By GraceAnna Castleberry | I was almost five years old when my family moved from Texas to Beaufort. The Lone Star State was the only world I had ever known, and I didn’t want to leave. I loved our little blue-trimmed brick house where I spent the first years of my life. Our front sidewalk alone contained a world of memories. It was where my brothers and I ran races, sold cookies to our neighbors, and even went sledding on cookie sheets when it snowed. I had to leave my cat behind with a new owner because he was too schizophrenic to travel – he would forever be a Texas cat. As we pulled away from our little house, all the memories of my young life became tears dropping into my lap as we traveled farther and farther away. My dad promised me that I’d love our new town.
He told me it would be completely different from our home in Texas, but there would be other special things about Beaufort, South Carolina.
Once we got settled in Beaufort, it didn’t take long for me to forget my sadness over leaving Texas. My dad was right, there were many special things about our new home. One of those things was living close to the water. My parents bought an acre on the river and right down the road was our neighborhood dock.
Before our house was even built, we started visiting the dock. My mom would pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we would walk to the dock and eat lunch. We’d curiously pull up the heavy crab pots to see how many blue crabs our neighbors had trapped overnight. Before long, we were bringing our own crab nets. We’d tie a piece of chicken to the middle of the net, let it down slowly, and wait for a tug. During the summer, we’d walk or ride our bikes to the dock and go for a swim. When the tide was high, we’d jump from the railing and let the current carry us to the ladder at the end of the floater dock. Even though we were good swimmers, my parents made us wear life jackets. My dad taught us about the current and the strong undertow. “If that water pulled you under, I’d never be able to find you,” I can still hear him say. The water was dark and murky, but I was never afraid of it. When the tide was low, we could feel the shrimp jabbing our legs and feet with their long antennas. Some afternoons, my brothers would bring fishing poles to see what they could catch. My dad even bought a pole, a tackle box, and shiny lures just for me, though I never had the patience to wait for the fish to bite. In the evenings, we’d often go to the dock and admire the beautiful Lowcountry sunsets or watch boaters maneuver their crafts onto the ramp.
One afternoon, my mom and I were sitting on the dock when two dolphins swam near us. Suddenly, one of the dolphins began flipping uncontrollably. We watched, afraid it was being attacked. But then, after a few moments, a tiny dolphin fin emerged beside the bigger dolphins. My eyes got big in wonder, “Do you think?” I asked in disbelief. “I think so,” my mom replied.
There’s no doubt that the place we spend our growing up years has a significant impact on our lives.
We associate certain sights, smells, and places with the feeling of “home.” We come to love or hate a place based on what we encounter while we are there. I love the memories I have of growing up in Beaufort, and many of those memories happened at the dock. One of the unique things about Beaufort is that our county is a series of islands. Because of this, there are docks all over the place. You don’t have to live on the river or own a boat to enjoy the water; a dock will take you there. Whether it’s the dock at The Sands, on Lady’s Island, Pigeon Point, somewhere on St. Helena, your own neighborhood dock, or countless others in Beaufort… there are plenty of memories simply waiting to happen.
I know there are unique facets about every town. But there’s something about the Lowcountry that no other place quite compares to.
At least, not for this Texas born, Lowcountry bred, girl.
Dock photos courtesy of Ginger Wareham.