President’s Letter – August, 2018

By Elaine Henson

Boardwalk, Part IV

The May 19, 1941 edition of the Wilmington Morning Star reported 10,000 people at Carolina Beach over the weekend with most of the boardwalk businesses rebuilt after the tragic fire the year before.

By the official opening of the summer season on June 6th, the new Hotel Bame and Palais Royal Hotel were open along with the new Wave Theater.  The midway had more rides, more concessions, larger stores and wider and longer boardwalks lined with benches.  The “South’s Miracle Beach” had indeed recovered and was on the way to even busier days and nights with the advent of World War II.

Wilmington and the surrounding beaches swelled with people during the 1940s, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

New Hanover County’s population went from 42,000 to over 100,000 with the NC Shipbuilding Company, defense workers and military personnel.  Soldiers from Camp Davis, Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune and Fort Fisher flocked to our area on weekends when they had leave.

Many soldiers camped out with their regiments on the north end where Freeman Park is now. The Greystone Hotel on Cape Fear Boulevard became a USO and the boardwalk was filled with soldiers and military police, a trend that would continue even after the war years.

Carolina Beach Postmaster, W.H. Blair, reported an average of 25,000 cards a week were mailed in a 1941 article in the Carolina Beach Sun.  He said “I trace the main reason for this to the visit of many soldiers …. they send mail to every state in the union.” 

The August 2, 1941 issue of the Carolina Beach Sun shows an article on the 1,000 soldiers from Fort Bragg’s 36th Regiment that camped out on the north end of Carolina Beach.  Another article is about the 40, 000 visitors at the beach the previous weekend and another on the 25,000 post cards mailed from the resort.

Next month: Boardwalk Part V

We Made the List!

 From a CNN Travel post

19 Best Boardwalks in America

Full article at: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/america-best-boardwalks/index.html

  1. Navy Pier, Chicago
  2. Atlantic City Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey
  3. Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
  4. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California
  5. Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  6. Ocean City Boardwalk, Ocean City, Maryland
  7. Venice Beach Boardwalk, Venice Beach, California
  8. Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
  9. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California
  10. Old Orchard Beach Boardwalk, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  11. Wildwood, Wildwood, N.J.
  12. Virginia Beach Boardwalk, Virginia Beach, Virginia
  13. Disney World Boardwalk, Walt Disney World, Florida
  14. Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, Texas
  15. Mission Beach Boardwalk, San Diego, California
  16. Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Carolina Beach, North Carolina.  Appropriately located on Pleasure Island, Carolina Beach specializes in making you forget your cares. Mild breezes, gorgeous beach, and a sweet hospitality make this boardwalk a family favorite. 
  1. Hampton Beach Boardwalk, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
  2. Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, Point Pleasant, New Jersey
  3. Sandwich Boardwalk, Sandwich, Massachusetts

 

Photos by StarNews

Sundial on the Boardwalk

On Tuesday, August 7, 2018 retired Judge Gilbert H. Burnett celebrated his 93rd birthday.

He also presented the town of Carolina Beach with a beautiful brass sundial on the boardwalk in a ceremony attended by his family, some of our members, Greg Reynolds from the Chamber of Commerce, Steve Shuttleworth and LeAnn Pierce from council and Town Manager, Michael Cramer.

The sundial is on the Harper Avenue beach access on the boardwalk and includes signage explaining how to read it and adjust for summer’s daylight savings time.

Judge Burnett dedicated the sundial in memory of his parents, John Henry and Ruth Deaton Burnett.  After a long search he found one in the United Kingdom and he received the bill for it in pounds.

The Burnett family lived in Burgaw but built a cottage in 1936 in the 400 block of Carolina Beach Avenue North.  Every summer they loaded eight children and the dog into vehicles piled high with everything from beach wear to Ruth Burnett’s sewing machine for the annual trip to the shore.

Young Gilbert ran a boardwalk Snow-Ball stand from age 12 into his teenage years. It was located where Wheel Fun Rentals keeps their surreys and bicycles now and was one of the stops on our summer Boardwalk Tour.

