St. Marys Magazine Issue 28

Page 1




TIME The Ancient Newness of St. Marys


PAGE 10 Wilderness and Wonder Cumberland Island’s Lands & Legacies Tour PAGE 20 Star Sightings in St. Marys

Reaching Across Time and Tide Gullah/Geechee


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Letter Letter from from the the Mayor Mayor


f you have been to St. Marys previously as a visitor, you may notice our downtown is undergoing major improvements. New construction is always a challenge for anywhen small Hurricane city and we are no St. Marys fared better than most of our coastal neighbors Matthew swept St. Marys fared better than most of our coastal neighbors when Hurricane Matthew swept through fall. Our beautiful city neighboring Cumberland werefor back exception.last Fortunately for St. Marys, ourand local merchants have been stellarIsland advocates the in through last fall. Our beautiful city and neighboring Cumberland Island were back in business almost following storm. you are thinking in these improvements andimmediately have found creative waysthe to stay openIfand continue serving of ourvisiting guests and business almost immediately following thewarm storm. If inviting you are thinking of visiting in these cooler winter months, our weather is still and so we encourage you, locals during themonths, re-construction period. is still warm and inviting so we encourage you, your cooler winter our weather your friends and coastal relatives to come on friends Like other communities, wedown! are recovering from recent hurricanes and we are doing so with and relatives to come on down! Or up, as the case may be as we and havedock many visitors arrivingour from Florida aslandscape well. The enthusiasm––expanding our boat ramp capacity, improving sidewalks andas Or up,Welcome as the case may beExit as we haveasmany visitors arriving from well. The Georgia Center at 1 just you cross from Florida intoFlorida Georgia has been while using new technology toatenhance our resiliency. Depending on when into you visit, you may be here Georgia Welcome Center Exit 1 just as you cross from Florida Georgia has been re-furbished and has re-opened to welcome all to our great state and offering dozens of ideas during the late and stageshas or enjoy the finished product.all to our great state and offering dozens of ideas re-furbished re-opened to welcome for spending time in St. Marys. spending time in St. Marys. for While there are dozens ofrivers activities keep you busy in St. Marys, many andour residents are While our waterfront, andtoentryway to Cumberland Islandvisitors remain most popular attractions, we enjoy While our waterfront, rivers and entryway to Cumberland Island remain our most popular attractions, enjoy drawn here to visit Cumberland Island, one of the most unique national parks in the United States. year-round entertainment venues like steam train rides and community theatre presentations at Theatre we by the year-round entertainment venues like steam train rides and community theatre presentations at Theatre by the If you want to visitcontinues the island,to thegrow majorinaccess is via aas ferry departing St. Marys. Even Our though Hurricane destroyed the Trax. Kayaking popularity do boat bicycle touring and races. History WalkIrma is proving to be an Trax. Kayaking continues to grow in popularity as do bicycle touring and races. Our History Walk is proving to be an National Park Service ferry dock, the City St. Marys continues reserve usevillage. of a city We owned to make surefamily the ferry service enjoyable historical stroll through theoflong history of our to waterfront aredock known for our friendly enjoyable historical stroll through the long history of our waterfront village. We are known for our family friendly can continue schedule. parades andon festivals with February featuring our very own version of the Mardi Gras. Our historic hotel, modern paradesand andcharming festivals with February featuring our lodging very own of and the Mardi Gras. Our historic hotel, modern motels, bed and breakfasts provide forversion all kayaking tastes while restaurants midtown, Our many waterways provide ample opportunities for boating, fishing, andbudgets other water related activities.inMarine related motels, and charming bed and breakfasts provide lodging for all tastes and budgets while restaurants in midtown, downtown and the west side offer a variety of casual dining options. merchants are available on the waterfront to accommodate whatever experience you desire. St. Marys has one of the most secluded downtown and are the here west for sideanoffer a variety of casual dining options. Whether outdoor adventure just want to enjoy time in atours. peaceful, quiet, backalike andcan enjoy and protectedyou rookeries in the country. Just recently, the or rookery area has opened for Residents andlaid visitors Whether you are here for an outdoor adventure or just want to been enjoy time in Many a peaceful, quiet, laid back and here friendly community, St. Marys is the place to spend a week, weekend or longer. will fall in love and move spectacular bird life. If you want to participate in select tours, please call Crooked River State Park will at 912-882-5256 for information. friendly community, St. Marys is the place to spend a week, weekend or longer. Many fall in love and move here to call St. Marysfrom home. toCome on down the north or up from the south and visit St. Marys to discover the joys of small town living. call St. Marys home. Welcome! And if you have time, please stop by City Hall and say “hi” or “hey” depending on where you are from. ButWelcome! be forewarned—you might never want to leave. better Georgia! And if you have time, please stopIt’s byjust City Hallinand say “hi” or “hey” depending on where you are from.

Sincerely, Sincerely,

John John

John Morrissey, Mayor Johnof Morrissey, Mayor City St. Marys City of St. Marys

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A Community of Life and Living! ®

FEATURES 8 TIME: The Ancient Newness of St. Marys

44 Adventure Bound on the St. Marys Express

10 Wilderness and Wonder Cumberland Island’s Lands & Legacies Tour

48 Coastal Georgia Resource Rich for the Film Industry

16 Where Art meets Humanity Coastal Camden Art League

56 Stars Shine Brighter at Theatre by the Trax

20 Star Sightings in St. Marys

74 Community Salutes Youths Heading Toward Military Service

26 Babies that Write their Name Upon your Heart

77 Alzheimer’s Group Focuses on Local Needs

32 Coastal Georgia’s Otherworldly Hidden Gem: Driftwood Beach

79 Around the World at Christmas Time in St. Marys

34 Chronicles of a Sea Service Luminary

80 Welcome New Businesses to our Community

38 Reaching Across Time and Tide Gullah/Geechee

83 The Magical Resurrection Fern A Coastal Georgia Phenom

DEPARTMENTS 30 Literarily Speaking 68 Media Darlings 70 Around Town 72 EarthKeeping 84 Magazine Party 86 LowCountry Events

PHOTO: Cumberland Island

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Publisher’s Note Publisher Barbara Jackson Ryan Creative Director & Designer Jerry Lockamy Contributing Artists Steve Saley Editor Robin Cross Director of Public Relations Kristen Lockamy Contributing Writers Alex Kearns Gordon Jackson Fred Boyle Jo Ann Steadman Patrick Betchik Contributing Photographers Roger Graw Steve Royer L. J.Williams Fred Whitehead Patrick Betchik Holly Yurchison Dave Webb Brenda Barber Taylor Evelyn Hill Margie Geddes

Historic St. Marys Magazine is a LowCountry Publishing publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the prior consent of official representatives of LowCountry Publishing. All contents Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Letters to the Editor or other Correspondence Email: St. Marys Magazine 803 Alexander Street St. Marys, GA 31558 For general information, advertising, or subscription service, call 912-729-1103 or visit

If you’re not in the publishing business, you might not know this. But, generally, the “Publisher’s Note” is used as a prelude commentary of what lies ahead in a particular issue of the magazine. I can’t waste such valuable literary real estate on spouting words that merely preview what the reader will be seeing anyway. I’ve chosen, in case you haven’t noticed, to write about things that I hope connect me with my readers. This issue’s Publisher’s Note is no exception. As I write this, it is 5:30 in the morning. The date is bookended by Mother’s Day a few weeks past and Father’s Day two weeks coming. I just finished watching “The Glass Castle,” a movie based on a true story about a family and the influence of parents. This is what inspired me to introduce you to my parents—Howard Laban and Minnie Lou Jackson. I describe them in my yet-to-be finished autobiography. Meet my Daddy: “Howard Jackson was what locals would describe as the “salt of the earth.” Not an educated man in the formal sense; he was wise in the ways of the world. His six-foot-three frame was the very picture of biological efficiency: legs long enough to keep up with the treeing dogs on a midnight coon hunt; hands large enough to hold the full bearing of a ripened cotton bush. Perpetually browned by a life of farming, his face was a noble study of angles crowned by one thick eyebrow that reached across his entire face. Intense brown eyes were a legacy he passed on to four of his six children. His thinness bore testament to a life of hard work, but in contrast to the no-nonsense package that made up his body, an 11-inch tattoo depicting a totally nude woman ran the length of his left forearm—a symbol of youth and indiscretion that six children and forty acres of stubborn farmland had somehow canceled out.” And now my Mama: “As short as her husband was tall, and as plump as he was thin, her exterior was a sturdy cage for the soft heart held within. She wisely played the stern parent role, letting the facade slip only when the slightest hurt befell one of her young’uns. A bee sting, a finger slammed in the rusty screened door, a tummy ache from too many persimmons—these minor but frequent tragedies played havoc with her emotions, and she would struggle to hold back tears reflecting those of the injured child. With dimpled arms that blurred in speed when she performed the daily household chores and steel gray eyes that she’d inherited from her mother who had died at the unthinkable age of 42—cancer, her round face was framed with the raven hair of youth and punctuated by a set of teeth that belonged on the walls of a dentist’s office—perfectly straight and white. She was constantly complimented for what locals took to be a superb set of expensive false teeth. She seldom set the admirers straight.” I am fortunate in that I inherited a goodly part of both my parents including my Daddy’s brown eyes and my Mama’s strong will. I write this only to inspire each of you to reflect on the gifts your own parents bestowed upon you. Was it kindness, brains, personality, determination? You don’t need to wait until next Mother’s Day or Father’s Day to honor those who gave you life. Thank them now—whether living or in spirit. I would love to hear stories from my readers about your own parents. I’m listening…go on.

Barbara Jackson Ryan Publisher VOLUME

Email me anytime with your thoughts or ideas for the magazine:








On the cover Cumberland Island as photographed by Fred Whitehead

TIME The Ancient Newness

of St. Mar ys

Wildernes and Won Cumberslan der d Island’s Lands Star Sigh ting

s in St. Mar ys

Reaching Across Tim Gullah /Geechee e and Tide


PAGE 10 & Legacie s Tour PAGE 20



t’s easy to get to St. Marys no matter what mode of transportation you use. By land, St. Marys is located just 8 miles east of I-95 off Georgia Exit 1 or 3. By sea, an easy sailing up the Intracoastal, and into the St. Marys River just north of Florida, gets you right into St. Marys’ Downtown Historic District. And by air, the Jacksonville International Airport is just thirty minutes away.


