It's peak oyster season in South Carolina. At Bowen's Island, across the Ashley River from the city of Charleston, oyster picker Victor "Goat" Lafayette is out on the water in good weather. He's still picking oysters for Bowen's Island Restaurant, a South Carolina icon, which was destroyed by fire in October of 2006. I'm here to document, as their t-shirts say, "the island, the restaurant, and the state of mind." The building may be gone, but Bowen's Island Restaurant is still very much alive. Stories from owner Robert Barber, his parents, employees, and loyal customers tell the story of this place and its people. When I leave, they'll still be talking. Bowen's Island Restaurant is open for business again. Oysters are once again being roasted in the dining room. Pay them a visit and hear some of the stories firsthand.
Look for the oral history project--interviews, photographs, and audio clips--to appear online in the coming months.
~Amy Evans, SFA oral historian