The Burnett Cottage was destroyed in 1954’s Hurricane Hazel but then rebuilt with the original pine paneling recovered from the wreckage and remains in the family today.

The Sundial is on the Harper Avenue beach access on the boardwalk.

Photo by Jasmine McKee from the Island Gazette.

Society Notes – August, 2018

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director

We  did it!

2018 Boardwalk Tour

WOW! Our first season is over and there’s no question our Historic Boardwalk tour was a great success.

WE HAD 144 PEOPLE ATTEND 7 TOURS (one got rained out) and collected $520 in donations!

We want to extend a HUGE thanks to Elaine Henson for doing the research and writing the script and finding all the “what used to be here” photos! She bought the tote bags that the tour leaders used, as well.  Thanks, also, to Rebecca and Cheri who put together the tour tote scripts and pictures.

Special thanks go to Erin Whitman from Carolina Beach Parks and Recreation for designing the rack card that got the word out to the tourists.  A huge thanks to Jasmine McKee and the Island Gazette for including an article about the tour in every paper throughout the summer. We asked people where they heard about the tour and the most people told us they found out about it in the Island Gazette.

The Star-News sent reporter Eva Ellenberg and photogrpaher Matt Born to cover the tour. You can see their article and pictures at http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20180627/carolina-beach-boardwalk-tours-explore-its-early-glory-days  And finally, thanks to Randy Aldridge from WWAY who did a great interview with Elaine.

We couldn’t have done it all without our volunteer tour guides! Elaine Henson, Leslie Bright, Darlene Bright, Jim Dugan, Doris Bame, Byron Moore, Judy Moore and Steve Arthur.

No question, we’ll do it again next year from mid June to mid August!


                                                                   

  • Welcome to new members Jan Davidson of Wilmington and Al and Donna DePompeis of Carolina Beach
  • The History Center recorded 103 visitors in July. We had 45 at the July Meeting. The History Center was used for meetings held by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club and the UDC Board.
  • Darlene and Eddie Capel have spent a good deal of time preparing the budget for 2018-2019 which was approved at the August 6 board meeting.

 

By Request here is Brenda Coffey’s recipe for:

TANGY GLAZED GREEN BEANS       

 3 cans cut green beans, drained                   2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar                              1/4 teaspoon salt

6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled                  1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons minced onions or dehydrated onions

Mix the vinegar, onions, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a pot and bring to a boil. Add drained canned green beans. Heat thoroughly, stirring to mix, and let stand 2-3 hours. Heat before serving and add crumbled bacon.


Officers
President – Elaine Henson
Vice-President –Juanita Winner
Secretary –
Treasurer – Eddie Capel
Directors
Cheri McNeill
Jimmy Bartley
John Moseley
Steve Arthur
Jay Winner
Leslie Bright
Brenda Coffey
Jim Dugan
Barry Nelder

President’s Letter – July, 2018

By Elaine Henson

Boardwalk, Part III

By 1940 the Boardwalk was truly the Carolina Beach town center.

Not only were there hotels, eateries, bingo parlors, arcades, bath houses, the pavilion, a movie theater, bowling alley, amusements and other summer businesses, but also, essential services that were open year round. Beach residents shopped for groceries at the boardwalk A & P and spirits at the ABC store.

City Hall was located there along with the police station and the fire department.  At one time, the grammar school was on one side of City Hall separated by a sheet from those who conducted the town’s business.

In this Louis T. Moore photo from the NHCPL collection, the back of the pavilion is on the left with a new fire station and fire truck on the right.  Behind the fire station is City Hall.

But, all that was to change. In the early hours of September 19, 1940, a fire in the pavilion was discovered by CB Police Officer Mosely on his nightly rounds.

The pavilion, near the northern end of the boardwalk and Harper Avenue,  was described in a Wilmington Morning Star article as  “Old, unpainted, dried and fattened for the kill by 30 odd summers in the sun, the structure exploded with uncontrolled furry before police Officer Mosley, who discovered the fire, could turn in an alarm.”  A fierce wind blew the fire in both directions but mainly toward the south. It swept down two blocks of the Boardwalk destroying everything in its path ending at the Bame Hotel.

