Anyone that grew up in the 50's and 60's in Myrtle Beach has certain memories that are part of their lives forever. Myrtle Beach was a very special place to grow up. The reason is that our parents were born and bred Southern and instilled Christian values and southern warmth into our lives even though, during the summer season we were exposed to everything imaginable. We saw both sides of life and had an opportunity to choose which path to take.
We just had a Myrtle Beach High School Class of 1957 and 1958 Reunion, and one thing stood out as very obvious - we were all decent, successful and caring people, with the most important of these being "decent". We were all in our 50's, some divorced and remarried, some divorced and single, and some married to their high school sweethearts and most with grown children. We all realized that we had our share of heartaches, setbacks, mistakes and tragedies in our lives, but weathered the storms that have given us character that shows in our faces, smiles and hugs.
There will never be another time like the 50's and 60's in Myrtle Beach
because so many things have changed due to outside influences such as our Northern friends moving down and the rapid growth and wealth of the city
itself. We were not only blessed to be born in the USA, but doubly blessed to grow up in the best area of the USA in a special period.
To sort of set the tone, let me say that the 50's changed about midway in
the decade. Automobiles, music, fashion, etc. sort of set the pace for things to come in the late 50's and early 60's.
Cars were probably as important to the boys in those days as the girls were and cruising the boulevard was the thing to do even back then - and boy did we have the cars to do it in. There was Alex's(Alex Herdon) black, customized 1947 Chevy, Lanjo's(Jimmy D'Angelo) white '57 Chevy convertible with the Continental spare, Terry's(Terry Covington) red '55 two-seater T-Bird that we could get six people into and I had a black '57 Ford Fairlane 500 four-door hardtop. With all the windows rolled down it was almost a convertible. All of "our" cars belonged to our parents, but they tolerated the fender skirts and chrome extensions on the dual exhaust.
On Sunday afternoons in the winter we would go up to Ocean Drive and drive on the beach. We would take turns going through the pier at 100 mph in Jack's (Jack Jones) Black 1957 T-Bird. We would all take the air-breathers off so the carburetors would give a deep, throaty sound when accelerated real fast. I can still see Siggy(Bill Sigmon) carrying that big air-breather off his parents Oldsmobile and there was Tyler(Tyler Divine) with his cinnamon and brown '57 Ford Fairlane doing doughnuts on the beach. The police were scarce and very tolerant of us in those days.
It surprises most to know that we didn't listen to country music and we didn't care that much for Elvis. We mainly listened to black music called rhythm and blues or "R&B". Myrtle Beach had only one radio station, WMYB, and they played elevator music for the most part and some country. At some point during the mid '50's WMYB had a rock and roll show that came on at 3:00 PM and I can remember all of us piling into Jimmy's(Jimmy D'Angelo) Jeep after school and listening on the way to the Delta Drug Store. It was called the "Frantic Atlantic Beach Party" and was hosted by a D.J. who called himself "Daddy Rabbit". To this day I don't know and cannot find out who he was. *** Editor note at bottom of page.
During the days on the beach and in our cars we listened to WAPE or "Big Ape Radio" out of Jacksonville, Florida. You could hear that big ape call and know you were on the right frequency. At night we listened to WLAC out of Nashville, Tennessee. They did the Randy's and Ernie's Record Mart shows.
We listened to early Ray Charles, Clyde McPhatter, Jackie Wilson, the Drifters, The Clovers, BB King, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Smokestack Lightning and an occasional gospel song by the Mighty Clouds of Joy on the White Rose Spiritual special. We also enjoyed the comedy of Pigmeat Markum, Moms Mabley and Red Foxx. I think these stations shaped our music preferences for life. With the exception of a few white groups that tried to sound black such as the Flamingos and the Diamonds, rhythm and blues was the only music. Most of us still prefer to listen and dance to the "R&B" music of the '50's and '60's. I'm not surprised that we all have a collection of our old music on cassettes that we take wherever we go.
