Editor's Note:  This week's guest blogger is Tressy Magwood Mellichamp, the daughter of a fourth-generation Shem Creek shrimping family.  She is the co-author of "East Cooper: A Maritime History," which documents the history of the area's maritime industry and its continued impact on the region.  I am eternally grateful to Tressy for answering countless questions and connecting me with the Shem Creek shrimpers when I was doing research for "Last Light over Carolina," now available in trade paperback.

Growing up Magwood has been one of the biggest privileges I have been given in life. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you how proud I am of my heritage. My family has been plying the coastal waters of South Carolina for generations. I grew up a tomboy on the back deck of my dad’s boat. I can remember as a child telling my father no man would ever make me change my name. This made my dad grin with pride having four daughters and no male heir to call his own. But he knew that I would shed my tomboy image one day and he would be thankful for grandchildren.

Growing up Magwood means your family is a little different than most. It means brownies are not always little brown chocolate treats; they are small sweet shrimp. It means you smile as other mothers gasp when your children leave the Aquarium starving for a fish sandwich. It means your dad's cologne doesn’t come in a bottle; it is the scent of a hard day's work mixed with the brine of the sea. It means you don’t go out to dinner for seafood. But more seriously, it means you are a part of an extended family that calls the water their home and my family's bonds are woven as tightly as the nets we cast.

Growing up Magwood has given me some of the greatest joys of my life. We take great pride in our product; taking shrimp from the sea to the table is what we love do. My family motto-- Support American Fisherman: Eat more Seafood, Live and Love Longer!

With that said, my father and I began reading "Last Light over Carolina" on the same day. We instantly were transported back in time and couldn’t put the book down. We finished it in three days calling each other constantly celebrating, crying, and laughing. We were both in amazement of how the story touched us. It was difficult having a father who spent so much time working away from home as a child. We both relived some painful truths about our relationship while we also celebrated what made us unique as a family. We saw many elements of our family’s story and other families we knew captured in the novel. I think a piece of every fisherman’s story is written in the pages.

Mary Alice Monroe did a magnificent job portraying the difficulties facing this endangered breed of men and their families.


  1. Tressy...what a beautiful tribute to your Magwood family...thank you for sharing what it was like to grow up along the coastal waters of SC...I have not read LAST LIGHT OVER CAROLINA but bought it and your words will give me more insight into the story...I love the books by Mary Alice Monroe and I can imagine the joy she felt talking to you about shrimping...

  2. Tressy introduced me to her dad, Capt. Wayne, and her wonderful family. I loved reading her blog. I wish I'd had some of those great lines for the book! Well done, Tressy!
    Mary Alice

  3. I loved LAST LIGHT OVER CAROLINA! Thanks for recommending it!

  4. Tressy, What a nice way to describe your family and especially your wonderful dad. You know how much we think of him and the rest of you for making a place in your lives, on the dock, and aboard the "Winds of Fortune" for Vasa and Kola. Last Light over Carolina is a terrific read and has a special place on my bookshelf - right next to East Cooper: A Maritime History. Thanks to you both!


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All the best,
Mary Alice