From the President — August, 2016

By Elaine Henson

Judy Cumber Moore

Judy Cumber Moore

Our Bathing Suit Exhibit will be open through Labor Day.  If you haven’t been by to see it, we encourage you to do so, Tuesday, Friday and Saturdays, 10-4.

In keeping with that theme, we want to showcase two Carolina Beach bathers that are also members of FPHPS.

Judy Cumber Moore was a teenager when she posed for this photo on the rock jetty in front of the boardwalk.  She is wearing a one piece suit with straps removed for a bare shoulder look.

Judy spent summers at Carolina Beach since her family owned Cumber’s Cottages near the lake. We know her now as Judy Moore, wife of FPHPS board member, Byron Moore.

Byron was a Carolina Beach lifeguard and taught swimming lessons to beach children at the Nel-El Motel pool. Judy and Byron were high school sweethearts now married for 57 years.  He later became an orthodontist and he and Judy raised their family in Winston-Salem.  Fortunately for us, they now mostly live at Kure Beach with monthly trips back to Winston-Salem.

Long time Carolina Beach resident Fran Doetsch sits on a blanket in front of the wooden boardwalk in 1956. She is wearing a trim one piece suit with straps over the shoulders and a kerchief covering her hair. If the sun got too hot, you could get some shade “under the boardwalk”.

President's Letter

Fran Doetsch

Fran’s family moved from the Sea Gate community of Wilmington to Kure Beach in the early 1930s when her step father, Dawson Mosley, took a job at the Ethel-Dow plant.

Like most teenagers at the beach, she loved spending time at the boardwalk.  She met her husband, Bob Doetsch, there and took him home to meet her mother the very night they met. Bob was in the Army during WWII and stationed at Fort Fisher.  They married December 1, 1943 and were married for 64 years when he passed away in January, 2008.

Bob worked for many years with the Army Corps of Engineers and served on the Carolina Beach Town Council as does their son, Gary Doetsch.

At 95, Fran remains a lively lady with an outgoing personality well known to residents of Carolina Beach.  She is also a wonderful resource on our history at Federal Point and always glad to share it with others.

From the President — July, 2016

By Elaine Henson

As our summer Vintage Bathing Suit Exhibit continues this month, we are continuing to showcase Carolina Beach bathers. We hope you can come by our History Center and see our exhibit on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 – 4 pm.

Presidents letter #1It was a beautiful day at Carolina Beach in the 1950s when local girls, Mary Frances All (left) and Sylvia Fountain (right), posed for this post card. The girls are wearing suits with the “modesty panel” in the front like many of the suits in our exhibit.

They have chosen to take off the removable straps for a day of tanning without strap marks. Mary Frances shared with me that they were actually wearing each other’s suits that day. Most girls only had one suit each summer and tired of wearing the same one over and over so they often switched with a sister or friend.

Mary Frances All was a Winter Park girl but she and Sylvia were best friends graduating from New Hanover High School together in 1957. Mary Frances was crowned Teenage Azalea Princess at Wrightsville Beach’s Lumina Pavilion during the Azalea Festival in 1956. She now provides a scholarship for the festival princesses. Mary Frances lives in Stanly, North Carolina, and is the widow of the late Dr. James S. Forrester who also served in the North Carolina Senate. Her son, Dr. James Forrester, Jr. is a cardiologist practicing in Wilmington.

Sylvia Fountain was the daughter of Elmo and Plina Ritter Fountain. She was the granddaughter of W. G. Fountain who built the Fountain’s Rooms and Apartments in 1935 and the Royal Palm Hotel the following year in 1936. Both were in the first block of Harper Avenue. He also served three terms as a Carolina Beach Alderman from 1937 to 1945 and was mayor of Carolina Beach from 1945-47.   In 1949 he founded the Bank of Carolina Beach and served as its first president. W. G. Fountain was one of the honorees inducted into the Carolina Beach Walk of Fame this past Presidents letter #2January, 2016.

Sylvia’s mother, Plina Ritter Fountain (1916-2013), is posing in the Carolina Beach moon on the boardwalk in this photo from the 1940s. It is a little hard to see, but her black and white halter neck suit has a triangle shape cut out in the front just above the waist. These were the forerunners of two piece suits which were popular in the mid-1940s.

