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100 Years Celebration

52 Weeks of Celebration

Week 5 – COMMUNITIES – Introduction

African American communities in coastal Georgia were settled for land, labor, and legacy. St. Simons Island’s Harrington and South End were settled by families descended from those enslaved on the Couper, Butler, Retreat, and Gould plantations. Harris Neck and Hogg Hammock likewise began with freedmen from nearby plantations. Jewtown on St. Simons Island, Dixville, and ARCO on Brunswick were built for workers at nearby factories, mills, or docks. The community consisted of related families, a church, a small grocery, a barber shop, a school, a juke joint, a café, maybe a gas station. An African American community was the basis of the proverbial “It takes a village to raise a child” often illustrated when your mama and daddy knew what you…

Week 4 – FOOD – Restaurants

In the 1980s and 1990s if you had business guests or family members visiting St. Simons Island or Sea Island in the 1960s you took them to Alfonza’s Olde Plantation Supper Club in Harrington. If you were an African-American traveling down the Dixie Highway to a gig in Miami and found yourself playing at one of the South End juke joints on St. Simons Island, you joined South End community at Hazel’s Café for the weekend low country boil. Olde Plantation Supper Club Alfonza Ramsey worked at Don Gentile’s Bennie’ Red Barn with other Harrington residents. They wore white jackets and recited the menu. In 1979 Alfonza opened his own restaurant on Harrington Lane, just a half mile from Bennie’s and deep in the African-American community where h…

Week 3 – FOOD – Recipes

Southern cooks are known for not using written recipes, opting for “a smidge of this and a good bit of that.” In the Georgia Sea Island kitchens it was the same. Recipes were rarely written down: they were kept alive in an oral tradition of watching and asking the cook. Sometimes a cook might omit a step to preserve his or her reputation. The reputation of coastal African American cooks may be traced back to Cupidon (chef to Marquis de Montalet on Sapelo) and his protégé Sans Fox (chef for the Coupers at Cannon’s Point on St. Simons Island) in the 18 th century. Sans Foix’s technique for deboning a whole turkey was a never-told secret. The St. Simons African-American Heritage Coalition’s annual festival “A Taste of Gullah” brings to gue…

Week 2 – FOOD – Grow, Fish or Hunt

WEEK 2 “When I was growing up in Georgia I guess we were supposed to be poor…but we weren’t poor. We had all the crab and fish and vegetables that we could eat.” NFL great and St. Simons Island native Jim Brown In the Gullah Geechee communities of coastal Georgia accessibility to food sources offered healthy meals year-round. From the years of freedom through civil rights (1865-1965) most African American homes had vegetable gardens or small farm plots with rice, corn, peas, and greens. Apple, orange, or fig trees grew along the clapboard homes. Muscadines trailed in a nearby arbor. Chickens scattered around the swept yards, and pigs and a cow or goat stood in household pen. Residents harvested seafood and freshwater fish, oysters, shell…