Waterfront Dining in the Historic Riverview Hotel

Appetizers Soups & Salads Children’s Menu Baskets with fries Burgers & Sandwiches Seafood & Steak Entrees Chicken & Pasta Entrees Homemade Desserts & more

Proms Weddings Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties Airport Services Special Occasions

Office: (912) 882-7904

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By Alex


t. Marys is cradled in the sweetly curved lap of the ocean, river, and marsh that form its environment, history, and spirit. Even the air is rich with dew and sea salt. In this liquid world of change and constancy, Time means nothing and everything. It is all-powerful and yet completely subject to individual perception. To a small boy who waits for the firecrackers at our July 4th festivals, Time moves at the pace of a geriatric snail. But when it comes to his favorite Mardi Gras carnival ride or the “ten more minutes until lights-out.” Time is as swift and inexorable as a hawk’s dive. And then there’s Time in St. Marys… Never have the words of Kahlil Gibran seemed so



right and true as in this place: “The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.” Sit by the harbor in the velvet amber-blue chiaroscuro of evening and watch the tide turn—a majestic water-ballet that has been performed for over 3 billion years. Every jubilant chorus of the mockingbirds’ dawn arias is the celebration of a newborn, never-before-known day. Ask any citizen why they live in St. Marys and the response will, invariably, involve Time. There are those whose families have been here since the town was laid out in 1787 and those who relocated to find a richer, more meaningful, way of life. Or the young couples

who feel Time stretching before them and wish to begin their lives together in a place that—with its `superb education system and safe streets—was tailor-made for children. And then there are those who fully understand Bill Watterson’s words: “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” These are the sunrise-gazers and the porch swing-sitters; the young and old who find their bliss in dropping a line off the downtown dock and not particularly caring if they get a bite; the dreamers and artists; and those who amble through the incomparable beauty of the waterfront park each evening just to see if there are any new boats bobbing in the harbor.

In the novel “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” author Eric Roth wrote “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before.” We invite you to experience the ancient newness of our community. Count sun pennies on the river, see a play, let the sweet saltiness of fresh shrimp linger on your tongue, listen to the concerts in the city park, lift your face to the sea breeze. And discover the gift of Time in St. Marys. 9

By Barbara



journey like no other in a place like no other awaits adventurers who love nature and are intrigued by history. You can easily lose yourself in the lush beauty of a wilderness island as you tour the lesser-seen north side of Georgia’s largest sea island on the acclaimed Lands & Legacies Tour of Cumberland Island. Immerse yourself in history and nature with stops at Plum Orchard, the Cumberland Wharf Ruins, The Settlement, and more. Enhancing this great adventure is the commentary of knowledgeable tour guides like Kathy Rickenberg who led my little group into the wilds on a sultry spring day. Upon arrival at the island on the 9 am ferry, we set out on our adventure in a comfortable air-conditioned van. Kathy’s caveat about “rough roads ahead” in no way continued ...



diminished our communal excitement. The embracing arms of centuries-old live oaks canopied overhead as we spotted the first of dozens of wild horses. Annual horse counts usually tally up to between 140-150 mares, stallions and fillies that roam the 36,000 acres of this untamed land. We learn that these horses (actually feral rather than wild) are of the Heinz 57 variety that includes lineage of Arabians, Appaloosa, and Tennessee Walkers. Just minutes ahead we spot a doe and her triplet babies foraging in the grass. Then a rafter of wild turkeys grace our view out the right side of the van. On other visits we might expect to encounter armadillo, bobcats, gators, coyotes, feral hogs, and loggerhead turtles. Cumberland Island is known as an important birthing ground for the threatened loggerheads that roam the globe only to return to their birthplace to lay their eggs. Last year’s nest count was 488. As the terrain gets a little rougher (Kathy warned us), the Grand Avenue (dirt road) leads us through maritime forests of moss-draped oaks and saw palmettos. The ancient live oaks were, at one time, harvested by the British for the precious hardwood that would make the finest and most enduring ships—wood so hard that cannonballs bounced off it, earning it a place in the continued ...


making of great ships like “Old Ironsides.” Resurrection ferns cling to the limbs of the oaks— brown today, but awaiting a quick rain shower when the ferns will burst into a verdant green, ergo their name. Our journey continues as Kathy tells us stories of 6 to 7-foot tall Timucua Indians who first inhabited the island and grew indigo and sassafras. She spoke of settlements by the French, the Spanish, and the British. Of cotton plantations and the lifestyles of the Carnegies who owned much of the island before its 1972 designation as a national seashore. We rode on wooden bridges over tidal creeks and stopped to view the waters, even spotting the Sydney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick. Our journey took us up island 18 miles to The Settlement where we toured the First African Baptist Church where JFK married Carolyn Bessette. Kathy regaled us with some inside scoops about their wedding day. Next to the church is the home of the island’s nature guru—Carol Ruckdeschel. We had the privilege of meeting Carol earlier at the Sea Camp Ranger Station. Carol lives off the land and is immortalized in a book called “Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island.” continued ...

First African Baptist Church where JFK, Jr got married.


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A biologist, naturalist, and environmental activist, Carol has written her own book: “A Natural History of Cumberland Island,” a fascinating and detailed study of the habitats, animals, and plants on the island. She maintains a private museum adjacent to her home, and some of her collections are in the Smithsonian. But back on the road, we reverse our direction, heading to Plum Orchard, stopping for horses in the road that are in no hurry to move. After eating our picnic lunches (you bring your own), we took the tour. Plum Orchard is a Georgian Revival mansion built for Lucy Carnegie’s son, George, in 1898. Totaling 24,000 square feet (and we saw a good bit of it), the mansion features 12 fireplaces, a gun room, library, indoor pool and squash court, and a plethora of ensuites. The house is extravagant even by today’s standard and contains original furniture from the Carnegies’ Dungeness Mansion (more on that later). Touring Plum Orchard is a treat that not many people get to enjoy. In the midst of our tour, a young camper who joined our group sat at the grand piano and entertained us with an impromptu concert—surprises never cease on this enchanting island. Time to head south to wrap up our six-hour adventure. The ruins of Dungeness rise up to greet us as we swing off the main road. In its glorious heydays, Dungeness boasted 59 rooms where the Carnegie family grew up. Lucy and Thomas Carnegie bought their first track of land on Cumberland in 1881. In 1916, when Lucy died, she owned 90% of the island. Our tour is about to end but not before we see a fascinating video presentation about the horse shoe crab. We took the road less traveled. We soaked in the beauty of magnificent magnolia trees and felt the warm salty breezes of the Georgia Coast. We stepped into the paths of the Timucua and in our minds danced where the great men of industry came to play. We’ve marveled at the sight of triplet baby deer and ambling wild turkey. We saw evidence of nature’s forces in fallen trees from hurricanes and tornados.

We walked on the wild side. Forever the memory of this place, like no other, will linger in our minds. The allure of history and wilderness will bring us back. And, if we’re fortunate, someone as knowledgeable and passionate about the island as Kathy Rickenberg will be our guide into the mystic. Editor’s Note: To take the Cumberland Island Lands and Legacies Tour, you must make reservations for the 9 am ferry and the tour at You need to pack a lunch, bring bug spray, sunscreen, and water.

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Veteran Ed Doyle teaches art to other veterans free of charge through the Coastal Camden Art League.


oastal Camden Art League (CCAL) has a new home and an expanded mission that includes helping veterans. Through the generosity of local dentist Stanley Prince, the Art League is now housed at 2006 Osborne Road, just a couple of miles from St. Marys’ waterfront. There, members can indulge in their various art styles creating beautiful pieces that grace the walls of the gallery-like setting. Many of which are for sale. The League also hosts various classes for the public, including children, and have launched a program free to military veterans who would like to explore their creative skills. The vet classes are taught by 85-year-old Edward Doyle who served our nation in Korea, Viet Nam and Desert Storm. The League provides the classes and supplies at no charge to veterans. Terry Muse, current president of CCAL, says the veterans classes are a way for their organization to give back to the community. “Ed Doyle has extraordinary talent in much demand and does commissions continued ...


for the Maritime Museum, among others,” Muse said. “He is currently working on a project for the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, a world-renowned air demonstration squadron.” Muse says that the classes for vets can serve as therapy as well as a way for service men and women to re-connect with their community. As one tours the many rooms that comprise the Art League’s home, it becomes clear that our small community is big on artistic talent. With backgrounds as diverse as their art, CCAL members are often residents of Camden County but also hail from Jacksonville, Fernandina Beach, and as far away as New Hampshire. Their media run the gamut from watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings to photography, baskets, rugs, jewelry, quilts, and more. continued ...


FREE ART CLASSES FOR VETERANS At Coastal Camden Art League 2006 Osborne Road in St. Marys. Wednesdays from 10 am to 1 pm. No registration required—just walk in.

Immerse yourself in the rich history and natural wonders of mystic rivers, salt marshes, and legendary waterways as you cruise scenic Amelia Island & along Cumberland Island. Tours Depart from Fernandina Harbor Marina

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Many members also display their work in downtown St. Marys at the Old Towne Art Gallery. CCAL, a registered nonprofit organization, was established in 2002. Their events include the annual Plein Aire in the spring which has become a favorite downtown St. Marys happening. They also conduct free art classes for the elderly, a community outreach program that takes members to where the elderly reside in assisted living facilities. Currently, CCAL members are planning a fundraiser to finance upgraded air conditioning for their building. They would also like for the public to know they would welcome any donation of art books for children and adults so they could make available to those using the facility. For more information about the Coastal Camden Art League, call 912-464-7600 or email

Discover Darien where history meets the sea GATEWAY TO GULLAH GEECHEE CULTURE ON SAPELO ISLAND


ust one hour south of Savannah and one hour north of St. Mary’s, beautiful coastal Darien is a timeless place to discover. Visit Ft. King George Historic Site; take a day tour of Sapelo Island; enjoy some of the nation’s finest birding areas; take a relaxing kayak trip in our rivers; stroll our Historic Walking Tour or do some shopping. And, no visit to Darien would be complete, without sampling our world famous Wild Georgia Shrimp. Discover Darien - where history meets the sea. 18

Relax and unwind while visiting the sites of Historic St. Marys and surrounding attractions. Plenty of delicious restaurants nearby and St. Marys’ iconic waterfront just a few minutes away. • Standard rooms, kitchenette suites, Jacuzzi suites • Beautiful screened-in pool • Picnic areas • Peaceful relaxing beneath our oak canopies • Enjoy the quiet spEcIAl rAtEs ArE OffErEd tO Our ExtEndEd-stAy GuEsts, As wEll As fOr GrOups thAt bOOk Our lArGE cOnfErEncE ArEA.

