Ghost Lights of the Low Country

Dear Readers,

The Lights of Parker’s Ferry is my first foray into the supernatural, and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable stories for me to write – the words seemed to just flow onto the page! For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a story on what we call the ‘Ghost Lights’ in Jacksonboro, SC, but I also wanted to mix in a little of the history of Edisto Island and the Charleston area, of which I fell in love with many years ago.

The “Ghost Lights”

If you grew up in South Carolina, and were middle-class, then you’ve likely heard of Edisto Beach. With its rural, Gullah surroundings and underdeveloped tourism – Edisto has always been a special place for my family. We went there every summer to relax and go swimming, as well as to fish, shrimp and crab. The people of Edisto Island, and the residents of the resort town of Edisto Beach, have always wanted to keep it from being overrun and overdeveloped like other locations. Growing up, it was kind of our little “locals only” secret – a peaceful, modest resort town that working class families could afford – hiding in plain sight between the tourist meccas of Charleston and Hilton Head.

And yet, if you were a teenager – too young to head to the Pavilion, or the Dockside, for a beer or live music – you had limited social options. We used to walk, and later drive, the beach strip continuously in the evenings, looking for girls or for something fun to do. We could get bored after dark, even if we were still having fun being there. Enter the “Ghost Lights“…

I first heard about the Lights from my friend, King Johnson (yes, it’s his real name) who’d first heard about it from someone else. It was that kind of thing – a continuing rite of passage for those who came to Edisto – to check out the Ghost Lights at least once. Decades later, I learned from my dad that he had also checked them out, in his high school days. This tradition had been going on for many, many years.

So that’s how it went, one summer evening in Edisto, a group of us (my cousins, myself, some friends of ours, and King) all piled into a van like Scooby-Doo and went to check out the Lights. We did exactly what we were supposed to do in order to summon it…

As for what I feel happened out there, well… you’re going have to read The Lights of Parker’s Ferry (coming soon). What I’ll say here is that it was a night I’ll never forget, and that each and every person who was there has a different interpretation of events.

The “Lights of Parker’s Ferry”

The “Lights of Parker’s Ferry” is a fictional short story, taken from my own experiences with the Ghost Lights, but the story is also set in a different era – the early 1950’s. I wanted to blend a little of the post-WWII history of Charleston, as well as incorporate some characters unique to the Low Country.

The Port of Charleston was a major hub for sending troops, supplies and arms to the frontlines of both World Wars. Both my grandfather and my great uncle served in the U.S. Merchant Marines, a dangerous and often unappreciated service, and as a child they would tell me fascinating stories of their experiences during the war. A friend of mine, who dredge dived off of Charleston once had an object, encrusted with marine growth, rolling around in the back of his pickup truck. I casually picked it up, and noticed the oxidized brass casing still visible at one end– it was a live anti-aircraft round (of the 20mm type). For all you amateur divers – be careful out there, you never know what you’ll find!

As one of the oldest American cities, Charleston and the surrounding Low Country is teeming with historical significance from human conflict – from the siege of Blackbeard the Pirate, to both Revolutionary and Civil War battles, and up into the modern day. When I was attending the College of Charleston, my classroom was once evacuated because utility workers working outside dug up an unexploded shell from the Civil War, and the police bomb disposal unit was called in. Where else in America might one experience a bomb threat from over 130 years ago?

If you’ve not been to Charleston and the Low Country yet, I highly advise you to put it on your bucket list. And when you’re there, if you check out the Ghost Lights, please be respectful of the area and to the locals who live there – much of it is private property. And above all, if you do see the Ghost, try not to get too scared.

It is just a story, after all…

4 Comments

  1. What a delightful tease this is. Looking forward to reading what is promised! I have lived in Charleston for many many years and appreciate everything referred to here.

    Following my family to Montana some years ago and enjoying new vistas I shall forever carry the culture of the low country and continue to share stories with my grandchildren when the occasion presents itself.

    We owe it to the future to document the nuances of the past before it is overgrown with comehithers!!!

    Andy, be faithful to your efforts here. It is special as are you.

  2. Love your smooth conversational writing style. Look forward to the story- the South has its own special brand of supernatural events, given its history – fertile ground for a skilled writer such as yourself!

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