five minutes with Debby Graves, trolley tour guide

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five minutes with Debby Graves, trolley tour guide

By JUSTIN PAPROCKI jpaprocki@islandpacket.com 843-706-8143
Published Friday, August 10, 2007 in The Island Packet  |  523 Words  |  features

The next time you get stuck behind one of those red trolley tour buses on U.S. 278, just remember -- they're built for sightseeing, not speed.
Debby Graves might be behind the wheel. She is one of the tour guides of Gray Line Low Country Adventures' Red Trolley Island Tours. Her job is to give tourists a bit of history on a two and a half hour trip from heavily trafficked areas such as Harbourtown to Mitchelville Beach Park and other tucked-away gems.
Debby discusses some of her Lowcountry adventures before her trolley leaves for the day.
Question. What do you do on days like this when it's really hot?
Answer. I try to keep the trolley moving to keep a breeze going. We go out to Mitchelville beach -- there's a nice breeze out there. Last Friday it was raining, but the people wanted to keep these plastic flaps up (on the side of the trolley) so they could see out. Everyone got wet.
Q. You used to be a teacher?
A. I was a teacher for 33 years mostly in Burbank, Calif. I have a masters degree in organ performance, so I taught music. Then I taught math and
U.S. history, too.
Q. How do you learn up about the island?
A. Take tours. I went on the Gullah tour the other day. And I'm always reading.
Q. So they're flexible about what you talk about -- as long as you don't make stuff up?
A. Right. Really anything. I get
questions about prices of houses, beach renourishment. We talk about all kinds of interesting history and modern-day stuff.
Q. What's most interesting to you about the island?
A. The diversity. There's a lot of gated communities. But there's other places. When I was on the Gullah tour I went to places I've never been. On the tour we go through some of the heirs lots. Most people don't go off 278 to see that stuff.
Q. Ever had a trolley break down?
A. Not really. Last Friday there was a loud bang. After I left my people off at Harbourtown I called (the office) and met up at Coligny because I was nervous. We've got someone here who takes good care of them.
Q. You meet a lot of people
from Ohio?
A. Oh, yes. Last night a lot of people from Indiana. I also had some last night from those eastern bloc countries -- Romania and Yugoslavia.
Q. How fast can you get this thing up to?
A. I don't think I've gone over 50 (mph).
Q. 50? That's pretty impressive.
A. The speedometer says it can go faster, but I haven't tested it.
Q. Does it start to shake and all that once you hit 50?
A. No, no ... I just want to make sure the brakes work and I can stop in time.
Q. No drag races or anything?
A. I just try to keep it moving to kick up a breeze.