is located 2,200 miles southeast of Four Corners. Typically, I travel
through Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Savannah, and south to Brunswick
before arriving at Jekyll Island.
south through Atlanta, I am reminded that two important events in my
life occurred here: I was born in Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta,
and I was sitting high atop the bleachers in right field of Atlanta
Stadium on a cold night - April 8, 1974 - when Henry Aaron broke Babe
Ruth's home run record.
I did not think Aaron had a chance of breaking the record that night.
It had been a weekend when many terrible tornadoes hit our nation; from
Alabama to Ohio there were tornadoes.
On that particular night
in Atlanta stadium, it was cold. The temperature was in the mid-40s,
and the winds were whipping around the stadium like a tornado was ready
to hit Atlanta. When Henry hit the ball, I had an umbrella raised, a
pair of binoculars over my eyes, and a radio earphone attached to my
ear. I saw him swing but that was all. By the time everyone jumped up,
and I removed the eyeglasses, the earphone, and the umbrella, it was
too late; the ball had disappeared over the fence. But I continually
remind myself years later that "I saw him hit it!"
Atlanta is the focal point
of the south. Ask any air passenger; "Yeah, doesn't matter where you're
going. You gotta go through Atlanta," they say in mumbled tones. Many
of my relatives live near Atlanta. Such diverse tiny flecks on the map
as Flippen, Ellenwood, Jonesboro, Lovejoy, and McDonough, contain the
Phillips, or the Davies Families. My family consists of lengthy lists
of school teachers, railway employees, engineers, and a few preachers.
The Davies side claims kin to Jefferson Davis and Lyndon Johnson and
are practical jokers. They have been known for such escapades as a night
sowing of turnip greens on the town square in McDonough, Georgia, while
it was being cultivated with new grass seed. They are sometime politicians
who more often than not get beat. The Phillips side is known more for
their fishing exploits. Give one of them a safety pin, and a worm, and
they can perform miracles.
On the particular journey
in question, I was passing through Atlanta going to Jeykll Island for
a short vacation. I traveled south on Interstate75 to Macon, took Interstate
16 to Savannah, then south on Interstate 95 to State Road 25 in Brunswick,
which crosses the intracostal waterway that leads to Jekyll Island.
Dan Kenneth Phillips
I first heard
of Jekyll almost three decades ago. An aunt and uncle of mine had traveled
there and brought back tales of a millionaires village, boat trips,
and "the most fantastic sunsets every seen."
My first trip to Jekyll
is memorialized on a fragment of eight-millimeter film made in the late
60s by my father. Magnetic flecks of sand dance across the screen. A
large Jekyll Island banner is draped across the entrance to the causeway.
There have been other reminders
through my many years of travel to this beautiful island. One is a yellowed
piece of newsprint I found on Jekyll once long ago that read, "Once
our feet touch the sands of Jekyll Island you will always come back."
The tug of those words continue to draw me over two decades later. I
still love Jekyll Island.
Jekyll is a magical island - an island of whispers and messages from
strangers. In fact, one of these messages is beside an old
telephone beside Indian Mound Cottage: "The first transcontinental telephone
call was transmitted by a telephone instrument of this type on January
25, 1915. Mr. Theodore N. Vail, President ATT to Alexander Graham Bell,
inventor of the telephone in New York. Thomas A. Watson, assistant to
Dr. Bell, in San Francisco and President Wilson in Washington, D.C.
" The magic of that call still lingers today.
Whenever I am there, I feel
part of an imaginary world of millionaires, and servants, and leisure.
I find myself dreaming of rich ladies and their beautiful daughters
frolicking in the sun, or I hear a whisper of hilarity across the porch
of the Jekyll Island Club, as millionaires laugh after losing thousands
of dollars at poker.
In my more pensive
moments, I am haunted by the ghosts of an an overly plump J. P. Morgan
staggering home after a lustful night of dining and drinking. Or, across
the island, I hear the swaying language of Joseph Pulitzer launching
forth with a fitful barrage of words that sway the energy of the world.