The Bame was located just south of the present day boardwalk gazebo area on the vacant lot where some of the summer rides are located. So, the fire covered the area between today’s Hampton Inn and Marriott Hotel.

 

This photo from the boardwalk looking west shows some of the devastation caused by the fire.  In the left background is the blue building that faces Cape Fear Boulevard in front of the Gazebo.  Photo from the collection of the late Bob and Fran Doetsch.

Undaunted by their losses, the business owners vowed to rebuild in time for the 1941 summer season and they did.  Having accomplished that, Carolina Beach was billed as “The South’s Miracle Beach” on post cards published after the fire and rebuilt.

 

Next month:  Boardwalk, Part IV

 

Historic Boardwalk Tour

Coming this Summer!

Guided Tours

Historic Carolina Beach Boardwalk

10 am every Tuesday!

June 19, 2018 – August 7, 2018

40 minute walking tour

Meet on:  the Boardwalk at the foot of Harper Ave. just south of the new Hampton Inn

Park at: the Municipal Parking lot across from the Town Marina, as close as you can get to the Hampton Inn. Donation requested: $5.00 per person.

Star-News Article on the Boardwalk Tour

President’s Letter – June, 2018

 

By Elaine Henson

Boardwalk, Part II

 

 

By the 1920s the boardwalk at Carolina Beach stretched along the strand north of Harper Avenue South to Cape Fear Boulevard connecting to bath houses, concessions and other businesses.  The pavilion, called casino in this post card, remained the centerpiece of beach activity located just a few feet south of Harper. The boardwalk connected it to the Ocean View Hotel built in 1929.  The Ocean View is left of center in this photograph with the pavilion on the right.

 

By 1925 the town was incorporated with Robert Plummer as the first mayor.  His home and general store were on Cape Fear Boulevard bordering the boardwalk and across from the Greystone Hotel built in 1916.  The wooden Bame Hotel was built in 1930 next door to the Greystone.

In the 30s the boardwalks were replaced and extended as a post-Depression project by the WPA.

 

The three story Bame Hotel and Greystone, with its roof top dance floor, are seen on the right on the postcard below of Cape Fear Boulevard.  Plummer’s Store, which also served as an early post office, is across the street behind the pavilion. West of Plummer’s is an early miniature golf course.  Both sides of Cape Fear are lined with boardwalks.

Next month:  Boardwalk, Part III

 

Boardwalk History Tours Begin June 19, 2018

Coming this Summer!

 

Guided Tour

Historic Carolina Beach Boardwalk

10 am every Tuesday!

 

 

 

June 19, 2018 – August 7, 2018

40 minute guided walking tour

 

Meet on the Boardwalk at the southwest corner of the new Hampton Inn.

Park at: the Municipal Parking lot across from the Town Marina, as close as you can get to the Hampton Inn.

Donation requested: $5.00 per person.

 

 

The Carolina Beach Boardwalk – From the Bill Reeves Files

August 28, 1893:  During the hurricane there was a high tide at Carolina Beach.  It broke over the beach into the sound and washed up the boardwalk in front of the cottages.  Some of the fences were blown down, but no other damage was done.  Capt. Harper brought his steamer WILMINGTON to the beach to be in readiness to take the people off.  They found everything quiet and no one alarmed.  Residents in the cottages situated for a mile along the beach preferred to stay in their cottages.  Many of the beach visitors wanted the opportunity to see the ocean in all its grandeur, with the wild waves lashing the beach, throwing the surf high in the air.  WILM. STAR, 8-29-1893.

November 10, 1936:  Believed to be the first in North Carolina, an application for the establishment of a highway emergency Red Cross first aid station at Carolina Beach was forwarded to the national headquarters of the American Red Cross.  The station was to be located, after approval, on the boardwalk at Carolina Beach in the town hall.  The site had been inspected by Red Cross representatives and found satisfactory.  The workers who were to administer first aid at the station had just completed a 15-hour course under J. N. Thomas, a Red Cross trained instructor.  WILM. NEWS, 11-9-1936.

