‘Historic Myrtle Beach’

One of the pitfalls of being attention-span-deprived (and also one of the blessings, since it makes life so much more entertaining), is that the smallest thing can cause me to miss entirely the "important" parts of a message or document or presentation or whatever. I’m always too busy digging the one little thing that grabbed my attention.

Today, when I read this from the S.C. Republican Party…


2008 South Carolina Republican Party Presidential Candidates Debate media credential request form released
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Republican Party today released the 2008 South Carolina Republican Party Presidential Candidates Debate media credential request form…
    “We are extremely excited to extend a warm South Carolina welcome to journalists from across the country and the world to our historic event,” said South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson.  “Last May, our debate attracted hundreds of members of the media worldwide, but this next debate will attract even more.  Journalists understand the significance of having a debate just nine days before our primary election, and they know the 2008 presidential election could be decided on our stage that night.”
    In August, the South Carolina Republican Party announced that it had partnered with FOX News Channel to present a live, nationally-televised Republican Party presidential candidates debate on Thursday, January 10, 2008, in historic Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The debate will be held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center….

… the only thing I got out of it was "historic Myrtle Beach."

What an odd modifier to choose. "Historic Charleston," sure. "Historic Beaufort," certainly. Maybe even "historic Columbia," although that’s a stretch.

But Myrtle Beach? Historic? There are other modifiers I could think of, both complimentary and un-, but that one wouldn’t crowd out the others on the mad rush to the tip of my tongue.

And yet, when I think about it (which I can’t help doing, such is my curse and blessing), I realize that in terms of history that is truly relevant to my life, the moniker sort of works — if you think of "history" as the changes that come with passage through time.

Charleston is what it was when I lived there as a baby. "Historic," but in a static way — sort of frozen in time, like a museum exhibit. Yes, Joe Riley has done a lot to make it better, but a lot of what he’s done has been to revitalize what was once there — essentially, to make the museum livable, vibrant and dynamic.

But Myrtle Beach has been like America — a rowdy, hand-over-fist, unruly thing growing and changing like a weed and just as ugly, but always with an eye to what the people want right NOW. (And yes, the America I love is many other things as well, but this is a facet of America.)

I remember when there was the Pavilion amusement park and arcade, Chapin’s department store, and ONE hamburger joint, as far as what I took notice of…

It was the place kids growing up in South Carolina wanted to go, a la "Shag: The Movie." A generation before the time when that movie was set, the place we think of essentially didn’t exist. Then, it was the center of this youth culture, the one place in South Carolina that reflected the Southern California car culture of "American Graffiti." It was also a low-rent but picturesque resort of homey, idiosyncratic hotels and shacks and bungalows — a far more warm, inviting place than what it became after Hugo, with nine identical "houses" on stilts jammed together on a lot that previously would have held one battered low-slung getaway.

In the early 80s, the growth started to metastasize, the scrubby foliage that once surrounded beach homes giving way to condos by the thousand. And the equally scrubby stuff that gave the place its charm started disappearing. For me, the greatest blow came when the little family-oriented amusement park down in Surfside gave way to a high-rise Days Inn, but for most of us the ultimate crash didn’t hit until after the turn of the century, with the demolition of the Pavilion at the heart of the city itself.

It’s history that has certain visual styles to accompany each phase of my life, old pictures you can dig through like archaeologists  digging through strata of an abandoned aboriginal village.

So yeah, I guess "historic" works.


One thought on “‘Historic Myrtle Beach’

  1. weldon VII

    Myrtle Beach is historic in a personal way. Visitors can leave with vivid memories that won’t make a history book.
    Otherwise, the old golf courses are becoming condos so people can have a place to stay while they play the new golf courses.
    Everyone should visit the Tomb of the Unknown Golfer, though. It’s mystery history.


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