The mid-fifties also brought about a style of dance called the Shag, which
was a change from the style of dance called the Jitterbug. In the mid-fifties, hanging around the Pavilion outside where the Jukebox was located, was just about the most grown-up thing a 15 or 16 year old could do. I didn't dare dance I wasn't good enough or old enough to be on the dance floor with legends like :Spider, Roach, Driver, Little-Chaz, Little Robin, One Lung, Little red Spears, the Treadway Brothers and the Goodman Brothers or Robert and Jan with their tailored pegged pants and V-neck sweaters over tanned, bare skin. Most of them had peroxided hair combed neatly into a ducktail in the back.
In the late '50's the Jitterbug transformed into the Dirty Shag and most of the dancers moved up to Ocean Drive or "O.D." as it was known. After several arrests and the closing of the Juke Box at the Pavilion, because of the crowds gathering around to see this dance, everything moved north to Windy Hill, Crescent Beach, Ocean Drive and Cherry Grove. Also, the combination of Dirty Shag and Jitterbug transformed into a smoother, cleaner style called the Shag, with most of the dancers hanging around the Pad in Ocean Drive and Sonny's in Cherry Grove.
As the dance changed, some of the legends changed with it and some didn't. Some of them have been inducted into the Shaggers Hall of Fame and some
into the Living Legends, and you can still see them around Fat Harold's, Ducks, Lulu's Pad and Cagney's dancing room.
I'll probably be second-guessed by what I'm about to say, but in my opinion there are two versions of the Shag - the one most people are learning now and the old beach shag. The way I learned to dance was by watching these old legends and practicing holding on to a doorknob at home. In the late '50's and early '60's, with the ever increasing crowds packed into the Pad, Sonny's and the O.D. Pavilion, we didn't have room to do the Sugarfoot, Flybacks and Splits. We were lucky if we could do a pivot and bellyroll. The Shag they are doing today is beautifully choreographed and looks good, but it isn't the old beach shag that was so much fun and individually creative to one's own personal style. Now it all looks alike. I hate Shag contests - once you've seen the first couple you've seen them all. Now, this is certainly not to take away from anyone's fun or interest in the shag dance, I just want others like me, who grew up in Myrtle Beach, to know that they didn't miss out on something in the evolution of the dance. To me the Shag will always be a fun, easy and relaxing pastime not to be taken too seriously - as much a part of the beach that I love so much as the surf, sun and sand.
Oh the Beach! The ocean, the salt air, the sand, the sun - all of this and more creating the main attraction for all of us who love the beach. You would literally have had to grow up on, near or around the ocean to appreciate and love it the way I do - everything about it - summer, fall, winter and spring.
In the early '50's Myrtle Beach was just a sleepy little resort town with a year-round population of less than 10,000. Our tourists were mostly from North and South Carolina and came in the months of June, July and August. They stayed in guest houses owned and operated by local folks.The guests took their meals at the place they stayed since there were very few restaurants. If you wanted seafood, you went to Murrells Inlet to Oliver's Lodge, Lee's Inlet Kitchen or Wayside, and soon Calabash, North Carolina became a popular place to go. I can remember my dad taking the whole family to Oliver's Lodge in late August before my older brothers went back to college. I think a seafood platter, heaping with food was around $1.75 or $2.50.
People came to Myrtle Beach for one thing though - and that was the beach. Of course there were other things to do in the evening. The Pavilion had
floor shows upstairs where the Magic Attic is now. George Akers was the
M.C. and he hosted a variety of acts including singers, dancers, magicians, animal and circus acts. Also, there were rides and putt-putt golf that were fun, but still the ocean and the beach were the reasons for being there In October, 1954 Hurricane Hazel visited Myrtle Beach and changed things for good. The old guest houses were destroyed or damaged so badly that they were replaced by new structures called hotels and motels. No more elegant dining rooms and real family atmosphere. Still, a few of the old guest houses remained until the '70's when they finally gave way to progress. Only the Patricia Inn and Chesterfield Inn remained and finally the Patricia gave way to a high-rise in the '80's, leaving only the Chesterfield Inn to carry on the old tradition.
