The Story of One Georgia Coastal Island

In the relentlessly choppy sea of the modern magazine industry, Atlanta Magazine could easily focus solely on the things that drive readers – restaurant news, local gossip and countless “Best of” lists.  However, they continue to supplement these necessary elements of a 21st century magazine with some of the best in-depth Georgia stories out there.

This month, tacked onto their “Island Escapes” feature is a beautiful story about “The Old Lady of Ossabaw”, which tells the tale of the legendary and irascible Sandy West, no longer the owner – but still the matron – of Ossabaw Island, Georgia.

Most of Georgia’s coastal islands share a late 19th century history.  Bought up by Industrial Age barons, most entered the post-industrial age as playgrounds for America’s richest citizens.  However, as the barons died and wealth was split and lost, the islands’ histories diverged, some becoming public destinations (Jeckyl, Tybee), others sanctuaries of the rich (Sea Island).  Still others have found themselves still largely unspoiled by human hands (Little St. Simons, Cumberland), either by the monetary efforts of the state or the new rich (“West Egg” types for you literary folk).

In total, the islands histories are a fascinating tale, but only Ossabaw still hangs onto strands of its Gilded Age history, thanks to 98 year-old Sandy West.

That’s one heck of a set-up, but Ann Hardie’s story deserves it.  It’s that good.