October Meeting – Ben Wunderly, Surfing History in North Carolina

Monday, October 15, 2018   7:30 pm

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month will be Benjamin Wunderly from the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Beaufort. He will be speaking on the history of surfing in North Carolina.

When one thinks about the words history and surfing together, the mind may conjure up images of surfers challenging the big waves off Hawaii, or perhaps even of Samoans or Australians riding a lonely beach in the remote Pacific. Then, when one considers the famous surfing locations along the East Coast of the United States, one might dream up images of Cocoa Beach, Florida or Atlantic City, New Jersey.

One might not be inclined to include North Carolina among such hallowed surfing locales, but that would be a mistake. Although it is impossible to determine who rode the first wave or made the first surfboard at any of these places, we do know that surfing has been taking place in the Old North State for more than a century.

Benjamin Wunderly is originally from southern Virginia. He had his introduction to North Carolina on the Outer Banks. His fascination with the ocean has led him to spend the past 30 years exploring the beaches, sand bars, tidal creeks and waterways of coastal North Carolina from Currituck to Brunswick County.

He takes pride in researching and sharing all things maritime from Tar Heel country. Having spent 20 years working under the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources at educational centers in Dare, Onslow and Carteret Counties, he has learned extensively about the rich history, culture and environment of eastern North Carolina.

Currently, a Museum Curator at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, Wunderly’s latest project has been a collaboration with fellow curator, John Hairr, to uncover the history of the sport of surfing in North Carolina. They have received help from numerous folks along the way, including the Cape Fear region’s own surfing history experts Joseph Funderburg and Peter Fritzler.

Surfing NC – A Timeline of the History of the Sport of Surfing in North Carolina (pdf)
by John Hairr and Ben Wunderly
North Carolina Maritime Museum – Beaufort

 

President’s Letter — October, 2018

By Elaine Henson

Boardwalk, Part VI

The summer of 1978 opened without the iconic rides that had long been an integral part of the boardwalk’s charm. Looking back, many believe this was the beginning of a decline that led to dark days for the Carolina Beach landmark.

The 1980’s boardwalk was filled with many vacant stores and properties in various states of disrepair.  By the latter part of that decade there were 14 bars in a two block area which made for many problems.  The town spruced up Cape Fear Boulevard with new paving, landscaping medians and built the Gazebo.  In the early 1990’s they built a wooden boardwalk over the dunes, added new landscaping and lighting.  The town assigned a police officer to patrol the boardwalk and enforce ordinances nightly.

By 1993 there were 16 bars, two of them, Honey Bares and Roadies, featured topless dancers.

But the most troubled establishment was the Longbranch Saloon where on April 8, 1993,a fight broke out over a pool game that ended with one man being stabbed to death.  A few months later on September 22nd,a construction worker was hit with a chair at the Longbranch and died two days later.

A third death happened at the saloon that year when a man was beaten to death in a fist fight on November 20th.  The bar closed by November 30th after the landlords did not renew the lease. Dark days were here indeed.

 

 

Next month:

Boardwalk Part, VII

 

Carolina Beach Surfing Guide

Cape Fear Coastline, Carolina Beach is a favorite destination for East Coast surfers. This beach town features a wide range of beaches to choose from, as well as traditionally gentler waves in the summer months that are great for beginners.

As a result, visitors who’ve always dreamed about the surfing lifestyle – or who just wanted to see what all the fuss is about – will feel right at home at this vacation destination where daily life revolves around the beach.

Newcomers will likely want to head to the local lifeguarded beaches, (there are roughly 20 lifeguard stands in a three-mile long stretch of shoreline in the summer season), to ensure safety and to enjoy smaller waves that are perfect for beginners. Lifeguards are available from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and generally from roughly 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. or so, depending on the spot.

More experienced surfers who want a little more of a challenge – even if the overall terrain is flat in the Carolina Beach waters – will want to go to the beaches close to the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier, which have become a hotbed for visiting and local surfing vacationers alike.

Regardless of where you go, Carolina Beach’s waves are generally optimal for longboard fans and surfing newcomers, although the area can experience a nice swell when a seasonal hurricane or nor’easter passes miles offshore.

