by Sandra Stringer
Last year on December 28, the James Island Bugle went live when I accidentally pushed the wrong button. I had meant to start us up on January 1st! Oh, well.
2017 was an interesting year for me, personally, having this very all-encompassing “hobby” become a major part of my life. Initially I was intent on having a new article on every weekday, and almost blew a fuse after a couple of months of spending every free minute on the Bugle. Then I remembered: this is supposed to be fun! And so I dialed it back and made the decision to write articles when I wanted, to edit and post articles as they came to me, and to work hardest on keeping our Events and James Island in the News pages on the website and the Facebook page full of up-to-date information on James Island.
And I HAVE had fun. I’ve met so many amazing people, seen parts of James Island I wasn’t even aware of prior to the Bugle, and learned to relax and enjoy the ride. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.
So the first year of the James Island Bugle is almost over, and below are the top 25 most viewed articles since we got started. I have to thank all of the writers who contributed their time and energy this year: Gretchen Stringer-Robinson, Rick Stringer, Kathy Woolsey, Liz McCafferty, Thomas Ambrose Bierce, Susan W. Pidgeon, Shawn Halifax, Katie Dahlheim, Garrett Milliken, Henry Horres, Nancy Hadley, Paul Hedden, Becca Savage Lovett, Gary Davis, and Gary L. Dyson. Thanks to Henry Horres for contributing multiple poems – really, the ONLY poetry that anyone contributed! I especially want to give bear hugs to Gretchen Stringer-Robinson, Rick Stringer, Liz McCafferty, Susan Pidgeon, and Nancy Hadley for contributing multiple articles in our first year. Rock stars, all of you!
A very important addendum
I can’t believe I forgot the very most important person of all: Lani Mustard Stringer! Lani made the very first contribution to the Bugle – our logo. She put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort into making it just right. Without it, we’d have a sad looking website, instead of the wonderful, happy, beachy logo we have that represents us every day. Thank you so much, Lani. I feel like a heel for not mentioning how vital you are when I first wrote this! You are the best.
The top 25 articles of our first year
This was one of my more recent articles, and it was by far the most viewed article of the year. One of the genuine pleasures of making the Bugle is having the opportunity to meet people like Sean Mendes and his wife Cellie Mendes, two people who make the Blues Cajun Kitchen, Roadside Seafood, and now Gillie’s the fantastic places they are. They make wonderful food, and they are lovely human beings on top of all that. Every time I have a conversation with either of them, I walk away feeling warm and happy.
Meeting Joel Lucas was another wonderful event in my year. He’s so obviously in love with cooking and making eating out a memorable experience, and he once made me a tuna dish that was so good it almost made me cry. Seriously, I still think about that meal. All the time.
Written by Gretchen Stringer-Robinson, this was one of the very first articles we posted, and it was insanely popular at a time when we had a very small audience. Having so many people read this fabulous historical overview of the Island in such a short time really made me think, “Hey, this Bugle thing might just work!” Also, who knew local history was so popular? Or that James Island had so much interesting history to talk about? Now that our History section has filled up, I know that James Island has even more history than I would have ever thought, but this article is what started my education.
This was my first article on a restaurant, and it was a genuinely moving experience meeting Angie Bellinger. Sitting at a table in her dining room on a Saturday, a day off for her, and talking about her fascinating life – I won’t ever forget it. The fact that Workmen’s is a one-woman show amazed me, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s the astounding Ms. Bellinger.
Liz McCafferty contributed both photography and articles to the Bugle this year. Her article on Mr. Curtis touched a chord for many James Islanders who benefitted from his band directorship for 21 years at James Island High School. My favorite quote from that article is from Steven T. Mack, JICHS Marching band Color Guard instructor and assistant to the band director: “In this day in time it’s more important than ever for kids to learn that regardless of what your background may be, if we all work together we can do anything. Mr. Curtis has made an environment where this happens.”
