Tanya Binford: Crossing the Wake

By Nancy Gadzuk

Tanya Binford, author of Crossing the Wake: One woman’s Great Loop Adventure spoke at the August 21, 2017 meeting of the History Center. She talked about her experiences traveling the 5,000 mile Great Loop Cruise Route around the eastern United States in a 25-foot Ranger tug motor boat. Alone.

Usually I take copious notes during our History Center meetings, but Tanya’s presentation was so spellbinding all I could do was listen with my mouth open in awe. Fortunately, Tanya also wrote a fascinating memoir to provide backup for the notes I didn’t take, and I recommend reading Crossing the Wake for an in-depth look at her trip.

Tanya dreamed of learning to sail, even though she spent most of her life in Arizona. She didn’t want to wait until she was able to retire to pursue her dream.

“Sometimes we have to make the adventure,” she said. At the age of 45, she decided to take a year off when she turned 50 to pursue the dream. Fortunately, she had a job she could do from anywhere that had a good Internet connection. She drew a line on a map from her home in Arizona due east and it led to Southport, North Carolina.

Once in Southport, she made every mistake a beginning boater could make, bought several boats that weren’t right for her, realized sailing was too difficult to do solo, and finally ended up with a 25 foot ranger tug motor boat.

She decided to travel America’s Great Loop Cruise Route, through the Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Approximately 100 boats make the loop each year, but most of them are much, much larger than hers, and very few people make the trip solo.

One of the frightening parts of her presentation was her description of going through close to 100 locks on the canal system along the route, where she was surrounded by much larger commercial vessels in a tight-fitting trough of moving water. She frequently needed to be in two places at the same time, holding a line on one side of the boat while doing something on the other.

Any long boat trip requires time, money, and energy for boat repairs. At one point, Tanya limped into a marina for a needed engine repair. (An impeller, whatever that is.) Tanya was working with Bob, the marina owner, on the repair and she was trying to get a bolt attached somewhere on the engine.

Bob asked what was taking her so long, and she yelled from under the engine, “I’m screwing as hard as I can! Can’t you feel it?”

There was silence until Bob said, “I’ve never had a woman say that to me before,” and they both burst out laughing.

A sense of humor is also useful for any adventure.

 

Gil Burnett – Memories of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Click image – to view images & videos

Want to take a walk along the new and improved Carolina Beach Boardwalk?

And learn something about its history from master storyteller and long-time resident Gil Burnett while you’re there?

Click the image or follow this link to a series of pictures from a recent History Center walk with the retired Chief Justice Court Judge. Click or tap on any image in the photo series to view images in full screen mode.

Video clips capture Gil’s experience as a 12-year-old setting up a successful sno-ball operation on the Boardwalk and provide some background on the evolution of shagging in Carolina Beach.

See you on the Boardwalk!

 

Newton Homesite and Cemetery

Report By: Linda and Bob Newton

Newton Graveyard & Homesite SignThe Newton Homesite and Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1997, thereby providing it with the protection of both Federal and State laws.

 Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

This four-acre site which is owned by the Federal government and maintained by the Department of the Army (MOTSU) is located between the Cape Fear River and Dow Road in an area adjacent and south of the Federal Point Methodist Cemetery. It consists of both an eighteenth to early nineteenth century homeplace and a cemetery containing grave markers with the surnames of Newton, Craig, Dosher, and Grissom, all well known early settlers of the area who become river and blockade runner pilots.

FP Methodist Cemetery Entrance RoadOral reports maintain that up to 40 markers may have existed there at one time and one deed references a “colored people’s graveyard” adjacent to it. Newspaper articles have suggested that the “Meeting House” and cemetery left by Edward Newton, Jr. in his will dated 1844 could be the site of the oldest Methodist Church in the State of North Carolina.

This site is significant as an example of early regional settlement which can also be associated with the region’s early maritime industries as it represents one of the earliest Euro-Amenican domestic settlements discovered on the east side of the lower Cape Fear River.

Newton Cemetery - National Register of Historic Places Sign - 1997

Newton Cemetery – National Register of Historic Places – 1997
(click)

It is one of only a handful of domestic sites which have been identified from the early settlement period of the Cape Fear peninsula, and it is one of only two sites identified as a small plantation associated with the eighteenth through early nineteenth century in this region, and it is one of only four possible maritime-related sites identified in Federal Point. Data from this site would serve as excellent comparative material in conjunction with other sites in the area such as Brunswick Town and the lighthouse keeper’s site on Battlefield Acre.

Members of the newly formed Cemetery Committee have attended three meetings with representatives from MOTSU, St. Paul’s Methodist Church and the Newton family to discuss the use, protection, restrictions and restoration of the site. In response to a letter written by David Brooks, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, to Colonel Toal, dated July 24, 1997, a meeting, was held July 31, 1997, and directions were given for short-term protection of the site against continuing ground disturbing activities which could damage or destroy archeological elements within the site.

