“Daufuskie Daze” is the first book written by Jim Alberto, and what a story he has to tell. This is a chronicle of the nine years he and his wife, Carol, spent teaching the children of Daufuskie Island, an isolated barrier island near Hilton Head Island.
Beginning in 1974, teaching at the two-room Mary Fields Elementary School, Jim and Carol’s tenure followed that of the Lowcountry’s beloved Pat Conroy. Years after his departure, Conroy wrote “The Water Is Wide” to tell his own story of teaching on the island.
Working with the bare minimum of supplies, transportation, facilities, conveniences and communication, this dedicated and determined young couple persevered as the only educational resource on the island.
Most of the time relying solely on his own abilities, imagination and common sense, Alberto’s duties included anything from vehicle repair, welding and electrical work to navigating the winding, spartina grass-lined creeks between Hilton Head and Daufuskie to replenish supplies … plus every other task required on any given day to maintain the status quo.
Honing his survival skills became a matter of necessity as he regularly encountered venomous snakes, alligators and bugs of every type and size.
And let’s not forget the intense heat and humidity of long Lowcountry summers.
Readers will find the descriptions of their experiences both funny and amazing and sometimes even horrifying. The author insists he and his wife learned at least as much as they taught in that nine years. That their passion endured, and they taught there for nine years, is extraordinary.
Alberto, a graduate of the University of South Carolina, returned to teaching history on the mainland after his nine years on Daufuskie.
The Albertos currently reside on Hilton Head, a mere 25-minute boat ride through the creeks from Daufuskie.
Emory S. Campbell, a respected Gullah cultural historian of Hilton Head Island, said of “Daufsukie Daze”: “From his depiction of the Island’s distinct smell in the first chapter to his deep exhale of contentment in the last chapter, Jim’s detailed account will enthrall readers on every page.”
Released in July 2019 by Starbooks and Lydia Inglett Publishing, “Daufuskie Daze” is available in hard cover and can be purchased at starbooks.biz and Amazon.com.
Glenda Harris of Bluffton is a freelance writer and editor, nature lover and aspiring novelist.