Voices of the Santee Delta: Oral history interview with Pat Ferris
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Title:Voices of the Santee Delta: Oral history interview with Pat Ferris
Interviewer:Raynor, Robert, 1951- Interviewee:Ferris, Pat Date:2015-11-06
Description:Pat Ferris was born in Greenwood Lake, NY, and lived in Virginia and New York until age nine when he moved to South Carolina. His grandmother had a modern house on South Island with electricity supplied by a generator. The family also had the old plantation house on Cat Island. His grandfather was William G. Ramsey, who worked for the DuPont Company. He became a senior engineer at DuPont, and his stock holdings became very valuable for the family. He came to South Carolina because of the Dupont’s interest in turpentine, and became aware of the excellent hunting opportunities. Living on Cat Island and South Island in his youth, Ferris felt it was “heaven”. He had a little dinghy he rowed around on Winyah Bay, and hunted ducks with a shotgun given to him at age 10 by his grandmother. She also gave him the job of killing snakes and alligators: the latter damaged the dikes. He received a nickel for each kill. Ferris learned to sail on a summer vacation to Nantucket Island. He and his brother would go along with a harbor pilot who guided ships into Georgetown. They signed on as cabin boys on a round trip from Brooklyn, NY, to Georgetown, SC, on the lumber schooner Annie C. Ross. Ferris also described a voyage with his brother and a friend in their teenage years in a catboat from Greenport, Long Island to South Carolina. Ferris went to boarding school, and would spend summers on South Island. Ferris attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) when WWII broke out, and he entered the Coast Guard. He patrolled first St. Helena Sound, and then off Charleston in private yachts. He helped a one-armed man pull a seine net on the edge of Winyah Bay. He knew Tom Yawkey, owner of the Boston Red Sox, and owner of the majority of Cat, South, and North Islands. He went on hunts with him on those properties and elsewhere. Cat Island Plantation continued to actively cultivate rice until 1941. With the damming of the Santee River by Santee Cooper, the influx of saltwater did considerable damage to the dikes, and the family received a $6000 settlement. Ferris described years of hunting on Cat island: deer, ducks, and turkeys. He described how Tom Yawkey set up the Yawkey Wildlife Center. Ferris returned to recounting his Coast Guard service, describing his transfer to the South Pacific after going through training at the Loran School. He was at Guam when the war ended, and returned to the US on the aircraft carrier Belleau Wood. He finished by telling a story when he and his brother were “bad boys’ during their childhood on Cat Island.
Collection:Voices of the Santee Delta Oral History Project
Contributing Institution:South Carolina Historical Society
Media Type:Oral Histories
Geographic Subject:Santee River Delta (S.C.), Santee River Region (S.C.)–History, Santee River Region (S.C.)–Social life and customs
S.C. County:Charleston County (S.C.), Georgetown
Internet Media Type:audio/mpeg
Digitization Specifications:Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Copyright Status Statement:Copyright © South Carolina Historical Society.
Access Statement:All rights reserved.
Access Information:For more information contact the South Carolina Historical Society, Charleston, SC.
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Aghast at the frightful insatiable power of nature
Stumbling, nearly falling, almost blindly
Keening, straining hard to see
Amongst the pounds/tons of personal, private rubble
Sometimes unaware, breathing hyperventingly
Knowing is my testimonial pain
Alone, all is sand upon sand, monumental destruction
Screaming silently inside, unbelieving
Keeping always to the spoiled south
Assurgency comes, the angry ocean, uncontained
Seeing, wide-eyed, the new inlet created
Kneeling, at this element’s Continue reading “Ask”
In the days of Harry Berry, house parties, thumper in the front yard with Three Dog Night (1968-1970) blaring from the windows, the 4th of July was a wild and crazy day on Pawleys. Someone, anyone of a few would have a huge wooden jug or tin barrel of an alcoholic concoction we called “Purple Jesus” made of grain alcohol and various juices loaded in the back of a truck or car. It was of course free to all who were out and about. Everyone knew one another or were friends in common. The sisses who couldn’t take it straight often injected the “PJ” as it was called for short, into watermelon, which was a delightful way to get a great buzz!
Pretty soon, as the cars accumulated in one or two locations, on either end of the island, folks waxed patriotic, purchased flags, banners, head bands, tee shirts and sporting the red, white and blue formed a line from south to north and visa versa. Wha Lah , a parade happened! The Pawleys Island 4th of July Parade was born: glorious and joyfully spontaneous!
These parades continued for several years and were joined by summer renters who were zealous for the cause. Over time the parade grew in numbers with those adding the pulling of decorated boats, overflowing flatbeds with singing hippies and those who preferred beach music. All were accepted and welcomed. As far as I can remember, there was never any trouble, no law enforcement was needed and a great time was had by all! The freedom to join in and be spontaneous was the key!
Sadly, in the mid-1980’s, the Town of Pawleys Island incorporated. All fun began to come to an end. Period. The 4th of July parade of 1988 was the first one with RULES. Rule #1: No Plane Commercial Entries. Many of us who were the charter members of the very 1st parade were sad, frustrated, and feeling somewhat rebellious. Our family decided to enter with a Plane Commercial Entry. The photo is above. In the parade that year were many fancy well-done floats, expertly decorated. Our truck and sign however got more applause and cheers than all of those floats put together!
ps: We did not have any “PJ” I am sorry to say:(
It is said still said in some places like Pawleys Island, that a man’s word is as good as any contract. It depends of course on the man.
Bobby Dingle is one of those men. I am proud to be his wife. His boys are equally as proud to be his sons. He is a dying breed. A man of his word. His handshake, or email or promise made over the phone is good enough for those he does business with.
Hundreds of thousands of dollar docks and bulkhead oral contracts are made in my earshot weekly. It is as good as that!
Bobby does it right the first time. He is a true Southern Gentleman. He is man folks trust.
Over the 45 plus years of dock building, he has mentored so many young men that I cannot count them. From Bobby they have learned a work ethic, skills they will always be able to use to make a living, and most importantly honesty and humility.
If you are ever in Pawleys Island, mention Bobby Dingle and you will hear that he is a legend in his own time. A man whose handshake is as good as any piece of legal paper.