Growing up in a resort area, there are a variety of jobs available to pre-teen and teenagers during the summer months. The first job I can remember was selling papers in 1952 when I was 12 years old. My area was downtown on Broadway and surrounding streets. Until I developed any salesmanship, my brothers said I just stood in front of Chapin Co. grocery and the people going in and out had to ask me to sell them a paper. It wasn't long before I overcame my shyness and began selling. I carried the Charlotte News and the Charleston Evening Post, and once a week, the Myrtle Beach Sun. At 5cents a paper almost everyone gave a dime so tips were the main income in the paper business. All of the paper boys met at 4:00 PM each day at Larry LaPines Bicycle Shop on Kings Highway, close to the Family Dollar Store today, to wait for the papers to come in. We would then load up with papers and head for our territory to sell. Since the Charlotte News was my biggest seller I would start out with 40 of them and 10 or 15 Evening Posts depending on how thick they were that day. I carried them under my arm, changing back and forth as each arm tired. After about the first hour both arms and hands would be black from the print which would spread to my face and neck. I must have looked like a pitiful little street urchin, and probably accounts for the tips being so good.
Sometimes I would sell out of papers and go back to the Cycle Shop for more, but in either case, I was usually sold out and checked up by 7:30 or 8:00 PM. Then we all would go to John's Barbecue which was just down the street and
eat hot dogs and hamburgers, spending just about all of our tip money.
Selling downtown I got to know the businesses and the people all around. I •would always go to the Cozy Corner Restaurant on Broadway and work the tables in there. The Cozy Corner was owned by Tony and Angie Thompson - Dino's Mom and Dad. Dino, along with Dino Drosas, owns Cagney's and the Flamingo Grill now. Dino was just a little kid running up and down the street at that time.
There was also the Seven Seas Restaurant on that same block and around the corner on 9th Avenue was the Mayflower Restaurant next to John's Bakery.
The sights, sounds and smells of walking the streets back then will be with
me forever. The pastries from John's Bakery, the food cooking in the restaurants, the popcorn in the machine in front of the Broadway Theater, the gasoline from Chapin's Shell, and I could never get enough of smelling that fresh coffee being ground in Chapin's Grocery Store. Just a great experience for a pre-teen kid.
One summer, either 1953 or 1954, I finally got one of the best territories on the beach. I would start at Peaches Corner, next to the Pavilion and go north as far as the Kit Kat Motel on 25th Avenue north since the sidewalk ended there. Dan Gray was on the other side of the boulevard from me, so we would switch sides and go back to the Pavilion.
All of the accommodations then were guest houses with dining rooms where
guests took their meals. I would work these dining rooms at suppertime, going from table to table.. I would have to go back for more papers almost every evening and end the day selling 75 to 100 - our goal was 100 and we did that almost every day. Occasionally Dan and I would take a break and go to a place under the old wooden boardwalk and smoke cigarettes that we had stashed there.
The next summer I worked as a bag boy at Edens Grocery Store on 9th Avenue
across from Speight's Shoe Shop. About half way through the summer I quit
Eden's and went to work at Chapin's Grocery. Bill Bellamy and I were the bag boys. We also stocked shelves and we had a system that worked for us so we could talk. We would face each other so that we were looking over each other's shoulder, and when Mr. Carlos White, the Store Manager, was watching us we would say a password and get to work.
In the summer of 1954 the Pavilion had an outdoor bowling alley. It was located on the south side of the main building, on the Boardwalk, where
the jukebox was. Other local boys and I worked as pin boys. We sat at the
end of the alleys and set the duckpins up after they were knocked down.
Most of the time we could handle two alleys at one time. The only other boys I remember working with me were Tim Ludwig, who has an accounting firm in Atlanta now, and Mike Akers, whose father was the M.C. at the Pavilion
The summer of 1956, at 16 years of age, I worked for Mr. A.E. Jackson, who owned a bowling alley, a lunch counter, the Fun Plaza and a miniature golf course on the Boardwalk north of the Pavilion. I worked at the golf course from 8:00 am until 4:00 PM mainly cleaning, sweeping, cutting grass and keeping the course in shape. Mr. Jackson let me quit a week before school started and Alex Herndon, Jimmy Wilson and I took off for Florida in Alex's 1947 Chevy for a vacation. We spent all of our money riding motor scooters on the beach in Daytona.
The summer of 1957 the National Linen Service out of Charleston came to
Myrtle Beach High and recruited several boys to work for them during the summer. They were paying $60.00 a week and said it would be very hard
work. That was an understatement. Packing up linen into huge bundles from
the hotels, motels and guest houses all along the boulevard, stacking them
on top of the truck, taking them to Charleston and then load up with clean linen and return was back-breaking work. I decided that summer that I didn't
want to do it the next.
The summer of '58 I worked at the Pavilion again, this time running one of two change booths that they had in the arcade. Bill "Pickles" Bogache worked the other booth. Dr. Bogache is now practicing medicine in Myrtle Beach. I was always happy when Mr. Earl Husted would let me off at 11:00 pm so I could go out to the juke box and dance until it closed at midnight. That was a good summer. I went to work at 4:00 PM so that left plenty of time to spend with my girlfriend, Mimi, going on the beach and enjoying her mother's shrimp salad for lunch. Mimi's father, Pat Jamison, owned J&J Drug Store so we had all the suntan lotions we needed to keep a good tan.
That summer Jimmy Wilson was a lifeguard in front of the Pavilion and I decided that's what I wanted to do next summer. I eventually worked for Ladd's Beach Service, and since I was a local and could work in the Spring and Fall, as well as the Summer, I got the best stands. One summer I was next to the Ocean Plaza Hotel & Pier. There was a big parking lot next to the hotel and on week-ends all the day-trippers from Conway, Aynor, Loris and all inland towns parked there and came on the beach to rent floats and umbrellas. It was a busy stand. One 4th of July 1 went into the water 16 times pulling people out of a rough current. All the guards loved it when it rained because we could close our stands and go to the Marine Room, which was on the first floor of the Ocean Plaza Hotel, and dance and drink beer.
The next summer I was in front of the Caravelle Hotel on 70th Avenue N. It was an older, wealthier, crowd and the tips were very good, plus I didn't
have to go in after people as much.
As you can see, there were lots of jobs available for kids growing up in Myrtle Beach. There were lots of waitress jobs for the girls, so we all worked every summer.
CLUBS, LOUNGES, BARS, JUKEJOINTS & DRIVE-INS
The first recollection I have of drinking a beer was at the Hub Drive-In (one of Cooter Jennings many food and beverages establishments). It was located just south of Withers Swash on 6th Avenue S. and Kings Highway. I was with my older brother Paul and his friend Alex Hester. I must have been every bit of 14 years old and the year was 1954. It was a Schlitz beer and I didn't like it and only drank about half.
Then there was Dargan's Grill on further south on Kings Highway. They had curb service, but you had to park out in a big dirt parking lot, under some big live oak trees. The curb girls were real friendly and never asked any of us boys
for an I.D.
Everyone will remember Gene's Drive-In. It was across the street from the
First Methodist Church on 10th Avenue N. - the Pavilion has a huge parking
deck there now. Gene's was a gathering place for everyone - locals and tourists alike. The locals always parked on the front row, just to the left of the Grill and if you were looking for friends all you had to do was ride through Gene's and you would always find someone you knew. The Juke Box was in a wooden box outdoors and you could always hear some Joe Turner's "Corrina, Corrina" or Lloyd Price's "Laudy Miss Claudy" filling the air. The curb girls wore white majorette boots and were nice to all of us. Gene's was a real popular place in the late '50's and early '60's, but the crowd eventually moved up to the Hickory House Drive-In on 28th Avenue N. and Kings Highway. Nick and Vasha Pappas were the owners. Cheeseburgers were around $1.25 and beer was 30 cents a can. Most everyone drank Pabst Blue Ribbon in those days. I had an old 4-door 1954 Bel-Air Chevrolet and we, boys and girls, spent a lot of fun times in that old car at the Hickory House Drive-In. I think the Hickory House finally gave way to Wink's Drive-In on the south end of Myrtle Beach, but by then it was the late '60's and I was married and had
small children, so I didn't go there much. Of course, drive-ins were fun for sitting in your car with friends and just talking, but we grew up enough to walk in the front door of some of the night spots and start dancing.
