Saturday, October 21, 2023

"You Can Say Ye Did It!" Revisited

Mourning over the past is a dead-end proposition.  But so many do it!

I mentioned recently that there is a new Sheriff in town - a new director of the "Authority" that governs our island.  In the past, the Authority was a benevolent dictatorship, but it is not clear the new regime is benevolent as in the past.

By the way, I am told they have a member of staff who monitors "social media" for any negative postings about the Authority.  Sounds like North Korea!  They should have better things to do than be paranoid about what others think. Maybe we'll get voted off the island.

Times are a-changing, to be sure.  We now have a new "Code Enforcement" guy who is much more aggressive about permits and such.  If you want to put a "Garage Sale" sign in your front yard, you have to have a $20 permit, and if you don't, you pay a $100 fine.  Sounds like a Homeowner's Association!  But unlike a HOA, these are rules that didn't exist when we moved here almost 20 years ago, and were not voted on by the homeowners.  In fact, the "Authority" has made up a lot of rules lately, and unlike Federal rulemaking, there doesn't seem to be any kind of checks and balances in the rulemaking process.

In a way, it is like constructive eviction - they are making it harder and harder to live here (and more expensive as well) to the point where some may be forced to leave - priced out of their own homes.  Hmmmm..... sounds like a class-action lawsuit!  But we'll see where it goes - and how far they want to take things.  There are limits on power.

In the old days, the island was run on an ad hoc basis, and maybe that wasn't the best thing.  Many people with political connections came here and looted the historic buildings of furnishings.  The Governor's nephew got the contract to pave the island roads - using prison labor.  That was Georgia circa 1949.  It was the old-school Georgia.  Crazy times.  Now we have two Democratic Senators and the State went to Biden.  So I guess Trump did some good after all!

While it is sad that things are changing and the "good old days" are gone, we can't mourn for the past - there is no profit in it.

Back in the day,  you could drive your golf cart anywhere - on the fire roads, through the historic district, even on the beach (not me, but I've seen it done!).  The rules, what little there were, were not enforced too much.  Everything was done with the help of unpaid volunteers, who got a free round of golf as "payment."   That went away when someone got pissed off and called the labor board.  We lost something there.

But as my friend once said, "Ye can say ye did it!" and he had a point.  There is little to be gained by fighting change, particularly when change is inevitable.  "Georgia's Abandoned Island" could not stay abandoned for too long, what with property values going up and waterfront being snapped up everywhere else.  In fact, it took a long time, but people are finally realizing that living on an island 2/3rds undeveloped by State Law with a big gate up front and a $10 admission fee, has its advantages.  We live a pretty quiet life, even if "the good old days" are gone for good.

It is best to think about the past, but not dwell on it or mourn its loss.  Because quite frankly, when we look toward the past, we often fail to see the downside.  Gee, the 1950's were a swell time, right?  Well, unless you were black or Hispanic, or a woman or gay.  If a women got pregnant out-of-wedlock back then, "no decent man would marry her" and she would be forced to settle for a wife-beater, or become a prostitute.  The fabulous fifties!  We forget the downsides.

So yea, change is happening.  And much of it we may not like at first, while other parts we get used to or even like.  The new "beach village" is very nice, even if it really isn't designed with residents in mind, but tourists.  But the new beach pavilions are wonderful for picnics and are open to all.  Sadly, most residents rarely use them, but sit at home and watch television instead.  And we have 20 miles of bike trails, all newly paved.  The campground is expanding with all new sites.  There is a lot of good going on.  But the old days of good ole boys running things out of their back pockets are gone for good.

And as each good ole boy (and gal) shuffles off the mortal coil, more changes will occur.  When you have one guy in charge of a major asset, who has failed to appoint, train, and groom a successor, well, when he dies, things will no doubt be different.  But of course, no one thinks they will ever die - even as they turn 80.

It seems the average resident here stays only for five to ten years or so.  We've been here since 2006, so that makes 18 years, I guess.  Others decide they might not like it - too far away from family and friends.  Still others "age out" and leave feet first or move "back home" to be near children and assisted living.  Since most people move here in their 60s or 70s, their time on the island is circumscribed by nature.

And lately, well, we've lost a lot of friends and acquaintances - and made new ones along the way.  A lot of the "old guard" is fading away and it is sad, but we can say we knew them, back then.  You can't fight the inevitable.

We talk often about when we will leave - not because we want to or intend to do so soon, but because we like to have a plan in place for the inevitable.  Also, we want to explore our little planet more before we are no longer ambulatory.  When the right time to go is not clear, but it will become clear to us when it does.

Others, well, they stick in one place - a hometown or where they landed after college, not exactly sure why they stay or why they don't leave.  People hang on to hobby cars or boats or RVs long after they stopped using them - out of pride or fear of "giving up" for some reason.  If all the unused Harley-Davidsons sitting in garages or basements across the country hit the resale market at once, H-D would go broke!  They would have a five-year inventory hitting the market at once.  No wonder they promote the "never sell your bike!" mantra to owners - it's good for business!

We travel all over the US and quite frankly, haven't found a place as remote yet close, quiet but not isolated, inexpensive, but not cheap.  Sure, there are places in Florida, but the property taxes and insurance are a nightmare. Governor DeSantis touts "no income tax" but who is he kidding?  Property taxes can start in the five figures and go up from there.  No taxes, indeed!

Other places have snow half the year - no thanks!  Still others are wildly priced or have high crime rates or are not welcoming to Gays.  If there is a better place to live, we haven't found it - yet.

But we'll keep our eye out, in the meantime, and enjoy island life. And as for what has been lost over the years, well, Ye can say ye did it!