Ossabaw a 'heck of a gift'
For the intrigue of its history and architecture, I came to Savannah some 14 years ago. It’s here that I came to know the beauty of yet another environment, that being the barrier islands and salt marsh.
Through an incredible stroke of luck and good fortune, a friend and I had the opportunity to visit Ossabaw Island a little more than a decade ago. Another close friend, third or fourth generation Savannah herself — a boat owner familiar with the romantic sounding but sometimes forbidding waters of Ossabaw Sound and Hell’s Gate — would carry various things onto and off from the island for Ms. Eleanor Torrey “Sandy” West.
After docking our boat, we were farther ferried overland in a pickup truck or golf utility vehicle to Ms. West’s home, quite some distance inland. From the opposite direction on the small dirt road came, as I remember, an old jeep or well travelled pickup. In it, its lone occupant, its driver, Ms. West.
I’ll not ever forget the fortune of meeting her. Even if only briefly. Dressed as she was in her obviously comfortable second skin of blue jeans, flannel shirt and boots, certainly, I could see that she was an older woman but I had no idea. Knowing now that she celebrates 100 years of a very productive life on January 17, the necessary math is not hard to do.
Thanks in part to two great stories by Jim Morekis and Jessica Leigh Lebos of Connect Savannah, I learned of the Ossabaw Island Foundation and Education Alliance’s annual meeting and plans to celebrate Ms. West’s 100th birthday and her commitment to her cause. I made it my mission to attend.
As she still fights the good fight at one hundred years young, it seemed the very least I could do in light of what she and many others have done not only for me, but for all of us.
In a room of perhaps 100 people, at least one for each year of Ms. West’s life, we all sang Happy Birthday. I have no idea how many times I’ve sang that song but I know for certain, in a room filled with people I have never met, I’ve never tried harder to carry the tune and blend in the harmony and message with more sincerity.
Owner, defender, champion and benefactor, Ms. West and her family sold the island to the State of Georgia for a fraction of its worth. By any reasonable account, given the islands inestimable value in the eyes of developers, she and her family virtually gave it away.
I reference quotes of Ms. West in the recent article by Jessica Leigh Lebos:
“I really am worried about what’s going to happen to Ossabaw ... I”m gonna croak pretty soon, and I want you to be aware because this kind of thing is sneaky,”
Ms. West goes on to implore, “Be an army if this place is threatened.”
Lebos reminds us, “that when she (Ms. West) passes and Ossabaw reverts entirely back to the state, the era of her personal vigilance will end.”
I write this to thank Ms. Eleanor Torrey “Sandy” West and all others that have worked tirelessly to keep and preserve, in its natural state, the treasure that is Ossabaw Island for the appreciation and education of generations to follow.
Should an army be needed, hopefully not, to thwart the possibility of any future threats, consider me having been drafted.
I hope others will join. The island’s future is now in the hands of us all. We need take proper care of it. It was one heck of a gift.
Keep fighting speed traps
Regarding “Too fast, too curious,” by Jessica Leigh Lebos:
When local authorities patrol Interstate highways near their towns, money–grab speed trap mills are very common.
You can find lots of them on one of our websites www.speedtrap.org.
They know most of their revenue victims are not local and most won’t even try to fight at all.
The basic problem is that most posted speed limits all over the U.S. are set well below the safest point, the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions. Set that way, most rural Interstates in non–mountain areas would be posted at 80 or 85 mph to match the actual current safe traffic flow speeds.
BUT, posting the safest speed limits is not profitable, particularly for predatory little towns/counties like Darien/McIntosh who want to pick the pockets of as many travelers as they possible can.
It is predatory, it is a racket that should not exist, but it IS profitable.
If readers want to understand the safest speed limits, they can go to that section of our website and read the academic research.
James C. Walker
National Motorists Association
Kudos for gun column
Regarding your recent column “Freedom’s fable:”
Probably the best article on gun control I have ever read. Kudos on a well thought out, rational approach to what the Second Amendment’s real intentions were. I always enjoy your articles but this one was excellent!
I am making copies to send to all my “radical” gun friends who insist that government gun control is some how going to limit their access to a gun. Those that own guns don’t even carry them most of the time, they are either used for hunting or at their homes locked up in a safe.
I doubt any of them would even have their guns with them at the time a need may arise. But they still insist that their guns “make them feel safer.” It’s like preparing for an earthquake, you can stockpile all kinds of water and food, but what if you are not at home when the quake hits?
Anyway, thank you for writing such a wonderful piece.