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Star Sightings in St. Marys T

here is just “something” about St. Marys. Residents often tell visitors, “You may leave St. Marys, but St. Marys will never leave you.” St. Marys has its share of visiting celebrities who come to town as actors in movies filmed here. Those are the ones you hear about; however, other “A” list celebs discover the allure of St. Marys as well. Here is an appetizer sampling of some of our Star Sightings with more to report in upcoming issues of St. Marys Magazine.

Chef to the Stars Art Smith

He was Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for ten years, chef for several state governors, cooked for U.S. presidents, British royalty, as well as a very long list of celebrities and VIPs. He has received the culinary profession’s highest awards and honors, and cheffed for major events all around the world. His sharp wit and cool southern charm make him a favorite competitor and judge on shows such as “Top Chef Masters,” “Iron Chef,” and “BBQ Pitmasters” to name a few. Featured on numerous other TV shows including an ABC Thanksgiving special with Lady Gaga, this is Art Smith—chef extraordinaire, philanthropist, and exemplary ambassador for the culinary arts. Well known for his fried chicken, he worked his first real job at KFC as a teenager in his hometown, Jasper, Florida. Art enthusiastically judged last year’s Top Chef KFC Challenge in Kentucky. “Fried chicken takes no sides” is Art’s tagline. However, he sprinkles many southern homilies throughout his conversation when he holds court with friends and fans. While taping shows, he naturally goes off script, and it stays—his southern roots shine brightly. Art was introduced to St. Marys through Margie Geddes, noted business woman of the Jamaican Red Stripe Beer family. She explored all of St. Marys looking for a place to home what she unpretentiously calls her “boat” (we’d call that 93’ four-deck boat a yacht). Margie arrived at the Goodbread continued ...


Star Sightings in St. Marys House for a one-night stay, but declared The Goodbread as “home” for almost three weeks. Since then, she frequently returns, usually with Art happily in tow. Besties of twenty years, she and Art even have a restaurant together (and more on the drawing board). Art, Margie and her daughter, Lisa St John, currently partner with Lady Gaga’s father, Joe Germanotta, in the fabulous “Art Bird & Whiskey Bar” at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Margie says that no matter where in the world they travel together, Art is recognized everywhere, and that people literally gush over meeting him because he takes food into people’s hearts. Always at home in a kitchen, while in town Art cooked for Goodbread House guests and friends—a cause for celebration according to those who attended the festive and delicious dinner. He got them all LOVING the vegetables. “Art is more than a celebrity,” said Mardja Gray, proprietor of the Goodbread House. “He’s a wonderful entertainer, great conversationalist, and just an all-out good person.” Art authored three award-winning cookbooks, and many more, and has restaurants in Chicago, NYC, Atlanta, Orlando, California, nationwide concert venues, and more to come. Art’s book “Back to the Table” is a “New York Times” bestseller recipient of a James Beard Award, the food industry’s highest honor. He is also in the Chicago Chef Hall of Fame, only two of numerous other awards and honors. Art is very proud of his time cooking for Oprah, and still occasionally does. However, recently he added another residence, besides Chicago, returning to his hometown of Jasper. A 15-minute drive from the Georgia border, Jasper has a population of about 4500, give or

take. When he’s not doing the culinary jet-setting scene, Art resides in Jasper with husband, Jesus Salgueiro, and their four adopted children. Art celebrates his Jasper heritage in an international arena via Chef Art Smith’s “Homecomin’ - Florida Kitchen - Southern Shine” restaurant in Disney World at Disney Springs. An impressive addition to the Disney signature collection of eateries, the restaurant is modeled after Art’s hometown, and features many of his traditional dishes including “Church Lady’s Deviled Eggs,” “Art’s Famous Fried Chicken,” and, of course, southern delicacies like his “Hummingbird Cake,” which was always a must-have experience for many of Oprah’s most revered guests. In 2003, Art and Jesus founded “Common Threads,” a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical wellbeing, empowering them to be agents of change for healthier families, schools, and communities. Common Threads offers a variety of in-and-out-of-school programs—all hands-on and culturally relevant. So far, Common Threads has reached more than 400,000 children. “Our world is a large quilt and its people are the fabric—colorful swatches of beautifully woven material—all joined together by these common threads: family and food,” Art explained, ergo the name. We are thrilled to count Art Smith as yet another celebrity who appreciates the beauty of St. Marys. He said, “Somewhat hidden on the southeast coast of Georgia there is a jewel box of a town named St. Marys. Lost in time that passes more slowly, there are homes rich in history, filled with charming people.” continued ...


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“I can see soul in your paintings.” That is what people told artist, Jesus Salgueiro, all his life. Jesus didn’t quite know what they meant until about 20 years ago when a big art critic wrote, “You can feel his passion and almost touch his soul.” That’s when Jesus began reflecting upon those words, and realized it IS his soul that creates his paintings. “Love is the main reason for my work,” he said. One of Jesus’ inspirations was Buddhist mandalas, and he became quite famous with his creations of those intricate pieces of art. One could say that the most unique medium he uses for his artwork is manhole covers. Jesus travels the world painting manhole covers, etching their information onto special paper and then filling those with color and design, because he says almost every country has manhole covers. “Each of them is unique and most identify the city where they lie.” It’s not surprising that Jesus commands a great deal of attention when he rolls out his paper and chalks in the middle of a street in a busy city where tens of thousands of people can experience his art. He is also famous for his angel and heart portraits. A little town in Venezuela named Cabimas, rich with oil, is where Jesus was born. His grandfather was the son of Spanish colonizers who were killed by the Indians, so Jesus grew up with Amazon Indians. He began painting when he was four years old, first his toys, then... everything. “They had to take the brushes away from me because I wanted to paint the furniture, the doors,” he said. He is the co-founder of the not-for-profit Common Threads Foundation with his husband, celebrity chef Art Smith. Both Jesus and Art were recognized by “Chicago Magazine” with its prestigious “Chicagoans of the Year” award. After 50 plus years, and a three-time survivor of life threatening cancers, Jesus Salgueiro is still making people happy with his artistic creations. His floral arrangements, done for celebrities and VIPs worldwide, are as remarkable as his artwork. “Art is for the enrichment of the soul. Everything else is pure nonsense,” he says. Jesus visited St. Marys with Art and their four children, on an adventure hosted by Margie Geddes. continued ...

Star Sightings in St. Marys Here is what he had to say about St. Marys. “St. Marys is a very lovely southern town that’s great for finding treasures and crafts made by local artists. I’m still enjoying my handmade scented candles from the local market and my hand-knitted cap. Can’t wait to go back!” A great compliment considering it comes from an internationally-applauded artist.

St. Marys Little Theatre invites you to get involved with the performance arts community! Visit and click on “Contact” to express

Bestselling author Jennifer Niven By Alex Kearns

The first thing you notice about Emmy Award-winning author, Jennifer Niven, is her startling beauty. But spend even a few moments in her company, and you quickly realize that her physical loveliness is eclipsed by her warmth, humility, humor, and grace. Here is a woman who has looked deeper into life and found it endlessly fascinating. The author of nine books, including “All the Bright Places” and “Holding up the Universe,” Jennifer has reached into the hearts and minds of millions of readers around the globe. Her books have been translated into

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over 75 languages and her two young adult novels have sold in over 60 international territories. The full array of her work has been favorably received by critics and the public alike. But it was with the release of her first young adult novel, “All the Bright Places,” that she entered the rarified realm of best-selling authors: placing her characters, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, among literature’s “unforgettables.” “All the Bright Places” has garnered rave international accolades, including being named Best Book of the Year by Time Magazine, NPR, the Guardian, continued ... 23

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Publisher’s Weekly, YALSA, Barnes & Noble, the New York Public Library, and others. It was also nominated for the Carnegie Medal and longlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. For over forty weeks, the book has held its place on the New York Times Bestseller List, and foreign rights have been sold to forty-one foreign territories. With her powerful literary talent, Jennifer gently but firmly shines much-needed light on issues that confront youth: mental illness, suicide, sexual identity, and family dynamics. In this novel, she has given life to C. S. Lewis’ words “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’ ” Around the world, Jennifer’s fans are awaiting the release of the Netflix-produced “All the Bright Places” movie starring Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, and Luke Wilson, with screenplay by Jennifer and Liz Hannah (The Post). So how did an award-winning international best-selling author discover St. Marys? Jennifer explains: “For the past twenty-five years, I’ve been an L.A. girl, but in July 2018 I traveled to Cumberland Island to work on my next novel, and it was there I met my husband-to-be, Justin Conway. We knew from that first day that we were meant to be together, and five months later we bought a house in historic St. Marys. A month after that on February 6, we eloped, and then had a second wedding a week later at our new Georgia home for the two of us and his three children so that we could come together as a family. I fell in love with the wild beauty of the Georgia coast and the charm of the historic district of St. Marys.” Jennifer’s roots were already firmly planted in the south: “Both sides of my family are from North Carolina—and in so many ways the south is home to me. There is a rich storytelling tradition in the south that has always inspired me, and I certainly have found that to be alive and thriving in St. Marys as well.” Can we expect to encounter St. Marys in the pages of future novels? Few artists can resist the magic of the town and its natural beauties, and Jennifer is no exception, saying “I’m inspired by the live oaks and the Spanish moss, by the deep sense of history and place, by the beauty of the barrier islands and the coastline, and by the charm of historic downtown St. Marys. We’ve created a writing studio in our home, and I can imagine setting many stories here, including my tenth book and the one I’m currently working on, which will be published by Penguin Random House next spring.” Stay tuned for future STAR SIGHTINGS in St. Marys!