Expect leisurely rides throughout the year and a little bit of competition for the good waves. Surfing is popular in this region of NC, and many Wilmington residents and inlanders will make a trek to the beach for the day if the waves are exceptional.

Surf Lessons in Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach is a fantastic destination for beginning surfers, thanks to a shallow and gently sloping ocean floor, generally small waves in the summer months, and ample wide beaches for preparation. As such, it should come as no surprise that there are a number of local surfing schools and instruction options available for people who want to learn.

One of the most popular local schools, the Tony Silvagni Surf School, has one of the best teacher-to-student ratios in the area, (with an average of “one teacher for every two students”), and as such, offers a wide range of classes that can range from adults who want to hone their skills, to kids who want to try a new adventure. Additional options, like Odysea Surf and Kiteboard School, or a number of private instructors that can often be contacted through local surf shops, are also available, making it easy to take a willingness to learn to the next level.

Instruction can range from 1-2 hours on the beach to full-day camps where all the fundamentals are covered (and then some). Surf lessons and camps are prevalent throughout the summer season, Memorial Day through Labor Day, and additional shoulder season options may be available as well – specifically in the spring and fall months – when swells can be bigger and more challenging. Most all equipment is accounted for at a surf lesson or camp, although surfers will want to bring along plenty of sunscreen for the adventure.

Surf Rentals and Surf Shops in Carolina Beach

There are a number of surfboard and equipment rental providers, as well as surf shops, which are dotted throughout Carolina Beach, and especially along its “main drag” of Business,US 421.

Local surf shops offer new boards for sale, as well as a suite of accessories that can make a surfing adventure easier despite the weather conditions, such as full wet suits or spring suits, surf wax, sunglasses, flip flops, and other must haves. In addition, visitors who just want to invoke the surf vibe will find a number of name-brand apparel and accessories such as Rusty, Quicksilver / Roxy, Reef, and more, which are all famed companies that specialize in apparel, footwear, and accessories that are perfect for life at the beach.

As for rentals, a number of local establishments, like Pleasure Island Rentals, offer a host of beach gear supplies which can include surfboards and extras like wet suits. Surf board rentals can be available for a few hours, a day, or even a full week, and can be ordered in advance online for extra convenience.

Surfing Events and Competitions in Carolina Beach

There are a number of surfing events which periodically land on Carolina Beach, and which have the potential to attract the “best of the best” surfers from all across the East Coast.

The Eastern Surfing Association, (or ESA), is dedicated to the sport of amateur surfing and has been attracting surfers from all over the Eastern Seaboard since it was first established in 1967. The organization hosts a number of events in the Carolina Beach region, which includes a HotWax Challenge in March, a 17th Street Shred Fest in August, and a Wahine Classic in the late summer / early fall. In addition, it’s not unusual for special events – which can include regional competitions – to be held in the Carolina Beach area if the conditions are right. For a full schedule of upcoming ESA events, visit http://esa-snc.com/calendar/.

In addition, Carolina Beach is home to a new event that’s already gaining steam, the Carolina Beach Longboard Club Surf Contest. Held in the spring, and featuring a Guppies Division, an Amateur Division(s) and a Professional Division with a hefty Men’s Pro Longboard Cash Purse, this surfing tournament is poised to put a spotlight on local Cape Fear surfing at its best.

Regardless of a visitor’s surfing pursuits, the sheer number of tournaments that arrive on the Carolina Beach shores make it an enticing destination for visitors who want to join in, or just take a back seat and watch the action. Best of all, with steadily warm waters throughout the year, virtually any visit can be a great time to catch a surf tournament or two on Carolina Beach.

Surfing has always been hot on Carolina Beach, and with such a laid back atmosphere, as well as steady summer waves that are ideal for newcomers, it’s easy for new visitors to join in the fun.

 

Society Notes – October, 2018

 

Walk the “Sugar Loaf Line-of-Defense” with Chris Fonvielle

Saturday November 10, 2018 – 2 pm to 4 pm

Donation $10.00

To register call 910-458-0502

The Walk includes the entrenchments in the proposed “Ryder Lewis Park”.

