they came from because each item had its own handwritten historical accounting. Thank goodness that I grew up in an era where cursive writing was taught. Otherwise, I couldn’t have read the astonishing stories. A single, gorgeous porcelain plate, edged in real gold, had been part of service belonging to the captain of an English ship, Cornubia, captured in 1863, off New Inlet, North Carolina. The dinner plates were given to a man who helped unload the ship’s bounty. Tink’s great-great-grandmother had been friends with the man so he gave her one of the plates. The plate’s history was duly recorded. Tink picked up a small, tarnished, heavy bell. “What’s this?” It looked like junk. “Knowing your people, it was made by Paul Revere,” I retorted. He turned the bell over and read, “Handcrafted in 1788. Boston.” I rolled my eyes and threw up my hands in a comic gesture. The other day, I needed a small, side table to fill in by a love seat while I wait for one that our cabinetmaker is building and painting in green, orange, red, and yellow. To the barn I went and found a small, round table covered in dust and cobwebs. It shimmered in a golden walnut glow. As I polished it, I discovered three notes, written over the course of 200 years, taped to the bottom. “Sarah Smith’s husband, Joseph, made this for her in 1794.” It then detailed each person who had possessed it since Sarah as it was passed down. Hidden gems. From the coast to a mountain barn, it is amazing where they can be found.

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BY DESIGN dependable feeding locations. Question: We’ve all heard the stories of how squirrels commandeer bird feeders. What can we do to prevent that? Answer: Using Safflower or “hot” seed is a great deterrent. Also, as bird species vary from season to season, don’t be afraid to try a new seed and remember to clean your feeders seasonally. Birds like eating off clean dishes too.

Building a Backyard Bird Sanctuary

F

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON AND DAWN HART PHOTO BY DERRICK DAVIS

For any aspiring Golden Isles gardener, one name becomes quite familiar — Dawn Hart. The owner of ACE Garden Center on St. Simons Island has become the go-to for those looking for guidance or advice on a wealth of topics. A popular subject is how to cultivate and maintain a bustling bird feeder in one’s back yard. We were fortunate to be able to sit down with this busy lady to pick her brain on the subject and get her ideas. Read on to learn more: Question: What are some basic factors people should consider before purchasing and signing on as a “bird feeder?” Answer: Our coastal climate and abundance of native plants, trees, and shrubs provide the perfect atmosphere for attracting birds to your garden for your peaceful enjoyment. To encourage birds in your landscape, a habitat should include the essentials of food, shelter, and water.

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In addition to a selection of seed mixes and bird feeders available for purchase, birds will forage on fruit and berry producing shrubs and trees in your yard. Birds generally prefer feeders and seek nesting areas under the safety of tree canopies or multistemmed shrubs versus an open area. The screening this provides also makes for landings in calm air. Keeping seed and nectar in your feeders is important even though they don’t have to be full if rain is ruining the seeds constantly. But don’t allow hummingbird feeders to run dry as the little birds thrive on

Question: What are some things to think about when adding plants to the yard if you want to keep the birds coming back? Answer: When considering new plantings for your garden, try to select plants that fruit at different seasons to give birds a continual food source. Readily available trees and multi-stemmed shrubs that offer both a food source and shelter are key. Those include Podocarpus, Wax Myrtle, Youpon Holly, Viburum, Black Gum, Pyracantha, Red Cedar, Oaks, Magnolia, Hollies, Dogwood, Callicarpa, and Hawthornes. Question: We love hummingbirds, of course, is there anything they can prefer? Answer: Hummingbirds are especially attracted to the following ornamentals: Honeysuckle, Passiflora, Firecracker,


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N AT U R E C O N N E CT I O N

From the ocean to the swamp WORDS BY LYDIA THOMPSON bright yellow bird with steely gray-blue wings. The locals call them “swamp canaries.” They can often be found perched on roots known as “cypress knees,” where they can find insects on the water’s surface.

But, they’re not the only birds that call the swamp home. It also belongs to the Barred Owl. This predator hunts in the daytime as well as at night. Daytime does give us a better chance of finding the owl. First, listen for the owl’s call. And trust me, if the owl calls, you can follow.

W We know Glynn County as the Golden Isles. Yes, it’s “the beach,” but it’s more than that. After traveling around this beautiful country, I chose Glynn County as my home, because I wanted to see a wide variety of birds — and I didn’t have to spend all day in the car to see them.

So we can start with the beach … enjoying the sand and sun. Now, turn around, put your back to the ocean, and there is the marsh. The salt marsh looks like a sea of grass. The tides also move inland, filtering through the grasses. The water continues to get fresher. The fresher the water, the taller the trees grow. Continue driving west and watch

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as the marsh slowly gives way to stands of pine trees. Then, tall cypress trees replace the pines. Finally, the ground dips, and you are in another world altogether. You are in the black water swamp. It’s a 30-minute drive from the island’s beaches. To find it, you go northwest on US 341 for 8 miles. Then, left at Paulk’s Pasture Wildlife Management Area. The first part of Paulk’s Pasture is pine lands. Stay on Main Street. At this point, trust your GPS to guide you to the swamp. Watch for the road to dip down into the swamp. You do not have to stand on the edge and wonder what is in the middle. Instead, you go right through it. The water is dark and appears still, but the it is actually moving through culverts buried beneath the road. Light struggles to penetrate the dense crowns of the trees. Sunlight sparkles over the delicate swamp iris growing in the dark water. A strident song of the Prothonotary Warbler cuts through the silence. “Sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet” is its call. The Prothonotary Warbler is a small

It sounds like “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.” Don’t be surprised if you find the owl staring at you long before you spot it. During nesting season, these owls sing wild duets. Birders call this the monkey call. This call starts soft and builds into a crazy cacophony that bounces through the swamp. Botanists are interested in this swamp for the vegetation like the delicate swamp iris. These irises grow wild throughout the area where the sun can penetrate the canopy. Birders are looking for the Prothonotary Warbler and Barred Owls. There is a game birders play called the Big Day. It challenges us to find as many bird species in 24 hours. My friends and I have taken on this challenge. I like to limit myself to just Glynn County. I want to prove that you can see a lot of birds right here. No wild drives for hours to get other species. My record is 140 species in 16 hours for Glynn County. I could not see this many species without this swamp, a hidden gem that makes Glynn County a wonderful place to live and explore. — The Department of Natural Resources manages Paulk’s Pasture Wildlife Management Area for hunting. Check with the Department of Natural Resources website at georgiawildlife.com/ paulks-pasture-wma before exploring the swamp.


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LIVING WELL a calendar packed with activities and outings. We have transportation … just last week alone the choices included a fishing outing, a trip to Jekyll, and a spa day.” Come mid-July, Vitality Living Frederica plans to share its new look with the broader Isles community. Graham says they’re planning a grand re-opening event to showcase the newly reconfigured assisted living suites — one bedroom and even two bedrooms. The changes prove that Vitality responded, says Executive Director Elaine Tello.

Vitality Living at Frederica offers vibrant lifestyle

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WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON | PHOTOS BY DERRICK DAVIS

It had been several years since I dropped in on the luxurious senior living and memory care center on Frederica Road. Now Vitality Living Frederica, the architectural showpiece has seen extensive renovations and reconfigurations, all of which allow Vitality to better serve the needs of the community. Stepping inside, Sales Director Charlotte Graham breezes through the lobby. Along the way, she greets a number of residents with a smile, recalling each by name. There’s no shiny, squeaky vinyl or harsh florescent lighting in sight. Instead, the cozy spaces are ideal for ease and

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comfort. From the entryway, Graham weaves through a brightly-appointed sitting room, where plush furnishings invite residents to enjoy conversation and entertainment. The community frequently hosts local favorites like Michael Hulett, Annie Aikens, Tim Aikens, Jerry Gowen, and Owen Plant. “They fill the atrium with live music at least three times weekly,” Graham says. But that’s not the only excitement that happens each week. Residents are presented with a calendar, offering an average of seven activities available to residents each and every day. The options are diverse and include invigorating yoga classes, card games, pool tournaments, men’s poker nights, flower arranging workshops, and more. There are also regular Vitality Talks on a variety of subjects. “Engagement Director Melinda Fleeman excels when it comes to fun and creative activities,” Graham says. “Each week the residents are presented

