In the beautiful South Carolina coastal city of Beaufort there once lived a mysterious man known only as "Driftwood" Corry. No one knew from where he came or why he ended up in the Sea Islands east of Beaufort during the 1960s and early 1970s. He became well-known for the incredible works of art he made from driftwood found along the beach and marsh fronts, and for the Gullah masks he made from horseshoe crab shells, both of which he sold from his home/store fronting US Highway 21 on Harbor Island to tourists on their way to Hunting Island and the future resort Fripp Island. He disappeared in the mid-1970s as mysteriously as he arrived in the early 1960s.
Decades later, long-time resident and first-time author Gibbes McDowell decided to bring "Driftwood" back to life in this entertaining tale based in part on the little-known local life of "Driftwood".
In "Driftwood Unmased", Gibbes brings "Driftwood" from his beginnings in Ireland through the front lines of World War I, his eventual arrival in America and final stop in Yemassee, South Carolina, before hitching a ride to what would be his final home on Harbor Island near the Atlantic coast.
"Driftwood" takes up home with the Sea Island Gullah community on neighboring Saint Helena Island, which welcomes the strangely-accented white man into its own, and "Driftwood" even wins over the mysterious witch doctor "Dr. Snake" to make his home and marry one of their women. It isn't long after his arrival that he attracts the attention of the local sheriff and his good ol' boy deputies, but the conflicts of the pre-desegregation south are relatively minor until the day "Driftwood" discovers pirate gold in the marshes near his home...and a piece shows up and is brought to the sheriff's attention!
"Driftwood Unmasked" explores the fictional political heirarchy of Beaufort and the Sea Islands in all its fact-based reality, sharing with the reader what life was like in those times decades past. Shining through all the political turmoil and threats, "Driftwood" steadfastly remains unchanged in his calm fight against "The Man".
As an appendix, McDowell presents the true biography of "Driftwood", the result of his research as he was writing his engrossing fictional tale, many aspects of which turned out to match Gibbes' imagination long after the chapters were written!
Such is the life of Beaufort legend "Driftwood" Corry!
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