Meeting Norma Lemon at the Island Breeze on Mosquito Beach was a special occasion for me not only because I got to meet Norma, but because I had never set foot on that little strip of land before. I didn’t even know it existed! I learned all about the history of Mosquito Beach and what led Norma and her fiancé Norman to create the Island Breeze restaurant. Our conversation led to another extraordinary day for me, de-littering Mosquito Beach with other James Islanders who showed up for the day. I hope Norma gets her wish and Mosquito Beach becomes as popular as it was in its heyday.
Nancy Hadley provided this opinion piece, and apparently a lot of people agreed with her! There does seem to be a bit of a learning curve for some people in regard to the road changes in that area, and Nancy reminded a certain select (hopefully now non-existent) audience, “You are being arrogant and lazy and you are going to kill somebody. Please stop. Nobody should be in such a big hurry that they are willing to risk lives rather than take the detour which this new traffic pattern requires”. Right on.
I wrote this in frustration at seeing dead televisions on the side of the road all over James Island. I used my next door neighbor as the scapegoat for this article. Luckily, he’s a good natured guy. He not only thought it was pretty funny, but he actually took his TV to the drop off!
Nancy Hadley, who works at the Fort Johnson Marine Center, brought us this short piece. I actually knew about the Marine Center and have vague memories of visiting it as a child, but I didn’t realize it was a place that I could visit now. Back in October I got to attend the special event they have every two years that features myriad learning stations about the work they do and tons of activities for kids. It is an extraordinarily beautiful place. And it wouldn’t have even been on my radar if not for Nancy.
The Lighthouse Point Neighborhood Association picked a beautiful day for their annual picnic and the unveiling of a new historical marker at the Indian Mound Park in the neighborhood. The site was populated by Native Americans at least 3,000 years ago, and later it served as the home site for a colonel in the militia during the Revolutionary War. Of course, there’s lots more of the history in the article, featuring the full texts of the speeches made at the unveiling.
I can’t remember where I first saw Becca Savage Lovett’s response to a Facebook post on how to find shark’s teeth, but I had a good laugh. And then I sent her a message and encouraged her to turn it into a Bugle post. And her pointers are funny because they’re true!
Yes, it’s the dry stuff of politics, but writing this article helped me understand the complicated set up on James Island in terms of its division between Town of James Island, City of Charleston, and the unincorporated areas. And, apparently, people have some very serious opinions about whether or not unincorporated James Island should join up with the Town of James Island and the City of Charleston.
Yes, people love to read about food, and James Island is definitely joining the foodie culture. You may think waffles are rather run of the mill, but then Sergio Tosi brought the real deal from Belgium. Lately he’s been showing up on Saturdays at the Town Market on Fort Johnson Road, and I count browsing the stalls at the Market while eating one of his waffles as a singular pleasure.
I met owner Jack Warren to learn about, among everything else, where the name came from (hint: actual grumpy goats were involved), but it’s really all about the food. As Jack said, “Good food, good service. We really tried to make a value-based menu, having enough lower priced items that you could come in and get a taco and a beer multiple times a week.” They are already growing in popularity because they truly do have great food and fast, genial service.
Wherein I tried to see how many things I could do in James Island in a single day. As it turns out: a lot. As I say at the end of the article, “I invite any of you who like to write to do as I did: pick a day when there’s a lot on the James Island calendar, have an amazing day, take a lot of pictures, and then write about it. It’s the sort of thing we will be happy to post on the Bugle! You’ll be famous!” The Editor disagrees with me, and no I’m not schizophrenic.
I briefly mention in the “Day on James Island” article doing some trash pick up. In this piece I go in some detail about a trash expedition and spend some time raging and shaking my fist at the ne’er do wells who think that the ground is somehow like a trash can. I recently started over again, 10 months later, on the same side of the road project. It was not as bad as last time, thankfully. And I used the time to have deep thoughts, so that was good.
Katie Dahlheim writes about her extraordinary project which has continued to grow and expand since she sent me this article in April. It’s hard not to be proud of a James Island resident who has done so much to help people with food insecurity in our area. At the end of her piece she writes, “I believe that people are inherently kind and want to help others, but sometimes it’s difficult to find tangible ways to put that desire into action. This is a local, direct way of helping people in our community.” You’re a good human, Katie Dahlheim.