“This is going to allow us to welcome more couples or folks just looking for a larger styled suite. Similar upgrades and improvements are also planned for the second floor of assisted living,” Tello says. Their memory care center, known as The Oaks, will also have its activity area enlarged. And the indoor-outdoor experience will be enhanced by the addition of a screened porch. But those are not the only new elements shaping up at Vitality. Tello, herself, is also a relative newcomer, taking the helm as Executive Director in September. Another recent addition is new Executive Chef Johnathan Eaddy. Both, Graham notes, have an extensive culinary background and each having graduated from the highly-acclaimed culinary university, Johnson & Wales. Their backgrounds have allowed Tello and Eaddy to lay the foundation for a revitalized nutritional program which caters to any restrictions of residents, such as vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free diets. Menus are also carefully curated to include the freshest ingredients served up in a stunning presentation. Eaddy regularly invites input on menu selections, even integrating favorite family recipes to the mix. “The plates are so beautiful. Johnathan does such a superb job,” Graham says. “And it’s always creative.” While the food is certainly flavorful, nutrition is a cornerstone. Tello says this is a primary component of wellness and helps residents be their best selves. They’re able to select their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners from a broad


range of delectable dishes always highlighted by a Chef’s Special. “The meals are very important parts of the residents’ day. We focus on well-balanced diets and nutrition, which is key to overall health,” Tello says.

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But it also goes beyond the food itself. Graham notes that restaurant-style dining experience allows residents to come together to nurture their mind, bodies, and spirits. “It’s obvious from the chatter and laughter that the fellowship they enjoy at meals is not just enriching, but satisfying,” Graham says. From the upscale dining experience to the diverse calendar of activities and the luxurious redesigned suites, Vitality Living Frederica offers all of the elements needed to live life to its fullest. “We have so many events and activities. We encourage them to get involved with these groups because they all help keep them vibrant,” Graham says with a smile.

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M O N E Y TA L K S

The secrets to saving for college, retirement

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WORDS BY TIM WILSON

Saving for college and retirement can be daunting. However, talking with your tax professional and financial advisor can help secure your and your children’s financial future. Even if you started saving and investing for college and retirement late, or have yet to begin, it’s important to know that you are not alone, and there are steps you can take to increase your college and retirement savings.

COLLEGE SAVINGS 529 College Savings Plans are commonly referred to as “the 401(k) of education savings.” This popular education investment tool allows earnings to grow federally tax-deferred. Many states offer tax breaks as well, including deductions for contributions and tax-exempt distributions used for qualified expenses. Anyone can invest in a 529 — from grandparents to kids wanting to pitch in on their education. The best part? Distributions aren’t taxed at the federal level and in most cases at the state level, as long as they’re

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spent on qualified education expenses. Nearly every state offers at least one 529 plan, and the funds can be used at any accredited college or university. With the passage of the 2017 tax law, withdrawals from 529 plans – up to $10,000 a year – may now also be used for K–12 tuition at eligible institutions. This gives investors the choice to apply funds toward either college expenses or K-12 school tuition for younger children or grandchildren. Another option is a Coverdell Education Savings Account (CESA), which was left unchanged in the 2017 tax law. A CESA can be used for qualified education expenses including college tuition as well as K–12 education expenses for younger family members. Like a 529, earnings grow tax-deferred, and qualified withdrawals are exempt from federal income tax and may be free from state taxes. Contributions are limited to $2,000 annually per beneficiary, so these accounts are often used in tandem with a 529 plan. Unlike a 529 plan, income restrictions apply and a CESA is more limited when it comes to age — contributions must be made before the beneficiary reaches age 18, and withdrawals must be made before the beneficiary reaches age 30, unless the child is a special-needs beneficiary. A less familiar possibility is using a portion of cash-value life insurance to help pay for college. When properly structured, this type of policy can provide coverage for the owner’s entire life,it has the potential to accumulate in value, and the cash value portion can be used for many purposes.

RETIREMENT PLANNING Take full advantage of retirement accounts, especially catch-up contributions. Whenever possible, increase your retirement contributions up to the maximum allowed in your 401(k), IRAs or other retirement plans. Aim to put enough into your 401(k) to qualify for any maximum matching contribution that your employer may offer. If you’re 50 or older at any time during a calendar year, rules for catch-up contributions let you set aside more than the usual contribution. As you near retirement, consider account consolidation, including combining IRAs

of the same type with one institution. This might simplify your investment management and provide a clearer picture of your total retirement assets. Also, review any 401(k) accounts you may still have with former employers, and learn more about 401(k) distribution choices and other consolidations when changing jobs. Make sure that you weigh the pros and cons before making a choice. Speaking with a tax professional may also be helpful. Calculating your likely retirement income can be confusing, but try and estimate your predictable income from sources such as Social Security, employer pensions, and IRA’s. The rest of your retirement funds likely will need to come from your wages, savings and investment accounts, and any wages earned in retirement. To make your assets last throughout your lifetime, the old rule of thumb was that you could afford to spend 4% of your portfolio annually in retirement. When added to your other savings, Social Security, pensions and IRA’s, is that enough to support the retirement you envision? Four percent is a good starting point, but it can also be overly simplistic. Your own rate of withdrawal should be personalized and based on a variety of factors, such as age, gender, and risk tolerance. The advantage of looking at these income sources well in advance of retirement is that it gives you time to adjust your plans, if necessary. Options for boosting your retirement funds include postponing your retirement, reducing your discretionary expenses, and deferring your Social Security payment until you reach 70. When your planned retirement date is a decade away it can seem like a distant event. But it’s important to plan carefully and set realistic goals so that time is on your side and can help you have the means to enjoy the sort of retirement you have always dreamed of. — Tim Wilson Jr., EA is the president & CEO of Strategic Partners. The office is located at 255 Scranton Connector, Brunswick. The phone number is 912-342-7855.


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GAME CHANGERS tion as a team down in Daytona Beach with Embry-Riddle, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Florida. “We were the newest of the four schools in the competition,” Weese says. “I think we were just nervous and having very little sailing experience. Then being out there to compete, they realized they had a lot to learn. It went well and they had a good time. The other schools were friendly and very welcoming to the new team coming in.”

Setting sail with CCGA

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WORDS BY SEBASTIAN EMMANUEL | PROVIDED PHOTO

The 2022 College of Coastal Georgia (CCGA) Sailing Club team reached its highest feat yet, competing in a sanctioned event in Charleston. During the growth in the last year, the college learned the ropes of how to create a club and sail forward. However, it was a journey to get the club rolling. “Fall of 2019 is when we started to put the pieces together to get the club recognized on campus,” club advisor and Coach Brian Weese says. “Spring of 2020 everything took a turn, so we had to take some time off, and then in the fall of ‘20 we got back together and started practicing.” Weese says an integral part of the creation of the club was Captain Nellie Little. Little grew up on a sailboat and took part in the Glynn Academy sailing team during her high school years before attending CCGA. “She was the founding member of the sailing club,” Weese says. “Without her, we wouldn’t have a club at all. She grew up on a sailboat and she was on

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the high school sailing boat team here at Glynn Academy. She came here for her college and she was the person who put everything together.” Having to go through the Student Government Association to be an approved organization on campus, Little got things moving in 2019 to build the club. “I basically just got a bunch of names and numbers down and then I had a professor come to me and say we can do this,” Little says of the beginning process. “That’s when we got the ball rolling. I had sailed for most of my life and I met with a professor that I knew who was interested in sailing and has sailed around here locally. We got together and managed to set up the club.” Her role as captain includes dealing with a ton of paperwork, teaching during weekly practices at the Brunswick Landing Marina with dock space offered by the Golden Isles Sailing Club, and recruiting more members. “One of the biggest things is trying to get people involved. Sailing is not a sport that really many have an opportunity to be a part of ... one, it’s super expensive and not everyone has access to get a boat and go into the water, and not everyone is willing to train people,” she says. “We have wonderful people at the Golden Isles Community Sailing that help us out. We have a whole community that is on St. Simons and in town that have come together to help the college grow. Maintaining that path of communication has been a big role that I have to play too.” Fast forward to the fall of 2021, the Coastal Sailing Club competed in its first exhibi-

