ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA. | Thanks a lot Southern Living. As if we didn’t have enough people down here trying to get through the roundabout, you encourage more.
Well, I shouldn’t blame the magazine. All it did was poll its readers and publish the results of surveys to name “Your favorite barbecue joints, bars, cities, hotels, inns, restaurants, small towns and more.” The first annual South’s Best Awards is in the April issue that hits the newsstands Friday.
By the way, the favorite city is Charleston, S.C. The cover photo is a photo of a woman at the Battery, or Batt’ry as Charlestonians pronounce it, taking a picture out toward Fort Sumter. “Why we’re obsessed with this low country gem,” the cover says.
Well, some folks are apparently obsessed with St. Simons. It finished second in the best island category behind the OBX, which stands for North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It’s actually a string of mostly treeless islands with architecture devoid of charm, at least what I saw.
A lot of hurricanes and tropical storms have voted the OBX their favorite landfall, but that’s beside the point. It has some fine beaches and good surf fishing.
Of St. Simons, Southern Living says, “Picture historic architecture, moss-draped oaks, a relaxing community that never gets in a hurry, and long, flat beaches that stretch out for days at low tide.”
Moss draped oaks indeed, though Hurricane Matthew helped get rid of a lot of our less desirable trees like the pines and water oaks. “Never gets in a hurry,” it says. Well, some of us are occasionally in hurry, but we can’t get anywhere at the posted speed limit because there always seem to be golf carts in the road going 15 miles per hour under.
[I was hoping to go a full month without denigrating golf cartage. Oh well. Maybe April.]
We also have island prices for everything from real estate to hamburgers.
The living isn’t as Southern on the island as it once was. It’s getting a little like Florida: If you want to find some Southerners you have to go north.
It still has some distinctly Southern dishes like the crab soup at the Frederica House, the hot dogs made Carolina style with beanless chili and onions at Hot Dog Alley, the fried chicken at Benny’s Red Barn and about everything at Barbara Jean’s.
We also have some folks from big Northern cities who would prefer if you didn’t nod and say, “Hey,” to them. I do anyway because as Mark Twain said on another subject, “It will gratify some and astonish the rest.” Some just get angry, which is even better.
There are some good developments. I’m seeing more houses with porches and rocking chairs although they seem to be for decoration because you never see anyone sitting in them.
I know it’s proper to say sitting on a chair, but when it’s time to quit rocking and go, it sure feels like you’re getting out of it.
Also on the downside, not all the dogs are friendly Labrador retrievers. We’re getting an alarming number of designer dogs, like expensive labradoodles, goldendoodles and doxiwawas. [That’s a cross between a chihuahua and dachshund.] The people I admire are those walking rescue dogs with no discernible breed.
It’s getting hard to find a parking place and harder still to find a biscuit with any size to it and grits cooked right.
The timing of this thing couldn’t be worse, hitting the racks right after a blizzard whips through the Northeast.
I wonder, though, how many people in Boston and Philadelphia read Southern Living. Probably about as many as read Yankee magazine in Tupelo, Miss.
I’ll quit worrying.
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