Oral History – Andy Canoutas – Part 2: ‘A Kid in Kure Beach’

by Ann Hertzler

Downtown Kure Beach 1965

Downtown Kure Beach 1965

A kid in Kure Beach had a better life in the 40s than today. No TV, just radio.

Andy was the first life guard at Kure Beach when he was 15 (1950). He was paid by businesses in the center of town, and later by the town. His guard zone was south of the pier from the first jetty to the next jetty. Jetties were built to prevent erosion but aren’t allowed now. Tourists stayed in cottages. The beach got pretty crowded where Andy was because people wanted a life guard.

Parents looked after the little ones. The wild ones were 8, 9, 10, or 11 year old boys. A buoy helped rescue people from rip currents; a whistle warned people who were going out too far. Some swam at Wilmington Beach and Hanby Beach.

Andy enjoyed fishing on the pier – Spanish Mackerel, Blues, Pompano, Spots. As he got older, he enjoyed motor boats. He fished by net or seine for shrimp in Masonboro Creek or Hewlett’s Creek up next to a mud bank where shrimp like to stay. Andy did diving with air tanks and scuba gear on Civil War blockade runners bringing up artifacts – tin and lead bars with the name of the London Company. Lead was needed for sinkers.

After a big 5-day nor’easter in the 50s, Andy was at Ft Fisher at the monument where the Seven Sisters shipwreck had gone down. The Modern Greece shipwreck was where the old Ft Fisher pier used to be. Divers came up with lead bars, tin bars, Enfield rifles, and crates. The Preservation Lab was started to cure these things – Johnny Muller and also Leslie Bright. Near Zeke’s Island, you’ll see an old rusted wreck – the USS Raleigh.

Andy worked at a service station on the NE corner of K Avenue for a while – pumped gas and changed tires and oil. Boys had pegged pants and duck tails. High school boys in the 50s were beeping around in surplus Jeeps. Everybody carried a chain in the back to pull cars out stuck in the sand for $20. Dating was a movie at Carolina Beach or the Monkey Junction drive-in; then to Stromboli’s Italian Restaurant about where Alford’s Seafood is now. Wintertime you had a steady girlfriend but kinda played the field in the summer.