Posted by: dharmabeachbum | March 14, 2013

Happy birthday, Myrtle Beach

At 75, Myrtle Beach is still in its infancy, suffering from growing pains. The city held a righteous celebration this past week, toasting its 1938 incorporation. My invitation got lost in the mail, but I’m hoisting my Foster’s lager in the emptiness of my humble abode. Cheers.

Over 14 million yearly visitors can’t be wrong. Myrtle Beach — the Grand Strand, in the bigger picture — is aesthetically beautiful. A natural wonder. A great place for friends and family to gather, revel, and bask in the glory that is the great salt pond.

Sure, I complain about the local government sometimes. Why? Somebody has to. The local newspaper, The Daily Fishwrapper, is adequate. Actually, I’m on record as saying that the Fishwrapper is the best source for regional news. But it isn’t critical enough of my city’s glaring shortcomings to suit me. Its advertising revenues depend too much on the powers-that-be for it to be shooting from the hip the way I do. That’s understandable.

Nevertheless, I’m still a journalist at heart. While attending Williamsport Area Community College in Pennsylvania eons ago, I was taught in Tony Cillo’s journalism classes that the media serves as a watchdog of democracy. I wear that collar proudly. My beloved mother, the best in the world, even tells me to back off sometimes. So it’s okay if y’all want to yank on my leash from time to time. My skin is thick.

This city has so much to offer — water parks, Family Kingdom, the SkyWheel, golf courses, shopping complexes, fishing piers, retail outlets, the new boardwalk, dinner theaters, nightclubs and gift shops. My personal favorite attraction is Ripley’s Aquarium. My mecca: the fossil cove in the Gay Dolphin.

Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand is a fossil collector’s paradise. There aren’t many places in this world that one can walk a few hundred yards and find natural treasures that are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years old. Hence, this 60-mile stretch of golden sand will have a special place in my heart till it’s my turn to take the eternal dirt nap.

Yes, I’m too critical sometimes. Sue me. You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip. My small but faithful readership understands, hopefully, my rebelliousness. One time I was even wrong. Maybe twice. That’s not going to stop me from being like my favorite reptile, the turtle (my high school nickname), and sticking out my neck. I do so for the betterment of the community that I hold so dearly.

Yeah, I’ll always be a recovering Yankee. As someone who refuses to leave, I’m a damn Yankee. But there are countless reasons that I still live here after 14 years.

I love you Myrtle Beach. Happy birthday.



  1. i haven’t been to the gay dolphin , since i was little and it was old then…i used
    to make twirl o paint pictures.
    i don’t know which aquarium it was here, if there is only one, but my boyfriend said ok, you’ve seen , baltimore and d.c.three were not enough.
    my mother and father ate at lee’s inlet kitchen , 40 years before i was born.i want their hushpuppy’s so much, right now.

    • Hey, errin. How ya doing? If you were to walk into the Gay Dolphin now, it would probably look pretty much the same to you — with some of the same merchandise that you saw still on shelves. It’s incredible to me that they can fit that much stuff (in many cases, junk) in one place. I think I remember those paint things. They even have a fake, life-size sarcophagus and a lot of things you look at and say, “Who would even want that — much less pay for it?” lol. But it does have some cool nautical stuff and, of course, the fossil cove.

      • how are you?they did have a lot of stuff in one place. i still have a tiny license plate , probably for a bicycle, with my name on was the only place i ever found my name. i wonder if they have one with dharma on it now.

      • That’s strange. I was thinking about those license plates when I wrote my blog. I’ll have to look for a dharma plate there. Thanks for the idea.

      • i think that would be the best place.
        i have been thinking about the aquarium. was that here in 1999 and is that the only aquarium here?i don’t know why there would be more than asking to see if that is where i was.

      • Yeah, errin, I think that was about the time it opened. Maybe a few years before that. But I moved here in ’99, and I’m pretty sure it was here.

      • thank-you dharma!

  2. I was just at the Gay Dolphin two weeks ago. Looks like they are stocking up for tourist season, lots of new junk! When my mother was alive, I would buy her a sand dollar magnet painted by the gentleman downstairs each time I went there. His wife worked there as well and she told me the story of how they ended up moving there many years ago. He is a minister and fills in for churches whose ministers go on vacation. I knew his wife was ill and when I was there one of the employees told me that she had just recently passed. I went to give him my condolences but he wasn’t there that day. I didn’t get back to talk to him. I feel bad about that. I do have a nice collection of sand dollars on my refrigerator now. A little something that makes me feel good to look at.

    • Cindy, I remember those sand dollars and I vaguely remember a guy sitting there painting them and talking with him. I’m talking 20 or so years ago. I laughed when you said they are reloading with junk. How true. That’s the beauty of that store. They have just enough decent merchandise mixed in with a wide variety of odd, sometimes unique, stuff. The Gay Dolphin is definitely one of a kind.

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