Cherry Grove Beach, 1964

1949 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Station Wagon

Image by aldenjewell via Flickr

Beach, 1964:

We’d take two cars for your family of seven.  The Plymouth station wagon would be loaded to the gills with:

1. Stacks of worn leather- bound suitcases with brass hardware

2. Metal ice chests and a sporty plaid thermos (that Mama filled with sweet tea and parked on the screened-in porch)

3. Paper bags of dry goods (including everything from soup to nuts…plus packets of Lance sandwich crackers)

4. Case of bottled Cheerwine (cherry soda made in Salisbury, N.C.) that we all still favor

5. Paper sacks of South Carolina peaches and a cannonball watermelon bought at a roadside stand off of Route 9

6. Box full of decks of cards, board games (and Matchbox cars for your little brother)

7. Can of Charles Chips

8. Stacks of hardbacks including your own The Mystery of the Old Clock and Cherry Ames, Student Nurse

9.  Your somewhat feral cat, who you named “Uncle Chapman” (after a distant relative)

10. Daddy and Mama in the front, and you and your little brother in the back  (the old green Hornet that caravaned behind us was considered ‘the smoking section,’ and held your older siblings)

The night before you left for the beach you’d hardly get a wink of sleep; it was just like Christmas Eve.  School was out.  You would not have to wake up and put on a navy dress and patent leather Mary Janes;  you could wear flip flops and Red Ball Jets all week.  Soon you would bang open the screen door of the ‘Si Siesta’ cottage in Cherry Grove Beach, inhale the sweet, warm pine-paneling, and run barefoot over the oval braided rug to see the gray waves heaving  just outside the sliding glass doors.

Your father would not have to dress up in his suit and pork pie hat and walk up to the corner to catch the bus downtown to his office.  Instead he could don swim trunks and hold a mug of coffee while he read the paper on the porch.  Then he’d swim laps in the ocean, after walking down to the phone booth to call his office, just to check in.  At nights he’d put on a madras shirt and Bermuda shorts and play ‘Old Sol’– as he called it– on the cedar picnic table that was plonked down in the great room.  Always the accountant, his rows from the Kings on down were as tidy as a spreadsheet.  Then once he got warmed up, you’d all play heated games of ‘Spit.’

Cute boys would sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts door to door, and the ice cream man van would always make an appearance with tinkly music.  You and your older brother would walk to Beaulineau’s and buy rafts which took your father hours to blow up.  After playing on the beach for hours, late afternoons were reserved for naps and reading.

On Wednesday night, you’d eat platters heaped with fried shrimp and fries over in Calabash.  Then you’d go and get soft-serve ice cream at Painters on Highway 17.  Another night, Mama would dump boiled shelled shrimp onto the  newspaper-covered cedar table, along with platters of baked potatoes, combination salad and French bread.  (Combination salad:  equal parts tomato, sweet onion and iceberg wedges, bound with Duke’s mayonnaise).  Then she’d pull out the  ice cream machine–a small wooden barrel– and we’d all take turns on the crank out on the porch, (after she’d stocked the barrels full of ice, rock salt, peaches, cream, and such).

One evening, your parents invited acquaintances to stop by; your father handed the couple some Old Fashioneds as they settled into rockers.  After setting out a bowl of cashews and cocktail napkins, Mama called out to we kids, “Whatever you do, don’t let Uncle Chapman out of the bedroom!”

The next day, your father started a low chuckle, while swiping on some Coppertone.  “Jean, I believe that we failed to mention that Uncle Chapman was actually the name of our cat.

Mama gave off her rich laugh.  “Bless their hearts–I wondered why they had such shocked looks on their faces and why they left so quickly.”


A freelance writer who revels in the 1970's...and today. Thoughts on being a baby baby boomer and empty nester. Welcome to the Saturday evening porch.
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26 Responses to Cherry Grove Beach, 1964

  1. ryoko861 says:

    What great memories! LIfe was so simpler then. Not once did you mention the line of traffic you sat in.
    Reminds me of the vacations I had with my parents back in the 60’s as well. But our were in the mountains. Ah, the good ol’ days!