That first friendly with the four schools was an all-women’s event, something Little found very helpful in terms of building CCGA’s sailing club. “It was really great and a women’s only race and an event where we got to meet a lot of women sailors,” Little says. “Most of them were cabinet members and executives of their sailing clubs. So seeing what they did differently and what I could change to do or vice versa.” Little broke down how a match day goes, with the wind being the biggest factor, of course. “There are some days where we have gone to a couple of races where we have not been able to compete because as soon as you get out on the water, the wind dies,” Little says. “Other times it takes a whole day to sail because of low winds, so this can be a six-hour race. We’ve had days where it’s so windy it’s taken us four hours. “It’s two rounds and you have your A-team go out first and there are circuits set up. There are a W2, W3, W4, and a W5. That shows you how many laps you have to do. It’s like racing with cars. You will have to do a certain amount of laps and that is what we do and then you’re timed as you do it. You will trade boats during it so everybody ends up rotating boats so everybody has opportunities to make sure there isn’t any bias with boats.” As her days as captain of the team dwindle, Little is excited for future of the program. “There is so much that it is capable of. The group of people that we have right now are so excited and enthusiastic that me leaving behind the club makes me super happy. I’m really hoping that they will grow,” Little says. “I’m hoping that the more we build relationships with outside community partners, we will be able to do more and more things, as well as compete against schools like we are doing.”


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THE DISH “My wife and I traveled to Asia a few times … on our honeymoon and a few times afterward,” he says. “When I was in New York, Asian food was something I would go venture out of my way for.” It all seemed to fit. The market was drenched in Southern, French-inspired, Italian-inspired establishments, but Asian-inspired American was a fairly vacant niche when he opened last year. “There are Asian restaurants in the area, but not many upscale dining options with that kind of cuisine,” Auffenberg says. “We kind of reverse-engineered our way into the cuisine.” Bringing an Asian influence to the table allows a chef to add a maximum amount of flavor with minimal ingredients, he explained.

Dorothy’s embraces fresh flavors

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WORDS BY TAYLOR COOPER PHOTOS BY DERRICK DAVIS

Dorothy’s chef and owner Daniel Auffenberg puts a very high priority on fresh ingredients and seasonal flavors, not much different from how his grandmother treated food. But that’s about where the similarities between the menu at Dorothy’s Cocktail & Oyster Bar and what Dorothy herself would have cooked end. Not originally from the area, the Auffenbergs — Daniel and his wife, Claire — learned about St. Simons Island after Daniel’s parents retired there.

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At the same time, after having established himself as a chef, Daniel and Claire were looking to strike out on their own venture with an original restaurant. Dallas, where they lived at the time, was and is a very competitive market for new restaurants. “Plus we’d always wanted to move to the coast, and the market was open and available,” Daniel Auffenberg says. Dorothy’s opened in May 2021 after much thought and effort went into developing the business model — Asian-influenced American fare, a robust cocktail offering, and unmatched hospitality. The menu covers everything from burgers to Szechuan noodles, scallion pancakes, Kushiyaki, and fried rice. Auffenberg built a cooking career in the kitchens of New York, learned frontof-house management in Dallas, and even dabbled in restaurant real estate. But when it came time to start his own business, Auffenberg drew from what he knew.

“A lot of the products that have been common throughout many Asian countries, specifically fermented products like oyster paste and fish sauces, that have a lot of umami flavor to them and allow you to pack that punch on a dish that would be very difficult to get without those ingredients,” Auffenberg says. The restaurant’s signature hospitality came from his late grandmother, Dorothy, who passed away in 2011. Auffenberg says her style of homemaking and her demeanor as a host permeates his St. Simons Island restaurant. “We don’t usually highlight her food at the restaurant, but her spirit of being a good host,” Auffenberg notes. “Her hospitality was unmatched with people I’ve met in my life, always making sure everything was made from scratch and there was enough food for everyone. She never spoke of anyone unless she had a kind word to say about them. She never spoke in anger.” The Dorothy mentality can be felt in how customers are served, but also in how the kitchen and wait staff are treated, he adds. That, along with the bar’s cocktail program, is among the restaurant’s main selling points. “I think it’s unique to the area,” Auffenberg adds. “We have a great bar staff that create incredible cocktails. We have a huge selection of rum and gins and bourbon, and we have the tools to play around with a lot of riffs on classics because they (the bartenders) have such a strong knowledge of classics and the skills to play around with new creations that are fun for the guests to experience.”


Grilled Fish with Spring Onion Puree and Charred Dandelion Greens SERVES 6

6 white flaky fish filets (i.e., Triple Tail, Snapper, Striped Bass, etc.), 6 bunches dandelion greens, 1 bunch per person 6 wonton sheets Micro Bok Choy (or any micro green you prefer) 18 Nasturtium flowers Lemon juice, as needed Red pepper flakes, as needed Butter, as needed Salt, as needed Spring onion puree, see below

SPRING ONION PUREE 550 g green onion tops, sliced 5 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced 1 jalapeno 90 g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled 40 g lemon juice Salt 100 g filtered water

DIRECTIONS FOR PUREE: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Heavily

salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. While waiting, place garlic in a pan with enough oil to cover the garlic and heat over a low flame. Once garlic begins to brown, remove it from the oil and set aside. Lightly oil the jalapeno and roast in the oven for 3 minutes until it begins to brown. Remove from the oven, deseed and dice. Set aside. Set up a bowl of ice water with another bowl sitting on top of the ice water. This will be used to cool the puree quickly. Once water is boiling, blanch the green onion tops in the slated water for 1 minute. Remove from the water and place in a kitchen towel. Squeeze as much water out of the greens as possible (be careful, the liquid coming out will be very hot). Place the greens, garlic, jalapeno, lemon juice, filtered water, and a pinch of salt into a blender. Blend until very smooth (add more water if needed). Once smooth, put the blender on high and start dropping the chilled butter cubes into the blender. After blending, quickly pour the contents through a fine mesh strainer and into the iced bowl. Stir the contents of the bowl to cool the puree quickly. This is very important because if it is not cooled quickly the puree will start to turn brown. Once cool, wrap and refrigerate until needed.

DIRECTIONS FOR DISH: Heat your grill. While waiting for the

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grill to heat, heat up a small stock pot with 2 inches of canola oil until it reaches 325 degrees. Once the oil has reached temp, place the wonton wrappers in one at a time. After the bottom side crisps up (about 30 seconds) flit the chip and allow the other side to crisp up (about 15 seconds). Remove from oil and sprinkle with salt. Break the chips into small pieces and set aside. Season your fish with salt and rub the bottom with oil. A fish basket for grilling fish can be very helpful here but is not necessary. Place the fish on the grill and close the lid. When the fish is almost ready, take your dandelion greens and cut off the bottom inch. Toss them in a bowl with salt and oil. Grab a grilling pan and throw all the greens in it. Grill them until charred, then add a little lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Remove the fish from the grill. If you are unsure whether it is done, you can use a thermometer. You are looking for a temp around 125 degrees. Place a small dollop of butter on each fish and allow to melt. To plate the dish, take a large spoonful of the spring onion puree and spread it in a circle in the middle of the plate. Place your fish on top of the puree. Top the fish with wonton pieces, micro bok choi, and nasturtium flowers. Place your dandelion greens on the side of the plate or in a large bowl to be served family style. Enjoy!

J

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O

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON PHOTOS BY TAMARA GIBSON

On a frigid January morning in 1736, a ship of Scottish Highlanders sailed from Savannah and landed at Barnwell’s Bluff at the mouth of the Altamaha River. This band of men, women, and children had packed up their lives and left their homeland in Inverness to venture to the New World. It was all a part of Gen. James Oglethorpe’s vision to create a colony, which would both buoy Great Britain’s stake in America and deter other European powers, namely Spain, who had already established a foothold in Florida. It was these new settlers who gave this new incarnation a name, originally New Inverness. It would later become Darien, after the Darien Scheme, a former Scottish colony in Panama. But this wasn’t the first band of Europeans to set foot on the marshy shore of what would become McIntosh County. In 1721, British soldiers, led by Colonel John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell (hence Barnwell’s Bluff), raised Fort King George from the bank of the Altamaha. His Majesty’s Independent Company endured untold miseries from mosquito infestations and the diseases they bring to attacks by the Spanish and Native Americans. A fire also engulfed the barracks in 1726.

