Society Notes – July, 2012

by: Darlene Bright, History Center Director

I’ve been seriously remiss in thanking people for donations made in the past few months. We do truly appreciate every donation to our collection and take the best care of them we can.


  • Donated by Emilie Swearingn Pictorial History: The Great Civil War : Battles by Land and Sea by John Laird Wilson, 1881.
  • Donated by Charles Greene. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Civil War.  Fairfax Press, 1977


  • Donated by Polly Shaver. Two oversize postcards from the 1950’s
    •  Wishing Well on the CB boardwalk
    •  Beach scene at the foot to the boardwalk
  • Donated by Robert Maffett. Reprint of map: Preliminary Chart of the Entrances to the Cape Fear River and New Inlet. Published 1853


  • Donated by Thomas Gray. 1950’s license plate frame “Carolina Beach, NC. The Friendly Resort”
  • Donated by Lank Lancaster. Calcutta Surf Fishing Rod made by Louis G. (Pappy) Leiner cir. 1957
  • Donated by J. Matthews. “Colors of Cape Fear” a collection of shells and sea glass.


  • Donated by Byron and Judy Moore. Case of water.


  • This month we recorded 30 members and guests at our June meeting We had 35 visitors to the History Center throughout the month. The gift shop took in $154.84
  • Thanks to our History Center Volunteers; Lois Taylor, and Demetria Sapienza for helping get the newsletter into the mail, and to Cheri McNeill for her always thorough proofing of the newsletter. Thanks also to Jeannie Gordon, Juanita Winner, Lois Taylor and Ron Griffin for covering the History Center desk so Rebecca could be off.
  • Treasurer’s Report: We’re still waiting to get final confirmation on the budgets for Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, but Darlene and Rebecca are working with me and we’ll have a proposal for the 2012/2013 budget ready for the board at the July 23rd meeting.
  • New Members: Welcome to new members Jeanette Beaudry of Wilmington, Keith Ward of Wilmington, and Bob McKoy of Wilmington.
  • Thanks to Jeannie Gordon and Darlene Bright for cleaning the History Center this month. We need volunteers for July, August, and September.
  • A HUGE thanks to everyone who helped with the June Potluck. As always Darlene and Leslie set up the building and wrangled the food. (Thanks for the hot dogs, Leslie!) Also pitching in was Virginia Francis


The Ocean Plaza

Ocean Plaza - SlapdashBy Leslie Bright & Daniel Norris

Eugene and Marie Reynolds known as Mom and Pop, knew better days were coming as World War II ended in 1945 and soldiers were coming home. Big bands were the rave of the day and the new money could be made on the north end of the Boardwalk of Carolina Beach with the building of a large enough facility to house big bands and large crowds.

The Reynolds had purchased four and a half lots and a bowling alley on the northeast corner of Harper Avenue and Carolina Beach Avenue North in August 1942, from L. M. Massey. [2015: current construction site of The Hampton Inn and Suites]. They decided to remove the bowling alley and make this the footprint for their new Ocean Plaza building.

The building would contain a bathhouse and café on the first floor; a large cabaret or ballroom with bandstand area on the second floor; and a small apartment on the third floor. Work began to build the Ocean Plaza after the beach season of 1945 and continued through the winter and spring of 1946 under the direction of Mr. Shirley, a local contractor.

Once completed, the Ocean Plaza was a sight to behold. It became the new “Crown Jewel” of the Carolina Beach boardwalk. It was opened for business on May 31, 1946, which was Memorial Day weekend.

Bill Grassick and his orchestra, featuring the lovely singer, Betty McHugh, performed to an audience who paid $2.00 per person to attend. Even though the big band era was waning, the Ocean Plaza remained the center of activity as new trends changed musical entertainment.

The Reynolds sold the Ocean Plaza around 1950 and it changed hands several times before May 1961 when E. F. Courie Sr. and his wife, Rosabelle, purchased the property.

Through the years, many notable entertainers performed to large crowds at the Ocean Plaza. Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checkers, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and The Embers, to mention a few, attracted audiences from all over.

