From the President: July, 2015

From: Elaine HensonElaine Henson

Last month I wrote about Big Daddy’s at Kure Beach on the corner of K Avenue and Fort Fisher Boulevard. If you look closely you can see that the restaurant was actually two buildings housing a seafood restaurant (behind Tommy Lancaster) and steak house (one story on extreme right) sandwiched together. The family lived upstairs.

In 1963 Tommy Lancaster started out on that corner serving short order food in a much smaller building called the Sea Isle Pavilion. He also had a miniature golf course, an arcade with pool tables and rented motor scooters and bicycles. It quickly became a hangout for local and visiting teenagers. They thought that Tommy resembled the “Big Daddy” character, played by Burl Ives, in the 1958 movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and began calling him by that name. It stuck and he changed the name to Big Daddy’s Pavilion and later it became the name for the new restaurants he built on that same corner.

Big Daddy'sTommy Bryant Lancaster was born in Wayne County on June 20, 1918. As a husband and father, he would take his family to Kure Beach for summer vacations and decided to open a business there which grew into Big Daddy’s Restaurant. His son Bryant Fred Lancaster or “Bud” grew up working in the restaurant at Kure Beach. Tommy bought a restaurant at Lake Norman near Mooresville, NC sight unseen in 1974 and named it Big Daddy’s too.

Bud’s son and Tommy’s grandson, Freddie Lancaster, grew up in the Lake Norman restaurant and is the present owner/operator. Freddie is assisted by his wife Susie and two daughters Sarah and Nikki and son-in-law, Marcus Young.

The family sold the Kure Beach Big Daddy’s in 1981 to Doris and Joe Eakes.

Their patriarch, Tommy Lancaster, died March 28, 1995 in Wayne County and is buried in the Pikeville Cemetery.

Many thanks to Nikki Lancaster Young and her dad, Freddie Lancaster, who are my sources for much of the information in this article.

Downtown Kure Beach Postcard

From the President: June, 2015

Big Daddy's

Tommy “Big Daddy” Lancaster

This summer Big Daddy’s at Kure Beach is open under new management launching a new chapter in its history.

This post card shows Tommy “Big Daddy” Lancaster in front of the original restaurant on the corner of K Avenue and Fort Fisher Boulevard that opened in 1963. The family’s living quarters were upstairs.

Elaine Henson

Elaine Henson

His traveling billboard Cadillac with a real longhorn hood ornament must have turned heads wherever it went enticing diners to try his fare.

Tommy Lancaster was from Pikeville, North Carolina, where there is a Big Daddy’s Road named for him.   He later opened another Big Daddy’s at Lake Norman near Charlotte, NC, which is still in operation, run by his grandson.

 

 

From the President: May, 2015

Elaine Henson

Elaine Henson

This 1961 card shows the Carolina Beach Yacht Basin also called Boat Basin looking south.

Landmarks include the Carolina Beach Lake, Fisherman’s Steel Pier and the Municipal Building just south of the basin. Prior to 1939 when the canal and basin were dredged and widened, Myrtle Grove Sound was a very narrow meandering slough in places.

The dredge spoil created additional building lots and a new street called Canal Drive. Because of the possible instability of the land especially west of the new street, a twenty-five year moratorium was in place before building was allowed.

The canal connected to the Intracoastal Waterway and Snow’s Cut which was completed in 1930, but ocean access for our fishing fleets remained limited to Southport or Masonboro Inlet at Wrightsville Beach.

Carolina Beach Aireal shot

 

From the President: April, 2015

Elaine Henson

Elaine Henson

This is a photo of Carolina Beach’s float in the 1955 Azalea Festival Parade and it says that Carolina is “A Whale of a Beach.”

The same float was in the 1954 parade and was later parked on Carl Winner Avenue across from the yacht basin and beside the Chamber of Commerce Building for all to see.

Whale in HazelIt was there on October 15, 1954 when Category Four Hurricane Hazel blasted our shores; amazingly it survived as you can see in this Hugh Morton photo.

For the ’55 parade they added “More Alive in Fifty-Five” to reassure everyone that Carolina Beach was up and running for beach season and better than ever.

WhaleBack in those days Carolina and Wrightsville Beaches always had floats in the parade, maybe we should do that again!

 

From the President: March, 2015

Elaine Henson

Elaine Henson

This post card is called Beauties on Parade and shows two lucky soldiers flanked on either side with bathing beauties walking along the Carolina Beach boardwalk in the mid-20th century.

CB Boardwalk

Click any image – for higher resolution

In the background are many of the businesses on the boardwalk including the famous Britt’s Do-Nuts, Henderson’s Beach Wear, Benway’s Department Store, The Shooting Gallery and Wave Theater.

 

Under the theater’s marquee flutters a banner announcing to all that there is frosty cool air inside.

This was before the days of central air conditioning in homes and businesses but it was a standard in most theaters.

Many beach goers were enticed to get out of the sun and cool off while watching a movie. On Saturday, June 9, 1960 this was playing:

The Wave

 

From the President: February, 2015

by Elaine Henson

Elaine Henson

Elaine Henson

This card of the Confederate Monument at Fort Fisher is from a photo from the late Hugh Morton. He captured it against the backdrop of the ocean and the blue Carolina sky.

The monument was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in memory of the brave soldiers and their battles defending the fort from 1861-1865.

The granite block in the foreground is inscribed “Our Unknown Confederate Soldier”

Battle Acre MonumentThe monument was dedicated on June 2, 1932 with ceremonies that included NC Governor O. Max Gardner, UDC President Mrs. Glenn Long and four veterans from the war.

The original dedication date of May 18th was moved to June 2nd to coincide with the completion and dedication of the Inland Waterway (now called the Intracoastal Waterway) at the urging of Louis T. Moore and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.