 

 


Society Notes – Sept. 2018

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

Center recorded 23 visitors in September. We were closed for 6 days due to Hurricane Florence. Our September meeting was within that time and was canceled. The History Center was used by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club.

Thanks to the people who helped get the History Center ready before the storm: Rebecca and Cheri, Darlene and Leslie, Steve Arthur and Jim Dugan. Cheri, Leslie and Darlene put everything back out after the storm. Rebecca put the computers back together.

 

September Meeting — Sean Palmer on Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor

[Note: Hurricane Florence closed Pleasure Island and the meeting was postponed.]

Originally scheduled for Monday, September 17, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, September 17, 2018 at 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our speaker this month will be Sean Palmer from the UNCW Upperman African American Cultural Center. He will be speaking on the Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor which is a Federal National Heritage Area.

Gullah Geechee Cultural Corridor was established by the U.S. Congress to recognize the unique culture of the Gullah Geechee people who have traditionally resided in the coastal areas and the sea islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida  — from Pender County, North Carolina, to St. Johns County, Florida.

Sean Palmer has served as Upperman Center Director since March 2016. Palmer earned his

Sean Palmer, Director of Diversity and Inclusion PHOTO BY: JEFF JANOWSKI/UNCW

Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, a master’s degree in African and African American Studies from Clark Atlanta University and a bachelor’s degree in English with double minors in African American studies and religious studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

He previously served as the assistant director of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture at Duke University. While at Duke, Palmer advised several student organizations, managed and advised the National PanHellenic Council, planned academic lectures and events, and was a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students. He has also served as director of student activities and residence life at Paine College in Augusta, GA.

 

President’s Letter — September, 2018

By Elaine Henson

Boardwalk, Part V

After WW II, life on the Boardwalk got back to normal.  Beachgoers were walking the wooden boards enjoying the arcades, bingo parlors, miniature golf, amusements and rides along with salt water taffy, snow balls, donuts and great short order food.  There were still soldiers, most from nearby Camp Lejeune, who came for some rest and recreation.  For soldiers that might have a little too much R & R, there was the steady presence of Military Police on the boardwalk that continued for many years.

Dancing was still an important part of boardwalk life with many establishments having juke boxes providing music to dance by.  There was also the Ocean Plaza, built in 1946, with a ballroom on the second floor to replace the pavilion and its dance floor that burned in 1940.

Hurricanes always brought damage that had to be repaired time and time again. Hazel was the worst being the only Category Four hurricane to hit our area in all of the 20th Century to the present day. It destroyed over 300 homes at Carolina Beach along with most of the boardwalk businesses.  But changes were coming.

The 1960s and 70s brought beach erosion concerns. They were addressed with berms of sand planted with sea oats that made the beach wider.  As a result you couldn’t see the ocean from the boardwalk which was now made of concrete.  Beach goers had to walk on ramps over the berm to get to the sand and surf.  Some of the boardwalk charm was gone.

In 1972, Mayor Richard Kepley proposed tearing down the boardwalk and replacing it with a three story complex.  There would be parking on the bottom, an entertainment mall on the second floor with a hotel on the top.  The proposal was not well received by boardwalk owners and town officials and soon faded away.

But, in 1977, another proposal became reality. Seashore Amusement Park announced that they would reopen in 1978 on Lake Park Boulevard as Jubilee Park leaving the boardwalk with no rides.

Next month Boardwalk, Part VI

 

The Gullah Geechee People

Excerpts from the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor website

THE PEOPLE

The Gullah Geechee people are the descendants of Central and West Africans who came from different ethnic and social groups.

They were enslaved together on the isolated sea and barrier islands that span what is now designated as the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor – a stretch of the U.S. coastline that extends  from Pender County, North Carolina to St. John’s County, Florida and for 30 miles inland.

The result was an intense interaction among Africans from different language groups in settings where enslaved Africans and their descendants formed the majority.

Over time, they developed the Creole Gullah Geechee language as a means of communicating with each other and they were also able to preserve many African practices in their language, arts, crafts and cuisine.