August 2, 1940: A four-bout amateur boxing card was to be presented at the Carolina Club on the boardwalk at Carolina Beach.  The main match was between Tiny Taylor, 218 pounds of Wilmington, Golden Gloves champion of southeastern United States, and Huck Liles, the ―Pride of Raleigh.  In the semi-finals engagement, John Johnson, 185 pounds, of Raleigh, will battle Fred Barnhill, of Wilmington, the local Golden Gloves light-heavyweight champion. E. E. Taylor was the promoter of the card.  WILM. STAR, 8-2-1940.

June 6, 1941: Carolina Beach opened tonight for the new season.  Aside from the new, $500,000 midway and business district, hundreds of new cottages and guest houses had been built during the winter and spring.  The famous midway was more varied this year than previously.  There were more rides, more concessions, larger stores, longer and wider boardwalks, more benches,  public drinking fountains, and a bathing strand which was one-third wider than last year.  The life guards added more men and the latest equipment obtainable, and they had enlarged the limits of the restricted bathing area. Carolina Beach was being called ―The Nation’s Miracle Beach.  Untrue rumors were being spread that the beach was now filled with soldiers and defense workers and visitors were being discouraged from visiting the beach. WILM. STAR, 6-6-1941.

Summer, 1943:  Carolina Beach (Related by Chicken Hicks) ―Carolina Beach was just like a state fair 24 hours a day.  There were at least eight jump joints that were just a dance floor and a juke box.  They offered rhythm and blues.  Running along the ocean front in the town’s center was a wooden boardwalk, raised 3 to 10 feet above the sand.  It was flanked by two rows of one and two-story rooming houses and cottages filled with vacationers.  Service men from nearby bases swarmed the boardwalk, vendors sold beer, hot dogs, surf mats and towels, and children frolicked at the water‘s edge.  Navy ducks shuttled people back and forth to fishing boats anchored offshore.  Every morning loud-speakers blared out Glenn Miller‘s ―Sunrise Serenade.  A corner café was open 24 hours per day.

There was ―fas’ dancin’ (what came to be called the shag) in every nook and cranny on the boardwalk.  Carolina Beach was where the majority of people came to dance.  An arcade was known as Danceland.  The Green Lantern, which sold beer and rented surf mats during the day, also had a juke box.  Nickels clanked in the nickelodeons and leather soles shuffled and slid across the sandy floors in special open-air juke joints, called ―sugar-bowls, as the surf pounded the background rhythm.

One of the oldest buildings, built in 1946, was ―smack dab in the middle of the boardwalk.  It housed the ―Milk Pail restaurant, the Tijuana Inn and a swimmer‘s bath-house on the first floor.  Upstairs was the Ocean Plaza Ballroom renowned for its big bands.  With a 5,000-square-foot floor, the Ocean Plaza was the largest dance hall on the beach, holding 500 people, elbow to elbow.  Large French double-door windows opened up for the ocean breezes.  Here you could catch Jack Teagarden play trombone and watch the dancers, called jitterbugs.

The boardwalk at Carolina Beach teamed with service men.  After World War II, fights broke out between the jealous service men and the jitterbugs, who were often called beach bums.  There were fights with the Army, the paratroopers and the Marines.

Across from the Ocean Plaza was a club called The Roof one year and Bop City another.  Jimmy Cavello’s Combo was the house band in 1948.  Some of the best records used in the jukeboxes came from the black beach at Sea Breeze.  The forbidden black jive music jumped the Jim Crow rope.  Some of the popular records were Joe Liggins’ I’ve Got a Right To Cry, Paul Williams’ The Hucklebuck, Buddy Johnson’s Fine Brown Frame, Wynonie Harris’ Good Rockin’ Tonight, Erskine Hawkins’ Tippin’ In, Lucky Millinder’s Big Fat Mama and Count Basie’s One O’Clock Boogie.  On the south end of the boardwalk, past Batson’s Jump Joint, was the Sugar Bowl No. 2, an open-air oceanfront dance floor, 70-by-30 feet, bounded by railings. THE STATE – JULY, 1994

