Fond Memories

By Leslie Moore

Fond Memories

Mel Divine, Simply Divine

As a rare Grand Strand native, share one or two of your favorite memories of growing up here.

I think it’s about living in a small town. There was something special about everyone knowing me – my daddy was a small businessman and very well known. And, I loved the opportunities of living in an emerging town, like Myrtle Beach was in the ‘40s and ‘50s – all the young girls thought they were beauty queens. When the Sun Fun Festival started, I got to ride on a float with Miss America and thought nothing of it. I thought all girls got to do that. We just took it for granted.

I was at the train station when the Time Life people arrived (Time Magazine). They were coming to Pine Lakes Clubhouse to start Sports Illustrated. We met them on a float, in bathing suits, with the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce people. What those men in three piece suits thought I’ll never know! I think the pictures are still on the wall at Pine Lakes Clubhouse.

What do you miss the most about the Grand Strand of your childhood?

The loss of the downtown distresses me the most about Myrtle Beach – and the loss of the Pavilion. There’s no focal point downtown anymore. I miss that because I grew up with Daddy’s store on 8th Avenue, right across from Chapin Company – everyone shopped there. I was quoted years ago, right after I moved back here, about how distressed I was about the loss of the Ocean Forest Hotel. That was such a point of pride. You had the Ocean Forest Hotel and Brookgreen Gardens – those were the places you took your guests to impress them!

Today, I’m very proud of CCU! My neighbor is the basketball coach – I go to all the games with his wife and sit on the front row. I love seeing so many athletic scholars – they don’t just play the game well, they are excelling academically.

How old were you when you first began to love the retail business?

As a young 14, 15 and 16 year old, I worked in my father’s sporting goods store and, for a year or two during the summer, we opened a beachwear store that my mother, sister and I managed. It was great experience for a young girl. There weren’t any real beachwear shops then – the salesman would come in the winter with his “model,” and they would have to stay with us! There were no motels open during the winter. It was a closed-up place.

I loved watching my father work, and that’s where I learned to love retail. Daddy made everybody feel that he’d been waiting all day for them to come in. He was one of the originals – a Myrtle Beach City Councilman, and one of the group of businessmen that started Coastal Federal Savings & Loan.

How can you and Simply Divine help our readers look and feel their best?

Wear pretty colors. Black or black and white are wonderful, but they don’t make you feel that good. Throw on a lime or fuchsia scarf, or other accent and change the way you feel. We get a lot of Canadians that come in the shop and go crazy over my colorful clothes because they can’t get them in Canada.

Always try on your clothes. Don’t take for granted that it’s going to fit. And don’t be afraid of paying a seamstress to make it fit. It’s worth every penny.

Ask for advice in the store when you’re shopping. I’m known as the most outspoken sales clerk around – don’t ask Mel if you don’t want her truth. If I don’t want to sell it to you because I don’t like it on you, I’ll tell you. I do love to help you accessorize. If you already have something, and you’re not sure what to do with it, bring it in and we will match it with a top, bottom, scarf or pin – we’ll find something that makes you happier with it.

I’m 77, and three years ago I took up art. I knew I had a good color sense, but I’ve never painted in my life, and I discovered that I have a talent! And people pay for it. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting down with my watercolors or acrylics. I am the only person who has to be happy with what I paint. I’m the only one I have to please.

Visit Mel at Simply Divine Fashions & Art, located across fromFresh Market in the Sweetgrass Shops, or call 843-235-0520.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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