Plina ran the Fountain’s Rooms and Apartments on Harper Avenue while her husband Elmo managed the Hotel Royal Palm next door. They were the parents of four children, Ray, Sylvia, Griff and Janet.

Sylvia Fountain Logan passed away in 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; her funeral was held at Bethany Presbyterian Church on Castle Hayne Road. Her parents and grandparents are buried in Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery.

 

From the President — June, 2016

by Elaine HensonPostard One

On June 12th from 2-4 pm we are having a reception for the opening of our summer Vintage Bathing Suit Exhibit.  So, we are continuing to showcase Carolina Beach bathers.

The postcard to the right has a “white border” which means that it dates from 1915 to 1930.  It was published by John Plummer for his store on Cape Fear Boulevard across from the Bame Hotel.  Plummer was the first mayor of Carolina Beach when it was incorporated in 1925.  His store was a popular place to shop since he carried a variety of goods and was also the post office location at one time.

The bathers are wearing suits still made of wool knit but without shoes, stockings and sleeves.  Three have webbed belts and look almost like very short dresses; one even has a collar and buttons going down the front.  All the ladies are wearing hats.

postcard TwoThe linen card to the left with the very glamorous beauty sitting on the beach can be dated 1941 since it has the phrase “The South’s Miracle Beach”.  It was used on many cards published after the devastating boardwalk fire of September, 1940.  The miracle was that the two blocks of destroyed boardwalk businesses were rebuilt and ready to open by beach season 1941.

She is wearing a one piece suit probably made of wool knit with lastex. In the mid-1930s the U.S. Rubber Company perfected a rubber thread which could be combined with cotton, wool, silk or rayon fibers to make a stretchy thread.   It was used for women’s foundation garments, bathing suits and a number of other uses and revolutionized the swim suit industry.

 

From the President — May, 2016

kids on beachSince our program this month (Monday, May 16th) will be on bathing suits and our summer exhibit will also showcase vintage bathing suits, I decided to look at a few Carolina Beach bathers in their suits.

In the early 1900s salt water bathing was considered to be therapeutic and a very healthy practice much like going to a spa.  As trains began to crisscross our country, it was so easy for those who lived inland to get to the seashore. And get there they did!

This card (right) is postmarked 1926 and the writer has “been in twice”.  The ladies’ suits were made of wool jersey with matching knee length bloomers underneath.  They wore them with stockings, bathing shoes and caps. Men’s suits were very similar without the accessories.

Notice the one lady sitting on the sand in a dress and hat as if she had just left church.  The man to her right elaines men's suitsappears to be sitting on a tractor tire inner tube.  Some bathers at the water’s edge are also sitting in the sand enjoying the waves and they come in and go out.  Most people at this time could not swim.  The experience was more like being in a huge tub of salt water, hence the term “bathing”.

(left) This is a photo of two men and a boy at Carolina Beach in 1934 wearing suits they rented for Twins on beachthe day. They are all wool knit.  The boy’s suit has large cut outs under the arms.  The man in the middle rented his suit from the Pavilion bath house right on the boardwalk.  It probably cost him about 25 cents for the day and would have included a space for his street clothes and a shower after his dip.

The man on the right rented his from Batson’s Bath House just down the boardwalk from the pavilion.  In the winter these wool suits would have been packed away with moth balls adding that aroma to the wet wool smell the next summer.

This damaged but nonetheless wonderful photo (right) is of a father and his twin sons at Carolina Beach. The father’s suit appears to be a tunic over shorts, but is really all one piece made to look that way.  The twins in their straw hats are wearing suits that look like T-shirts and shorts.  Again they are one piece. All three suits have stripes and would have been made of wool knit fabric.

 

From the President — April, 2016

By Elaine HensonPalais Royal Hotel

The Palais Royal Hotel opened at the start of 1937’s summer season. The three story hotel was located on the northern end of the boardwalk near Harper Avenue. It was across from the pavilion, rebuilt in 1911 to replace the original one built in 1887.