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manda Sweeten Hammann is making babies in her Laurel Island home, and her husband, Scott, thinks that’s a good thing even though he’s not a participant in the process. Amanda is an artist of “reborning,” an endearing art form that births uncannily realistic looking babies. This beautiful art form began in the late 1980s, and initially it was the process of taking apart realistic, store-purchased baby dolls and creating an even more true-to-life doll. Today, talented sculptors create blank vinyl doll kits used by reborning artists like Amanda to devise amazing replicas of newborns. Amanda’s artistic talents enable her to go beyond the kits and actually sculpt the babies out of silicone as well—a process that requires hundreds of hours of intense concentration and meticulous detail work. Rooting the hair is one of the most tedious processes sometimes taking as many as 100 hours to complete one head. She uses alpaca hair from Canada for the scalp and eyelashes. These babies are definitely not toys. They’re meant to be collectibles and are even being used in therapy. Amanda’s ultimate goal is to get her reborns into the homes of Alzheimer’s patients. On a tour of Amanda’s studio, it is impossible to resist sitting down and testing out every baby. Not only do they look remarkably real, they feel remarkably real, and you would continued ...


find yourself carefully cradling the baby’s head just as you would a real newborn. You can see the maternal love shining from within as Amanda talks about her reborns. You can see how her love of babies and her appreciation of their sweetness and beauty led her to embark on this whimsical journey of reborning. Her big thrill comes when someone finds the one they love. Amanda got her start in the art of reborns when Santa brought one to her girls. She thought it might be a good challenge to make her own. And it was. Her first silicone baby took six months to complete. She’s had requests to sculpt babies that resemble people’s own children—a challenge that requires finite detail including matching skin tones. It takes artistry, hard work, and a good imagination—something Amanda has a plenty. She grew up on an 800-acre farm in Lohman, Missouri, where she and her siblings built forts and created their own play environments—imagination is an important part of her persona, she says. Amanda’s creations range the gamut—boys and girls, bi-racials; 3, 5 or even 10 pounders, and she even made a baby that drinks and wets. It’s difficult, but she tries to remain the “artist” and not get attached to her reborns—not so daughters Katie and Lily. They have their own collection. continued ...


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Because of the number of hours involved in reborn creations, babies can run anywhere from $600 to $1300 typically. But custom projects might entail even more time requiring a larger investment from a client. One reborn artist sold one of her creations for nearly $22,600. But Amanda is working toward producing more budget-friendly reborns as a way of giving back. “My driving force from the very beginning has been to ultimately get babies into the arms of women with Alzheimer’s,” Amanda said. “It has been proven that these realistic reborns can awaken memories.” She plans to reach out to bereavement groups of women who have lost babies and hopes to be able to help terminally ill children as well. Amanda is looking to expand her artistic offerings. An accomplished makeup artist (she does makeup for St. Marys Little Theatre), Amanda thinks it would be fun to own a haunted house and really put her imagination in overdrive. Creating special effects for movies is another one of her goals. But for the time being, Amanda is filling orders from customers all over the world including Germany, United Kingdom, and Australia through her home-crafted business—Southern Stork Reborns. You can learn more about Amanda’s reborns on her Facebook page @SouthernStorkReborns. Her babies can also be found on Etsy. For special orders, call 573-301-9960.

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Cracker Gothic

A Florida Woman’s Memoir


fter I read this pearl of a book recently, I was left with three distinct feelings: • I felt I must visit Green Cove Springs. • I needed to find a way to honor my own mama. • My empathy for those living with Alzheimer’s victims catapulted to a new level. Author Wanda Suttle Duncan has written a book that takes you to the depths of the Okefenokee Swamp then pulls you into the little Florida town that lies about 60 miles south of St. Marys. Wanda grew up among descendants of the Swamp’s earliest inhabitants—the Chesser family, and her mother’s ancestors were from the “Swamp” as well. Wanda can talk “cracker” with the best of them. As intriguing as the title, “Cracker Gothic,” the words that grace the 185 pages within paint pictures so vivid you can imagine yourself sitting at the kitchen table with Wanda’s mama, sharing a warm memory of long ago—memories of minutes before erased by the cruel disease of Alzheimer’s. “Before my mother’s diagnosis, before I had the slightest clue that something was terribly amiss in her brain…” Wanda sets the stage. The challenges of caring for a loved one who’s often bathed in confusion become crystal clear as the story of living in Green Cove Springs evolves. But it is the sense of time and place that makes this little book so readable. “The water boils up from a large fissure at the rate of three thousand gallons per minute. It is as clear as a diamond, and the effect is most beautiful at noonday, when the sun shines directly into the spring, and objects can be seen at the bottom tinted with the prismatic hues.”—The Pocket Directory of Green Cove Springs, 1889. Green Cove Springs, Florida, sits on the 30-degree


Wanda Suttle Duncan latitude—where “the most amazing coincidences and magic that cannot be explained happen.” Storms mysteriously separate as they approach the city limits then re-convene on the other side of town. Paranormal investigators have spent good chunks of time there, recording the unexplainable. Thought of as the “original fountain of youth” location, Green Cove Springs was first inhabited over 7,000 years ago by natives drawn by the warm mineral spring. Wanda describes the town as a still sleepy, quiet town where she can still lie in bed and hear trains passing. As mentioned earlier, “Cracker Gothic” will make you want to visit Green Cove Springs as I intend to do soon. Ten years in the making, in “Cracker Gothic,” Wanda has woven a tapestry of memoirs into an enjoyable read. Her characters—all real—come alive in the streets of Green Cove Springs; around the sulfuric fountain that has been a magnet for health-seekers since the 1800s; in the local coffee shop where Wanda writes in the company of people more colorful than one can make up. There is Albert Roy Davis, a scientist who made Radiation Fallout Kits and sold booklets that taught people how to see their aura. He had 20 cats and a monkey named Cheetah. You’ll meet Hoofer who makes stuff out of snake skins. And many more interesting folks who orbited Wanda’s childhood. continued ...

Throughout the book, poignancy runs deep as Wanda describes her time with the woman who birthed her. “The woman who had been absent for the last several years would return on the evenings we sewed together, reminding me of who she always would be in my heart.” (Paraphrased) Wanda said, “One of the emotional tags of the book is my renewed appreciation for a quiet hometown that 40 years ago I couldn’t wait to get away from. I came back with new eyes and love it now. People treat me like I’ve always been here.” “Cracker Gothic” can be purchased at Once Upon a Bookseller in Downtown St. Marys or at About the Author: Wanda Suttle Duncan ran a graduate Master’s program of arts and liberal studies in North Carolina before she decided to return to her hometown of Green Cove Springs where she has re-discovered the treasures of her childhood.

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he setting is ethereal. A stretch of white sandy beach dotted with the bones of bleached oak trees. Here nature has planted these surreal sculptures that are a photographer’s dream. This is Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island. Some of the trees are fully exposed and some appear to emerge from the depths of the sand. Come at low tide to capture the beauty of Driftwood Beach in full. It is otherworldly and breathtaking. Pose in the arms of craggy branches. Explore the tidal pools where you will find continued ...


plenty of hermit crabs, sea anemones, clams, and sand dollars. Gaze out to the horizon where you can often catch the flight of dancing dolphins. Bald eagles and egrets, herons and ibis are a frequent site at Driftwood Beach. No matter how many times you visit Driftwood Beach, it will never look or feel the same. Both sunrises and sunsets can be blissfully experienced from Driftwood Beach. And you can see the St. Simons Island Lighthouse in the distance. Breathless. Awestruck. Serene. A sight to behold. This is what visitors say about Driftwood Beach. It reminds you of how amazing nature can be. Driftwood Beach is a tree graveyard that is formed by tide and time. It is located on the north end of Jekyll Island and extends from the Clam Creek Picnic Area to the Villas by the Sea Resort, just a short walk away from the Jekyll Island Campground. Come for a stunning photograph or for an awakening of your visual senses. You are sure to be drawn back to this iconic setting where nature has turned a landscape into a work of art.


By Gordon



heila McNeill first got involved with the Navy League in 1966 but it wasn’t until she came to St. Marys in the early 1980s that she really got involved with the national organization that supports the Sea Service. She had just opened a business in St. Marys and was recruited along with her husband Arlie as early members of the fledgling Kings Bay Navy League Council. A decade later she had such a good understanding of the issues and concerns she earned the respect and trust of fellow members and Navy officials. She was elected the Council’s president in 1994 during the high-growth years at Kings Bay when the last of the fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines were still arriving to the base. Once she assumed a leadership role in the continued ...



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Navy League, supporters helped guide her rise in positions and responsibilities in the organization. It was the start of a long relationship with the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Merchant Marines that continues to this day. Her amazing story is chronicled in her new book “What Are You Doing Here?” The book answers the question she was asked repeatedly from her years as a female executive until her selection as the nation’s first woman elected national president of the Navy League. She chronicles her interactions during key moments with some of the most influential and powerful military leaders and elected officials in the world. Some of her doubters were bold enough to ask the question to her face. Just as often, she’d overhear some version of the question behind her back. Mostly, her critics struggled to understand how someone who never served in the military—and was also a woman—could be taken seriously as an advocate for sea services. As people got to know her, McNeill earned more and more support. She became a familiar face in the hallways of the Pentagon when she served three years on the Defense Advisory Committee for Women in the Services. She visited 45 military installations including overseas duty stations in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. “I believe it gave me an insight into the concerns of both our military members and our military leaders,” she said. “The experience in protocol would be a valuable tool for the Navy League.” By the time she was elected national Navy League president in 2002, she had many supporters but she was still questioned by naysayers who believed a female president would harm the Navy League. One person even urged her to withdraw her name from consideration before she was elected. Instead of bristling when her ability to do the job was questioned, McNeill’s knowledge about Navy issues and her enthusiasm to support the Sea Services won most of them over. Some of her many supporters included high-ranking officers and U.S. congressmen and senators, many of continued ...






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whom are in the book. McNeill also chronicles some of the contributions she has made to support the Sea Service. She led the effort to get Camden County designated as the nation’s first Coast Guard Community. She was chair of the group that converted an old movie theater into the St. Marys Submarine Museum and she later found some major donations for the facility. The Bancroft Memorial outside the Franklin Gate was another accomplishment that she, as fundraising chair, helped make possible. And she was a vocal advocate to save the four oldest Ohio-class submarines from the shipyard, convincing the Navy to convert the boats from ballistic missile to guided missile subs. Today, Sea Service luminary Sheila McNeill remains active in the community as president of The Camden Partnership, as a powerful advocate for the Navy. Marine Corps, and Coast Guard continuing to accomplish what few have been able to. These days, though, no one asks “What are you doing here?” They know.

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he Gullah Geechee culture has persevered along a corridor of the southeastern coast of the United States from the northern border of Pender County, North Carolina to the southern border of St. Johns County, Florida and 30 miles inland. The land mass of this area, which is included in the Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain and the 79 barrier islands that hug the coast, encompass approximately 12,818 square miles, an area larger than the states of Maryland and Delaware combined. The Gullahs were North of us in South Carolina. Coastal Georgia is the Geechee nation. Both come from West Africa Liberia north to Sierra Leone. Both people were stolen for their skills in rice and cotton growing—from similar geography and climate, and many brought other crafts and trades. All were branded twice on their back, once as being from West Africa and the second their owner’s brand. The Gullah Geechee remained relatively isolated due to their skills and formed their language out of African words and English. It is a type of Creole English that they could understand, but their owners found it challenging to understand. They also formed their own culture, which has allowed them to thrive into the 21st Century. Michelle Obama, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and singer James Brown are all Gullah Geechee descendants. continued ...


