Remembering the Gray Man: Foggy morning walk at Pawleys

Usually I’m up early at the beach.  I walk along the shore at Pawleys Island, South Carolina where we rent a house each summer.  Or follow Myrtle Avenue near the creek where I can see both the marsh and the remaining homes in what’s known as the Pawleys Historic District. But this morning was different.  A fog settled in unexpectedly — a low, gray sort of fog that blanketed the homes facing the beach and turned the sun into a fuzzy cream ball veiled by clouds.

Few people were out.  Just the usual ones who love to greet the sun each morning from their low-slung beach chairs.  Or those hoping to catch whatever will bite and hold long enough to be flung ashore.


It was the eeriness that got me.  I rushed back to our house to grab my camera, and by that time, most of the fog had lifted.


But even that brief encounter brought back memories of an old Pawleys legend — the Legend of The Gray Man.

Gray manFor more than a hundred years now, residents and visitors vow that they’ve seen the Gray Man.  He appears right before a big storm warning residents of impending danger.  According to legend, a young woman first encountered the Gray Man as she strolled along the windswept beach at Pawleys Island after the funeral of her fiance.  And she had reason to be so despondent.  Her childhood sweetheart had returned to the island after a long absence at sea, but eager to see the one he loved, he took a shortcut across the marsh. With his manservant behind him, the young man and his horse sank quickly into the mire, suffering tragic deaths.  After his funeral, the woman walked the beach sorrowfully pondering the sad state of affairs.  But one foggy day, a man resembling her fiance appeared on the beach and warned her:  Leave the island at once.  You are in danger. Then the man disappeared.  She ran to tell her parents who believed their usually sensible daughter, and they packed up that night to leave the next morning.  On the day of the departure a forceful hurricane pounded Pawleys Island, leaving destruction in its wake.  But the woman and her family were spared.

Foggy day at the beach

And so it is that on foggy days, I watch for the Gray Man.  It just may be that he’ll warn us all of another storm brewing at Pawleys. On just such a day as this.

For more information and other accounts of the Gray Man, check out these sources:

25 thoughts on “Remembering the Gray Man: Foggy morning walk at Pawleys

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Thanks, Jeanne! I wrote this a while back, but was trying to refresh it for my new site. It looks as if all need to refreshed, so I’m glad this one turned out and you enjoyed it. We look for the gray man every summer!


    Lovely photos, Rusha. You have a wonderful appreciation for the amazing fog that descends on the southeastern Atlantic islands. We have the same fog here on SSI and I always look forward to it. Such a hush blankets the island and there’s nothing better than walking through it. I also loved it when we lived in London – everything seemed to go quiet and slow down … for a while. 🙂 And I love the legend of the Gray Man. ~Terri

    1. Rusha Sams

      I’ve often wondered how it would be to live in London where fog is frequent. Not sure I could stand it for long. But there really is something mystical about it at the beach. Thanks for reading — and watch out for the Gray Man in your area! He just may be on the move.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Sorry to just now get back to you. Have been in South Africa. Thanks for commenting. The Gray Man is the best kind of ghost, but just about any ghost would send me packing. I’m not sure I could ever walk the beach in the fog again!

    1. Rusha Sams

      Glad it evoked some emotion, but I wasn’t trying to “creep you out.” Just wanted to share an old legend we’ve heard repeated for years. Thanks for reading. Happy Labor Day,

    1. Rusha Sams

      Linda, another friend of mine was at the beach during this foggy morning. Later we compared notes. He agreed that finding fog on the beach in early morning hours was quite unusual but very welcome. I guess that’s the way life is . . . You never know what the day will bring! Appreciate the comment.

    1. Rusha Sams

      It was a bit gloomy but actually quite mysterious. I can’t remember ever going out early in the month of July and seeing fog like that! Thanks for reading.

It makes our day to hear from you.