Notes for Newcomers

By Phil La Borie

Notes for Newcomers

In my latest “Notes” article, I introduced, perhaps more accurately

“re-introduced” Sasee readers to women, (both past and present) in the Grand Strand area who have contributed so much to our local culture and history.

Since space is somewhat limited for these articles, it was a difficult choice, believe me; to select just a few female contributors from the many who have made their mark on this area.

As promised in that earlier column, we now turn to their male counterparts. Again, some very difficult decisions had to be made. But make them I did, and here are my choices for memorable local “personalities,” some famous, some infamous.

First of all, let’s start with the infamous, namely, Drunken Jack.

Current accounts vary considerably about just who Jack was and his story, but basically the tale revolves around an 18th century pirate who was marooned by his shipmates on a deserted island somewhere along the Grand Strand. And, just for good measure his former pirate pals supposedly left him with a copious amount of rum! Now exactly where this mysterious island was, or is, and precisely how much rum was involved remains somewhat hazy – to say nothing of Jack’s brain!

From the fanciful, we turn now to the fruitful, specifically to Archer Milton Huntington, who along with his wife Anna Hyatt Huntington founded the present day Brookgreen Gardens, located south of Murrells Inlet on Route 17 in Georgetown County.

The Gardens, which are now a nationally recognized attraction for locals and tourists alike were originally comprised of four rice plantations that the Huntington’s purchased as a showcase for Anna and her sister Harriet’s sculptures. Brookgreen was opened in 1932 and was the first public sculpture garden in America. The grounds cover more than 9,100 acres and contain about 1,444 outdoor sculptures along with nature trails and garden areas. In addition, the Lowcountry Zoo and Lowcountry Center are also located on the grounds.

And continuing in the arts, we come now to perhaps Murrells Inlet’s most famous long-time resident – Mickey Spillane. Mickey was the creator of the famous Mike Hammer detective stories, one of the most enduring fictional creations in the detective genre. Mickey produced more than 30 novels in the Hammer series, and often had more than one work going at a time – each written in a separate room in his house. According to our esteemed Sasee editor, Leslie Moore, “He (Mickey) was a very nice man!” In fact, when Leslie was a college student and a part-time waitress, she waited on Mickey and friends. Leslie reports that, “He was a good tipper too!”

I find it fascinating that someone who could create such a “hardboiled” character like Mike Hammer could in real life be such a gentle soul. For more information and insights on Mickey’s remarkable life and times, I refer you to Jane Spillane’s book, My Life with Mickey.

Our next personality is former Heavyweight Boxing Champion, James “Bonecrusher” Smith. The Champ is a native of Magnolia, North Carolina, and a graduate of Shaw University in Raleigh. He became the WBA Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1986 and because James was a college graduate, he was the first in that distinguished category to win a World Boxing Heavyweight title.

Today, the Champ heads an international mentoring program for middle school students. The Program is called Champion for Kids and is designed to mentor students to remain in school and continue their education. A fantasy camp and fund-raising fight event featuring “Bonecrusher” will be held on Saturday, October 25, 2014, at the X Gym, 568 George Bishop Parkway, Myrtle Beach. You can get more information on his website, www.championforkids.org.

Turning to the world of culinary delights, from the many outstanding restaurateurs and chefs in our area, I’ve selected Jerome Lorenzo Smalls, a.k.a. “Bubba Love.”

According to his website, Bubba began his culinary career at the age of six helping his mother in the kitchen at Oliver’s Lodge. He got his nickname “Bubba” from his sisters when he was quite young and received his second nickname, “Love” from an elderly woman who asked him to create a BBQ sauce that “wasn’t too spicy.” When asked how he’d made the sauce, he replied, “With Love.” That name has stuck to this day. Bubba has always maintained “the world would be a better place if everyone remembered that “Patience is a virtue, and the color of one’s skin does not matter; it’s what’s in the heart that counts.”

Amen to that.

No tale of this area’s personalities would be complete without a good ghost story, and for that we turn to the case of “The Gray Man.” The story has a tragic beginning, but a happy ending.

It seems during the 1800s that a young man was returning to Pawleys Island after some time away, and his fiancée was eagerly awaiting his return. He was riding his horse from Georgetown to the Island and in his haste to see his love, took a shortcut across the marsh.

Unfortunately, both he and his horse stepped in quicksand and were killed.

His fiancée was so distraught, she was walking the beach when a man in gray appeared and told her to leave the island immediately. According to local lore, this apparition warns Pawleys Island residents to flee the island when a hurricane is approaching.

The young lady heeded his warning and left the island just before a hurricane struck! Since that first sighting, numerous accounts of a man dressed all in gray have appeared along with his dire warning. Since our first hurricane of the season arrived in June, I’m wondering if any of our readers saw the Gray Man? Love to hear from you if you did.

That’s it for this quick look at just some of Horry and Georgetown Counties’ many influential personalities. Keep an eye out for the next “Notes” article, who knows what I’ll uncover that may be of interest to newcomers?

About this writer

  • Phil La Borie Phil La Borie is an award-winning writer/artist based in Garden City, South Carolina. His work has been published in AdWeek, The Kaiser-Permanente Journal, Westworld Magazine and online at smilesforall.com. Phil is the 2015 winner of the Alice Conger Patterson Award offered through the Emrys Foundation. He can be reached at plaborie@voxinc.net.

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