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The hardships were so devastating that the fort was eventually abandoned, allowing the area to later be resettled by the Highlanders. The shape of Darien’s story is made in this mold — the flames of difficulties and strife threaten to consume it, but it always seems to rise from the ashes. And it’s done so literally too, with much of the town torched by a regiment of Black Union soldiers on Sherman’s March to the Sea during the Civil War. It’s a sense of both history and natural beauty that Chad Simpson feels draws visitors from the doldrums of I-95. The owner of Zio Carlo Cafe on Broad Street has found that many are intrigued by Darien’s small town charm and connection to the past. “We’ve had customers who have come down from up north, and they’ve pulled off the interstate to eat at Skipper’s, then they’ll come here for coffee. I remember one gentleman and his wife did that and he came here to have a cup of coffee and smoke his cigar outside,” Simpson says. “They were going to visit their son in Florida and we started talking. I was telling him a bit about the history here and he was really interested. So, they


Waterfront On the

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decided to stay to check it out.” The couple enjoyed their time so much that they made Darien a permanent stop on their annual trips to visit their son. “I think that’s happened for a lot of folks,” Simpson says. For years, the waterfront mainstay, Skipper’s Fish Camp, has lured motorists off the interstate with promises of fresh fried shrimp coupled with sweeping views of the Darien River bobbing with shrimp boats. The restaurant’s location also has its roots in the past. The waterfront became a booming commercial site in the 1830s, welcoming boats brimming with cotton, pine lumber, and rice. Ships traveled from Europe, Asia, and South America for the lumber, an industry which saw its peak there in 1900. Over the years, the town’s focus shifted to commercial fishing. From 1880 to 1910, Darien ranked among the highest in the world for oyster harvests, rivaling even the Chesapeake Bay with a record harvest of 8 million pounds in 1908. In the latter part of the 19th century, the industry shifted to a focus on shrimping of Wild Georgia Shrimp. That tradition continues and is honored each year by the Blessing of the Fleet held in April. Today, Broad Street, which is nestled close to the water, is home to antiques and boutiques, a bed and breakfast, a Mexican restaurant, as well as Waterfront Wine and Gourmet, which opened 16 years ago. “We opened the week before Christmas, 2006. Not long after we opened, as everyone remembers, the economy crashed

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and everything came to a halt,” says Russ Quarterman, who co-owns the business with Mike Greenway. “We were basically the only business on our section of Broad Street, and you could practically see tumbleweeds rolling down the road. So, it was a long time before things began to look up. We finished out our back room and turned it into the Wine Bar in 2010, and it was hands down the greatest decision we could’ve ever made. It introduced a new hangout spot to town, and we’ve grown from there, as has the town it seems.” That leaves Quarterman very optimistic about the future. “The gang at Skipper’s took the original leap of faith on Darien, and they’ve done wonders for our city. Then, you had people like us shortly after, and most recently, the Savics, who are redoing the Adam Strain Building next door,” he says. 509 Gloucester * 912.275.8686 Mon.-Fri.10am-7pm * Sat.10am-5pm

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“They also have the Local Exchange store on (U.S. Highway) 17, and are opening The Canopy Restaurant just a couple of blocks down from Fort King George. We are thrilled to have them in Darien.” Also across the highway, a few new faces have joined the mix. Spartina Grill opened its doors in September 2020. The restaurant features a screened porch, as well as a patio overlooking the Altamaha. It’s the brainchild of Art Lucas, who is also developing The Oaks on the Riv-


er Luxury Boutique Resort, next to the grill, boardering an established set of luxury condominiums. “Spartina came first and then Mr. Lucas built the condominiums two lots down,” explains the grill’s general manager Jeff Luke. “He’s a McIntosh native who grew up here, starting in middle school, I believe. I think he just wanted to do something for the community.” The grill serves up fresh seafood, as well as steak and handcrafted burgers. Luke describes it as a more upscale yet still affordable option for Darien diners. “We’re casual dining but just a little different than other restaurants here, and our prices are competitive,” Luke says. While Spartina is certainly a business, there is a collective, community feel in Darien. It’s a “rising tide carries all boats” mentality and one shared by many in the town’s industry. “We all kind of work together. If Skipper’s has a long wait, they’ll send people to us and we’ll do the same,” he says. Luke feels that Lucas’ developments will offer a boost

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to all of the town’s businesses which will help more people discover Darien. “I think the main appeal is the scenery and the small town atmosphere which is a little different than Brunswick or St. Simons. It’s really a hidden jewel on the coast,” Luke says. Michael Brown agrees. The director of sales and marketing for the soon-to-open Oaks on the River Boutique Hotel feels this project will be a game changer for the city, opening it up as a greater wedding and vacation destination. The hotel broke ground in late 2020, with construction slated to wrap this summer. The grand opening is set for September. In addition to the 53 rooms, the Oaks will offer a spa, an event and conference center, a fitness center, and outdoor space for use as another event location. There will also be an onsite restaurant and bar, The Oaks Club, which will be open to the public, along with a riverfront pool and poolside bar and bistro. The Mimosa Bar will be open to serve lunch daily. The hotel will also offer excursions on its own pontoon boat, the Delta Belle, which will feature sunset wine tours, private day trips to barrier islands or beaches, as well as nature and birding tours. There will also be guided kayak tours and an option for bike rentals.

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Brown feels like the hotel is another critical piece of the city’s future. “I envision the development and revitalization of the historic waterfront district to include additional boutique shops, dining, and activities … not to the extent of Savannah’s Plant District, but similar to the historic square of the smaller yet charming Covington, Georgia,” he says. Brown feels that the new property will continue to ignite interest and support for future growth. He adds that once visitors come to the site for a wedding or event, they will fall in love with Darien’s charm. “To many, it will be an introduction to our historic coastal town, but we doubt it will be anyone’s only trip. Darien has the potential to be an attraction. We believe in that, and we are so pleased to be a part of it,” Brown says. “Every thriving downtown district needs people first and foremost. Oaks will do its part not only by bringing new travelers to downtown Darien, but new people who will go home and spread the word about the uniqueness and southern charm of this town on the historic riverfront.”

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Bessie Jones: Mother Courage of American Black Traditions WORDS BY BRITTANY TATE | ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID MILLMAN PHOTOS BY SAM GHIOTO JU LY/AU G US T 2022

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Softly singing along to a recording of “You Better Mind,” Joangela Stephens roams from room to room, patting the side of her thigh and tapping her foot to the pitch changes in her late grandmother’s voice, only stopping to repeat her favorite line: “You better mind what you talkin’ about You got to give an account at the judgment You better mind.” As the song played, Stephens exclaims, “I love this song. Sometimes, I’ll sing it at church when I really feel her on my spirit,” before pausing it to pull out dozens of family photos that had been lovingly preserved in binders. To her, songs like these provide a moment to reconnect with her grandmother’s musical roots that run deep in American music. The world knew her as Bessie Jones, but to Stephens she was simply “Mama.” An internationally acclaimed folk performer and founding member of the Georgia Sea Island Singers, Mary Elizabeth “Bessie” Jones was born and raised in southwest Georgia, spending the better part of her childhood in the small black farming community of Dawson with her parents and four grandparents. Through her grandfather, Jet Sampson, Bessie learned the hymns, school songs, games and “shanties,” or work songs, from his days as a field slave. Some songs were brought over from West Africa and were already over 100 years old.

