Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And that's the way it was!!

The other day while driving home from Charleston, fusing about the traffic from the widening of Hwy 17 I realized that a part of the lowcountry was going to disappear. A change in time was taking shape in the form of old buildings in disrepair, not that it had not already been slowly going away, but actual buildings that I had taken for granted through the forty plus years that I have traveled that road were falling to rot or progress. In this case it seems it might be a little of both. The buildings are in disrepair, and Hwy 17 is being widened between Garden’s Corner and Tarboro, SC. I decided I would stop and take a few pictures and think about the times that were. Along Hwy 17 it crosses the Ashepoo River and on either side of the bridge there are the remains of old fish camps. On one side is Joe's Fish Camp, and on the other is Crosby's Fish Camp. They have a couple of old river cottages that are built on pilings overlooking the river, and today they are all that remain of a time when on the weekends the rooms would be full, the bait shop would have a crowd talking about where to go the next morning. The crickets and frogs would be in full orchestra as the sunset on Friday night, and the men would call it an early night and get ready to go fish on Saturday. They would fish for bream, crappie, catfish and the occasional bass. They would all come back Saturday afternoon with a full stringer of fish.

Saturday night would be the social night, the day's catch would be fried up, along with plenty of local vegetables, and of course grits. Some of the fish camps had the best restaurants around a community and Sunday lunch after church would bring out everyone in their best church going clothes for local seafood. I remember as a young kid, of four years old, our family driving thirty minutes or more to go to a local seafood restaurant down in Midway, GA Liberty County Sunday after church. I would always get the fried shrimp. That restaurant had a pond in back, and Mom would let us go feed the ducks bread that the restaurant provided to keep the children happy and quiet.

Just up the road from the fish camps located on the Ashepoo River is an old Texaco station that today is falling apart, but at one time it served the community surrounding this area. It is located at the intersection of Hwy 17 and River Road. River Road leads into to Walterboro, and in the late 50's and early 60's when Crosby's Fish Camp was in full swing, many a fisherman would stop in at the Texaco for gas, and other supplies they might not find at the fish camp store.

Why have I been telling this tale of two old fish camps, it is because they are widening Hwy 17 to make way for our busy lives and the population explosion that has occurred in the south. These buildings might be lost for everyone once they finish widening the road, and I wanted to have one last memory of this once peaceful road between Beaufort and Charleston along Hwy 17. I might need to make a trip down Hwy 17 in Georgia, and see what remains of those fish camps that once populated Hwy 17 along the coastal communities of Georgia (Like the Cherokee Restaurant that I went to as a kid in Midway, GA), and complete my lowcountry tour of “Fish Camps”.

Today a new way of life has sprouted out of the changing times, and people come by bus with trailers full of kayaks for day trips along the Ashepoo River, or some might even enjoy an overnight camping trip. The boat ramps are open for fisherman, but the bait & tackle stores are no longer open. It is a pay as you play. Whatever the occasion the river still calls us to its beauty and charm, weather it is for a day of fishing or kayaking along the banks. As I have always said "A DAY ON THE RIVER IS BETTER THAN A DAY AT WORK !!"

In researching for history on South Carolina Fish Camps, I came across countless entries for places all over the country from California, Washington, Minnesota, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Texas. It wasn’t regarding the history, but fish camps still open. If the fish camp was no longer a viable operation then it usually had turned into a full fledge restaurant operation still serving food in an old fish camp location. They once were thriving true "Fish Camps" but today are tourist attractions with either a good restaurant or one that has seen its day. They still all have one thing in common, the history of fishing, camaraderie, and being on the river.

The other item that I found through my research, and I have certainly seen this in many developments but one in particular stands out for me. Old fish camps have given architects and developers another tool to attract people to a way of life in a particular area. The “Lifestyle” of the lowcountry is engrossed in these old traditions. One such project is not far from the Ashepoo River on Kiawah Island just south of Charleston. There the architects helped the developers capture the feel for the old "fish camp" through the Vanderhorst family, who for many years owned Kiawah and had numerous properties scattered around the island, and one of was the "Old Fish Camp". It is a great example of modern day qualities capturing the feel for the days of the “Fish Camp” Enjoy the link and learn about the modern fish camp. http://gardenandgun.com/article/modern-fish-camp

  • Fresh fillet's of redfish
  • Zatarain's fish fry mix, add Old Bay, salt & Pepper, little cayenne. a little cumin and apply generously to fish fillets. Bring oil to 350 degrees and gently put seasoned fillets in oil (it takes about 4-6 minutes per fillet)
  • Garlic Grits .... this is a link to Paula Dean's recipe .. enjoy http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/baked-garlic-cheese-grits-recipe/index.html
  • Cole Slaw: Cabbage, red onion, carrots and Marie's Cole Slaw Dressing. It's easy mix ingredients and add dressing, chill until ready to serve, salt & pepper to taste ...... I like to add a sprinkle the top with paprika for taste and color, or get bold and use the Old Bay. Chop onions up fine, and shave carrots.

Invite friends over and have a good ole fish fry, it is best to do it outside if you can. More fun that way!!

This is one of the many reasons why I love the lowcountry, and I have an even better time helping people make the lowcountry their home. Barry Ginn and I have teamed up to help you find the perfect lowcountry home. We have a very good knowledge of the lowcountry, Hilton Head Island and would love to share it with you. Call us today!!

copyright Content and Photographs by Charlie B Fraser 2010

No comments: