June 21, 2014 10:05:30 PM
When Carroll and Mark Uithoven began traveling from Columbus to Dauphin Island, Alabama, for the occasional getaway years ago, Carroll could not have foreseen that the small, picturesque barrier island in Mobile Bay would become her home one day, or that she would pen a book about it.
"Dauphin Island, Alabama" (WDG Publishing, May 2014) is a pictorial of the island retreat that is home to about 1,200 to 1,300 permanent residents -- and a part-time paradise to a host of others who keep vacation condos or houses there, or simply come for a visit.
Uithoven, a retired Columbus High School English teacher, will sign copies of the book at Books-A-Million in Leigh Mall on Highway 45 North, Columbus, from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, June 28. Her narrative accompanies the book's striking photography by two other island residents, Sjon Hopkins and Joy Harper Hartley Russell.
"When we first started coming to Dauphin Island, we kept meeting more and more people and staying longer," said Carroll by phone from her island home Thursday. "We were eventually staying here six months out of 12." The Uithovens finally made the island their year-round home in 2009, but still have a camp in Columbus they visit every few months. And Mark makes a point of returning to Lowndes County during deer season.
"We live right in the middle of the island and have about six neighbors around us," said Carroll. "Three are permanent and one is from Carrollton (Mississippi), one lives in Selma and another works at the Mercedes place near Tuscaloosa. They all pop in and out," she added, offering a snapshot of the population's ebb and flow.
Carroll's island credentials and English teacher background, as well as her previous work writing and editing for a magazine, made her the right candidate to prepare content for the coffee table book planned by publisher Duane Wood of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, another island property owner.
She researched the area's history and interviewed people who had grown up on Dauphin Island, some whose families trace back generations there. She was pleased to be part of the project that celebrates her adopted home.
"It's very laid back here, peaceful, serene," said Carroll. "There's no big-time shopping, no big-time going out to eat, no water parks -- if you want that, go to Orange Beach. But if you want to fish, ride your bike, eat in small restaurants and walk the beach, you got it."
Posters about Uithoven's book signing have already caught the eye of friends and acquaintances in the Golden Triangle.
"I've already been hearing from some of them and hope to see a lot of people I know Saturday," she said. "I'm looking forward to seeing everybody."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.