Recently I had the opportunity to return to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
, for the first time in 35 years. When I was a child in the 1960's, my parents took the family there all the time. It was absolute magic to me. If you like a big bustling beach experience, it is still the place to go. It's so big that it's nickname is "The Grand Strand."
Even in the 60's, I remember that there were so many people at this beach that traffic was tremendous and the infrastructure stayed overloaded all summer. Making a simple telephone call involved waiting minutes for a dial tone as the phone system constantly reeled from the sheer numbers of people. That persists to this day in that cell phone data hardly works at Myrtle Beach. I could barely get 500kb of wireless data to come or go while I was recently there. There are just so many people. If you want to be alone, it's not the place to go. Don't count on doing much mobile web browsing. Get on down to the beach.
One of my fondest memories of this beach is a huge old gift shop called The Gay Dolphin Gift Cove
. After 35 years, I was surprised to see that it is still there, still booming, and still run by the same family. It has been there since 1946. It was destroyed once in 1954 by Hurricane Hazel and has survived many others since then.
With multiple floors packed to the gills with crazy stuff, it was the most magic place for a kid at the most magic of places, Myrtle Beach.Image #1:
Walking down Ocean Boulevard, the same sign that greeted me as a child in the 1960's is still there. Image #2:
It's a gaudy, kooky-looking store full of crazy merchandise. When I was little, one could climb on top of the glass tower by means of a narrow spiral staircase. Maybe too many drunken frat boys fell off, as the upper reach of it is closed now. Image #3:
This is the beachfront side of the store, plain and retro looking. On the top, one can see a little of a house sitting up there. I imagine some of the founding family still lives there. In the right side of the image, you can see the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel
, which is the tallest Ferris wheel east of the Mississippi. The next picture was taken from the SkyWheel. Image #4:
The Gay Dolphin as seen from giant Ferris wheel. It's the big white building in the center. Only at the top of the SkyWheel did I get a 4G cell signal that worked, lol. Image #5:
a metal dolphin fountain inside of the store that is at the base of the glass tower. I love 'em.