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Others like “Sink ‘Em Low” were chain-gang songs that she learned from watching prisoners turn Georgia red clay into roads during her walks to school. “Her grandfather taught her stories, songs, and games like ‘Shoo Turkey’ and ‘Buzzard Lope,’ and she would explain the meaning of them during her shows. He taught her the ‘old ways’ and she wanted to keep that alive to let people know where we come from,” Stephens says. These call-and-response games, better known as “ring shouts,” were created during slavery and incorporated movements from West African dances. They were religious in nature but spoke to the pride of their African-derived customs and new Gullah-Geechee traditions. It was a practice Jones loved to share with children, especially since she began her adult life in childhood. At the tender age of 10 years old, Jones dropped out of formal school and got her first job as a full-time nursemaid. She met and married her first husband, Cassius Davis, at age 12, and welcomed a daughter, Rosalie, a year later. After Cassius passed in 1926, she spent the next decade in several odd jobs. From a sharecropping farmhand to domestic servant and migrant worker, Jones traversed parts of the eastern seaboard — from Florida to Connecticut — in search of work. She even played cards and sold moonshine to get by. Along the way, she met and married her second husband, George Jones, in 1933 and after a few visits, made St. Simons


Island her permanent home. Sadly, he passed away not long after they welcomed two sons, George Jr. and Joseph, in 1935 and 1937. Widowed and fallen on hard times, Jones soon returned to her love of music and was introduced to the Spiritual Singers Society of Coastal Georgia (as the group was then called). But, it didn’t take long for them to claim her as their own. In fact, in her book “Step It Down” — co-written with folklorist Bess Lomax Hawes — the Singers were so impressed with her “… buoyant personality, extensive repertoire, and experienced singing style that they invited her to join the group; she became one of the only mainlanders ever so honored.” For a choral group as tightly knit as a sweetgrass basket, having Jones proved that preserving the way of their African ancestors could thrive beyond the island, even with those who were considered outsiders. Jones was a powerful, playful, and strong woman who could weave together the sorrows and struggles of her enslaved ancestors into hauntingly soothing melodies that served as an anthem of celebration and hope. “Her ability to use song and plays (children’s songs) to draw in people of all backgrounds and diversity (is something that intrigued me about her). She was very compelling and could control a room. She just knew how to hold your attention,” says Patty Deveau, founding president of the Friends of Harrington School. She had the opportunity to meet Jones at the dedication for Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation in 1979 when she worked

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for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “I think when you listen to her music, you can feel the power of the old songs and spirituals; it just draws people in. They are just strong and they feel good. Bessie said these are the real songs of the people,” Deveau says. For Jones, it was a calling. She was determined to share the music and folklore of her forebears with anyone willing to listen. That unrelenting grit soon landed her in the presence of revered folklorist and musicologist Alan Lomax. At the time, he came to the Historic Harrington School on St. Simons to do a field recording of a fellow choral member but once he heard Jones, he knew he found a kindred spirit. “She was on fire to teach America. In my heart, I call her the Mother Courage of American Black traditions,” Lomax wrote in an excerpt of “Step It Down.” Not long after that chance meeting, Jones toured the country both as a solo act and as a member of the newly established Georgia Sea Island Singers, performing at prestigious venues around the world. She had the pleasure of performing at Carnegie Hall benefits for the Highlander Folk School in New York City, as well as the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and the Smithsonian Folk Festival in Washington, D.C. She participated in a prayer band during the Civil Rights Movement, performed at the People’s March on Washington, and joined the Sing for Freedom workshops in Atlanta. She even had the opportunity to sing at President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., and share the stage with the likes of Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan at the Monterey Folk Festival. Jones’ love of teaching the songs and language of her Gullah heritage eventually earned her a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Duke Ellington Fellowship at Yale University. But nothing was quite like home, and she always relished in the performances she did in her hometown. In 1977, Jones and Mabel Hillary, a member of the Georgia Sea Island Singers, decided to organize a festival of their own — one that celebrated their rich African and Gullah-Geechee heritage and preserved the culture of the descendants of enslaved Africans who inhabited the island. Choral groups from the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry would come from far and wide to participate. “Bus loads (of people) would come from New York and parts of Africa to the Sounds of the South in Savannah to hear her sing, and then come to the (Georgia) Sea Islands Festival at the pier on St. Simons,” Stephens says.

From the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity.

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“We had groups like the Bakerton Choir, Gospel Thighslappers, and the Washo Band. We also had potash (soap) makers, basketweavers, woodcarvers … (and) the Railroad Gang would teach you how to drive spikes.”


The group experienced much success across the country, but Jones’ health began to deteriorate and she was left with the hard decision to hand the reins of the Sea Island Singers over to her son, Joseph, and his then-wife, Frankie Quimby. Sadly in 1984, at the age of 82, she died from a lengthy battle with leukemia. She is buried in the Union Memorial Cemetery on St. Simons Island. While it is often thought that Jones hated the idea of being buried in this graveyard, also known as “Strangers Cemetery,” Stephens is firm in her belief that “Mama” would not have cared. “St. Simons was peaceful and down to earth, and everybody was a village. She loved meeting people and keeping the culture going, and she wanted to be buried there,” Stephens says, adding that’s where her song, “Throw Me Anywhere Lord” originated.

From the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity.

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GOLDEN ISLES DENTAL ASSOCIATES

From the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity.

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“It goes, ‘Throw me anywhere Oh Lord, in that old field, as long as I meet King Jesus.’ That’s all that mattered to her,”Stephens says. Jones’ legacy on St. Simons is as palpable today as it ever was. From numerous biographies and albums to digital copies of her recordings and photographs housed at the Coastal Georgia Historical Society, her teachings continue to pass on the West African and Gullah-Geechee traditions from one generation to the next. And Stephens, for one, couldn’t be happier to see her “Mama” get the credit that she is due. “She taught me how to survive. She was a caring and giving person, the kind you go to talk about anything and everything, and she liked to help where she could,” Stephens says. “She loved this island and I’m glad she was so loved and respected. She deserved it.”

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Magic

THE

H

OF LITTLE

ST. SIMONS ISLAND

WORDS BY LARRY HOBBS | PROVIDED PHOTOS

“Hey, you. Stop!” Huh?

Wylie stood on the wood-plank walkover I had just crossed, the one bridging a narrow tidal creek that cut through a magnificently unbridled jungle of coastal salt marsh and maritime forest. “This is the place,” she says. “I’m gonna stay for a while.” Wylie is the love of my life, the center of my universe. But I kind of, sort of forgot she was behind me. I had reverted

back to 11 years old again, abiding by no clock save that of the sun’s midmorning position above the blue eastern sky. Attuned only to my bearings along a shoulder-width gap that passed for a trail through thick undergrowth and palmetto scrub, I was playing explorer again — immersed in my own little wild world. Little St. Simons Island has that effect on me. Its primal charms hold a captivating allure for Wylie as well. This pristine oasis sits just across the Hampton River from comparatively cosmopolitan St. Simons Island, but it has somehow avoided the telling scars of people and their progress.

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We had this moment, this place, this crisp March morning, all to ourselves. “I’ll be right here,” Wylie says. “You run along and go play in the woods.”

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Then she gracefully crouched, legs crossed, into a classic meditation perch atop the walkover. Awash in serenity, Wylie faced the ebbing creek waters, the rustling expanse of marsh grasses and the tree line of abiding oaks and stately pines that framed it all. It was like she forgot I was even there. And the sun climbed to nearly straight-up noon before Wylie uttered another word, sitting perfectly still among the bird songs and gentle breezes with a sublime smile on her face. I dove into the thick of it all, disappearing into some of the purest natural habitat on the entire Georgia coast — an 11,000-acre masterpiece of nature’s own design. Wylie and I make a point of visiting Little St. Simons Island for a few days each year. We are not alone. And despite all my big talk of wild encounters, we are hardly roughing it. Make no mistake: Little St. Simons Island is a vacation destination. Folks of all stripe and from all over the country quietly visit this hidden ecological gem. Reservations


are required. Time spent at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island includes three meals a day, prepared by top-notch chefs and an attentive kitchen staff. Overnight guests sleep on soft beds, tidily tucked inside cozy private rooms with bathrooms and showers. The rustic compound surrounding the docks on Mosquito Creek include comfortable lodging to accommodate about 32 guests. (Day visits are available also.) There is a roomy main lodge where meals are taken and happy hours are observed. There are quaint staff quarters, a couple of barns, and a carefully tended vegetable and herb garden. Outside of that, nothing so refined as even a manicured putting green is to be found on Little St. Simons Island. What visitors do find is a knowledgeable staff of bright, engaging, and energetic naturalists. These young men and women will happily relay all the names, habits, and quirks of the myriad species of waterfowl that light on Little Saint’s inland brackish ponds and tidal creeks. They are equally knowledgeable about the many critters that call this island home, pointing out the vital contributions of everything from armadillos to alligators. The island’s natural wonders are accessed via a varied series of benign paths, ranging from single-file trails to dirt roads the width of truck tires. Guided nature walks are popular, as are eco tours from the comfortable seating arranged in the bed of staff pickups. On every visitor’s to-do list is a trip to the island’s vast oceanfront, a sweeping expanse of beach occupied by sea shells, driftwood, shore birds, and uncluttered horizons. Kayak jaunts through the island’s inland waters also are popular.

