Natural and Man-Made “Wonders” at Edisto


Dear Reader:

There are enough mysteries and wonders galore at Edisto to keep Brooke and me “adventuring” for years to come. (Each time I go I hear about something “fresh” to capture the imagination or simply  take in the sheer beauty of the island anew..


The Mystery Tree has been around for quite a few years now. It never ceases to excite me as I grow closer to its marshy home site (each visit) to see what the “tree” looks like this time. It is usually seasonally decorated…and it was! It looks like ‘Casper, the Friendly Ghost’ is visiting Edisto Island.

“Almost more of a natural coat rack than a tree, the Edisto Mystery Tree has nonetheless become a festive magnet for zany decorations in a tradition that has no clear origin.”  

While the tree is ever-changing, the real mystery behind the tree is that nobody knows just who started the whole thing.. In fact at one point some rebellious youths uprooted the tree and hauled it away, but lo and behold, a mysterious benefactor planted another similar tree in its place.

Whether it was the same person who planted the original tree and started the decorative tradition or just a local who couldn’t stand to see the festive plant disappear, it appears that the Edisto Mystery Tree is not going away any time soon. (Resource: Edisto Mystery Tree-Atlas Obscura)

Brooke told me about a new novelty or road “oddity” (as they used to be called) on our retreat this past week…I had to see it. It is called “The Edisto Mattress Swing.” A funny true “Gullah” story lies behind the site.

“A man named Frank “Tish” Gadsden, whose mother was a direct descendant of the original slaves on the island, lived in a mobile home near this tree and decided to construct the hanging apparatus so he would not have to lie on the ground when he dozed outside in the summertime. It seems his wife would insist upon this arrangement when he was on a drinking binge and neglected to bathe regularly.”

The swing was initially an eyesore to some, but when many visitors to Edisto Beach stopped to photograph or draw the local oddity, Tish decided to start charging five bucks for the “privilege.”  Later the price doubled as the fascination continued…along with a pack of cigarettes. ” Resource:

By 2010 Frank “Tish” sadly had passed.. initially it looked like the mattress swing idea went with him…but then, apparently family members and island homeowners decided it was a fun novelty and benchmark for tourists and annual vacationers who stopped by each time they came to Edisto. By 2013 it had returned…now dressing up for holiday festivities.

As this writer explained:

“Admittedly, it’s not that big of a deal. It’ was just an ordinary mattress on a wood frame, suspended by four ropes under a giant live oak tree. But the idea was pretty novel, and looked to be a fun ride.

Whenever my family traveled to Edisto, we always looked for the Mattress Swing, and usually found it occupied by a little kid or two, swaying gently in the warm breeze, while a handful of adults lounged in chairs nearby.

Dad always joked, “You wanna stop and get your picture taken on it?” and the kids all laughed as we sped by, anxious to reach the beach house. The Mattress Swing was always a prominent reminder that “We’re Almost There!” (Resource: The Edisto Island Mattress Swing: Contributed by misplacedmtnman.)

*It was definitely decorated for Halloween when I took this photo last Thursday. We couldn’t find anyone to pay or leave cigarettes 🙂 but enjoyed the “look!”

What is it about the fresh air on the beach…the salt air mixed with the breezes that just makes us so upbeat? For me one positive universal thought came to my mind on the beach this year…”What is the best that can happen?”

If we turn negative thoughts upside down and instead focus on our best thoughts…any trivial negative happening during the day is dispelled; after all it was just one negative moment…not the whole day! (Thanks Michelle Lee, fellow blogger, for this insight!)

This time of year the autumn marshes on Edisto and the wheat fields on the prairies take on similar imagery.

Thursday when we went to Cypress Trees Brooke took a picture of me on the famous “wedding swing.” As I nostalgically looked back through the wedding album…I saw this photo of Mandy on the wedding swing too. It played a prominent place on the wedding day.

So until tomorrow…”Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” Rachel Carson (Thanks Libby for the quote…Perfect!)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

John and Mandy decided to return from Disney yesterday so they could have one day to relax before back to the school regiment again…this time it was the gondolas that fascinated the children…they loved riding in them.

Last night I couldn’t watch the Clemson game because I didn’t have the ACC network but Tommy commentated on the game  and updated me on the score quarter by quarter.


So without a way to watch it…I pulled out the pints of Clemson ice cream I bought at the King’s Market before I left Edisto Friday and treated myself to the caramel butter pecan. It actually was a wonderful way to pay tribute to my beloved Tigers…slurp slurp! 🙂 Go Tigers!

I believe I ate as many spoonfuls of the ice cream as the Tigers put points on the scoreboard! Both scenarios were equally delightful!


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Natural and Man-Made “Wonders” at Edisto

  1. bcparkison says:

    A bed swing soumds pretty good but what to do about rain. Water soaked doesn’t feel so good.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I have wondered about that too…maybe they are putting plastic over it….like looking at it but wouldn’t want to sit on it.


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