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Primus Mitchell and his wife Amanda circa 1910. They lived in the Brick Hill or Brick Kiln Section of Cumberland Island. The first mention of Primus Mitchell is as a “9-year-old” in the 1834 Slave Inventory when he was sold from Nathanial Green to Robert Stafford. At that time, nine years old meant any young child. The Gullah Geechee did not have a childhood. As soon as they could, they were put to work. Primus was born on the Rayfield Plantation on Cumberland Island. From Primus’ early days to the civil war, his life was centered on Sea Island cotton and the “Praise House.” The “Praise House” or “Prayer House” was a center of social gatherings—a place where slaves could try to make sense of and find a way to deal with this strange world they found themselves a part of. It was most often used nightly, not just on Sundays. The rest of the day, from dawn to dusk, was spent farming, making baskets from sweet grass or tools to help farm. The Civil War was not an easy time on Cumberland Island. Almost all slaves camped in front of Dungeness for safety. The Confederates had roving bands of “Raiders” who attacked randomly taking corn, cotton, and whatever else they could. Freedom was about 2 miles away in Fernandina, but there was no way to get there. Cumberland Island then was a prison. Primus stayed on the island after the civil war as an unordained minister to protect the “church.” (No ordained minister ever came.) The Cumberland continued ...



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hile our guests, you will unearth a genuine vacation experience. An area rich with history, enjoy first-hand the delightful charm of our community, where southern hospitality is a way of life.

What’s the lineup? A day trip to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a must for nature enthusiasts. “At the swamp” you’ll be captivated with the serenity of the landscape and the unique wildlife. YES, the alligators are REAL. Next, make a stop at the Chesser Island Homestead, complete with bygone days and local history.

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Listen to the train whistle blow as it breezes through the Folkston Funnel. Stop by and visit the restored train depot, which houses a unique collection of railroad artifacts and gift shop. It’s a train enthusiast’s paradise. Stay at one of our novel lodging facilities and expand your visit by making day trips to other coastal communities. Before you leave, you’ll feel like one of the family.

Blacks were Baptists, and there must have been several “Prayer Houses” and a cemetery for the slaves, but none has yet been discovered on Cumberland Island. Primus, along with three other friends petitioned and obtained the land they had worked on after the war. Primus also was the caretaker of Mr. Carnegie’s hunting dogs. Cumberland Island was very much an odd mix of the very wealthy and the very poor. The Mitchel family grave at High Point on Cumberland Island reads: Uncle Primus Mitchel And his wife Amanda Born slaves at Stafford Faithful Hands on Cumberland Until death Primus and Amanda rest on Brick Hill Editor’s Note: A special thanks to the Bryan Lang Historical Archives and Bullard, Mary R. (2010) “A Thatched Cabin on Cumberland Island” African Diaspora Archeology Newsletter Volume 13, Issue 3, Article 4, available at vol13/iss3/4/.

The language. The music. Gullah Geechee has been depicted in many movies. In “Glory,” only the Sergeant could understand the Gullah and converse with the locals. In “Cold Mountain,” the Confederate deserter found peace and solace in these barrier islands. The Gullah Geechee is a peaceful, gentle people. They have a Queen Quet who has addressed Camden County Commissioners and the United Nations. She has written in Gullah, “So if cotton was once king, wha hunnuah tink webe? Aaah hunnah chillum webe anointed Gullah Geechee Black Gold. May we also rise from the soil and tell our story.” It is very different from Ebonics found in more urban environments that is a more modern, urban language. The Geechee name is from the Ogeechee River close to Savannah, Georgia. The language is the only English derived Creole language spoken in the United States. Bene in Gullah is sesame, benny or bene. Bidibidi is a continued ...

chicken or small bird. Buckra is white. Guba is peanut or goober. Gumbo means okra. Juk or jug means disorderly or infamous as in Jukebox. Na or nana means grandmother. The favorite song, “Kumbaya,” was recently judged to be a Gullah song. The Gullah Geechee slave masters would not allow drums, so the beat used in their music was first made by pounding a tree limb on a wooden floor. Later, broom handles were used, and there would be several singers singing different songs. All music had a spiritual connection. Do not think this is a lost musical genre. If you listen to the 2019 Georgia-Florida Line song “Let it be,” the unison singing before and after the individual parts, the steady beat shows a distinct Gullah influence. Many people also hear strong Gullah influences in rap music with the stress on the beat and in Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” Every New Year’s Eve, many Black churches have a “Watchman Service,” which remembers the January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. The last song is “Fare Thee Well.” Scripture songs were a way to hide the word of God in their hearts. One Scripture song is Psalm 130 verse 6 from David: “My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” (You may notice a reversal of 12 bar blues, where the “More than watchmen for the morning” the third line would be “My soul waits for the Lord.”) Gullah Geechee is American roots music-blues, gospel, and other genres. So as you sit there in the wilds of Coastal Georgia, find a place alone and listen to the wind and surf. You just might hear the Island Music of the Gullah. Don’t be afraid. They are merely rising from the soil to tell you their story. Editor’s Note: A Special thanks to the Golden Isles Convention & Visitors Bureau and The Gullah Geechee and Sea Island Cotton sample from the Gullah Geechee Nation.

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aking tracks on the St. Marys Express is always an adventure and you never know who you will meet. Coming in October, you might meet dancing scarecrows. The Santa Express will bring you face to face with the enchanting characters that personify the spirit of Christmas. Action ramps up on the Wild West Express after the new year. No matter which train excursion you take from the downtown St. Marys train station, you’re sure to get a good helping of fun entertainment. As the train makes tracks through scenic woodlands and over marshlands, actors from St. Marys Little Theatre interact with passengers, setting the scene for the midway stage presentation about 30 minutes into the ride. Storybook fantasies or historic reenactments come alive as passengers continued ...


watch from their front row seats aboard the train. Themed adventures might include a Wild West Express, Circus Train, Peter Cottontail Express, Santa Express, Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, or something new cooked up by the entertainment folks who focus on family fun and a relaxing escape into the great outdoors. Anything and everything can happen between the time the train leaves the station in St. Marys and when it comes to a halt at the end of a wild wacky adventure. Where else can you mingle with heroes and villains? With giant bunnies and Santa’s elves? With cowboys and lion tamers? Volunteers on the St. Marys Express are dedicated to putting smiles on faces and that’s just what they do. There is a spirit of camaraderie among everyone aboard the St. Marys Express, and a silent agreement that all stresses and worries be checked in at the boarding ramp. Suspension of belief prevails as the train rides into the day’s adventure. Whether one rides in the open air cars, in the locomotive, or actually drives the locomotive through the AT THE THROTTLE experience, it all makes for a great day of adventure and the perfect way to really chill out. Visit for more details, or call 912-729-1103 for information about the AT THE THROTTLE Experience.




Camrus Johnson in “Batwoman.”

Filming of Dumbo in St. Marys.


Camrus Johnson at premiere of “The Sun is Also a Star.”

amden County native Camrus Johnson got an early start in stage and screen acting. He appeared in St. Marys Little Theatre’s first production, “The Man of La Mancha.” That was eight years ago. Today, he spends most of his time between New York and Los Angeles and on locations like Vancouver where the new “Batwoman” is being filmed. “The Batman universe is huge,” Johnson said, and he sees his role as Luke Fox in “Batwoman” as a strong breakout role for him. Not that he hasn’t already been busy in the film world. Johnson’s Camden family recently joined him for the premiere of “The Sun is Also a Star,” a film in which he plays the role of Omar. A well-respected movie reviewer wrote this about the movie: “Beautiful, young people fall in a swoony, doomed love over the course of a single, eventful day in sun-dappled New York City. You go for continued ...



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the escape and to bask in the glory of its gorgeous leads. Its ending is downright perfect and borderline daring.” Johnson is becoming a familiar face on TV series like Chicago PD and Hulu’s “There’s…Johnny!” He’s just formed his own production company, “Moon Jelly Pictures,” and is honing his writing skills, working on a film short, “Blue Bison,” and a comic book for which he has already written the movie version. Writer, actor, director, producer, singer—Camrus Johnson is a resource that Coastal Georgia can be so very proud of. Another familiar movie figure in Camden County is Mahmoud Shoolizadeh who has filmed several movies in and around St. Marys. Filmed in London, his most recent film, “Susan,” is garnering tons of awards. Leslie Moran has this to say about “Susan”: “Shoolizadeh’s approach to storytelling is to provide an almost slow motion dissection of the emotions that are at the heart of the story. In true melodramatic style throughout the film, Shoolizadeh’s camera subjects his star’s face to cruel scrutiny. “I won’t spoil the viewer’s experience of this journey by pointing out the various twists and turns the story takes but I would advise cinema goers to arm themselves with a good supply of paper tissues. When I saw the film, there were many deep sighs and low sobbing.” As with all his projects, Shoolizadeh’s “Susan” is funded by love, devotion, and a passion for filmmaking. Moran said, “The film is an astonishing achievement.” Another Shoolizadeh film, “The Lover,” was filmed in St. Marys and can now be seen on Amazon Prime. continued ...


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Local actors, local writers, local directors—a plethora of film talent reigns in our own backyard. Other film resources include facilities like the studio that local film writer and producer Dave Webb has established just a few minutes from St. Marys’ waterfront. Dave Webb’s “ZZ Productions” offers something unique for the film industry—a green screen which enables action to take place in a studio in front of a blank screen then the filmmaker inserts location backdrops through the magic of computer manipulation. Webb can superimpose any subjects onto virtual backgrounds, place them over animated digital backdrops or transport them to a desert oasis or anywhere in the world. You can shrink down a full-grown man so he can stand on a tabletop or use visual effects to make him fly through the sky like a superhero. Camden County Film Commissioner Doug Vaught sees Webb’s green screen as a draw for filmmakers. “It is vision like his that demonstrates to the film world that we in Coastal Georgia are serious about filmmaking,” Vaught said. “Word of mouth in the film industry has placed our community in an enviable position to draw more movie and television projects.” Dave Webb is also a filmmaker and has written a screenplay that he plans to film in St. Marys in the fall. The storyline of Webb’s film goes like this: “After finding a lady’s body outside her home, and receiving a mysterious key in the mail, private investigator Jennifer Holmes soon starts to uncover a long line of secrets, lies, and deceit. With millions of dollars at stake, Jennifer must find out what really happened the night Courtney Mitchell was born.” Webb also filmed a short titled “Fright of the Full Moon” in downtown St. Marys in July. Film resources abound in our community, even for sound effects. You know the cute purr noise made by Daenerys’ dragons on “Game of Thrones”? Of course, dragons don’t exist in real life so that noise had to be created by a professional sound designer. That’s how some animals living just a few miles from St. Marys made their voice-acting debut this year. Endangered species living in Yulee’s White Oak Conservation voiced Dany’s dragons in the latest season of GOT. White Oak posted a video showing the sound technician setting up her microphone next to a pen of rhinos. Pretty cool, huh? Coastal Georgia Film Alliance is the nonprofit organization that helps facilitate film and TV production throughout the Georgia coastal area. But it’s not just the coast that is putting Georgia on the universal map of filmmaking. In Fiscal Year 2018 alone, there were 455 combined productions—films, TV movies and series, commercials, and music videos--$2.7 billion in direct spending and continued ...