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And folks are welcome to strike out on their own into Little Saint’s wild side, as Wylie and I are apt to do. There are rows of bicycles for the taking, and most every corner of the island is accessible by pedal power. Wylie and I met naturalist Emily Engle on a visit a couple of years ago, when the Santa Barbara, Calif., native first joined the staff at Little Saint. She now loves working from home, living on the island as part of the staff’s management team. “When I came to Little St. Simons to interview, I was instantly humbled and inspired by the ancient oaks, sprawling marshes, and abundance of wildlife,” Emily told us. “I love helping people connect with the coast’s unique habitats and animals. Each day I am grateful I get to learn something new to love about the island.” The beauty of the Golden Isles’ natural environment is what makes us a coastal resort destination, and here you will find that attribute in all its unvarnished glory. Unlike St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, and other of its geographical cousins, Little Saint has steadfastly refused to grow up and become civilized. It has been passed down in private ownership from hand-to-hand across the centuries, ceding naught in profits as either an agricultural or industrial concern. From cotton cultivation to pencil production, Little Saint has snubbed generations of efforts to tame it. “Little St. Simons is unique because its habitats have been largely preserved and undeveloped through time,” observes Emily, now the island’s director of sales and marketing. “The ecosystem provides critical refuge for resident and migrant species alike. And the landscape will be conserved that way in perpetuity.” Heck, it has scarcely changed at all since author and Shakespearean actress Fanny Kemble visited Little St. Simons Island during coastal Georgia’s antebellum period, when it was in the hands of her estranged husband, Pierce Mease Butler. (Butler’s efforts to grow cotton here never advanced beyond the small-scale experimental stage.) “It is a wild little sand heap, covered with thick forest growth,” Kemble wrote of Little St. Simons Island in her book, Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation: 1838-1839. New York’s Berolzheimer family bought Little Saint from Butler’s daughter in 1908, betting its cedar trees would boost their Eagle Pencil Company empire. Alas, the cedars proved too wind-bent and unruly for such an enterprise.

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But Philip Berolzheimer found himself smitten by the feral little island’s stubborn resistance to domestication. He kept it as an outdoor sporting retreat for his friends, adding the distinctly roughhewn lodge that still stands today. The Berolzheimer opened Little St. Simons Island to the public as an ecotourism venue in 1979.

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A worthy green enterprise for certain, yet the island still remained in private ownership and subject to the pressures of the open market and those with designs on invasive development. But wait, didn’t Emily use the “forever” word when speaking of Little St. Simons Island’s wild status? Yes, this island will remain just as it is, in perpetuity. This luxury resort for tree huggers and hippies owes a debt of gratitude to one of America’s titans of finance. U.S. presidential cabinet head might sound like a job for total squares, but former Bush administration Secretary of Treasury Henry “Hank” Paulson gets it. So too, especially, does his wife, Wendy.

This slice of Coastal Georgia wilderness is indeed a magical place. I come here to get lost. Wylie goes to find herself. Emily came here to get lost, and she found herself. If you have not already done so, you too should visit Little St. Simons Island. I cannot tell you why. You will have to figure that out for yourself.

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“Little St. Simons Island is, in many ways, an island out of time,” Wendy tells me. “That fact that it has remained, through centuries, unlogged, unfarmed, unpaved, and undeveloped is what struck us when we first visited in 1982. We’ve always hoped that the island would continue to represent what I call, ‘Georgia Primeval.’”

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Photo by John Valadas

Eagles Where the

Fly

WORDS BY LINDSEY ADKISON | PHOTOS BY TOM SWEENEY AND JOHN VALADAS

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H

Hidden treasures can often be found in plain sight. That’s certainly true of the Golden Isles’ most regal resident — the bald eagle. While it may seem hard to believe, these powerful predators are often perched aloft high trees or on tall street lights near many of the area’s waterways. For wildlife biologist Bob Sargent, it’s a sight he never takes for granted. And he relishes sharing all he knows about the birds. “One of my favorite parts of this job is that there’s not a week that goes by where somebody doesn’t either email or call me saying, ‘I grew up in this state and I never dreamt of seeing an eagle here, but I just did,’” he says.

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Of course, as a wildlife conservation program manager with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Conservation Section, Sargent knows more than most when it comes to coastal creatures. It’s an interest that began in childhood, while he was growing up in central Florida. “I was raised on a horse farm surrounded by pastures, woods, and ponds. I think that I’ve always found peace and inspiration by escaping into nature,” he says. After the military, Sargent went to college and pursued degrees in wildlife biology. It was during this time that he also discovered ornithology. At first, this bird-centric coursework was going to simply be an elective, but it ended up redirecting his future. “I was studying white-tailed deer in grad school when I enrolled in an ornithology course. The professor who taught it changed my life. I’ve been a ‘bird person’ ever since, but prior to my current job, I had always focused on songbirds. I had far less experience with birds of prey, but now raptors are the focus of my field work,” he says. After earning his PhD at the University of Georgia, Sargent was offered work within one of bald eagles’ preferred habitats — the marshy, salty shoreline.

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Though, he notes, the state in general offers many sites perfect for roosting and nesting. But thriving as an eagle — national symbol or no — has never been easy. “Eagles are found pretty much statewide and they’re more abundant than most people realize. Of course, their history nationwide has been a bit

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grim. In the last century, they had been trapped, shot, and poisoned. People took eggs from their nests. At one time, eagles had bounties on them,” he says. “Between 1917 and 1952 in Alaska, there was an advertisement offering 50 cents to a dollar for every pair of eagle legs brought in … over 120,000 eagles were killed.” That sort of treatment is shocking for a creature deemed so majestic that it landed on the country’s great seal in 1782. But eagles continued fighting an uphill battle through the 1960s and 1970s. The loss of habitats along with the use of toxic DDT decimated populations. The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 and eagles joined the list in 1978. Sargent notes they were categorized as endangered throughout the lower 48 states, except in Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, where they were instead designated as “threatened.” While some humans were making efforts to help the birds, there were plenty who continued hindering that progress. “In some places, people were shooting eagles even into 60s and the 70s. Then, the habitat contamination and the DDT, which came into wide use following WWII,” Sargent says. “It was later discovered that the chemical thinned eggshells of many bird species, especially those at the top of the food chain such as eagles and peregrine falcons. That caused the eggs to crack when incubated, so the developing young died and the reproductive success for some bird species crashed.” In the early to mid-1960s, there were 400 breeding pairs in the entire lower 48. Even in the 1970s, there wasn’t a successful bald eagle nest recorded in the state of Georgia. Thankfully, things have changed. Protective measures helped the species recover enough that they were formally removed from the federal endangered list in 2007. They are, however, still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. In 2015, the state recorded 200 nest territories for the first time. Statewide, the average nest success rate is 70 to 80 percent, which means those nest fledge at least one eaglet per year. Sargent says this has been a miraculous comeback.

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“Georgia has consistently hosted at least 200 occupied nest territories each year since 2015. If you do the math, that’s at least 400 adult eagles in state during the nesting season now,” he says. “But the winter population also includes immature eagles and unmated adults, so it’s really bigger than 400.” Many of those make their homes on the coast and along the South Georgia barrier islands during that period, which runs from November through mid-May. “Most eagle pairs in these areas lay their eggs in early December,” he says. And while adult eagles mate around age 4 or 5, some may have seen younger eagles without even realizing it. Sargent notes that the birds are born dusty white which soon becomes gray wool. Between 11 and 14 weeks, they’re almost entirely brown and don’t acquire their telltale white head and tail until they are at 4 to 5 years old. “They really undergo a transformation as they age. Even their iris color changes, from brown the first two years to bright yellow around 4 or 5. Their bill is also dark at first and changes,” he notes. Of course, their size is another sign of age. Once fullfledged adults, eagles can boast a wing span of 7 ½ feet or more and weigh around 10 to 11 lbs. “They’re larger up North than in the South. And as with most raptors, the females are larger, 25 to 30 percent bigger than the males. That’s how you can easily tell the genders apart if you see them in the wild,” Sargent says. That’s most likely to happen by scanning the highest points of a landscape. Eagles can be seen at the tip top of pine or wolf trees deep in the forest or along the shoreline. “Ninety-five percent of nests found in Georgia are in pine trees. They don’t tend to like the dense forest, as you can imagine, it’s hard to fly in those through a thicket of branches with a 7-foot wingspan. It’s not going to end well,” he says. That vantage point allows these apex predators to hone in on potential threats, as well as potential meals. They can spot an animal the size of a rabbit from more than three miles away.