Jekyll's world consist of:
trumpets and violins; dancing and kisses; nannies and servants; large
suitcases filled with unneeded clothes; cups of warm tea overflowing;
hastily gathered tennis rackets bought at trendy New York sportings
good stores; and endless holes of "birdies and eagles." This island
mecca is part of a giant-black hole from an earlier generation when
American's role in the world was unquestioned. It is a delicate land,
time-warped through the past century, trying to regain its composure
for a new generation of tourists.
speaking, Jekyll Island was the winter play ground of some of the world's
wealthiest eccentrics. The Jekyll Island Club was formed as a
hunting resort in 1886 when 53 businessmen from the Northeast and Midwest
bought the island from John Eugene DuBignon for $125,000. The roster
of owners included: Jay Gould, epitome of the late 19th century robber
baron; financier J. P. Morgan; newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer;
merchandising pioneer Marshall Field; railroad magnate John J. Hill;
Everett Macy, president of Union Pacific Tea Company; William Rockefeller
and Cornelius Vanderbilt - names synonymous for wealth; and Richard
Teller Crane, whose name was stamped on varied products, ranging from
oil well equipment to bathroom fixtures.
"Each February, they
arrived from New York aboard yachts that anchored at the Jekyll River
wharf. Family members and friends were dressed in three-piece suits,
bustled dresses and bonnets. An army of servants unloaded mountains
of baggage for their two month stay. Horse drawn carriages carried the
arrivals past a sweeping lawn of live oaks to the club. They strode
the graceful veranda to the main reception hall, resplendent in English
Victorian furnishings," said Barry Parker in a magazine article in Sojourns.
Club buildings were constructed
between 1886 and 1928 in styles ranging from the informal Shingle to
the formal Italian Renaissance Revival. The Great Depression and growing
appeal of European spas began to draw members from the Club in the 1930s.
By World War II the island was almost deserted. It was disbanded in
1942 because of threats received during World War II. Today, the 240
acres is a National Historic Landmark owned by the state of Georgia.
THE HERMIT OF THE ESSEX
everyone who inhabited Jekyl lived in a state of perpetual happiness.
A historical sign on the harbor side of Jekyll Island reads: "This chimney
is all that remains of the cottage of Bayard Brown, original member
of the Jekyll Island Club. In his gay, young days, he built this cottage
at Jekyll, overlooking the marshes. He erected a bridge to reach the
isolated house, built stables for his horses, and furnished the cottage
elegantly for his bride-to-be. But the wedding never came off. The house
deteriorated and was torn down."
This eccentric millionaire
was known as "The Hermit of the Essex Coast" in England. At the
age of 37, he became an exile from America, sailing on his yacht Valfreyia
. Unrequited love is said to be the cause of his renouncing his native
land to become a legendary port-bound yachtsman for 36 years. On the
Essex Coast, his yacht engines were always in readiness for a sea voyage.
His crew of 18 waited in vain for the order to put to sea.
According to personal accounts,
Mr. Brown's fortune included an income of over a million dollars a year.
He frequently tossed gold souvenir's from his yacht for anyone to pick
up. It has also been reported that anyone who mentioned "America" in
his presence was dismissed. He died in 1926 requesting that his body
be returned to America on the Valfreyia.
All that remains of the
memory of McEvers Bayard Brown, New York banker, is a chimney, decaying
and falling apart. It sits reluctantly at the site where his cottage
HERMIT - A REAL ONE
I have official known only
one real hermit. Once, while living in the central part of Alabama,
a fellow church member, who was sort of the associate manager of the
local liquor store, thought it would be a good idea if I experienced
the joys of hunting with him. As one who had never been hunting in my
entire life, I was in for a new experience.
A couple of hours
before daylight, on a morning that was bitterly cold, we drove to the
top of a local mountain to hunt squirrels. He had a gun. I did not carry
a weapon but watched attentively, less a squirrel should surface nearby,
and I could make some kind of motion that would let my friend know of
the arrival of this delicate creature. After two hours of failed effort,
Ben suggested we go visit the man who owned the land. We then proceeded
through much underbrush to the home of Uncle Alf. The shack had one
room. Boxes were used as shelving, the floor was of dirt, the bed unmade,
and in the same room lived a flock of chickens. The only other remembrance
was of a checker set on a small table and Ben and Uncle Alf playing
a couple of games of checkers.