$9.5 billion in economic impact in the state of Georgia. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, Georgia was the No. 1 filming location for feature films worldwide. Georgia’s generous policy of “up to 30%” tax incentive for filmmakers is a huge draw for the industry. “The Walking Dead” was given the green light to film at various locations on Jekyll Island, and filming took place this summer in several Jekyll areas including Driftwood Beach (see related article). More than 200 cast and crew members were in town for the filming, making a significant economic impact on area businesses. This is the second time the series has used Jekyll as a filming location. It first appeared in the series in 2016. Will Smith’s “Gemini Man,” set for release in October 2019, used more than 330 vendors from 64 state localities including Brunswick and St. Simons Island. The trailer for “Doctor Sleep,” Warner Brothers’ long-awaited sequel to “The Shining,” was released in June 2019. Filmed partially in St. Marys in the fall of 2018, the trailer features Ewan McGregor playing the grown up version of Danny, the little boy from “The Shining.” Local extras were used in the filming. Even Disney has caught on to our community’s plethora of location offerings. continued ...




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Ewan McGregor stars in “Doctor Sleep,” sequel to “The Shining,” that was filmed in St. Marys.

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At a special showing of “Susan” at Sun-Ray Cinema in Jacksonville. (L-R) Steve Royer, Mahmoud Shoolizadeh, Barbara Ryan, Rozina Behrooz, Jim Osterlund.


The remake of “Dumbo” debuted in St. Marys in March 2019. You can see the Borrell Creek train trestle in St. Marys in an opening scene as a super-imposed vintage steam engine chugs across the marsh. Several other locations in and around St. Marys were used as visual backdrops as well. “New York Times” film critic had this to say about “Dumbo”: “In his live-action remake of Disney’s Dumbo, Tim Burton plays with a legacy that he has helped burnish for decades, only to set it gleefully ablaze.” As this issue of St. Marys Magazine goes to press, Film Commissioner Vaught is in talks with executive producers of an upcoming film that features an international star. “We have the resources, the talent, and the hospitality that would make any filmmaker happy,” Vaught said. “We love the movies and the movies love our community.” For more information about Coastal Georgia Film Alliance, visit

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ast fall, St. Marys Little Theatre (SMLT) presented “An Evening with the Stars” at Theatre by the Trax in downtown St. Marys. Standing ovations are not unusual for the local community theatre group, but the lineup of stars drew seemingly endless applause and a demand for an encore. And so it shall be. “Evening with the Stars” (hosted by Sonny and Cher this time) will return to Theatre by the Trax September 13-22. This encore performance will have a whole new lineup of stars and a new stage set designed to dazzle. “Last season’s stars that included Cher, Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga, the Blues Brothers and 14 more acts brought audiences to their feet,” said director Barbara Ryan. “This year’s production will shine even brighter with new talents that look and sound like some of the world’s most beloved performing artists.” The magic of makeup transforms locals into show biz icon faces, but Ryan says it is the continued ...



ST. MARYS LITTLE THEATRE Enriching LivEs Through ThE


An EVEnIng WITH THE STARS september 13-22

CHRISTMAS SHoW december 13-15

P e r f o r m e d

a t

Theatre Trax 1000 osbornE road • sT. Marys, ga




voices of people in our community that continue to astonish those who attend the plays presented by St. Marys Little Theatre. “People are truly astounded by the talent we have in this community,” Ryan said. “Often, someone in the audience comments about how well the singers lip-synced, having no idea that the voices were real.” “We always try to begin a new season with a blockbuster and end the season with a blockbuster as well,” Ryan said. “Ergo the recent production of ‘9 to 5’ that closed out SMLT’s eighth season.” “9 to 5” introduced new talent to SMLT’s group and also brought back stage veterans. Laughter reigned throughout each performance as the political incorrectness of the 70s reminded us of how far women have come in the past 40 years. With songs that drove the theme and spirit of the musical, the high energy of the cast bounced off the audience and inspired the actors to a higher level of performance.

Margie Geddes, Executive Producer of “9 to 5” with Trax owner Doug Vaught. “Audiences can do that,” said Ryan. “Actors on stage can actually feel the energy of an audience and are moved to reflect that energy so that the entire theater rises up to an elevated state of synergy. It makes for a great evening of entertainment.” continued ...


SMLT’s eighth season also included the annual tribute to Black History Month, an original musical written by local resident Gaila Brandon. Titled “Midnight Train to Georgia,” through drama, comedy, and song, the show told the story of broken dreams and inspiring triumphs of three generations. SMLT’S ninth season, launched by “Evening with the Stars” in September, will include a Christmas show about a wayward elf and the original musical by David Pooler titled “Carnival Man.”

Everyone in the community is encouraged to get involved with community theatre. “It’s great therapy,” said Ryan. “Good for your soul and spirit and we have an awesome theatre family that embraces diversity at all levels.” To get involved as a volunteer, actor, tech person, or with any other aspect of community theatre, go to, click on “contact” and indicate your area of interest.

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“St. Marys Magazine” makes a great travel companion. We’d like to know where you’re taking us. To become one of our media darlings, simply have your photo taken in a distinguishable location, holding a copy of the magazine, and email the photo with names and location to

Steve Royer at Grand Canyon.

Herb and Cathy Rowland on Roatan Island, Honduras.

Ralph Talbott and Suzi Plaine at Arches National Park Moab in Utah.

Dustin and Ana Vaught in California. 68

Rose Langford in Paauilo, Hawaii.

Ed and Diane Torgersen (left) with family in Two Harbors, Minnesota.

Joe Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s father, at Art Bird & Whiskey Bar in Grand Central Station.

Girls Getaway in Grand Cayman hosted by Margie Geddes (2nd from right).

‘Big Kenny’ Alphin of Big & Rich and his wife, Christiev in Nashville.

Hunter Prince, Mary Hutchinson, and Dr. Stanley Prince on their mission of “Project Smile” in Belize.

Andrea Simons, Founder & CEO of Something Simon and world renowned chef Art Smith in New York.


Around Town

89-year-old Juanelle Mann was crowned “Ms. Senior Care Center-St. Marys” in a recent ceremony. Pictured: (first row) Annie Roberts; Juanelle Mann, Ms. Senior Care Center-St. Marys 2019; Ethel Dawson, Ms. Senior Care Center-St. Marys 2017-18; and Joyce Myers. (second row) Lt. Chris Winkle, St. Marys Police Officer, pageant escort; Joanne Becker, first runner-up; Brandi Smith; Theresa Budzinski, second runner-up; and Elizabeth Brown, activities specialist. (third row) Veronica Creo, activities assistant; and Denise Kellam, volunteer.

Krysta Merical of St. Marys recently completed a garden project for her Girl Scout Silver Award at the Southeast Georgia Health System’s Senior Care Center - St. Marys.

Historic St. Marys Fishing Classic 2019 winners included: 4 Kingfish eRobert Southwick 26.30, 4 Sheepshead eDustin Bridges 5.32, Lee Todd 3.48, Dillon Todd 3.06, 4 Redfish Jackpot eDoug White and Robert Galarza, 4 Trout eLogan Stover 6.48, Joseph Stover 3.84.


The St. Marys Garden Club, Tree Board and City Officials celebrated Arbor Day 2019 with the planting of a tree in the Peace Garden.















“The people here are very friendly and we get a lot of Camden County Joint Development help. Thank you again for your help! “ FOODIE’ J INC.





“Camden County has been an excellent partner in helping us locate and be successful in our business. The Authority is my first point of contact and always responsive and timely in addressing my needs.” Bryan Sandifer, Plant Manager, Woodbine Tube Plant, Greif

Sea Grant

The University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant requested St. Marys EarthKeepers’ Chair, Alex Kearns, as one of three stakeholders on a panel representing work related to Resilient Communities and Economies. In Spring 2019, Kearns spoke at the Georgia Sea Grant National Site Review, delivering a presentation to the National Site Review team at the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Skidaway facility. A National Site Review Visit is conducted once every four years and is the only in-person, on-site comprehensive review of the program. The Site Review Visit provides the National Sea Grant’s Federal Program Office, members of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, and other reviewers the opportunity to meet with Georgia Sea Grant management, Advisory Board members, stakeholders and university officials. In 2013, as a direct result of the EarthKeepers’ community sea level rise seminar and ongoing outreach efforts, St. Marys was selected through a nationwide grant competition as one of five locations in the United States to undergo community resilience and adaptation planning. Funded by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant Program, the overall project was designed to assess and make initial recommendations for addressing local vulnerability to coastal flooding and sea-level rise over a 50-year horizon. In May 2017, the City of St. Marys, Georgia Sea Grant, the University of Georgia, Stetson University, and North Carolina Sea Grant released the “St. Marys Flood Resiliency Project” report—a culmination of approximately four years of concerted work to involve the community in vulnerability awareness and flood 72 resiliency planning.

According to Kearns, “Sea Grant’s expertise and guidance enabled us to analyze risks and vulnerabilities from tidal flooding and sea level rise over the next 50 years. That analysis led to the formation of recommendations— and those recommendations are guiding our city’s administration and citizens. Plus, we entered FEMA’s Community Rating System program at a level 7 and now we’re a solid 6 and heading for a 5. This represents considerable financial savings and security for property owners while attracting new businesses and residents.” St. Marys Flood Resiliency Project can be found here: Plan_03_06_2017_JME.pdf

board informed Council that such releases are nothing more than “pretty littering” that results in the death of sea turtles, birds, and other marine species. In one four-hour beach survey on Cumberland Island, 32 balloons were collected. It is hoped that soon the cities of Kingsland and Woodbine will adopt similar resolutions and the Camden County Commissioners will follow suit.