The hotel’s owner/operators were Peter Compos as manager, Henry Omirly, night manager and John Kalagis, kitchen manager.

There was a spacious dining room with a large hardwood dance floor, a grille room with booth and counter service and a smaller private dining room all on the lobby ground floor.  It had twenty-three rooms with modern plumbing and shower baths outside for the hotel guests.  The Palais Royal specialized in dinner parties, bridge luncheons and business conferences.

It was very popular and enjoyed four summer seasons until it burned to the ground in the devastating boardwalk fire of September 19, 1940. The fire began in the pavilion and was discovered by police officer, Melvin D. Mosely, who was the stepfather of longtime beach resident Fran Doetsch.

The fire destroyed over two blocks of businesses including not only the Palais Royal Hotel but the newly remodeled and bricked Bame Hotel on Cape Fear Boulevard as well.  Since the winds blew the fire in a southward direction, the Hotel Royal Palm on Harper Avenue survived with sons of owner W. G. Fountain on the roof spraying the building with water hoses just to be sure.

Palais Royal Hotel #2After the fire a miraculous rebuilding of brick and concrete structures took place over the winter months.  By June, 1941 the boardwalk reopened with the town being billed as the “South’s Miracle Beach.”

The new Palais Royal held its formal grand opening early on April 25th with Ray Wise and his Dance Orchestra providing the music.

The new hotel had two floors and was owned and operated again by John Kalagis and Henry Omirly with Chris Economides replacing Peter Compos.  The hotel had rooms on the second floor, but the emphasis was focused on the restaurant, dinner and dancing as you can see by their sign.

Does anyone know when this building was torn down?  The former location is now a vacant lot up from the Fudgeboat/ Wheelfun Rental building and the building next to that.

From the President: March, 2016

Elaine Hensonby Elaine Henson

Brewer’s Inn was on Harper Avenue near the intersection with Lake Park Boulevard. It was located where Bank of America and its parking lot are now and across from the drug store building, now Laney brewer's InnReal Estate.

We would like to know more about Brewer’s and are asking for help from the community. At one time the post office was in the building which was obviously a hotel or rooming house.  We are wondering who owned it, how many rooms it had, and so on.

We are also curious about the tiny building next to it on the corner: was it a business on the ground floor with place to stay upstairs? In the color post card it looks like it had flat awnings that flipped up and revealed some type of open air Brewer's Inn postcardmarket.

Does anyone know who owned it and what they sold?  There are three houses between Brewer’s and Risley’s Cottages and Rooms also in the post card. One has a red roof and the other two have brown roofs. Were they private homes? If so, who lived in them?  Thanks for your help!

 

 

From the President: February, 2016

In the winter most of us are wishing for warmer days on the beach. This post card of beauties playing leapfrog was mailed in Elaine HensonJanuary, 1942 from Wilmington. It was written by a man named Floyd and sent to his friend, Fred, in Syracuse, New York. Floyd might have been stationed at nearby Camp Davis during the war and had come to Wilmington on a weekend pass for some R&R and maybe a visit to the USO at Second and Orange Streets downtown.

It is always fun to read what the writers say and it gives us a glimpse into their lives and the past. This one says:

Elaine's postcard

Hi Partner,

Out wolfing around for a couple of days in this fair city. Got a heavy date with the blonde bomber on the front of this card. Don’t let this picture fool you. It’s been snowing down here and colder than H..E..!?..L. Floyd

Playing leapfrog on the beach like the girls in the post card might look staged. But beach games like leapfrog, tug of war and sack races were often in a lineup of beach activities especially during holidays and the opening of the beach season.

 

This photograph is from the Sunday Star News, June 15, 1941, the year before the post card was mailed.

Elaine clipping

 

 

From the President: January, 2016

By Elaine HensonBannerman Cottage

A few weeks ago we asked for help identifying this 1944 photo of a house at 300 Lake Park Boulevard on the corner of Lake Park and present day Carl Winner Ave.

Thanks to Tommy Greene who confirmed the location with the Yacht Basin completed in 1929 in the background.