In the early and mid-'50's Spivey's Pavilion was a hot spot. Since I was in
my early teens I was a little inhibited being around all those older jitterbugs, but I sure was in awe watching them dance with the best looking women I'd ever seen. At the same time, Moody's Recreation Center or the "Wreck" as it was called, was a late night hangout for the jitterbugs. I had to be home before they all went over there, which was just across the swash from Spivey's on South Ocean Boulevard.
Further on South, all he way down to Springmaid Beach, was another place called Ocean Terrace, next to Nash's Grill. This was sort of a rough place and I only went there a few times. I always felt secure because we had the local older jitterbugs to protect us younger boys. The Goodman brothers, Clifford Coan, and others were always there to keep us out of trouble. And there was the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. The juke box outside always drew a crowd, but mostly the locals just stopped by to see who was there and maybe dance a few times, but it was just a quick stop to catch a ride on up to Ocean Drive to go to the Pad and then on up to Sonny's Pavilion in Cherry Grove. Everyone knows about the Pad, but Sonny's was just as popular in the early to mid-'60's. Sonny's juke box and dance floor were right on the beach and at high tide the ocean came right up to the steps.
The salt air, the sounds of the hundreds of weejuns dancing on that sandy wooden floor to the Isley Bros. "Twist & Shout" are senses that will stay with you forever. Busch Beer had just hit the market and I can still see everyone standing around in their Gant shirts, madras shirts, khaki pants and shorts, alligator belts and Bass Weejuns holding a Busch. It doesn't get any better than that!
Somewhere around 1960 or 1961 Cecil Corbett leased the Shrine Club up on Restaurant Row and opened the Beach Club. What a place! He booked groups like Bo Diddley, Martha and the Vandellas, the Isley Brothers, Doris Troy and many of the popular Mo-Town groups. Also, there was the ever-popular Carolinas Band, the Hot Nuts, that played Thanksgiving holidays and spring breaks. Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs were regulars, and being from Charlotte, drew a big crowd.
Being a lifeguard, who was admitted free, we went practically every night. We would go up to Ocean Drive early and start at the Pad, then on up to Sonny's Pavilion and then catch the late performance at the Beach Club.
Music began to change in the '60's - with the invasion of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Motown. The Shag dance was beginning to lay dormant for the next 10 to 15 years except as some still dark hole in the wall places.
Different kinds of clubs started opening up in the early sixties. Turk Turbeville opened "Turks" in Ocean Drive, featuring local bands from the Carolinas. Don Kelly opened the "Black Cat" in Ocean Drive. The twist, hully gully and other dances began to be the main thing.
There were other places in Ocean Drive such as the Flying Saucer and the Forks. The Flying Saucer was a rough place that you didn't want to take your date to. The Forks was further north on Highway 17, just across the inland waterway drawbridge. It had a juke box outside on a patio for dancing.
In Myrtle Beach, Several Clubs sprang up to accommodate the night crowd. there was Barringer's on 6th Avenue South. It sat back up in the woods a block off Highway 17. Bill Taylor leased it around 1962 or 1963 and it became "The Pines". Then "Sockeye" leased it and it became the Continental Lounge. Sockeye renamed it the Army-Navy Club and it survived for several years. There was always a good band at the Army-Navy and a very good dance floor.