Photo by Tom Sweeney

“Georgia has consistently hosted at least 200 occupied nest territories each year since 2015. If you do the math, that’s at least 400 adult eagles in state during the nesting season now. ”

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COSMETIC & FAMILY DENTISTRY

“They have remarkable eyesight, so they like to have a great vantage point to hunt ... and observe other eagles. They aggressively defend their area from other eagles,” Sargent says. Like their human neighbors, coastal eagles have a predilection for fish. That, Sargent notes, can make up to 90 percent of their diets. “Their preferred food is fish, but it depends on the season ... they’re opportunistic hunters. That can mean they take advantage of the wintering ducks or small mammals like squirrels or rabbits. I’ve seen them flying with snakes in their talons,” he recalls. “And they like turtles. I’ve peeked into a nest and saw turtle shells lined up around the rim.” While it’s quite literally Sargent’s job to engage in surveys and nest patrols, peeking in nests — or even coming too close to them — is strictly prohibited. Any interference can lead the adult eagles to panic, resulting in disaster for all involved. “Everyone wants to see a bald eagle, but the eagle nests are easily disturbed. If you approach closer than 100 yards, the eagles can jump off their eggs and puncture them. Or if there are young, they can fall out of the nest. Once they’re on the ground, their chances of survival are quite poor,” he says. “If you do see eagles looking in your direction and acting anxious, you’re too close.”

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912.638.9946

While spotting eagles is an undeniable treat, Sargent hopes everyone will help honor and support this species which quite literally clawed its way back from the brink of extinction.


Photo by John Valadas

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THE STORY OF THE

ELEGANT OGLETHORPE HOTEL WORDS BY TYLER E. BAGWELL PHOTOS BY TERESA JONES WITH PROVIDED ARCHIVAL IMAGES 78

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B

Brunswick commissioners have discussed for decades what to do with an empty lot in the city located between Newcastle Street and Bay Street. In early 2021, plans to erect the Oglethorpe Conference Center in this location were canceled due to concerns it might be challenging to generate revenue due to the Covid pandemic. The lot has a storied past and has been connected to the name James Edward Oglethorpe since the early 1830s. Oglethorpe, as many know, is identified as the founder of the state of Georgia in 1733. In the 1880s, an affluent New Yorker named Jeremiah Milbank purchased this downtown block, which had been the location of an old 1830s hotel known as the Oglethorpe House. A fire destroyed the structure during the Civil War and the land was vacant. Milbank formed a corporation called the Oglethorpe Hotel Company and prepared for the construction of a new resort. Jeremiah Milbank owned numerous railroads and acres of land around the country, but his most successful business venture was the New York Condensed Milk Company, which operated as the Borden Company from 1899 to 2005. Milbank died in 1884 before the Oglethorpe Hotel came to fruition and his son Joseph Milbank took over the project.


The Milbank family eventually sold the corporation to local residents and in 1886, the president of the Oglethorpe Hotel Company became William E. Burbage, vice-president of the First Bank of Brunswick and owner of several regional turpentine farms. Columbia Downing, president of the First Bank of Brunswick and operator of a successful naval stores business, served as the vice-president. Attorney William E. Key functioned as secretary and treasurer. The corporation’s board of directors were primarily business leaders from the community. Architect John A. Wood of New York designed the hotel in the Moorish Revival style and in 1887 several million bricks made of kiln-fired clay, dug from the Chattahoochee River, were shipped by train to the city of Brunswick. During construction a local real estate business called The Brunswick Company obtained controlling interest in the hotel and Col. James F. O’Shaughnessy, a wealthy cotton seed oil producer and Jekyll Island Club member, became an additional investor. O’Shaughnessy owned Long Island, now known as Sea Island, and planned to use the sanctuary as a hunting and camping retreat for hotel guests.

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Part of the empty Oglethorpe block, the site of the hotel is pictured. Many of the buildings on Newcastle Street were standing during the time of the historic hotel.

After several years of planning and construction, the Oglethorpe Hotel officially opened on January 9, 1888. The elegant brick structure was three stories and framed by two round turrets. A small fourth floor was located in the front center of the building. The majestic hotel overlooked Newcastle Street, where patrons could linger in rocking chairs on the impressive front veranda. Two fountains decorated the front lawn, and the rear entranceway to the hotel included a smaller veranda buttressed by large, round columns. Tables were set on the back porch for alfresco dining and chairs positioned for relaxing and socializing. Floor to ceiling windows ran the entire length of the back porch and a fountain served as a key courtyard feature. The back entrance was in close proximity to the Southern Railway train station and the front entrance was near the Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic Railroad passenger depot. Marble tiles on the first floor came from the Blue Ridge Marble Company of Georgia and the hotel’s ceiling in the entrance rotunda extended to the second floor, giving the entry a grand appearance. An enormous parlor was lit by two crystal chandeliers and included tables, chairs, and sofas for entertaining. A billiards’ room was spacious enough to hold three large pool tables and the dining room could seat over 200 people. The hotel also included three businesses, the Brunswick Company real estate, the South Brunswick Terminal Railroad Company, and a music store. The main staircase in the rotunda lobby included oak railings and red carpeting secured by heavy brass plates. Two elevators were also available to transport patrons to the upper levels of the hotel. The resort offered one hundred and seven rooms, with most of the chambers larger than those found in typical hotels of the time. Staff members were cordial and included a barber, bellmen, chefs, chamber maids, front desk clerks, waiters, waitresses, and a night watchman.

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Celebrities, politicians, and Jekyll Island Club members frequently stayed at the Oglethorpe, and historian Mary McGarvey recalled in a 1968 Glynn Reporter article, “…when quite small, I heard coloratura trills from the tower room, and was told it wasn’t a fairy princess, but the metropolitan star, Frieda Hampel, practicing for her concert that evening at the ‘Opera House’ (the Ritz Theatre) across the street… In 1917, the undersecretary of the Navy, Franklin Roosevelt, met [at the hotel] with local officials and businessmen. My father came home to announce prophetically that he had shaken hands with a ‘future president.’” In 1923, U.S. Highway 17 was completed and to the delight of the Oglethorpe Hotel management, the motorway routed travelers down Newcastle Street right in front of the hotel. Advertisements that year called the resort “The Traveler’s Friend” and on many days the front veranda was filled with residents and tourists relaxing in the rocking chairs. The hotel owned at least 25 rocking chairs, and tourists on their way south were encouraged to stay a night or two at the Oglethorpe before continuing on their journey to Florida along Highway 17. By 1931, Jack Gardner and his wife Clara owned the Oglethorpe Hotel. Jack moved to Brunswick from South Carolina in 1912 and at the age of 17 worked for the Glynn Ice Company. In 1923, he managed the Royal Hotel, a smaller inn across the street from the Oglethorpe and served as a city council member. During the Great Depression, the Gardners supervised the Oglethorpe staff and lived in the Grand Suite located on the fourth floor. Jack, mayor of Brunswick from 1933 to 1935, died unexpectedly in 1940 and his wife Clara took over the hotel’s daily operation. As World War II came to an end, Clara Gardner was ready to retire from the hotel business. In 1944 she sold the Oglethorpe to Howard Dayton Sr., a resident of Daytona Beach, Florida. Howard and his wife Gertrude owned 13 hotels around the Southeast, and initially they invested a large amount of money into the Oglethorpe to upgrade amenities. That same year several prominent Brunswick residents, including attorney John Gilbert, formed the Oglethorpe Club, which was limited to 100 members. Meetings were held in one of the hotel’s first floor rooms. In 1955, scenes from the movie View from Pompey’s Head were filmed at the hotel. Hollywood luminaries Richard Egan and Dana Wynter starred in the production, and future Star Trek actor DeForest Kelley played a minor role as the hotel’s front desk clerk. Local citizens were used as extras in the film. In the spring of 1958, the water boiler exploded in the basement near the laundry room and the Oglethorpe