September 8, 1943:   Carolina Beach was boasting about its community clinic located in the back room of the old city hall on the boardwalk.  Through the courtesy of Mrs. Homer Wysong, widow of the late Dr. Homer Wysong, this first aid station was equipped. The staff included three registered nurses and three Red Cross graduates and three volunteers. Mrs. Hannah Block of Wilmington and Carolina Beach worked hard to get this clinic started.  She had the clinic room painted snow white. A course of Red Cross first aid was to be offered on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7 p.m. for five weeks. WILM. NEWS, 9-9-1943.


More articles:   Bill Reaves Files – by Subject.

Federal Point Chronology 1725 – 1994  Compiled By Bill Reaves

Boyhood Book Helped Forge Chris Fonvielle’s Career

 

Civil War historian Chris Fonvielle is retiring from UNCW at the end of the spring 2018 semester.

When Chris Fonvielle was 8 years old, the Civil War centennial broke out, and he received a young readers’ edition of the American Heritage “Golden Book of the Civil War.” From thereon, he was hooked.

“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in history,” said Fonvielle, an associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

In fact, Fonvielle, a Port City native, almost literally wrote the book — or books — on the Civil War in the Lower Cape Fear. His master’s thesis became “The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope,” a scholarly account of the battles that led to the fall of Wilmington.

His “To Forge a Thunderbolt” chronicled the rise and fall of Confederate Fort Anderson near Colonial Brunswick Town. “Fort Fisher 1865″ studied the prints of Civil War photographer Timothy H. O’Sullivan, whose images in 1865 provide the only known visible record of the Civil War fortress guarding the entrance to the Cape Fear River.

“His dedication to the Wilmington area and its history is extraordinary,” said Lynn Mollenauer, chairman of the UNCW history department.

For years, Mollenauer said, Fonvielle has been “the public face of the history department,” speaking to local civic groups and giving tours of Civil War sites for the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and others.

This spring, the 65-year-old Fonvielle is retiring after more than 20 years at UNCW. He and his wife, Nancy, are planning a series of trips, including a long-anticipated tour of Scotland.

Fonvielle will not be giving up on history. He’s completing a different project: a history of the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, the 1776 conflict in which area Patriot militias scattered Loyalist Highlanders marching from what is now Fayetteville toward Wilmington.

Mastering the Revolutionary War era has been “a steep learning curve,” Fonvielle said, but he’s had fun. It gave him a chance to learn new history — for instance, that the prefix “Mac-” means “son of” in Scottish names.

Fonvielle said he also wants to finish a biography of William B. Cushing, “Lincoln’s Commando,” a dashing U.S. Navy officer who, among other exploits, floated a fake gunboat, or monitor, past Fort Anderson to trick the defenders and draw their fire.

Growing up in Wilmington, Fonvielle remembered traveling out with his mother — WWAY-TV news personality Jane Fonvielle — to see the excavations of Brunswick Town and Fort Anderson by the famed archaeologist Stanley South. “He gave me a trowel and put me in the basement of one of the colonial houses and told me, ‘See what you can find,’” Fonvielle recalled.

After graduating from New Hanover High School (where, he proudly notes, he was the first soccer-style place kicker in North Carolina football history), Fonvielle moved on to UNCW, where he earned an anthropology degree.

He headed the Blockade Runner Museum at Carolina Beach from 1979 until its closure in 1983, then worked briefly at Cape Fear Museum, which had acquired the artifacts.

After earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. and briefly teaching at ECU, he returned to UNCW in 1997. He’s been there ever since.

“I’ve had a great career, and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Fonvielle said. “I’ve worked in my home town and taught at my alma mater.”

Reporter Ben Steelman can be reached at 910-343-2208 or Ben.Steelman@StarNewsOnline.com.

 

http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20180518/boyhood-book-helped-forge-local-historians-career