After the checker game,
and no breakfast, it came time to leave. Before we left, Uncle Alf made
a couple of important comments to Ben: 'Ben, don't go across the stream
toward the fence row," (no doubt to avoid the moonshine still), and
"Ben, come back to see me, it gets mighty lonesome up here."
As the car left, I looked
out the rear-view mirror to see Uncle Alf standing on his rickety porch
alone. He was officially the only hermit I have ever met. I doubt he
is alive today. The last I heard of Ben, he was a deacon in the local
Baptist church and had a new job.
While on Jekyll, I enjoy visiting the cottages of the millionaires.
For some reason, walking in the same room as these wealthy barons of
industrialism causes me to sense a firsthand closeness with them. It’s
a game I play. "Be wealthy today, act like a millionaire." And, I always
try to respond in a positive manner. I often sit outside a cottage and
dream that snapping my fingers will bring an instant waitress with a
corresponding cool drink for a hot summer day, or I walk from room to
room in the mansions dreaming of what the parties were like. I can
visualize myself walking up to J. P. Morgan and saying, "J.P., how about
a tip on the old stock market," or "J.P., have you got any other hot
tips, if you know what I mean!" Ha! Ha!
My favorite cottage
is the Crane Cottage. Built in 1917 by Richard T. Crane Jr., it was
the largest private residence constructed by a club member. Crane's
father, Richard T. Crane Sr., founded the Crane Company - a company
specializing in fluid control equipment and plumbing fixtures.
The Crane Company was the
first company to make bathroom fixtures in colors other than white.
The chief boast of the Crane Cottage was that it has 17 bathrooms.
I have often wondered about the need for 17 bathrooms. Could it
be they had many visitors, or was it that each was color coordinated
to enhance the mood of the user, or were their kidney problems in the
family, or was it because the house was so big that ones needs could
not wait the travail of traveling three flights to the nearest restroom.
It is a phenomenal question of intense interest to me.
Certainly, this cottage
on Riverview Drive is an architectual gem. Its style was directly copied
from Italian Villas built during the 16th century. A stately air surrounds
it - almost an atmosphere of revelling disobedience. The last time I
was there the cottage had deteriorated considerably. The walls needed
painting, several of the bathrooms were closed - a sure disappointment
for me - doors squeaked when one tried to open them, the courtyard tables
wobbled, trash was hidden behind unused doorways, and a sign on a table
near the entrance was accompanied by a small basket requesting any assistance
for money to repair the Crane Cottage.
a note of irony: in this crumbling cottage the Federal Reserve Act was
drafted. John D. Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan and other exponents of free
enterprise, dressed up like duck hunters, and rode in a special railroad
car to Jekyll Island with the sole purpose of straightening out the
financial conditions in the United States. Beleaguered by politicians
who blamed recent bank failures on high-level money manipulations, they
spent nine days in the clubhouse drafting a monetary reform plan of
their own that became the Federal Reserve Act of December 23, 1913.
Over three quarters of a century later, the finery of this house is
dependent on a church offering plate on a small table by the entrance
Another cottage I often
visit is Indian Mound Cottage. Indian Mound sits beside a small mountain
of Indian graves. It was built in 1892 for Gordon McKay, a wealthy industrialist
and inventor from Massachusetts. In 1862, McKay's patent for a machine
that improved a process for sewing boots and shoes made possible the
inexpensive mass production of shoes for the United States Army. At
his death, his estate was estimated to be worth $40,000,000. The second
owner of Indian Mound was William Rockefeller, younger brother of John
D. Rockefeller, president of Standard Oil Company in New Jersey. William
was a formnible force primarily responsible for developing the firm's
export markets. In its living room is a picture of Sir Joseph Jekyl,
a major supporter of General James Oglethorpe's expeditions into Georgia,
and the individual after whom Jekyll Island was named. Following his
death in 1922, Indian Mound was purchased by Helen Hartley Jenkins,
one of only 32 women who were members of the Jekyll Island Club.