LANGUAGE

Gullah is a unique Creole language spoken along the Sea Islands and adjacent coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia.  The residents in Georgia are typically referred to as “Geechee.” Gullah language began as a simplified form of communication among people of different languages including European slave traders, slave owners and diverse African ethnic groups. The vocabulary and grammatical roots come from European and African languages.

Gullah Geechee language is the only distinctly African Creole language in the United States and has influenced traditional Southern vocabulary and speech patterns.

ARTS, CRAFTS AND MUSIC

 

Enslaved Africans brought a rich heritage of cultural traditions in art, foodways and music.  ​Arts and crafts are the result of products designed by necessity for activities of subsistence and daily living such as making cast nets for fishing,  basket weaving for agriculture and textile arts for clothing and warmth.

The art of making cast nets for fishing has been passed down by enslaved Africans brought to the southeastern shores of the United States.  Gullah Geechee people continue to use the nets to harvest from the Sea Island waterways, but the tradition is labor intensive and artists are dwindling in numbers as younger generations have lost interest.

African textile traditions that included sewing strips of cloth into larger patterns were combined with European quilting methods and a Creole art form emerged. Quilts with bright colors and designs were originally made for necessity. These traditions also allowed women a  time for social interaction.

Sweetgrass baskets, originally designed for rice production and processing and other domestic uses in Africa, were used for agricultural purposes such as planting and harvesting of coastal crops. Made of bulrush, sweetgrass and split oak, the African art of basket making was significant as a traditionally passed down handicraft practiced by both men and women using similar materials from their homeland.  Baskets also gained recognition for the skill of an artist and uniqueness in style. Even in historic times, baskets were sold to non-Gullah Geechee people and were a source of additional income.

African songs are the foundation for what may be referred to as Gullah music. Deeply rooted in music traditions brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans, the music evolved out of the conditions of slavery that characterized their lives.  The influence and evolution of musical forms that arose out of Gullah music can be heard in many musical genres such as spirituals and gospel music,  ragtime, rhythm and blues, soul, hip hop  and jazz.

FOODWAYS

Food has always played an important role in social traditions in many cultures. Gatherings, celebrations, and religious rituals are often accompanied by food.

The Gullah diet consisted of items available locally such as vegetables, fruits, game, seafood, livestock; items  imported from Europe,  items imported from Africa during the slave trade  (okra, rice, yams, peas, hot peppers, peanuts, sesame “benne” seeds, sorghum and watermelon),  and food introduced by  Native Americans such as corn, squash, tomatoes and berries.  Rice became a staple crop for both Gullah and whites in the southeastern coastal regions.

Although a bounty of food types existed, there was not always a bounty of food available for enslaved Gullah people or their descendants. Making use of available food (or rations), making a little go a long way, supplementing with fish and game, leftovers from butchering and communal stews shared with neighbors were African cultural practices.

African cooking methods and seasonings were applied in the Gullah homes and plantation kitchens.  Because plantation cooks were primarily enslaved women, many of the African cooking traditions were employed along with creatively incorporating foods introduced by European, Spanish and American Indian influence, much of the food today referred to as “Southern” comes from the creativity and labor of enslaved African cooks from the plantations.

 SPIRITUAL EXPRESSION

 

Religion and spirituality have a sustaining role in Gullah family and community life. Enslaved Africans were exposed to Christian religious practices in a number of ways and incorporated elements that were meaningful to them into their African rooted system of beliefs.  These values included belief in a God, community above individuality, respect for  elders, kinship bonds and ancestors; respect for nature, and honoring the continuity of life and the afterlife.

Some plantation owners had regular religious services on the plantation and required slaves to attend. Some plantations had separate services for blacks with black preachers. Plantations frequently had a praise house or small structure where slaves could meet for religious services, but these also had significance in maintaining community cohesion, social structure and conflict resolution.

 

Society Notes – September, 2018

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

  • Welcome to new members Martha Smith of Wilmington, Elizabeth Hood of Carolina Beach and John McMains of Durham, NC.
  • Center recorded 55 visitors in August. We had 49 at the August meeting. The History Center was used by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club.
  • Thanks to Louise Colvert and Cheri McNeill for providing refreshments at the August meeting. Also, thanks to Jim Kohler for helping with the newsletter.