Little Free Library

Annual River Clean-up

St. Marys Earthkeeper volunteer Andi Gunn at Little Free Library on the waterfront.

Volunteers including St. Marys Earthkeepers members participate annually in the St. Marys River cleanup.

Balloon Release Resolution

On May 20, St. Marys City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution (and ordinances) that prohibit balloon releases. The St. Marys EarthKeepers’ members and

St. Marys Howard Gilman Waterfront Park received a new addition: a Little Free Library. The St. Marys EarthKeepers provided the impetus, funds, and direction after a board meeting conversation about the many facets of “a healthy environment.” Chair Alex Kearns stated, “I can’t think of any more perfect a marriage than our gorgeous waterfront park, a welcoming bench, and a good book.” A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” no-cost open interchange and all are welcome to

we found it.


“check out” a book and/or bring a book to place on the shelves. Mayor John Morrissey applauds the program saying, “I went to see our new Little Free Library and it is a charmer. While I was there a five-year-old went up to the Library door, opened it and took out a book. It works!” There are registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world. The St. Marys Little Free Library will include a range of adult, youth, and children’s offerings. According to Kearns “I’ve always seen books as the great unifiers— bridging all differences with the common love of learning and entertainment. Add to that the knowledge that children will have better access to books and it’s just a delightful concept. We hope that our community will embrace both the use and spirit of our Little Free Library.”

Together we can change our world.

St. Marys Recycles Advanced Disposal accepts the following items for curbside recycling: • Chip Board (e.g. coke cartons, cereal boxes, etc.) • #1 and #2 plastic bottles/jugs (rinse) • Aluminum/metal cans (rinse) • Newspaper and inserts • Brown paper bags • All types of glass • Phone books • Cardboard (flattened and cut into 2’ x 3’ pieces; place under the recycle bin) • Magazines NOT ACCEPTED • Pizza boxes • Plastic bags • Butter tubs • Juice and milk cartons • Egg cartons • Styrofoam • Pool or other chemical containers Please always remember to use less and reuse whenever possible. The St. Marys EarthKeepers hold regular electronics recycling events throughout the year that are announced in the Tribune & Georgia and on the EarthKeepers’ Facebook page. 73

Seated from left to right are Allison Combs, Tabitha Cricfield, Haley Dill, Najah Gray-Jennings, Khalil Green, Clara Griffin and Isaiah Johnson. Standing from left to right are General Bob Magnus, Kyle Kidd, Jay Larsen, Caleb Lewis, Dr. John Tucker, Jonah Morris, Lucas Munday, Anthony Vallotti, Daniel Viñuela, Jonathan Ware and Alexis Hunter.


t a recent dinner in St. Marys, 17 Camden County High School students were recognized for their decision to enlist in the US military. The banquet, called “Our Community Salutes,” was given to allow the community to be the first to say, “thank you for your service.” A total of 21 students attended from Charlton County High School and Camden County High School along with 60 supporting family members. Dr. John Tucker, Principal of Camden County High, recognized each of the future enlistees and their parents. A total of 31 students to include 23 Camden County High School and eight from Charlton County High School seniors are enlisting upon graduation and have been accepted by their prospective military branches. Forty community leaders and members of various veterans and military support organizations attended to show their support for the students and their families. Air Force Major General Robert S. Dickman (Retired) served as the Master of Ceremonies of the event. He commended the students for their continued ...


Books are just worlds waiting to be opened. decision to enlist but also recognized that what they were about to embark upon can be a daunting venture. He also congratulated parents of the students that they have both made the decision to serve but also have met the rigorous standards of military service. The primary speaker for the event was Chief of the Boat, Master Chief, Tracy Crihfield, USS Georgia, SSGN-729 (Gold). The submarine senior enlisted leader congratulated the students for their decision to enlist but also challenged them to do their best in the training they face in the near future. Recognizing that over 70% of our nation’s youth are not eligible for recruitment into the armed forces, the Kings Bay Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) sought to recognize those young people from Camden County High School and Charlton County High School who have made the decision to enlist in our Armed Forces. To make this dinner possible, Kings Bay MOAA secured a Community Outreach Grant from the national MOAA organization. MOAA is made up of over 350,000 active and retired military officers from around the country who live by the motto: Never Stop Serving. Other groups including the Navy League, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 8385, and SUBVETS supported the event. Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Fred Boyles for contributing to this article.

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Help. Hope. Healing. If you or someone you love has cancer, you want the highest level of care possible, but you also want it to be close to home, family and friends. You can trust the Southeast Georgia Health System Cancer Care Center in St. Marys for high-quality, compassionate cancer care that is just down the road and right by your side. From diagnosis to recovery, you can count on our cancer care experts to offer a treatment plan designed just for you. For more information on how our Cancer Care Center can help you win the fight against cancer, call 912-576-6320 or visit

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The Board of Directors of the Camden County Alzheimer’s Project, Inc., pictured at the Kick-off of the nonprofit corporation are (Seated left to right) President Dianne Torgersen and Jennifer Woodward, 2018 Volunteer Extraordinaire ; (Standing left to right) David Schmitz, Secretary Jo Ann Steadman, Treasurer Crystal Pittman-Collette, Partnership/Sponsorship Coordinator John McNeil. Not pictured is Vice President Frank Woodward.


fter contributing tens of thousands of dollars to the Alzheimer’s cause on a national basis in years prior, leaders of the local group have organized and formed The Camden County Alzheimer’s Project, Inc. (CCAP) as a nonprofit corporation, and are recruiting advisory committee members, all of whom serve on a volunteer basis. Board members are Dianne Torgersen, president; Frank Woodward, vice president; Jo Ann Steadman, secretary; Crystal Pittman-Collette, treasurer; John McNeil; and David Schmitz. One additional board member will complete the seven-member board. The board will undertake activities to make Camden County a Dementia Friendly Community, a national program developed by Dementia Friendly America which is changing how people think, act and talk about dementia. The funds raised in the first three years of the local Walk were donated entirely to the Alzheimer’s Association; however, this year the continued ...



wonderland of compelling locations, Coastal Georgia serves up verdant marshlands, wilderness islands, the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, three rivers, the Great Okefenokee Swamp, quaint waterfront villages, and majestic maritime forests—captivating vistas at every turn. Add in the mystique of historic cemeteries, a world-class Navy Submarine base, the charm of antebellum mansions, the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, plus film-friendly city leadership, and you’ll discover the makings of a great film. We call it “Cinemagical”!

912-729-1103 Visit to hear what other producers have to say about filming in Coastal Georgia.

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focus is on needs of Camden County residents. This Project will provide community-based support, services, and educational opportunities for those living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, their family caregivers and professionals, while still supporting a national foundation conducting research for better treatment and a cure. Among the plans for 2019 Camden County Alzheimer’s Project are a Walk Your Butt Off! (sale of pork butts); a Doc ‘n Desserts with Dr. Neill Graff-Radford of Jacksonville Mayo Memory Care on August 22; the annual Walk on Saturday morning, October 26; and the 2nd Annual Memory Cup Golf Tournament on November 10. In addition, there will be fundraisers planned by teams and business sponsors throughout the summer and fall. A speaker’s bureau is available to present program information to various clubs, government agencies, service organizations, businesses and schools. The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group, which meets at St. Marys First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall on the fourth Thursday of the month, provides support to family members and caregivers. This is the largest caregiver support group in Georgia, with 40% of its attendees from Kingsland; 40% from St. Marys and 20% from Woodbine. Businesses can support the Project by becoming a sponsor with cash or in-kind contributions, by forming a team of employees to participate in fundraising activities, by offering facilities for events, by contributing prizes for the golf tournament, or by designating the Project as the charity to receive a percentage of sales or profits for a specified day. Schools may form teams of administrators, teachers, media paraprofessionals, and students to educate about dementia and to conduct activities involving students. Individuals in the county can participate in the Walk, either as a team member or an individual walker, and attend scheduled events. Editor’s Note: To learn more about CCAP or to volunteer, mail inquiries to CCAP, 1100 Dilworth St., St. Marys, Georgia 31558, email at camdenalzwalk@gmail. com, and check out the Facebook page Camden County Alzheimer’s Project.


eing in St. Marys at Christmas time is more than enchanting. It’s like stepping back into a Norman Rockwell painting. Shop windows adorned with holiday finery. People greeting each other on the street with an even more-than-usual friendliness and warmth. The thousands of white lights that transform the village into a magical sphere of brightness. Adding to the charm of the season is the First Presbyterian Church’s “Around the World Nativities” display. It was an idea that Wendy Haymans adopted from a church she attended near Atlanta four years ago. Each year, the three-generation team that includes Wendy, her mother Sharon Bowen, and daughter Ashley, collects nativity scenes from around the country and the world to share with visitors and residents. As Christmas 2019 approaches, Wendy says they have more than 300 nativities now. The nativities are made from various materials such as paper, leaves, plant fibers, shells, metals, stone, wood, discarded snack bags, magazines and bullets. Many countries continued ...

Sharon Bowen, Ashley Haymans, Wendy Haymans


have limited resources so they are creative with materials they have available—many items we would typically throw away. “The most unusual scene we have is made from AK 47 bullet casings found on the streets in Liberia after the 1st and 2nd civil wars,” Wendy said. “Over 150,000 people died in these wars. The casings are pounded flat and then cut into the shapes of the nativity scene.” Sharon said, “The nativities are a way we can help share the message of Christmas and the birth of the savior. I am always amazed how one particular scene can be depicted by so many cultures and using so many different materials.” Visitors can see the collection at the St. Marys First Presbyterian Church on Conyers Street in the Historic District of St. Marys in December during the Tour of Homes. Contact the St. Marys Visitors Center at 912-882-4000 for ticket information and schedule.