I often pass other cottages,
and though I may not enter, I still am entranced by their lingering
vigor. At Jay Gould's home, cement lions still guard the entrance. And
nearby is where it all began, the DuBignon Cottage, former home of John
Eugene DuBignon, who had interested the wealthy businessmen in 1886
into buying the island as a hunting retreat. This simple farmhouse,
known as "the Superintendent's Cottage," held the distinction of being
the home of a young Swiss immigrant E. G. Brob, who for 42 years served
as the resident manager of the Jekyll Island Club. Every time I visit
the island, I look for changes. I search among the remains of the dust-covered
streets for unsuspecting ghosts hidden among the ruins. At the least,
these are reminders that “even the rich” rot in tombs buried six feet
below ground level.
Dan Kenneth Phillips
MY FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE
My favorite of all the millionaires is financier
J. P. Morgan. It is somewhat ironic that today this rather
obese man of questionable athletic ability has his name attached to
the J. P. Morgan Indoor Tennis Center, located in the center of the
millionaires' homes. Any previous attempt to document his athletic prowess
deals only with his ability to jump in one bed and out the other without
being caught. He was noted as a womanizer whose escapades bordered on
According to his biographer,
Stanley Jackson, J. Pierpont Morgan was a "businessman of the first
order. He was a beefy thick-necked financial bully, drunk with wealth
and power, who bawls his orders to stock markets, directors, courts,
governments and nations."
Behind this facade of success
was a man of immense financial talent, a hard drinking extrovert with
a taste for bawdy stories, a man whose contributions to the Catholic
church were of such magnitude that the "Pope described him as
a good man." A financial wizard, who hobnobbed with William
Rockefeller, Joseph Choate, and Jack Morgan, he was one of the founders
of the Jeykll Island Club.
A historical sign
beside the Jekyll Island Club Wharf extends the legend of Morgan:
the most luxurious pleasure craft in the world during the existence
of the Jekyll Island Club, 1886-1942. No other yacht was comparable
to John Pierpont Morgan's several Corsairs. Corsair II, to large to
dock, anchored in the channel. Morgan was escorted ashore by a flotilla
of small craft, after a cannon had sounded off his arrival in these
waters. Corsair II was 304 feet overall, speed 19 knots, and tonnage
1,600. Morgan, when asked how much it cost, made this classic remark:
"If you have to consider the cost you have no business with a yacht."
Other palatial yachts owned by Jekyll Island Club members were: Pierre
Lorillard's Carmen, James Stillman's Wanda, Astors' Nourmahal, Vanderbilt's
Valiant, H. Manville's Hi Esmaro, Pulitzer's Liberty, George F. Baker's
Viking, E.T. Stotesbury's Castle, Crane's Illyria, Theodore N. Vail's
Speedwell and Northwind, Commodore Frederick Bourne's Marjorie, Goulds'
Hildegards, Saono, and Ketchum. Edwin Gould built a private dock in
front of his cottage, Chichota. Andrew Carnegie, whose family owned
Cumberland Island, visited Jekyll on yachts Skibo and Missoe."
J. P. Morgan and Cornelius
Vanderbilt were among the first 19th century American industrialists
to use yachts as status symbols. Corsair III was Morgan's proudest possession.
With it his statue had reaced its peak. It was the third in a series
of yachts that boasted a proud history of luxurious living. Corsair
III was 302 feet long and manned by a crew of 69. She was used in home
waters in the northeast for lavish parties and secret business meetings.
Regularly, she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to be joined by the
banker later for Mediterranean cruises. When she came to Jeykll, the
horn blew from the moment she hit the bay until she parked. Everyone
knew when she arrived.
Of special interest to me
was a one line quote describing the scene of Morgan's annual arrival
at Jekyll: "Morgan was escorted ashore by a flotilla of small craft,
after a cannon had sounded off his arrival in these waters."
