It has been about a year since Folly Beach began enforcing the no alcohol ban on the beach. It’s such a disappointment that this sort of action needed to be taken. Folly was the last place around here where one could go to the beach, relax, have a beer, forget about everyday problems and not worry about a thing except getting too much sun. Now the beer part is out of the equation because, as is so often the case, certain people couldn’t control themselves and ended up ruining it for everybody else. Folly Beach Town Council had little choice but to act as it did.

What’s particularly annoying is that those “certain people” were all too often not even our own, but instead among hordes of marauding drunks from elsewhere who would bus in for the day, then behave in such a manner that was embarrassing and disgraceful, effectively ruining Folly Beach’s family-oriented atmosphere.

I’ve got two Folly Beach officials in my medical practice. Both unequivocally state that last year’s decision to ban alcohol on the beach was a painful decision but an absolute necessity and the right thing to do. No regrets — they’d support it again in a heartbeat. Folly Beach is again safe, (almost as much) fun, and parents no longer have to worry about their children hearing F-bombs falling like raindrops, or watching drunks vomiting and passing out on the beach, or trying to have sex, or fighting, or trashing the waterfront, and so forth.

And yet what about the economic impact of the ban? Surely people used Folly as a rental, hotel or bed and breakfast destination because they could do a little partying on the beach. Well, in a letter to their clients, one of the prominent real estate firms addresses that very issue and how it translates into rental fee scheduling.

“Last year at this time Folly was the only beach in SC that allowed people to drink alcohol on the beach. Our firm favored the ban for two reasons: (1) We were receiving a large number of complaints from tenants that they were feeling uncomfortable with family and friends on the beach due to the obnoxious behavior of highly intoxicated beachgoers; (2) A general perception that Folly was sliding down a very slippery slope in terms of its reputation. Folly had always been known as the funky little beach town outside Charleston where people from all walks of life somehow managed to co-exist peacefully and thereby create a great melting pot of true Americana. Last year, our beautiful beach town was becoming overrun with a new type of visitor that had no respect for the rights of others and (quite honestly) felt that rules of common decency ceased to exist as soon as one crossed over the Folly River. In short, something drastic needed to be done and it needed to be done quickly and unequivocally. Now that we are in the first summer of the new ordinance, we are happy to report that we do not believe the ordinance has had a negative impact on rental income. In many cases, income is up!! Also, we seem to be getting more family-oriented guests who we believe will take better care of your homes during their vacations. We still obviously have guests that will cause damage, but it’s unlikely that will ever go away entirely. In general the beach appears more enjoyable for our guests. If you walk the beach on a given Saturday you will no longer see the large gatherings of intoxicated teens and twenty-somethings that were there a year ago. We stand by our opinion that Folly is a much better place that it was a year ago.”

Well, that pretty much sums it up. But can’t they make an exception for old people like me who — even if we do misbehave a little — will at least do so quietly?

***

Going through some of the mail, real ornithologists apparently disagree with a premise I made a few weeks ago that swallow-tailed kites and painted buntings are uncommon. People on Wadmalaw, for example, see painted buntings all the time. (Perhaps I should have said they’re rare as far as we city slickers are concerned.)

Irving Rosenfeld says that the kites may have been uncommon here at one time, “but just like the wood storks, they have become quite common in certain areas (such as the Francis Marion National Forest), having moved north from Florida.

“The painted bunting is also a common bird. They can be found everywhere in this area in the right habitat (shrubs and trees near marshes). Some have territories at Caw Caw, and at least two families have territories at James Island County Park. One of the areas where you are bound to see them is near the fishing dock. They are small birds, of course, and hide in the foliage. Often all you hear is their song and not able to spot them unless you make a concerted effort to see them.”

Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.