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Sacre bleu! Myrtle Beach sure has changed

Published 5:17pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Where can you find a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop about every four blocks? Where can you find a Wings about every four blocks? Where can you find a golf course about every four miles?

Some of you have figured out the answer: Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Forty years ago at the Grand Strand, there was one Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, no Wings and just a few golf courses. In those days, Myrtle Beach had “the Pavilion.” Many teenage boys and girls met at the Pavilion each night during their visits to Myrtle Beach. Some went out to dance the shag. Others went out to play miniature golf (plenty of miniature golf courses dot the Grand Strand today). Some went to the 11-acre amusement park across the street (Ocean Boulevard) from the Pavilion. The Pavilion offered more than 40 attractions to tempt children and adults.

Alas, the Pavilion and amusement park, with its wood-frame rollercoaster, the Hurricane, no longer can be found in the heart of Myrtle Beach. Their last season was in 2006.

Like grains of sand on the beach being blown away by the wind, they’ve been blown away by development. They’ve been replaced by hotels and condos. What wasn’t blown away by new development was relocated to the Pavilion Nostalgia Park, part of the Broadway at the Beach complex. Those items included the carousel and the Baden Band Organ.

After high-school  graduation, I spent a week at Myrtle Beach. I camped at the nearby state park for about $3 a day. Hey, all I needed was a place to sleep (which I did in a six-man tent), a place to shower and a place to answer the call of nature. It beat paying $30 a night for a motel room.

Yes, the girls were at the motels. But I met a wonderful, older (by three years) French-Canadian woman who was camping (in an RV) at the state park. I put my two years of high-school French to use that week, trying to impress her with my Southern-accented attempts at the French language.

I taught her a few English phrase such as “Y’all” and “You ain’t from around here, are you?” and “cathead biscuit.” I learned that “pommes frite” is French for, well, French fries. I capitalize the first “f” in French fries out of respect for my French-Canadian beach buddy and the French language.

After all, the language that gave us “Sacre bleu!” deserves respect.

Not that it matters — don’t tell the French — but French fries trace their history to Belgium.

I should make a trip to Myrtle Beach next summer, but I believe I would be disappointed by the absence of the Pavilion and the Hurricane.

Then again, there are those Krispy Kreme doughnut shops about every four blocks. Are their “Hot doughnuts” signs on?

Mike Voss is the senior member of the newsroom at the Washington Daily News.

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