Also thanks to Robert Cole who identified it as the Bannerman Cottage or Bannerman Rooms and Apartments. Robert shared that his parents lived in one of the three to five cottages in the back c.1938 — 1939 when he was a preschooler. Many may remember his mother, Mrs. Adrienne Cole, who taught third, fourth and fifth grades at Carolina Beach Elementary School in the 1940s — 1960s. Robert has moved back to the beach after living away for many years and also led us to Scot Bannerman, grandson of the original owner. At one time Robert and Scot worked together.

Elaine HensonScot Bannerman’s grandfather was Hayden Bannerman; his father was Clifton whose siblings were William, James, Paul, David and Annie Mae Bannerman Marshman. Some of them helped out with the rooming house which was four to five rooms deep, much larger than it looks in the photo. Scot remembers living there all summer in 1967.

His father, aunt and uncles decided to sell the property when his grandfather died. According to tax records, the family sold the property November 21, 1970 to Humble Oil Company who built a service station on the site. Scot still has a door and some other woodwork from the house retrieved from the demolition. He and his family live in Pender County and operate a winery called Bannerman Vineyard.

For the past several years the corner property has been home to many restaurants.

 

From the President: December, 2015

From: Elaine Henson

Last month one of our FPHPS Facebook readers, John McMains, asked about the origin of calling our area “Pleasure Island.” We found a reference to the name in the Bill Reaves Files that led us to the July, 1983 issue of Scene Magazine and an article called Carolina Beach: Past and Present.

 “The name Pleasure Island was adopted in 1972 by the founders of the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce and it includes both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, Hanby Beach, Federal Point, Fort Fisher and Wilmington Beach…..”

(Photo courtesy of the Hugh Morton Collection, Wilson Library, UNC)

(Photo courtesy of the Hugh Morton Collection, Wilson Library, UNC)

 

Please note that a Chamber of Commerce at Carolina Beach had been in operation for quite a while before 1972. It was headquartered behind the Municipal Building that faced Canal Drive and across from the Yacht Basin in a small white concrete block building. It can be seen in this Hugh Morton photo from October, 1954 during Hurricane Hazel.

The Whale of a Beach float was Carolina Beach’s entry in the Azalea Festival parade in April of 1955. The float had been parked at the Chamber building and had survived Hazel.

In the 1955 Azalea Festival parade, local girls in bathing suits rode atop the float. To confirm that the beach had recovered from the devastating category 4 hurricane, they added the wording “More Alive in 55”.

 

From the President: November, 2015

by Elaine HensonElaine Henson

In our September newsletter, I asked for help with the location of the post card of Gray’s Grill, Cottages and Service Station.

Thanks to Bobby and Maxine Nivens for responding with information on the card and sharing some great photos of the same site.

gray's cottage

Click any image – for more detail

Gray’s Grill was located where Burt’s Surf Shop is now at 800 North Lake Park Boulevard. The vacant lot next to the grill is where Spectrum Paint is at 810 N. Lake Park. The two story building with dormers and a gallery railing on the roof was on the present site of the Scotchman Store at 900 N. Lake Park.

There is a house and another grill beyond that. The cottages were behind those buildings that faced the road. Charlie Gray owned it when the photo for the card was taken: the post card is dated c. 1945.

Spur's Cottages #1In the 1950s-60s, Maxine Niven’s mother and stepfather, Carra and Norman “Jim” Spurbeck bought the property with the exception of Gray’s Grill pictured in the card.

They renamed them Spur’s Cottages and rented the eight or nine cottages behind the buildings on the road beginning at $6 a night.

Bobby Nivens remembers them always full on summer weekends. They also operated a grill north of the two story building with dormers and gas pumps called Spur’s Coffee Shop. The grill had a counter and booths inside and also offered curb service with car hops which was very popular in the 50s and 60s.

Spur's Cottages #2Bobby and Maxine lived in the house on the property and helped run the cottages from 1963-1965. In 1966 they ran them with Vito and Ann Martin. The Spurbecks later sold the property to Jim and Mary Burton; other owners followed them until the buildings were torn down.

Spur’s Cottages were on North Lake Park Blvd. where the Scotchman is presently located

There were eight or nine cottages behind the buildings on the road and each had two or three bedrooms and kitchens with refrigerators and gas stoves.