The Society was asked to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) outlining restrictions for the care and use of the site. On September 30, 1997, after review by Society member, Attorney Gleason Allen, a proposed MOA concerning the preservation, maintenance and restoration of the site was signed by President Cheri McNeill and forwarded to MOTSU.

Newton Cemetery Historic Site

Newton Cemetery Historic Site
(click)

In a letter, dated October 6, 1997, from MOTSU, receipt of the MOA was confirmed and states that review by the State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington is in progress and should be complete in several months. Until the MOA is signed, preservation activities may be pursued on an individual basis with the permission of MOTSU.

The Society now maintains a Cemetery Fund to be used in the care and maintenance of the cemetery and any donated amount would be greatly appreciated. The Committee is working on gathering funds for constructing a picket fence and posting signage. Individuals wishing to donate to the Cemetery Fund to help with these projects, contact Darlene Bright.

[Text originally published in the November, 1997 – FPHPS Newsletter with images added in 2015]

 

[Additional current Newton Cemetery resources]

Memorial: Linda and Bob Newton

Oral History – Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church (adjacent to Newton Cemetery)

View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – and the adjacent Newton Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014

Complete listing of the tombstones in the Newton Homesite & Cemetery (2007)

 

 

The Ocean Plaza

Ocean Plaza - SlapdashBy Leslie Bright & Daniel Norris

Eugene and Marie Reynolds known as Mom and Pop, knew better days were coming as World War II ended in 1945 and soldiers were coming home. Big bands were the rave of the day and the new money could be made on the north end of the Boardwalk of Carolina Beach with the building of a large enough facility to house big bands and large crowds.

The Reynolds had purchased four and a half lots and a bowling alley on the northeast corner of Harper Avenue and Carolina Beach Avenue North in August 1942, from L. M. Massey. [2015: current construction site of The Hampton Inn and Suites]. They decided to remove the bowling alley and make this the footprint for their new Ocean Plaza building.

The building would contain a bathhouse and café on the first floor; a large cabaret or ballroom with bandstand area on the second floor; and a small apartment on the third floor. Work began to build the Ocean Plaza after the beach season of 1945 and continued through the winter and spring of 1946 under the direction of Mr. Shirley, a local contractor.

Once completed, the Ocean Plaza was a sight to behold. It became the new “Crown Jewel” of the Carolina Beach boardwalk. It was opened for business on May 31, 1946, which was Memorial Day weekend.

Bill Grassick and his orchestra, featuring the lovely singer, Betty McHugh, performed to an audience who paid $2.00 per person to attend. Even though the big band era was waning, the Ocean Plaza remained the center of activity as new trends changed musical entertainment.

The Reynolds sold the Ocean Plaza around 1950 and it changed hands several times before May 1961 when E. F. Courie Sr. and his wife, Rosabelle, purchased the property.

Through the years, many notable entertainers performed to large crowds at the Ocean Plaza. Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checkers, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and The Embers, to mention a few, attracted audiences from all over.

The Jitterbug, bob, shag, rock & roll, twist and every variety of dance imagined occurred at the Ocean Plaza through the years.

With growth and development of better lodging facilities, the need for a bathhouse on the boardwalk diminished. The bathhouse at the Ocean Plaza was converted into a night club.

During the 80’s and 90’s the entire boardwalk fell into decline causing neglect to many of its structures.

In spite of the decline, the Ocean Plaza remained open struggling at times to do so. The Courie family, including sons, Eli Jr. and Louis, continued ownership until April 1993, when the Ocean Plaza was sold to Leslie and Darlene Bright and son, Sam Bright.

The second floor ballroom was renovated again and opened after several years of inactivity as the private club, Wranglers Dance Hall and Saloon, and later as the Shag Club.

The Brights sold Ocean Plaza to Robert Russo on January 31, 2000 and his Club Tropics was installed on the second floor. Mr. Russo operated Ocean Plaza until April 5, 2006, when he sold to Russ Maynard.

Leslie Bright – Federal Point Historic Preservation Society
From:  Carolina Beach, NC – Images & Icons of a Bygone Era

Source:  SlapDash Publishing, LLC, 2006

Construction begins on boardwalk hotel at Carolina Beach – 2015/02/03

 


OCEAN PLAZA T-SHIRTS –   Only available at the Federal Point History Center!

http://federal-point-history.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Gift-Shop-4.jpgThe OP’s gone but not forgotten. But we still have our CLASSIC Ocean Plaza T-shirts and Sweatshirts.

We’ve ordered a variety of sizes and they come in sky blue and daisy yellow.

They make great gifts or mementos and are sure to start a conversation with every ol’timer you meet.