Gray Man of Pawley's Island

pgwilliamson Member Photo

Clipped by pgwilliamson

Gray Man of Pawley's Island - PAWLEYS ISLAND (AP) Come listen to tales of the...
PAWLEYS ISLAND (AP) Come listen to tales of the Gray Man, the benevolent ghost of the S.C. coast. A netherwordly weatherman, he appears before hurricanes, warning people to take cover. If he lives anywhere, he lives on this 3'A -mile-long -mile-long -mile-long -mile-long island of old frame houses, salt marshes, twisted live oaks and myrtles. Remembered Ellen Weaver, who said she shared a home with the Gray Man and his wife: "They were part of our household. That's the only way I can say it. You could take them or leave them." Jim and Clara Moore of Georgetown never really believed in the Gray Man. In September 1989, walking near their beach home, they changed their minds. The couple held hands and walked along the shores of Pawleys Island, a Georgetown County town of 173 about 30 miles south of Myrtle Beach. They saw a man round a weather-beaten weather-beaten weather-beaten jetty. Ten feet away, he disappeared from the beach. Two days later, Hurricane Hugo struck. Ever since, people have tried to squeeze out details, including a crew from NBC "Unsolved Mysteries." Near the worn jetty where the ghost appeared, ihe Moores resist the temptation to embellish a ghost story. "Did he wear a hat? No, he didn't wear a hat," said Clara Moore, 73, a retired Georgetown Elementary School teacher. "What color shirt did s DsSaEradl's IbeBDewoSeint he have on? I don't know. Did he have blue eyes? I don't know. I'm not sure he had eyes." "I was standing here talking," said Jim Moore, 71, a retired International Paper Co. paymaster. "I started to wave and he wasn't there. If we had known what we were seeing, we would have taken a closer look." Like his hazy outline, the Gray Man's past is hard to trace. Some say he's the spirit of Percival Pawley, the island's original owner, a man who loved his home so much he couldn't stay in his grave. Others say he's the soul of a spurned lover, a mariner who died in a hurricane, or a dashing, tubercular rice planter. But one story, dating to 1822, seems most popular. In this tale, he's the lovesick ghost of a man who took a shortcut through a marsh to see his fiancee. Thrown from his horse, he died in quicksand. Later, his lover saw his spirit two days before a great storm. Bill Oberst, Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce executive director, said tales such as the Gray Man grow from the region's bittersweet history. Nourished by the rich storytelling traditions and suffering of West African slaves, it's a legacy of isolated rice plantations whose legendary wealth was destroyed in the Civil War. The Gray Man has company. Some like to call Georgetown County the most haunted place in America. Each year, the chamber gives tours of the homes of ghostly planters, pirates and lovers whose devotion never dies. They include Alice Flagg, the spirit of a sad 15-year-old 15-year-old 15-year-old 15-year-old 15-year-old girl forever searching for her engagement engagement ring, and Thomas Gunn, a carpenter who fell to his death while finishing a church roof. "We prefer romantic tales here," Oberst said. "I think the ghosts, and people who lived then, felt more deeply than we do today. They had so little to care about and feel about. Love to them could survive death." Jayne Ware, a Winston-Salem, Winston-Salem, Winston-Salem, N.C., parapsy-chologist parapsy-chologist parapsy-chologist and ghost-hunter ghost-hunter ghost-hunter who helps the chamber chamber with tours, has a theory: A heart-wrenching heart-wrenching heart-wrenching death creates a burst of energy, leaving a lingering lingering impression most easily seen on humid days as in before a storm. "It would almost be like an imprint in the air," Ware said. "Given certain conditions, you can watch it like a replay on TV." On Pawleys, a lantern casts an eerie yellow light on a wraparound porch. Moonlight filters through a canopy of live oaks, their growth stunted by the salt wind. Upstairs, floorboards creak. In the early 19th century, Plowden Charles Jennet Wilson, a wealthy rice planter, built this nine-bedroom nine-bedroom nine-bedroom house. Now it's known as the Pelican Pelican Inn, an elegant bed-and-breakfast. bed-and-breakfast. bed-and-breakfast. bed-and-breakfast. bed-and-breakfast. During the Civil War, Weston died of tuberculosis tuberculosis when he was 44. Some believe the Gray Man is the ghost of Weston or his cousin. For about 30 years, Eileen Weaver ran the Pelican before selling it to its current owners in the 1970s. Weaver, a registered nurse and former cartoonist for Walt Disney, now lives in Georgetown. One day, she said, she heard the living room door open. She saw a man standing in the Pelican's Pelican's doorway. In a wide-rimmed wide-rimmed wide-rimmed hat, he looked dapper in a dove-gray dove-gray dove-gray suit with pearl button sand spats over his shoes. But there was something different about him: He had an iridescent look, and his feet hovered off the ground. "What do you want?" Weaver asked. The man floated by her, through the butler's pantry, the kitchen and out another door. "You could at least be polite and close the door when you come back in," she said. : Weaver is convinced she lived with the Gray Man and his wife, a severe-looking severe-looking severe-looking woman in black and white fantail dress who thought she was still lady of the house. "She'd cross her arms and look at us as if to say, What do you think you're doing?' I'd just tell her to go away," Weaver said. But over the years, ghost and host learned to live together. "It was just part of the inn," she said. "We just accepted them as part of the family. They were good ghosts." (This story was written by John Hechinger of The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.)

Clipped from The Gaffney Ledger26 Dec 1990, WedPage 6

The Gaffney Ledger (Gaffney, South Carolina)26 Dec 1990, WedPage 6
pgwilliamson Member Photo

Want to comment on this Clipping? Sign up for a free account, or sign in