Oral History – Brenda Coffey – Part 2: ‘Kids in Kure Beach’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Brenda Coffey

Brenda Coffey

Brenda went to elementary school at Carolina Beach for grades 1 through 6. The children caught the school bus on the corner at Canoutas’ Restaurant which next stopped in Carolina Beach. All the Beach children, probably 25, were bussed to Sunset Park for 7th, 8th and 9th grade crossing over the swing bridge. Everyone sang. The children threw wadded paper but the boys always got caught. Brenda went to New Hanover High School graduating in 1959. The trip was 55 minutes into school and the same amount of time home at night.

Mr. Andrew Kure walked through the little alley way between Fundy’s Restaurant and Canoutas’ buildings and dropped coins for Brenda to find almost every day– a penny, a nickel, or a dime. That was a lot of money then. He would wait and see Brenda’s reaction when she would pick it up. She didn’t know he was dropping it until much later.

What did kids do? Brenda was allowed to go to the beach in the day time, but not after dark. Brenda loved to play miniature golf at Big Daddy’s corner as did all of the kids from the beach. They’d say, let’s all go to the beach and they would all go down carrying their blankets. You always carried a blanket. Nobody had chairs. No one had cars. They might go body surfing. Fishing was a main thing. There was always somebody to play with or some place to go. They’d play in the water, go for walks on the beach, look for shells, sit out on the pier, just talk, and be a teen. It was an innocent time.

The Trading Center

The Trading Center

Teenagers went to the little dance hall beside Smitty’s seafood restaurant. You walked down the narrow alley way and in the back, out of doors, was a jute box. All during the summer, the kids would dance there from 6 or 7 o’clock until 10 or 10:30; and so would visiting kids. It was all free. There was no alcohol. Most of the time they didn’t have anything to drink. They just talked and laughed and danced.

When the girls were down there, a father was somewhere close by. Adults would dance there or be along the street talking or sitting somewhere keeping an eye on what was happening.

Kids did other things too, especially in the late 40s and early 50s. During the winter there was nobody in Kure Beach so they would block off the down town section on K toward the pier. No one could take a car in. Adults were always around. Children could roller skate there during the day, holding hands and playing something called crack-the-whip. If you were on the end, you got it because they would go real fast and then turn you loose. And you didn’t know where you were going. They also had street dances.

When Brenda was a teenager, she worked in the summer about 1954 in a retail store – The Trading Center – Beachwear & Novelties. The store was owned by the Cooks and was on the side of the street where Bud and Joes bar is. Mrs. Cook’s father was one of the mayors – Mr. Lowder. Brenda also worked at Carolina Beach in a little shop up on the boardwalk.