Several years ago, during a previous trip to Jekyll, I visited the home
of Joseph Pulitzer. Pulitzer,
owner of newspapers in New York and St. Louis, continues to demand respect
for his contributions to the field of journalism. The Pulitzer Prize
was established as part of his will in 1918. For journalistic achievement
it demands the upmost respect among those known to covet the sounds
of words on paper. Pulitzer's home is directly across the bay from the
wharf, easily within sounding range of boats that pass. On that particular
visit, the tour guide told us that Pulitzer had one pet peeve; "He hated
the boisterous noise of the boats passing in front of his house and
he reportedly offered the sea captains money not to blow their horns."
I can conjure
in my mind the scene now. It's early February on Jekyll Island. Pulitizer
has been relaxing. Smoking a pipe, or sipping tea, or talking to his
wife or mistress, or waiting for supper, or watching the sunset, or
reading the sports section of the New York World, when he is startled
from his noiseless paradise by a bombardment of sound stretching across
First, a canon's flare in
the sky. Maybe he thought Jekyll Island was being attacked by pirates,
or a flotilla from Spain lost for a generation has come ashore, or maybe
the Germans had decided to start World War I early. Whatever the case,
there was the explosion; a sound of immense magnitude sending ripplings
of movement through the base of the earth. Moments later he heard a
faint sound of music, maybe of a lone trumpet, or a whisper of march
music stirring through the pines.
Then, the horn again, the
shaking of the ground. A chorus of trumpets growing louder, and their
was a Sousa March, and then, straining his eyes in the direction of
the commotion, he could see them: the flotilla of ships, the bands,
the shouting flag bearers, ladies in corsets whistling lustful noises,
engines coughing, captains ranting and raving, and there - perched on
the highest point of the Corsair III, was "J. Pierpoint Morgan," waving,
smoking a big cigar, snorting and waving his hat in a political fashion
of the highest order. "The King of Finance" had arrived!
Across the street I can
see Pulitzer stuffing his ears with cotton. No wonder he tried to pay
the captains to lay off the horn, to blow softer, or better yet, not
to blow at all. Standing in Pulitzer's living room years ago, looking
toward the wharf, I thought for a moment I heard a "whisper of trumpets."
But, I passed it off as a passing dream. Or, maybe it was part of an
eternal nightmare that existed in the ether surrounding that particular
spot in the universe.
Dan Kenneth Phillips
AN AFTERNOON VISIT TO ST.SIMONS
Whenever I visit Jekyll Island, I always take an afternoon
and travel to St. Simons Island. I like to sit on a bench overlooking
the ocean near the town section of St. Simon's and watch people walk
along the beach, or fish from the pier.
In the background is a small
white fence surrounding a lighthouse. A bay of antennas peer from the
peak of the lighthouse. This lighthouse was the source of a historically
novel, The Lighthouse, written by Eugenia Price, a novelist who lives
on St. Simons.
of her novels - The Beloved Invader - the story of Anson Dodge, brought
me to this site over two decades ago. I remember the day well. It
was cold, and windy, and late December. The wind strongly suggested
the struggle of Anson Dodge to rebuild Christ Church after the Civil
War. I remember standing by Anson Dodge’s grave. Someone had placed
a fresh red rose on the grave of Anna, his second wife.
Not far from Christ Church
is the Wesley Oak where John Wesley once preached. And a couple of miles
north is a historical marker noting the site of Charles Wesley's first
sermon. Charles Wesley had his difficulties while on St. Simon's Island.
While his brother was involved in rewarding spiritual days and romantic
adventures in Savannah, Charles was the ruling spiritual leader on St.
Simons. Unfortunately, he got entangled in the affairs of James Oglethorpe,
the leader of the Georgia colony. From dubious sources he erroneously
concluded that Oglethorpe was a lecturous leader involved in numerous
Charles, not one to err
on the side of human reason, thought it was his spiritual duty to confront
the less righteous with paternal advice to renounce their sins and return
to the fold. This methodology often caused him much trouble. His most
notable error involved the arrest of the only doctor on the island,
Dr. Hawkins, for firing a gun during his Sunday sermon. The arrest resulted
in the good doctor being placed in jail. Soon, one of his patients had
a miscarriage and Charles was blaimed as the perpetuator of this dastardly
deed and deemed a murderer by some. Things continued downward from there.