It was reported that there was also a number of cows in attendance who mooed during the ceremony reminding us that the land around the fort was still a rural area in 1932.

 

From the President: January, 2015

<i>Elaine Henson</i>

Elaine Henson

by Elaine Henson

Since this month marks the 150th anniversary of the fall of Fort Fisher, I chose cards that depict the battle and its site.

As always, my good friend and FPHPS member, Dr. Chris Fonvielle, was my consultant on these and most any question I might have on the Civil War.

 

Naval bombardment of Fort Fisher

Naval bombardment of Fort Fisher

This card shows the naval bombardment of Fort Fisher. [Click image for hi-res]

At the far left on the horizon, you can see the Mound Battery.

According to Dr. Fonvielle, this image was taken from a drawing by T. F. Laycock and produced as a lithograph by Endicott of New York, NY.

On the bottom left, C.W. Yates was a Wilmington photographer who owned a shop on Market Street where he sold his work and that of others, stationary, post cards and office supplies.

 

Fort Fisher Postcard

Northeast Bastion – Fort Fisher

This white border card, postmarked in 1924, shows the Northeast Bastion where the sea and land faces met. On January 15, 1865 the fort was attacked from the ocean side by U.S. Naval forces.

Under the leadership of Colonel William Lamb and General W.H.C. Whiting, 500 Confederate soldiers actually turned back the 2,000 sailors and Marines. At the same time 4,700 Union soldiers attacked from the land face and ultimately prevailed resulting in the surrender of the fort.

 

Last month I shared a post card of Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church when it was on Charlotte Avenue. The first service in this building was held on March 17, 1946. The church’s web site has a link to their history under “About Us/History”. It is very interesting; check it out at www.cbpresby.com

 

From the President: December, 2014

Presbyterian Church - 205 Charlotte Aveby Elaine Henson

This card shows the Carolina Beach Presbyterian Church at 205 Charlotte Avenue.

The first service in this building was held on March 17, 1946.  The congregation worshiped there until they built a new church at 1209 North Lake Park Boulevard which was dedicated November 10, 1985.  The church’s web site has an interesting link detailing their history.  Check it out at www.cbpresby.com – under “About Us / History”.

Steeple Restaurant 1987 adThe old church was converted into a restaurant in the mid-1980s by Pete Herring.  He named it The Steeple Restaurant and Lounge and was the chef there for a number of years.

Pete was the son of Allen Herring and Juniata Bame Herring who owned and operated the Center Pier and Ocean View Restaurant. Juanita was also the librarian at Roland Grice Junior High School.  Pete’s grandparents were J.R. Bame and Mandy Ludwig Bame, owners of the Bame Hotel.

 

J.Council'sThe converted church became J. Council’s French American Restaurant and Lounge in the late 90s and later the popular Deck House Restaurant we know today.

 

 

 

 

From the President: November, 2014

Click - More Detail

Click – More Detail

by Elaine Henson

This card gives us a glimpse of downtown Carolina Beach in the early 1940s at the corner of Lake Park Boulevard and Harper Avenue.

The building on the right is the Carolina Beach Drugstore showing its distinctive battlement parapet; some of the druggists who operated it over the years were Luther Bunch, Wilbur Adams, Neil and Nancy Adams Musselwhite and former mayor Neil Pharr.

You can see a sign near the street which confirms that the drug store also housed a bus station during WWII and beyond. Laney Real Estate now occupies the former drug store.

Carolina Beach’s post office, at that time, was located in the tan building across the street called Brewer’s Inn. Bank of America and its parking lot are now in that spot.

The three and a half story building just left of the drug store (on the card) was Risley’s Cottages and Rooms. It was on the corner of Harper Avenue and Canal Drive and had a grocery store on the bottom level. It sat across the street from the Royal Palm Hotel on the southwest corner of Harper and Canal.

The Royal Palm was remodeled and reopened as the Hotel Astor in 1983. The Astor burned in 2005; its site remains a vacant lot used by the amusement rides in the summer season.

From the President: October, 2014

Elaine Henson

Elaine Henson

Shoe Fly at Pavilion PostcardIn 1887 the pavilion in this postcard opened to excursionists at Carolina Beach. It was located near the end of Harper Avenue on the ocean. That street was named for Captain John Harper, a steamboat captain and one of the partners of the New Hanover Transit Company that operated the new resort.

Captain Harper brought the beach visitors from Wilmington down the Cape Fear River by steamer to a wharf first at Sugar Loaf and later Doctor’s Point. At the wharf they boarded the Shoo Fly train for the rest of the trip to the sea beach with the train taking them right to the back door of the pavilion.

Henry Bonitz, who designed the famous Lumina at Wrightsville Beach, also designed the 1887 pavilion at Carolina Beach. It burned in 1910 and was replaced in the same location with a new pavilion also designed by Bonitz that opened in 1911. This post card shows the 1911 building with swings, slides and other playground equipment for the kiddies.

On the Beach PostcardThe pavilion was the center of activity at the beach during the season with a bath house where you could rent bathing suits and get a shower after a dip in the ocean.

Evenings and weekend afternoons, orchestras played for dancing and concerts. Holiday activities and celebrations were also held there, even boxing exhibitions.

On September 19, 1940 a fire began in the pavilion that destroyed it and over two blocks of the boardwalk including the Bame Hotel.

Amazingly the boardwalk businesses rebuilt in time for the opening of the 1941 season earning the nickname “The South’s Miracle Beach”.

Interestingly, the arcade that burned September 25, 2014 was in the same location as the pavilions and was one of those buildings reconstructed in 1941.

Both fires were in September and 73 years apart, thankfully our recent one was way less serious.