God, Dr. Buzzard And The Bolito Man – A Saltwater Geechee Talks about life on Sapelo Island, Georgia

Took January off from blogging – it just needed to be done.

Jumping back in… The second book I read about Gullah / Geechee culture was God, Dr. Buzzard And The Bolito Man – A Saltwater Geechee Talks about life on Sapelo Island, Georgia by Cornelia Walker Bailey (with Christena Bledsoe).

For a blogger that is supposed to be all about the books, I really struggle with how to review them. So, I’ve decided not to – no summaries, no deep analysis. Every time I start something like that I bore myself, so I can only imagine how you would feel if I actually posted it.

So. Moving on…

This is a beautiful book.

Fantastic.

I’m never going to loan out my copy – you should get one for yourself (the link above will take you right to the author’s website). Ms. Bailey has a gift for storytelling – from her words, I could so easily imagine her family, her home, her surroundings, her culture. READ THIS BOOK.

“When I tell you about the strength of our elders, our views on everything from birth to death and the hereafter, and how I came to fear for my people, I am telling you about who we were and are as a people. I want to hold up our customs and traditions for you to see one at a time, as if each is a bright piece of fabric that I will stitch into a warm geechee quilt you can look at and say, ‘Those Geechee people really did have a different way of living and believing over there.”

“I am a storyteller and my tale is of a people so private our story has never been told before. I tell it now for my people, in hopes it will create a new beginning on this island, a shining dayclean, and for people everywhere: You can survive if you believe in yourself and your culture.

“This is how I remember it. Lean back and listen.” 

Saltwater Marsh – Sapelo Island
(image from Wikimedia Commons)

The Lure of A Beachfront View

There is no way to have a genuine conversation about Gullah/Geechee culture without talking about real estate. The impact outside development has had on the barrier islands of the Lowcountry, and the people who were there before the golf courses, is huge.

The pressure is on-going; places like Hilton Head are already built up, but other islands such as Sapelo, off the coast of Georgia, are now really feeling the heat of  inflated real estate prices. Couple that money with a dwindling population and it’s easy to see that the long-time residents are facing an uphill battle.

Disclaimer: it would be disingenuous of me not to mention the islands near Savannah where I grew up. I don’t know much about the history of Wilmington Island, and I can’t find much about it right now. All I can say is that it’s a middle-class, somewhat diverse place.

The other island that I lived on, Skidaway…well…not so much. It’s very much built on the Hilton Head gated-community model, complete with one of the 18 hole golf courses being named The Plantation Course. Yep, that’s not loaded imagery at all.