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Hotel could no longer produce hot water for the bathrooms. Howard Dayton was reluctant to invest more into the structure. The hotel continued to operate through the summer, but on October 4, 1958, closed permanently. Eventually, Atlanta hotel owner J. Wade Linder and salvage firm proprietor J.H. Hudgins purchased the Oglethorpe from Howard Dayton Sr. in November of 1958 and on November 17 sledgehammers began knocking down the structure. Some spectators were devastated to see the demolition of the Oglethorpe Hotel. Though perhaps as consolation, the bricks, timbers, doorways, mantels, and light fixtures were sold locally and by late 1959 dozens of houses, as well as the Seafarer Inn and Suites Hotel on Jekyll Island, were constructed using Oglethorpe Hotel bricks. By the early 1960s a motel called the Cabana Court Inn and a J.C. Penney department store operated in the former location of the Oglethorpe. Many years later, in response to an interviewer’s comment about the Oglethorpe Hotel’s destruction, former bellman Alphonso Ramsey remarked, “Oh, it was terrible!” Preserving and maintaining historical places remains a challenge for communities across Georgia and the United States.

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NOISEMAKERS

THE PAGE BROTHERS

O

WORDS AND PHOTO BY LINDSEY ADKISON

One of my absolute favorite videos within the annals of YouTube features guitar legends Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan during a jam session (literally called “In Session”) in 1983. In it, King offers sage advice to Vaughan, a musical master in his own right, though clearly the protege in this scenario. “There are lots of guitar players out here. They just play. They play fast ... they don’t concentrate on no soul, but you got ‘um both,” King tells him, as Vaughan gazes with puppy-eyed adoration. It was this very description that came to mind the first time I saw Travis and Dakota Page perform in Brunswick. (And that’s not just because they opened with King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign.”) The Page Brothers do, in fact, have both. The Adel natives boast jaw-dropping musical talent, but they also have an enigmatic quality that can’t be learned, faked, or phoned in — these boys got soul. Travis, at 23, is a real world Guitar Hero, absolutely shredding songs made great by the greats — the aforementioned Albert King, of course, but also B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, and the like. Dakota, at 25, has a voice that seems drawn from the center of the earth. It’s a deep yet silky baritone, mighty enough to belt out any tune. But their road to rockstars began early. By the time the Pages were around 9

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and 11, they had progressed quite a bit as musicians. “I think I actually started singing before the guitar, like around 7,” Dakota says. “But the poetry (and songwriting), I get that from my mom.” The brothers continued to hone their crafts, and their stepdad, Paul, helped them nab their first gig, playing outside of a hotdog stand when they were still pre-teens. “(Paul) also played guitar … and he asked the owners of Diggity Dog if we could just sit in the gazebo with a tip jar. I think that gave us the bug to play in front of people,” Travis says. From there, the Pages focused on building a band. They worked through a number of sleek names sketched out on notebook paper — Slither being one early choice — but they settled on something more straightforward, The Page Brothers. And as teens, they were guided by several older musicians who quickly recognized the talent these two possessed. “Matt Williams was an older musician who took us under his wing,” Dakota says. “He got us to start playing in bars, even when we were 16. He’d set it up with the owners.” In recent years, they connected with drummer Paulie Delmar and bassist John Graham, who round out their current lineup. They’ve also continued to refine their sound.

“It’s always evolving. It’s like a Georgia gumbo, everything goes into a pot and as long as it’s seasoned right, it turns out OK,” Dakota says. With that, they’ve started branching out, playing as often as they can. And thanks to Tipsy McSway’s owner Susan Bates that has meant frequent stops in Brunswick. “Susan booked us for the Brunswick Music District before COVID, which of course was canceled when everything was shut down. But then she got back with us after. We play a good bit there and also at The Study at Reid’s Apothecary,” Travis says. But wherever they play, they thrive on sharing their Southern sound and fraternal connection with audiences. “We’re usually on the same page … I just made a pun,” Dakota says with a deep chuckle. They’re also in step when it comes to the future of their band. They have already recorded one album, “Blood on the Bible Belt,” which is available on Spotify. And they’re both dedicated to continue to raise the musical bar. “I think we’re similar on this … if we can play music, pay our bills, and live a comfortable life, that’s ‘making it’ to us,’” Travis says. “We just want to keep evolving … keep the music fresh, keep putting the seasoning in that gumbo,” Dakota says.


COASTAL SEEN

Margie and Bud Dorsey

Photo assistance by Mary Starr

SYMPHONY SOCIETY’S CABARET

Orion and Shirley Douglass

The Symphony Society of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia recently held its annual gala, Cabaret, at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort on St. Simons Island. The theme was Margaritaville and included music, as well as silent and live auctions. Proceeds from the event go toward funding multiple concerts held each year in Brunswick.

Elizabeth and John Starr

Dottie and Don Fielder

MJ and Sam Choate

Sharon Flores, from left, Georgia Kellogg, Shannon Conway, Dana Parker, and Mary Griffiths JU LY/AU G US T 2022

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COASTAL SEEN

Babara Ostendorf, left, and Sage Campione

Beth Lemke, left, and Greer Anderson

Cary Greenfield, left, and Amanda Browning

Brenda Kilgore, from left, Tami Stogner, and Dr. Margaret Goodman

CASA GLYNN’S FASHION SHOW CASA Glynn recently hosted its annual fashion show at The Cloister on Sea Island. The event featured merchandise from area retailers and local models showcasing styles. CASA is the court-appointed special victims advocate which offers support and representation for children within the court system.

Gabrielle Heirdsiek, left, and Lucinda Bhavsar

Olympia Poulakis, left, and Delaine Halbrooke

Cheyenne and Kam Throckmorton

Drew and Whitney Holland

Gina Moitoso, from left, IV Mitchell, Lillian Clarke, and Daniel Zeal

Dana Manning, left, and Georgia Kellogg

Jaime Foster, from left, Missy Durkin, and Staci Bennett

FREDERICA ACADEMY’S DERBY DAY Frederica Academy recently hosted its annual Derby Day event. Attendees donned hats to enjoy food, drinks, entertainment, and auctions on the Retreat Golf Course on St. Simons Island. The proceeds benefit the school’s scholarship programs.

Elizabeth Brunson, left, and Ali Arline

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Hillary Heard, left, and Meredith Flagstad

Greer Anderson, from left, Jennifer Butler, and Ashley and David Crosby-Holland


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COASTAL SEEN

Alicia Lindgren, left, and Carol Moeckel

Connie Worley, left, and Bette Peirce

Gail Flexer, left, and Val Burnnett

Helen Castrillo, left, and Diane Abernathy

CASSINA GARDEN CLUB’S TABBY AND TILLANDSIA GARDEN WALK The Cassina Garden Club’s Tabby and Tillandsia’s Garden Walk was recently held and featured eight gardens on St. Simons Island. There was also a plant sale, plein air painters, and entertainment at the historic tabby cabins. The proceeds from the event go toward preserving the cabins at Gascoigne Club. The walk is held each year on the last Saturday of April.

Janie Landis, left, and Annie Brown

Chandra and Steve Kendall

Lil Hoeptinger, left, and Lasse Gammage

Jordan Andrew, left, and Cameron Crosby

Jenny London, from left, Kathy Wlynn, Sandra Johanek, Laura Gravel, and Mary Lynch

Hillary Kent

Peggy Hatcher, from left, Beth Ann Mascatello, Kat Savage, and Peaches Thorp

MEMORY MATTERS’ MUSIC AND MEMORIES

Photos by Annaliese Kondo

Memory Matters recently hosted its fundraising event at Musgrove Retreat and Conference Center on St. Simons Island. The event featured a variety of music and a meal catered by Halyard’s Catering. Memory Matters is a community-based nonprofit that supports those with memory issues, including Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Jordan Tharpe, left, and Julie Tharpe

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Trina and Tom Smythe

Don Baker from left, Bob and Dawn Schlich, and Randy Siegel


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