Customer comments: “The Woman Who Saved An Island”

Sandy West seems like a character out of a Tom Robbins- a blissfully …

By Florence Crisafi on February 16, 2015

Format: Paperback

Sandy West seems like a character out of a Tom Robbins novel- a blissfully irreverent and unlikely shaman, living in nature and teaching through laughter, teaching that nothing is out of bounds, too sacred or too profane to learn from and laugh with. Except that Sandy West is very much real, alive and well at 102 years old, still protecting her magical (and also very real) island. Jane Fishman has done a wonderful service to record the life, the story, and personality of this amazing woman. Reading this book gives you a sense of the constant wonder and surprise of being with Sandy on the island. The book is inclusive, it does not preach but invites us and takes us along.


By L. S. Garrett on March 27, 2015

Format: Paperback

Sandy West is an example of bold. The contrast of the posh background, the pedigree husbands and the slew of servants with ‘who she was’ and ‘who she became’ was radical. I kept thinking ‘she is a democrat’ (not the current political party, mind you, but the Roman citizen). Mostly I thought, ‘she is an artist.’ Again, I am not referring to the obvious palette artist (which may also give the line credence). But rather to the ideas she propelled and embraced.

An artist can make one look at things differently, so much so that you have to pay attention and have to debate the merits and have to concede the importance seen. Christo wrapped the Brandenburg Gate, among other places, not just because he could, but for others to view the visual artifact in a new way.

Sandy West is the revolutionary environmentalist–and was before that was a cause or name or had a Washington office. What she has saved was indeed for herself, for every friend and every following generation. She deserves a medal.

I also did not think of this as a puff piece. At times it was a feature, at times a news story. And while the author did not dig to find dirt, she also exposed what had been happening and why. I found that it didn’t matter if I adored West, for what was a slam-dunk was the fact that I respected and admired her. She is valiant.

Some things must have the barn door blocked, lest culture tear it down.


It’s hip to be gray

Savannah Morning News

April 12, 2015


Gray hair is trending. I read this somewhere. I can’t tell you where I read it. I can’t even tell you what “trending” means. All I think when I hear that term is, “Someone is using ‘trend’ as a gerund? Really?” But I think it’s a good thing for people such as myself who are walking around with gray hair. Translated it means we are trending. We are happening. We are wearing our hair as a sign of something. This is assuming the declarations of young people are important because those are the people who are doing the “trending.” Or so I read. They, the youngsters, want the silver vixen look. And they are paying good money for it. Can you imagine?

On the other hand I have loved watching Toni Morrison’s hair pick up a little gray dusting year by year – the same with Alice Walker – although mostly I couldn’t give two figs for the color of their hair, black, white, red, purple. It’s their writing I like, their thinking, their commitment to ideas.

The rest of us have to make do with humor, with boldness. The other day I was crossing Park Avenue, just kind of barging out in the street because that’s what trend-setting, impatient people with gray hair do. We step out. We don’t wait for permission. It’s kind of a crazy corner over by the Forsyth Park tennis courts, but when the Honda Fit saw us and let us walk across, I turned to the woman next to me and said, “It’s because of my gray hair.” She answered, “You think?” That’s when I broke the news to her. “Gray hair is trending.”

You’ve heard the expression “black don’t crack”? As in the skin of African Americans? It’s smooth and youthful and beautiful and rarely marred by wrinkles. Well, the new expression is “gray hair don’t care.”

The new movement is called the granny hair trend. It’s edgy. And people are paying good money to get their hair to look that way.

Of course Richard Gere, who is trending 66, came by his gray hair naturally. To his credit, he didn’t change it. Then again he was married to supermodel Cindy Crawford and he’s a Buddhist. He’s got self-confidence. The same with Anderson Cooper. No one ever complained about his hair. No matter than Cooper is related to the Vanderbilts and looks like he’s 12.  Then there’s John Travolta, who wears a very bad rug. I’m pretty sure bad rugs are trending as much or as little as Scientology.

I know that time flies but I do recall a heated debate over putting a woman on the airwaves as a reporter or a 6 o’clock newsreader. That was a gender thing, not an age thing. The horror! The public won’t take a woman’s voice seriously, the argument went. Women don’t have enough gravitas, no matter how dark or gray their hair is. There’s no telling how many women could have done a better job than Brian Williams, who despite his good (blond) hair had a little trouble with the truth and with going after the news. But somehow it didn’t matter. Good hair and male genes translates into big bucks and lots of airtime.

Now I’m more concerned with the spelling of the word. Turns out gray with an “A” is the preferred spelling in the States and grey with an “E” is what the Brits do unless it’s a dog you’re talking about (greyhound) or a restaurant (Savannah’s The Grey). Then it’s an “E.”

Anyway, I’m over the color. Forget the color. I’ve already made my peace with gray. I’m waiting to see what these trend-setting Fifty Shades of Gray women will do next to add a little gravitas or dignity to their looks. I myself can’t wait for the sleepy, droopy-eyelid look to hit the big time. You know, the hooded eyelids of Lauren Bacall when she was talking to that tough guy, private eye Philip Marlow (Humphrey Bogart)? Does anyone have any word on this?