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God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island, Georgia Paperback – July 17, 2001


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God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island, Georgia + Sapelo's People: A Long Walk into Freedom + Sapelo Island's Hog Hammock (Images of America)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (July 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385493770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385493772
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


“Delightful…. In writing that is both unadorned and poetic, Bailey’s soft, Southern wit shines through.”–Publishers Weekly

“A memorable read…. Highly recommended.”–Library Journal

From the Inside Flap

Equal parts cultural history and memoir, God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man recounts a traditional way of life that is threatened by change, with stories that speak to our deepest notions of family, community, and a connection to one's homeland.

Cornelia Walker Bailey models herself after the African griot, the tribal storytellers who keep the history of their people. Bailey's people are the Geechee, whose cultural identity has been largely preserved due to the relative isolation of Sapelo, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. In this rich account, Bailey captures the experience of growing up in an island community that counted the spirits of its departed among its members, relied on pride and ingenuity in the face of hardship, and taught her firsthand how best to reap the bounty of the marshes, woods and ocean that surrounded her. The power of this memoir to evoke the life of Sapelo Island is remarkable, and the history it preserves is invaluable.

Customer Reviews

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The perfect combination of memoir and folklore.
Jack D. Horn
It gave me a sense of culture and was an excellent reference concerning the culture of the greater African-American culture overall.
T. Smalls
Thank you for sharing your story and the history lesson Mrs. Bailey!!!
PT Cruiser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Smalls on September 3, 2004
Being a life-long resident of the South Carolina Lowcountry, many of the things Bailey described in her book hit home. A fear of the otherworldly, grave respect for elders and ancestors, and contentment with life in its natural simplicity are telling traits that Bailey has really invested herself in the life she describes. The book shifts in interests as Bailey describes her experiences of reaching maturity in the natural, social, and spiritual senses, but her worldview remains consistent with the old traditions.

For those who are interested in the actual speech patterns of Geechee (or Gullah) people, this is not really the book for you. There are sparse renditions of the Lowcountry/Island way of talking, but one gets the sense that Bailey was a good code-switcher; indeed, any Geechee with solid home-training would try to avoid speaking with one's home accent in public. Nevertheless, the culture that came up with the language is presented panchronologically; the very distant past is treated with the same sense of importance as the events that took place during Bailey's lifetime, and just as much gravity is given to as much as she can foresee of the unknown future.

I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a sense of culture and was an excellent reference concerning the culture of the greater African-American culture overall. It is filled with lively stories, unforgetable anecdotes, thoughtful philosophizing, and hope.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 2003
This is a great book to learn about the culture, history and traditions of a Geechee community on Sapelo Island, GA. Compared to other books I have read about this area, Ms. Bailey really focuses on the folklore and superstitions that shaped life on this isolated island during the second half of the 20th century. Although some of these traditions continue, many are fading away as this unique community shrinks in size. Ms. Bailey considers it her duty to be a storyteller, to pass these stories down to whoever will listen, and to keep the traditions alive. Ms. Bailey succeeds by telling her story with a vibrant narrative - a very fast and rewarding read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barbara G. Marthal on January 13, 2014
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If you want a better understanding of southern culture then this book is a must read, particularly if you have lost your links to your great great grand parents and other ancestors from the turn of the 20th century. This book also helps to bridge the gap between the antebellum south and the early 20th century. It is a very positive read and it shares a glimpse into that part of southern culture that is often forgotten (the everyday people of the south be they black, white, red or brown. It focues on their commonality and pride. You will find that all southerners truly share a cultural bond.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erin P. on November 15, 2013
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After spending a weekend volunteering on Sapelo Island with The Georgia Conservancy, I wanted to know more of the island's history. This ethereal slice of life on the barrier island is told by Cornelia Walker Bailey, the island's resident ambassador and a truly endearing and charismatic woman. Mrs. Bailey spoke to our group and her captivating voice shines through in this memoir. It feels as though I'm sitting around a campfire at Cabretta Beach or in Mrs. Bailey's own living room as she tells these vivid stories about her life as a saltwater Geechee growing up on her beloved Sapelo. I treasure each story as I do the island itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Doris Bean, RN on May 9, 2014
Just one week ago I had the priviledge of meeting Cornelia Bailey during a Road Scholar visit to Sapelo Island. After listening to her speak about life at Hog Hummock, I purchased her book and could hardly put it down until I had read every word. She describes herself as "a real saltwater geechee woman" and educates her readers about not only her life but also expresses her concern about the future of her community on Sapelo Island.
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I purchased this book on my first visit to Sapelo Island's Cultural Festival in 2002. As the daughter of a Salterwater Geechee, I found the book intriguing and enjoyed reading many of the stories I'd heard as a child. Many familiar characters such as Dr. Buzzard, and "The Haig" made me smile inside and giggle aloud.

I loved the story of the beginnings of the island and how the ancestry can be traced back to the slaves transported from Africa. The stories of the culture and traditions are rich, and the wounds received by the enslaved - both physically and mentally - run deep.

The story of the origin of the Reynolds Plantation is one that is not familiar to many and to hear it told through these pages is truly enlightening.

To realize that many of the descendants of the original slaves still reside on Sapelo Island - an Island with few amenities and modest homes is amazing.

I enjoyed so much, that in 2010 I invited Ms. Bailey as my surprise guest to Amelia Island, Florida for a "Fancy Hat" Literary lucheon at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia. We discussed the book and even invited the Darien "Shouters" to perform.

I would encourage everyone and anyone to read this book, and visit this barrier island. You will throughly enjoy it!!
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This wonderful storyteller's account of Geechee/Gullah folkways on one isolated Georgia Sea Island presents a picture of traditional West African beliefs and their adaptations to new circumstances in America. The authors do not just describe traditions in abstract, academic ways, but recount reminiscences of the primary author, who grew up on Sapelo Island, that demonstrate how these beliefs and traditions guided daily life well into modern times.

The book is charming to read. Like a good storyteller, it entertains while teaching. This work beautifully compliments other accounts of Geechee/Gullah culture currently available, and is a "must read" for anyone interested in this aspect of our American culture.

-Lynn Michelsohn, Author of Tales from Brookgreen: Folklore, Ghost Stories, and Gullah Folktales in the South Carolina Lowcountry
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God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island, Georgia
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