Remembering the Monte Carlo By-the-Sea

An excerpt from Inadmissible Evidence by Evelyn Williams. Lawrence Hill Books, 1993
Evelyn Williams is the daughter of Frank and Lulu Freeman Hill

“The building was completed on July 4, 1951. My parents proclaimed that day Robert Bruce Freeman Day and celebrated it for many years afterward. The building was large, even grandiose compared with many of the Carolina Beach structures, and was situated three thousand feet from the ocean, its white cement façade gleaming above the dunes.

There was a dining area (which doubled as a dance floor at night), a long counter for take-out orders, a locker room, bathrooms, shower rooms, and two Monte Carlo - Frank Hill Collection - Cape Fear Museum #1 with titlebedrooms in the back for the family. A local muralist painted the entire interior with brightly colored seascapes, and my father built a hard red clay road from 17th Ave to the parking lot adjacent to the building claimed by the Town of Carolina Beach to be its northern boundary.

My mother, with help from workers in Wilmington, kept the restaurant as spotlessly clean as she did her own house, and her clam fritters were as famous as McDonald’s hamburgers are now.

Black people came to the beach from all over the country and my parents were instantly successful. Surprisingly, many whites vacationing in Carolina Beach also frequented the restaurant and danced without incident both in the building and on the pavilion my father had built a short distance into the ocean.

The morning after the hurricane (Hazel, 1954) passed, my parents rushed to the beach to assess the damage and saw nothing except smooth sand still being washed over by the ocean where their building had stood the day before.

My fatalistic mother’s Monte Carlo - Frank Hill Collection - Cape Fear Museum with titlereaction was stoic and she directed her energies to the care of my father, who collapsed and was bedridden for several weeks. Their loss was compounded by their having been unable to obtain a bank loan to build, and so a large part of their savings was washed away with their business.  Nor did their insurance cover water and wind damage.

Nevertheless, my father rebuilt, pulling concrete block after concrete block from the sand where the remnants of the demolished building lay. Having learned about the force of hurricanes, he positioned the new structure further back from the ocean and purchased insurance for wind and water damage from the only company that offered it, Lloyd’s of London.

But the new building, too, was flattened when hurricane Connie stormed ashore in August 1955.”