This article basically serves as both a primer on how to figure out where you stand as a voter on James Island (that complicated district thing again) and who was running the election. It turned out to be a hotly contested race, with a run-off that was down to a handful of votes. As is often true of these extremely local elections, your vote really does matter a lot.
Gretchen Stringer-Robinson reviewed this book for us, and says, “This is something you don’t think about when you go to a restaurant: who was there before, how they worked, what their concerns were, and what the concerns are today.” In addition to reviewing the book, she interviewed Robert Barber and Andy Weiner to get more details. For any of you who have grown up going there, the many pictures and stories paint a picture of a slice of local history that you may have known little to nothing about.
For Black History Month, Gretchen Stringer-Robinson wrote about the slaves of James Island and gave a list of books for those who are interested in reading more about it. She wrote, “Slaves helped build this nation and many individuals on James Island can trace their lineage to slaves on local plantations.” It’s a difficult history to look at, but Stringer-Robinson reminds us of the folly of ever forgetting this horrible heritage.
“What a remarkable occurrence that the last battle of the Revolution was fought right here on James Island.” I’ll say! I got another history lesson about James Island on the day of the official unveiling of this historical marker, and if history is your jam, you can read everything that was said that day in the article. There is a concerted effort underway to place more historical markers on James Island, and this is part of that effort.
This article was posted last January. Seriously, I can’t wait for the day when the project is done. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is sick of looking at the orange and white Daleks*.
My very first article for the Bugle. Gosh, I was so young and passionate back then.
This was the first part of Nancy Hadley’s series on oysters, which I loved, loved, loved. If you ever (a) eat oysters, (b) roast oysters, or (c) all of the above, you should read this series. Unless you are already an expert on oysters, like Nancy.
Finding these photos in our family albums was a cool moment for me. I liked that it showed my family’s personal piece of James Island history, but I really loved looking at my spitfire grandmother as a little kid. For fans of local history, this is a look at a location that no longer exists and is part of the educational story of James Island.
A fish story or three
Whew, that was a whirlwind! So, being the Editor of the Bugle, I am going to add my favorite series of articles to your reading list for the day. Now, I’m not a fisherman. Many of you don’t fish, so maybe that’s why the articles of Rick Stringer didn’t get into the top 25. Whatever, those articles are all awesome, and I’m going to tell you about them and encourage you to go read them because they’re both fun and interesting.
- First, there was Meeting a great white shark, wherein Rick Stringer has a special moment with a very well-known fish. “I decided to pull the anchor and drift, laying down for a nap. I was awakened by the sound of a rod banging in the rod holder.”
- Next up was Channel bass by any other name, a happy memory trip of boat trips around Morris Island during the 50s and 60s looking for channel bass. “To get to the island they would run the boats full speed, sliding up the mud bank to the island. Burger beer may have been somewhat involved…”
- Finally Rick wrote Spiny Dogfish in the winter waters, where we not only get to learn about this weird little shark, but get the story of the author being stranded. “I was preoccupied with the fishing and failed to notice a fog bank coming in my direction until it dropped on top of me.”
Yes, Rick Stringer is my uncle, so maybe I’m biased, but I love these stories so very much, and I want you to read and enjoy them too!
Finally, thanks to all of you who read the James Island Bugle. It’s been a fascinating year for me, exploring this cool place and the people who live and work here. I’m grateful for everyone who reads the Bugle and follows us on Facebook. I hope 2018 is as interesting and full of surprises. For now, with a few weeks left in December, I’m going to focus on eating too much and loving my family, as is tradition. Cheers!
*Daleks are evil space creatures on Doctor Who, a British sci-fil import that is wonderful.
The James Island Bugle shares news about the James Island, South Carolina and brings you stories about people, places and events. We are all all-volunteer, no profit news site. If you would like to contribute, write us at email@example.com.