Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lighthouse, Live Oaks, and Spanish Moss

Eugenia Price was a writer of Christian non-fiction for years. When I was a young mom going to Bible study on Tuesday mornings, we used a lot of her materials for our studies. It was about that time that we discovered her fiction and several of us read the trilogy I mentioned in an earlier post: The Lighthouse, New Moon Rising, and Beloved Invader. She later wrote a series based in Savannah beginning with a book by that title. For some reason, the fact that the trilogy was set on St. Simons Island, Georgia stuck with me. When DC went to Georgia to visit his brother one time, he visited St. Simons Island. After he returned from that visit, I began to remember that I had read these books and wished I could see the island.

When we decided to go to Georgia for our vacation this spring, I decided to re-read the trilogy. I am so thankful that I did, because they came to life when we arrived on the island. Eugenia had visited the island, somewhat as a fluke, fell in love with it, and was not satisfied until she was able to move there in the 1960s. She died there in 1996. The books were written in reverse chronological order, with Beloved Invader being the first written.

The Lighthouse took place right after the Revolutionary War. James Gould was the main character and he ended up on St. Simons Island as a very lonely, shy, rather backward single guy. He had drawn up plans for a lighthouse when he was a young teen, never having seen one, and living a long ways from the ocean in Connecticut. But the time came when the US government decided to build a lighthouse on the island, and he was persuaded by his friend, John Couper, to submit his plans. They were finally accepted and his dream of being a lighthouse builder came true. It was grueling work, and when it was completed he insisted on being the lighthouse keeper as well. Every night he would climb to the top of the lighthouse and light the oil lamps, which he had rigged as well. It was first lit in 1811. By this time he was married and had children, but that's a long story and you'll have to read the book for that part. Here is a picture his lighthouse, which was made from a material called "tabby," which was a mixture of oyster shells, lime, and sand. Below the lighthouse picture is a close-up of another building made of tabby.

Here is a picture of James Gould
During the Civil War, the Confederate soldiers occupied the island, requiring all the white people to leave, and requiring all the slaves to remain. They demolished James Gould's lighthouse (if I remember correctly, he had passed away by this time, so didn't have to live to see this destruction of his dream), so that the Northern troops could not see them from the sea. After the war was over, it was rebuilt in 1866. It is still in use and looks like this today.
Here are some of the flowers growing outside the lighthouse.
This is a shot from the beach - a bride was having her picture taken on the rocks below the lighthouse.

The live oak trees are massive and ancient (called that because they retain their green all year round). Absolutely incredible. The moss that sways and hangs from trees all over Georgia is everywhere. I didn't find it to be pretty, but very intriguing. DC and his brother revert to boyhood antics when they get together.

Note the look on DC's face.

The Goofy Ph.D.!





Susie said...

Beautiful photos Dawn. I especially love the Spanish moss. It looks so graceful and delicate. Are those pink flowers oleander?

Linds said...

This is just fascinating! I so love reading about new places, and seeing them through my friends' eyes! I can't wait for more stories and adventures. You need to keep taking holidays, to keep me amused!

Morning Glory said...

Oooh, I love that lighthouse. They fascinate me so much and we always try to see them when we vacation anywhere near them. The trees are spectacular!

kpjara said...

These really are beautiful photos...I love the photo of the striking and memorable!

I also love reading these historical tales and then seeing it in the flesh!

groovyoldlady said...

Lighthouses, azaleas, spanish moss and a couple of goofs. Sounds like a lovely trip!

Tammy said...

Dawn, I really enjoyed this post!
I just was so intriguing reading about Eugenia Price and the history behind her trilogy. I have never read them, but I know they are famous, and I think my mom has read them all.

Those photos are just great. I love DC and his brother posing...(is it me, or do they both look a little like David Letterman in those shots?)

Your trip just sounds like so much fun! Can't wait to read more!

Barb said...

I didn't know about the books. How wonderful that you got to go here, Dawn. The moss hanging from the trees reminds me so much of where I grew up in southeast Texas.

Beautiful photos. The live oak is amazing, isn't it?

ruth said...

I read those books a long time ago & enjoyed them. I loved your lighthouse pictures. I have a small collection of lighthouses & have had lighthouse calenders.
Daughter Tammy suggested I visit your blog since she knew I would enjoy reading it.

Diane J. said...

Lovely pictures, Dawn. :-)

I think in some ways that part of the South is very different from my area here in Arkansas.

Looking forward to the next post in this series.

Linda said...

Wow - I love it so far Dawn. The lighthouse is beautiful and the trees are magnificent. Great pictures.
How funny that we bought the same Earlene Fowler book at the same time!! I got to meet her a couple of times when she was here for a book signing. She is so down-to-earth and just plain nice!

SiouxSue said...

Oh, Dawn, I loved all your photos...we got a kick out of the "goofy Phd"!

Glad you had a wonderful time!

Kristen said...

I love the tree shots! Never see trees like that around here!

Russ and Dad when they get together....those two! ;-)

PEA said...

I so enjoyed this post...I love lighthouses, they always seem to hold so much mystery and history! I love it when I can read a book about a certain place and then actually go visit that you said, it just brings everything to life! Loved all your pictures, Dawn, so beautiful!! xox

Nancy said...

You really did have a great time, didn't you? I didn't know about the book tie in but that just made the trip more special. I love your great photos, keep um comin! Have a great weekend!

Diane said...


Boy--do you know how to vacation! How wonderful to visit a location of the books that you have loved for so long!

The photos are beautiful! Filled with history...and lasting memories!