Oglethorpe, tired of his confrontational style, accused him with a lack
of discretion; and despite John's intercession, Charles soon abandoned
his missionary sojourn in Georgia and returned to England.
Another of my favorite
duties while on St. Simons is to eat at the Crab Trap. It is an
excellent restaurant. During my last trip I was having difficulty finding
it, so I stopped at the Texaco station near the pier to check directions.
The cashier, in his mid-twenties, was going through a complicated business
deal with two female college students who were buying bikinis. For some
reason he seemed uninterested in my arrival.
"That doesn't look like
its big enough to cover anything," he said to one of the young ladies.
"That's what I need," she
said with a wink.
"Have you tried it on?"
he asked. "Maybe you should take it in the backroom."
Realizing that this conversation
could take all day, I interrupted impatiently.
"Is this the right road
to the Crab Trap?"
"Yeah," he said. "A half
mile up the street on the left."
"Is the food as good as
it use to be?" I questioned.
"Sure is. Been in business
ten years. The best!"
I rushed to the car chuckling
to myself and wondering what that tiny postage stamp of a bikini really
The Crab Trap is located at 1209 Ocean Boulevard
on St. Simon's Island, Georgia. When we arrived at five o'clock in the
afternoon, the parking lot was almost full. A common thread was discovered
in the parking arena. The cars were expensive, and each of them had
license plates with some variation of the word Dog on them: (No doubt
in deference to the Georgia Bulldogs from Athens, Georgia) GO DOGS.
LUVEMDAWGS, DAWGLVR, and DOGS DOGS. One Mercedes 350SL had a broken
window, but a sign on the car read, "DOGS DOGS."
I ordered the Crabber's
Delight. It was one of their specialties. A seafood platter with battered
french fries, hush puppies, and cole slaw cost $11.45. Their broiled
rock shrimp was $11.45, and fried shrimp was $9.95. We were hungry.
We ordered fast, then looked at an old fish net tacked up in the corner
against the wall.
When we finished eating, we got in a family argument over T-shirts and
tips. My brother-in-law Alan, would not let his new wife leave a tip.
"I'm not about to let you leave a five dollar tip for that waitress.
She's just a college student like you. Just from us she is making more
than 20 dollars an hour. More than most college students I know," he
said in rather convincing style.
"Maybe I should be a waitress
instead of a college student," said his new wife coldly. It was a futile
battle. Intense! Words wobblied angrily across the table until there
was an explosion of angry silence.
About that time, my 13-
year- old daughter Melinda entered the fray. "I want a Crab Trap T-shirt,"
Such statements always drive
me up the wall. "We already have enough T-shirts to plaster the entire
city of Atlanta," I said with authority. With a presence of mind of
a broadminded dictator I added, "No one in their right mind would
buy a Crab Trap T-shirt." Argument over!
We stayed two more days
on Jekyll Island. We watched the Jekyll Island Club being remodeled,
marveled at the fresh paint on some of the old mansions, walked along
the beach at sunset, ate at Blackbeard's Seafood Restaurant, listened
to the distant honks of passing tugs, walked to the edge of the T shaped
pier on the northern edge of the island,watched anxious fishermen as
they tugged at their lines, followed the footprints of landbound seagulls,
and looked through the Tiffany window at the small chapel on the island.
We swam on oversized floats,
playfully fought in the motel pool, practiced back flips, laughed, dunked
each other, and played underwater tag. Or, we walked along the sandy
beach. One day we watched a woman in a black bathing suit bury her husband
in sand. She placed a blue towel over his head. Sand covered the rest
of his body. She patted his sand covered tummy. Water was splashing
on the sand near his feet. If it had not been for his oink like noises,
I would have assumed he was dead or wishing for a speedy death. Two
large ships watched from a distance. That night there was a full eclipse
of the moon. It was a memorable evening. Life began to take shape again.
Time to return to the real world.
As the week neared an end,
we packed our bags and set out for one last stop: SAVANNAH. We would
only be there part of a day, but it would be a happy conclusion to a
relaxing week. After breakfast at the Huddle House, we drove across
the causeway, that no longer had a Jekyll Island Banner welcoming us,
and drove north.