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1101 Osborne St. St. Marys, GA 912.576.5002 Mon.-Thurs.10am – 9pm • Fri.- Sat. 10am – 10pm Sun. 12:30pm - 5:30pm


shlyn Seckinger started baking with her grandmother when she was just a child. Her love for the culinary arts continued into adulthood even as she worked as a financial analyst at the Pentagon. Thankfully, for us foodies, after going to pastry school and resuming her passion, she veered south. Ashlyn and her husband, Scott, were residents of St. Simons Island before becoming the proprietors of Serendipity Market & Bakery at the entrance to Osprey Cove. “When deciding on opening the bakery, we also saw a need to provide prepared meals for people who don’t have time to cook,” Ashlyn said. That’s when they developed their a la carte casseroles and take-out meals that are far from ordinary. Specials change daily, but there’s always a wide variety of casseroles in their freezer ready for customers to just pop into the oven for an easy lunch or dinner or a special event. “One of our most popular items is our Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo,” Ashlyn said. “For the casseroles, we make all of our sauces from scratch and each is designed to enhance the ingredients of the dish,” she said. Only the freshest of ingredients are used, driven by the season. Recently, they were able to get a beautiful box of vine ripened tomatoes. “We made them into a summertime favorite, continued on page 82


hen you visit The Honeysuckle House on Colerain Road in Kingsland, one thing is for sure—you will go back again and again. Treasures revolve daily as proprietor Kelly Bennett and her consignors bring in unique finds from just about anywhere. Housewares, housewarming gifts, and just plain funky junk, said Kelly. “Going junkin’ is fun and we get fabulous finds,” Kelly said. “Just recently, a trip to Alabama paid off as we got great deals at a vintage market and an auction—deals we can pass on to our customers.” Casual cottage style and vintage wares abound in the rustic building just a few minutes from downtown Kingsland. Re-purposing is a specialty at The Honeysuckle House—upcycling items that can serve a higher purpose such as the art deco dresser Kelly’s co-worker Nikki Williams turned into a bathroom sink for one customer. “Nikki is a great friend and my ‘ride or die’ partner,” Kelly said. “I could not do all of this without her.” Kelly has always had an eye for the creative, learning at an early age from her mother, Debbie Harper, who owned a retail shop in St. Marys decades ago. Kelly worked at a florist right out of school so developed a talent for the “eye-pleasing.” Currently, she is looking to continued on page 82


Serendipity Market & Bakery continued from page 81

We work hard for you! Home, Auto, Life, Recreational, Business, Flood and Senior Plans.


2201 Osborne Rd Suite B, St. Marys, GA 31558 Licensed in GA, SC and Florida License #W203678.

FREE Use of Truck with Move-in Wide choice of sizes Climate controlled & non-climate controlled 24-hour internet access Covered RV/Boat/Vehicle Storage On-site manager Packing supplies 10151 Colerain Road • St. Marys, GA 912-576-1776 Just one mile from the main gate of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base

• Clubhouse w/ FULL Kitchen • 5 Mi. N. of FL Border • 2 Mi. from Folkston Funnel • 9 Mi. from Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge 252 Bowery Lane • Homeland, GA



Fresh Tomato Pie—vine ripe tomatoes and onions baked with a cheddar, gruyere and Monterey Jack cheese topping.” Serendipity’s daily Facebook postings keep clients coming back again and again. One recent post enticed readers with a “keto friendly Pork Chile Verde––pork slowly braised in a tomatillo hatch chile salsa until the meat is fork tender. Served over rice with a side of sour cream, lime, cilantro and avocado.” At the cornerstone of Serendipity’s business are Ashlyn’s awesome cakes which demonstrate her accomplished skills as a pastry chef. Wedding cakes, groom cakes—cakes for all occasions. She is often asked to duplicate a cake someone has found on Pinterest or in a magazine. She happily does so, sometimes embellishing it far beyond the customer’s expectations. “We not only want your cake to be beautiful, but it should taste good too. That’s why it’s important to us to use the finest ingredients like real butter, European chocolates, and fresh fruit in our products.” Ashlyn’s cake masterpieces have been showcased on international websites such as “The Knot.” Cajun Shrimp Casserole, Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Mushroom Rice, Jambalaya, Beef Stroganoff, Shepherd’s Pie—these are but a few of the delicious offerings at Serendipity Market and Bakery. Whether you’re looking for an “over-the-top” one of a kind wedding cake, or just need to grab something yummy for tonight’s dinner, Serendipity is just a phone call away. You can call 912-882-2253 or follow Serendipity Market and Bakery on Facebook to get the scoop on what delectable choices await you. The Honeysuckle House continued from page 81 expand inventory by signing up new consignors. Another expansion area for The Honeysuckle House is custom work requested by clients. “People are bringing pieces out of their homes to have redone,” she said. “We also have our own custom upholsterer.” Customers have also taken a liking to the women’s boutique clothing featured at The Honeysuckle House. “We have a little something for everyone,” Kelly said. “And we promise you that when you shop at The Honeysuckle House you will always be greeted with a warm smile and friendly chatter. If you find yourself leaving with a grin on your face and a treasure in your hand, then we know you will be back.” The Honeysuckle House is located at 3266 Colerain Road in Kingsland. Call 912-674-7669 for more information.

By Barbara



y daddy had a green thumb. I have a brown thumb and thusly have kept my distance from the care of plants most of my life—for their sakes. But I have found a real friend in the iconic Resurrection Fern that carpets the branches of St. Marys’ oldest oak trees. Metaphorically, I can identify with this epiphyte (that means it derives its nutrients from the air). When there is little moisture in the air, the resurrection fern shrivels and appears dead (don’t keep me away from the beach too long). Then a little rain comes along and a miraculous rebirthing occurs. Within 24 hours, the ferns turn back into the lush green carpet that dresses the stately oaks, harboring its own micro-habitat for lizards and insects which attract birds. This remarkable plant can lose about 75 percent of its water content during a typical dry period and possibly up to 97 percent in an extreme drought—by contrast, most other plants can lose only 10 percent of their water content before they die. During the dry time, it withers into a grayish brown clump of leaves. Then comes back to life in a verdant splash as Mother Nature shows off her tricks. It is this supposed “resurrection” that gives the fern its name. The resurrection fern has literally been where “almost no man has gone before.” It was taken into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery to see if its resurrection worked in zero gravity. It did. Not just another pretty face, the resurrection fern has served a medicinal purpose in old worlds, used by the Aztecs as a diuretic and liver healer. If you’ve ever gazed up at a centuries-old live oak and seen delicate green fronds curling around the tree’s trunk and branches, you’ve caught a glimpse of this Southern landscape enigma—the magical resurrection fern, a Coastal Georgia phenom.





All Events in St. Marys unless otherwise noted.

Every First Friday, art, entertainment, special dining opportunities in Downtown St. Marys

July 27 ............................... Music in the Park

November 30 ...................... Santa Express Train Rides

August 10 ........................... Music in the Park

December 3 ........................ White Lighting Parade & Ceremony

September 14 ..................... Music in the Park

December 7 ........................ Christmas in the Park

September 13 & 14 & 20-22 ..... Evening with the Stars at Theatre by the Trax

December 7, 14, 21 ............. Santa Express Train Rides

October 5 ............................ Rock Shrimp Festival & Parade

December 10 ....................... Live Nativity at Orange Hall

October 19 & 26 ................. Halloween Express Train Rides

December 13-15 .................. Christmas Spectacular at Theatre by the Trax

October 25 .......................... Haunted History Tour

December 14 ....................... Christmas Tour of Homes

November 23 ...................... Kingsland Catfish Festival

Every Saturday ............................ St. Marys Community Market on Osborne & Royal District Market in Kingsland Every Friday & Saturday Evening ... Woodbine Opry

For additional information about other area events, visit these websites (St. Marys) (Kingsland) (Woodbine) (Folkston) (Brunswick and The Golden Isles) (Darien) (Savannah) (Amelia Island) (Jacksonville & surrounding area) (St. Augustine & Ponte Vedra)

Train Ride information at


• Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® • Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint ® • Classes • Vintage Finds • Local Art FIND US ON

Miss Julie’s House In Downtown St. Marys

Have you enrolled your little ones yet? M-F: 6:30 am - 6:00 pm 501 Osborne Street • St. Marys, GA



708 OsbOrne street. • st. Marys, Ga • 912-510-0639

Storied treasures around every corner including beautiful antique furniture, collectibles, rugs, artwork, and great gift items. Gallery Featuring 13 Local Artists! Downtown St. Marys at 102 West Church Street 912-882-5861

• Locally Owned & Operated • Price Match • Military Discount • Veteran-Owned You’re sure to find it here. • Lease -to-Own option Antiques • ColleCtibles JewelrY • No Interest Financing• Available CoAstAl • retro • VintAge

the Merry Mermaid

203 osborne street – st. Mary, gA


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A Neighborhood TrAdiTioN Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Coffee and Smoothies FREE WiFi, outside porch and inside seating. 912.882.9555 304 Osborne Street • St. Marys, GA • Open 7 Days • 7:30am – 2:00 pm


Find out what the locals are raving about! Extensive Menu & Daily Specials Catering Available!

1837 Osborne Road • St. Marys, GA • 912-467-4217


Bruce & Rhonda Wilkerson proprietors of Scrappy Rooster Quilts invite you to:

Fall in Love w i t h q u i lt i n g

• Quilting Supplies • Quilting Service (including Long-Arm)

• Classes & Retreats 2201 Osborne Street, Suite C, St. Marys, GA 912.510.0100

Jacksonville North / St Marys KOA Full Hook-up – Pull-thru RV Sites Deluxe Furnished Cabins • Tipi Village Clubhouse (Rentals Available)

Where the Good Junk Lives! Cottage Style Treasures from Way Past to Present 3266 Colerain Road Kingsland, GA

912.674.7669 FIND US ON



• TENT SITES • HEATED POOL with 50’ wATErSLIDE • FrEE BrEAKFAST • 18-Hole Miniature Golf Course


(Open to the Public)

There’s Camping. And there’s KOA.

2970 Scrubby Bluff road, Kingsland, GA 31548 (I-95, GA Exit 1) www.

Stay and Play In Camden County

3 Great Destinations. Endless fun!

Kingsland – St. Marys – Woodbine I-95 GA Exits 1-26


A new you is closer than you think! Camden County’s Premier Plastic Surgery & Medical Spa 2060 Dan Proctor Drive, Suite 1100 | St. Marys 912.673.7752 Abdominoplasty • Breast augmentation/lift/reduction • Liposuction Face lift • Neck lift • Eyelid surgery • Hand surgery • Skin cancer surgery And more… Nonsurgical procedures/treatments offered: Botox & filler • CoolSculpting® • Hydrafacial Chemical Peels • Facials

Brunswick • Jesup • St. Simons Island • Waycross

The World of film Welcomes

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Margie Geddes

GirlPower ! Lisa St. John

RenĂŠe Frigo

Beth Hubbard

Upcoming prodUctions soon to Be AnnoUnced

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