Saturday, January 2, 2021

Now, About That Scrap Iron...

If you visit Daufuskie Island, you will surely come across the "Scrap Iron" drink made and sold at Freeport Marina's Old Daufuskie Crab Company. 

It's a delicious and seemingly harmless concoction. But if you have two or more, you may find that your gyros have come uncaged when you stand up from the bar. 

The Scrap Iron legend is one of the great Stories from the Creek. It goes like this; the government stopped the oyster industry on Daufuskie, due to pollution from the Savannah River spreading to the Daufuskie oyster grounds. This put the Daufuskie islanders out of work, so they improvised and made 'shine in stills hidden in the Daufuskie woods. They moved this product by bateau to Savannah's clubs and bars, hidden under piles of scrap iron that they were purportedly selling here. Great "cover" story, aye?

We came across another reference to "Scrap Iron" while reading "Once Upon An Island." by Elizabeth Carpenter Piechocinski. This reference, quoted from Walter "Cork" Shaaf," connects the dots between moonshine made in illicit stills by black men on Daufuskie and a little joint here on Whitemarsh Island where black men went to socialize and enjoy a cold drink. These black men would have been the sons and grandsons of slaves freed when Sherman came to town. After the civil war and into the early 1900s, they made up a large part of the island's population, having been given these lands by Special Field Order #15, and then having had it taken away from them again after President Lincoln's assassination. 

From the book..."(Walter)Shaaf went on to say that there was a man named Johnny Gray who lived near the marshes, near the bridge to Oatland Island. Close by, the blacks had a nightclub they called 'Dad's Place,' and it was there they would go to drink the Scrap Iron." (emphasis added). 

Now there is a Gray's Creek and Gray's subdivision on Whitemarsh, and I'd bet there's a connection there.

Here's another connection. If you remember the film "The Legend Of Bagger Vance" that was made here about twenty years ago, you know that it was a story about a Savannah area Golf Course and Club that fell on hard times with the stock-market crash of 1929. That story parallels the history of the old General Oglethorpe Hotel and Resort which fell on hard times in real life during that time. 

In the film, Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith, came to help a World-War-One combat-vet plagued with PTSD. This veteran was played by Matt Damon, and he struggled with his golf game and his drinking. There's a scene in the film in which Damon is drinking with some black men in an establishment...

Okay, this would have been during Prohibition, which lasted from January 17th, 1920 until December 5th, 1933. So any liquor joint would have been illegal and "undercover." (But they were everywhere!)
And the story is clearly about the General Oglethorpe's golf course. And there was a nightclub on Whitemarsh called Dad's Place where black men went to drink!

Are you feeling me?

Last night, I told all of this to Robin McMahon, co-owner of the Flying Fish here on Wilmington Island. She loved the connections and told me that she is going to concoct a Flying Fish version of the Scrap Iron and sell it to customers coming off our tour boat. 

Let's drink to that!

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