Donald Cooper opened the Teddy Bear down on the south end of Myrtle Beach. It was a big place and stayed packed on weekends. It was so successful he opened Teddy Bear II.
Hubert Gaddy opened Gaddy's Supper Club across Kings Highway from the Teddy Bear. It was right nice place where you could take a date.
And, everyone remembers the "Brass Rail" on the south end. It was just a watering hole, but it stayed open late and Bumps Hammond was the owner at one time.
But, the best of the best was opened by Jack Price. The Town House Lounge was located on 65th Avenue N. & Kings Highway were the Circle K is now. It was plush, well managed and was the place to go. Jack got the best bands
and there was a big dance floor surrounded by well-appointed tables and chairs. The Town House was a local favorite for a long time.
In the Old Ocean Forest Hotel was the Brookgreen Room owned by Roy McCormick and most managed by his precious wife Kat. The Brookgreen Room was frequented by senators, congressmen and the social elite of the Carolinas. Eduardo Roy, a Latin-American singer who looked like Caesar Romero, was the featured entertainer at the Brookgreen Room for a long time.
And lastly, but certainly not the least, was Cooter Jennings' "Oasis Club". Cooter was way ahead of his time. He was the first to have a piano bar and the first with topless dancing, with Reddi Sloan as his featured performer.
You couldn't write about hang-outs without mentioning Gene's Pool Room. It was on Broadway next to Hussey Motors. Gene Todd raised most of us boys. He ran tabs for us so we could eat. He offered advice to us when we asked. He just let us hang out there when we were broke, with no place else to go. When we came home from college, the Army, or military school or wherever, we always went to Gene's Pool Room where we were always welcome. We went to Gene's Pool Room after funerals for old friends. I don't think anyone that grew up in the '50's or '60's did not, at one time or another, walk through
Gene's Pool Room doors. Whether you shot pool or Amos-N-Andy or just sat around on stools and talked.
All of these places, as we knew them, are gone now but they were part of the growth of Myrtle Beach and certainly contributed to my memories of growing
up at the Beach.
Thanks for reading.....Bob Joyner.
Before I put this out on the website for everyone to read, I send it to a couple of locals to see what they thought about "Bob" story. Well not to my surprise, I got quiet a few comments. Mostly from the girls that noticed the comment back in section about the Hickory House and Winks Drive In where Bob uttered these few words "but by then it was the late '60's and I was married and had
small children, so I didn't go there much" and then just skipped that part of his life altogether. Most of us here in Myrtle Beach have know Bob all of our life, but can anyone tell me what his 1st wifes name was or what Bob did for a living since the 60's? Let me hear from you.
I think that we have found another Myrtle Beach boy who has a lot more memories to tell us on the Myrtle Beach High School Reunions website. Now Bob does not have an email address or a computer but I know that he has lots of friends that can help him write his Myrtle Beach Memories and forward via snail mail comments from his friends on the web about his stories. So when you see Bob at the Flamingo on Thursday nights for happy hour or at the Seahawk Luncheons for lunch at Pine Lakes Country Club or even having a drink at a "Cagney's Reunion" let him know how much you liked his story "A Special Place - A Special Time" and encourage him to keep writing about his memories about the early life in Myrtle Beach.
There have been comments about the name of the DJ that played in Myrtle Beach on the Frantic Atlantic Beach Party on WMYB. The email post below should clear that up. Randy Jennings
Posted By Helen McDonald;
Our Virginia Beach Shag Club posted a write-up done by Joyner and he wanted this info. In 1957/58 I listened to Big Ape Radio in Florida out at the beach.
The late Johnny Jacobs, legendary Charlotte salesman,
started his radio career at Myrtle Beach with the Frantic Atlantic Beach Party.
Johnny Jacobs was inducted into the Beach Music Radio Hall of Fame in 2011.
He was sponsored by:
Lynn’s Dance Club - Charlotte, NC
OD Beach Club and Resort
The Spanish Galleon
Ocean Drive, SC