The Jitterbug, bob, shag, rock & roll, twist and every variety of dance imagined occurred at the Ocean Plaza through the years.

With growth and development of better lodging facilities, the need for a bathhouse on the boardwalk diminished. The bathhouse at the Ocean Plaza was converted into a night club.

During the 80’s and 90’s the entire boardwalk fell into decline causing neglect to many of its structures.

In spite of the decline, the Ocean Plaza remained open struggling at times to do so. The Courie family, including sons, Eli Jr. and Louis, continued ownership until April 1993, when the Ocean Plaza was sold to Leslie and Darlene Bright and son, Sam Bright.

The second floor ballroom was renovated again and opened after several years of inactivity as the private club, Wranglers Dance Hall and Saloon, and later as the Shag Club.

The Brights sold Ocean Plaza to Robert Russo on January 31, 2000 and his Club Tropics was installed on the second floor. Mr. Russo operated Ocean Plaza until April 5, 2006, when he sold to Russ Maynard.

Leslie Bright – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society
From:  Carolina Beach, NC – Images & Icons of a Bygone Era

Source:  SlapDash Publishing, LLC, 2006

Construction begins on boardwalk hotel at Carolina Beach – 2015/02/03


OCEAN PLAZA T-SHIRTS –   Only available at the Federal Point History Center! OP’s gone but not forgotten. But we still have our CLASSIC Ocean Plaza T-shirts and Sweatshirts.

We’ve ordered a variety of sizes and they come in sky blue and daisy yellow.

They make great gifts or mementos and are sure to start a conversation with every ol’timer you meet.

Oral History – Faye and Norris Teague – Part 1: ‘Trailways and the Tie Factory’

 Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Norris Teague

Norris Teague

Faye and Norris Teague went to school together and lived on joining farms in Randolph County. They moved to Federal Point in 1963 when Norris Teague was transferred by Trailways Bus Lines. His bus run was mainly from Wilmington to Durham with occasional runs to Carolina Beach when he filled in for a driver.

Faye Teague

Faye Teague

Faye Teague didn’t have a job at first, but found work at the necktie factory – France Neckwear near 13th and Greenfield in Wilmington. Her job was pressing tie ends. Several ladies rode with Faye from Carolina Beach to work downtown at the Fish House where they cleaned fresh catch.

Eventually Norris had 5 bus trips a day to just past the Fort Fisher Air Station read more

Monthly Meeting Report – July, 2012

Kevin P. Duffus

Kevin P. Duffus

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society held its monthly meeting on Monday, July 16, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Joining us was Kevin P. Duffus an award-winning filmmaker, researcher, author, and investigative journalist of historical events. He has published three books and produced four documentary films on various maritime historic topics, including shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the devastating German U-boat attacks off our coast in 1942. He spoke about his new book, War Zone: WWII off the Coast of North Carolina.

War Zone is a gripping panorama of the shameful betrayal of merchant sailors, of young Coast Guard recruits watching helplessly as sailors plunged into pools of burning oil, and of the baby born in a lifeboat.

Learn about the intrepid men and women who defended America in little boats and in small planes; the truth behind the famous phrase “Sighted sub, sank same”; and the children who spied on German spies.

Discover the real story behind the legends of secret agents, midget-submarine landings, a busload of naked Nazi U-boat POWs at New Bern, and the shelling of a chemical plant on Kure Beach.

Follow the accounts of three climactic engagements between U.S. forces and German U-boats off the North Carolina coast with the Battle of the Atlantic hanging in the balance.

This program was made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a state-wide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities.

We had a record 73 people in attendance at our July Meeting where author Kevin P. Duffus presented an amazingly well researched history of the U-Boat activity off the coast of North Carolina in the early days WWII.

This program was made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a state-wide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities and the audience was at least two thirds visitors from the community.

Kevin also signed his books and we have copies of War Zone and his earlier book The Last Days Of Blackbeard The Pirate for sale in the gift shop if you didn’t get one that evening.