Residents here ditch rush hour and embrace island time.
As you drive across the causeway on South Carolina 174, EdistoIsland makes an unforgettable first impression, with lush, greenmarsh and blue water stretching into the distance. The road soonsnakes past oak trees laden with moss so thick the sun strains topeek through the canopy. Retiree Weesie Fickling describes herinitial reaction: "I remember crossing the bridge and thinking, 'Iwant to live on this island.' Within a year Edisto was myhome."
In Edisto Beach, you'll find no chain restaurants, nostoplights, no motels or hotels, and only one grocery store. Thetown has more churches than restaurants and gift shops combined.Mayor Burley Lyons isn't eager to see that change. "The biggestchallenge is preserving the essence of the beach," he says.
But the town prides itself on meeting that challenge. Buildingrestrictions, a strict policy governing water runoff, andlimitations on commercial parking prevent overdevelopment. "I don'tbelieve any group of people could have done more to preserve ouryesteryear personality than the residents of Edisto," Mayor Lyonssays.
Marion Whaley Jr. owns a landscape business and has lived herehis entire life, as did his father and grandfather. The reasonshe's never left? "Heritage, salt water, and the laid-back way oflife," he says.
The island does seem to recall a simpler time with fewerdistractions. Some even call the island "Edist-slow." Residentsconsider that a compliment. Real estate agent Tom Kapp haswitnessed gradual growth over the years. "There have only beenmodest changes," he says. "As recently as 1981, our phone numberson the island were only four digits."
With time ticking by so slowly, what makes people want to stayon Edisto? Weesie Fickling recalls traveling in Europe with herhusband, Bob. "We were in the Swiss Alps looking out at themountains, and it was a magnificent view. Bob asked where I wantedto go next, and I said, 'I'm homesick. Nothing would please me morethan to be looking at the view from our dock on Edisto Island.' Wecame straight home."
(published May 2008)
ALSO: Thedollars and cents of living on Edisto Island.