There was hardly anything to Kiawah Island back then. I had come down with a group for spring break to stay at Jerry’s family’s place on Oyster Rake. I didn’t really know him well. It was just a random group of people—three guys and four girls. We weren’t dating at the time. We would go to the end of the boardwalk and sit up on this one fence and talk for hours. He kissed me for the first time there. It’s always been our place. By the end of that trip, we were dating and that was that. I fell in love with the Island, and I fell in love with him. We’ve come back every single summer.
Later, when we were vacationing with other families, we’d bring all the kids to the pool and set up there for the afternoon. They had an adult pool and a kids pool, and above that they had this little hut, the Sundowner, where you could order drinks. We would have margaritas and the kids would match us with virgin strawberry daiquiris. Some guy would be playing Jimmy Buffett or James Taylor, and it was just charming and easy. We lived for those two weeks. Jerry would always bring a suit with him, in case there was an interview for a job down there. He’d pack that stupid suit every single time. And I would always cry when we had to leave. – KIM WILLIAMS
We began vacationing on Kiawah in the early ’80s with our two little boys, renting a wonderful Beach Townhouse close to the Inn. The Jasmine Porch restaurant in the Inn was a frequent and much enjoyed destination for their wonderful breakfast buffet. Our favorite server, Isaiah, was the very essence of grace, charm, and Kiawah hospitality, making us all (especially the boys) feel like honored guests in his home. When the boys said they didn’t want grits, Isaiah said, You’ll love my grits! And brought them each a delicious bowl of stone-ground grits topped with bacon and cheddar cheese. It’s now a family favorite. That spirit is still evident here, with many longtime Kiawah employees still working on the Island. – HELEN PATCH
We were coming up from Florida and stopping at various places on our way back to D.C. I remember the Inn was very quaint—elegant in the Southern vernacular. You know, it was not overly fancy, more informal and comfortable. One night my wife went to bed, and I went down to the bar to have a drink. I ended up sitting next to some fellow who had a cast, I believe, on his foot. We drank and chatted and so on. As people came into the bar, I got the sense they were starting to whisper and look at this fella I was talking to. I finally said, People seem to know you down here—who are you? He mentioned his name, but it didn’t mean anything to me. I asked him to tell me what songs he sang. He went through about three or four, and after each one I’d say, Nah, never heard of that. Finally he mentioned “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” I said, Oh, yeah, I’ve heard that one. He was fine with the fact that I didn’t know who he was, and we just continued to chat and drink. – PETER LYONS
Yeah, the Topsider. It was darker, quaint, and very old school. Everyone was so friendly, and there were always the same employees there. You walked in and it was the same people every time. I was twenty-one and there were a lot of people my age. We were probably the rowdy ones who showed up.They’d always have music. At night, you went there or to the Privateer on Bohicket. Or you went to town. But my parents always had the rule that if we went to town, we had to stay in town.
Back then the property owners pool had a really high diving board, so we’d leave the Topsider and jump the fence and jump off the diving board at night. We were run out of there many nights by Kiawah security. Unfortunately, some of them knew us by name! – JAMIE HERBERT
The first time we visited was our first wedding anniversary. Back in the day, you weren’t really supposed to be at the Inn unless you were staying there, so we would sneak in. I have the cutest picture of my twins smelling these hot pink flowers at the pool. We always took a babysitter. All day long we would play with the kids and sometimes the babysitter would stay home with them in the afternoon and we would go back to the pool. It was such a great place to sit. We’d drink margaritas and just have a ball.
One year we there were nine kids between the three couples. We left them playing with the babysitter on the beach and went down to the Inn to have cocktails. While we were gone, the kids filled up water balloons and buried them in a giant trench in the sand. It must have taken them hours. They were acting really funny, all gathered around and not looking at us and giggling. It was so cute. When we got about twenty feet away, they started pummelling us with these water balloons. I will never forget that. It was just adorable. And then, of course, we had to stay and pick up all the little pieces of balloon! – KRISTA GREENFIELD
Photos courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort and the Greenfield Family. Images range from the late 70’s to the late 80’s