  2. Tori Nelson says:

    Haha! Poor Uncle Chapman 🙂

  3. k8edid says:

    Lovely post – set me to reminiscing.

    Charles Chips – hadn’t thought about those in years, I still have the can around somewhere.

    We never took a vacation like that, we were dirt poor farm kids – but it is the kind of thing I dreamed about.

  4. Jim says:

    You had me at the Charles Chips!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jim! I hope you have a Cracker Barrel near you! They even have CB maps with all of their locations…they sell moonpies, too!
      I just remembered something I hadn’t thought about in eons-there was a Charles Chips man who came to our house to sell them!

      • Jim says:

        That was their sales model for years — home delivery. The company’s gone in and out of business a bunch of times; I wonder if the chips are as good as they used to be.

      • OK–sort of like the Fuller Brush man. My friend and I used to try and count all of the tiny brown specks on the can–those were the days. No video games n’ such!

  5. Ah…the good old days! Great nostalgic post. From your description, I felt like I was transported back in time right there with you and your family. Love the ending too! 🙂

  6. To bad they don’t make such great cars anymore.
    I love your post and I enjoyed reading it.

  7. Jane Whitfield says:

    Took me back to Windy Hill and Crescent beaches, down the road from Cherry Grove on 17. Same smells, same foods, same games, and the phone booth down the road!!!
    What great memories our families created for us on those summer beach trips to SC beaches. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!!

  8. Leah says:

    What wonderful memories! Great job of describing them too as I could really picture the surroundings. I want to have a beach vacation like yours. Oh, and The Mystery of the Old Clock was a great book! I still have it on my shelf.

  9. Fun memories, Reeling! I liked Nancy Drew too, but Hardy Boys were more fun! Never really got into Cherry Ames much (I wasn’t a “girly-girl”).


  10. comingeast says:

    So well told, I was right there with you. Seems like life then was a gentler time, but maybe that’s just how we choose to remember it. Enjoyed this immensely!

  11. Carolyn Pierce says:

    Wow, I can’t believe I found this post! I grew up with a Cherry Grove beach house vacation every summer in the 1960’s-early 1970’s, too. My family owned the Panorama cottage, which was the first house on the left on the channel directly inland from the Si-Siesta (on 46th Avenue). I think when we accessed the beach, we walked right between the Si-Siesta and a two-story cottage that was green & white or light green/dark green. The Si-Siesta was a pretty, light blue.

    I have so many of the same memories as you! We also had the pine paneling & cedar picnic table — and rocking chairs on the screened front porch, right? I think all the cottages came with the picnic table and maybe the rockers too. My cousins and I also had the inflatable rafts from Boulineau’s! No such thing as a boogie board in those days!

    When we got to be teens, the big thing was walking on the beach at night to one of the two piers . They were pretty much equidistant from that spot at Cherry Grove; the inlet pier was just a little farther away.

    Now, did you know that the Si-Siesta now sits right next to what used to be the Panorama, on the channel? (The Panorama has been re-named the “Reel Pleasure” by the current owners.) When the oceanfront was being redeveloped with a thicker density, the Si-Siesta was moved to the empty lot next to the Panorama. I believe it was in 1998. We just happened to be down for a wedding (We live in Maryland), and went by our old beach house. The Si-Siesta had apparently just been moved very recently, and the name sign was still on it — That’s the only way we would have ever known what house it was. That lot was owned by my grandmother for many years, but she never put anything on it during her lifetime. So if you thought the Si-Siesta had been demolished — It wasn’t!

    It’s funny (and sad) how Cherry Grove developed so much that eventually the oceanfront houses became unworthy to sit on their own lots!

  12. Carolyn–I can’t believe it! What a coincidence! I remember taking my little brother to Bealineau’s for styrofoam ‘surfboards.’ I haven’t driven past in years, since maybe the early 70’s, and cannot BELIEVE ol’ Si Siesta is still there! I can’t wait to tell my sibs. Our parents switched beaches to going further down towards Pawleys in the 1970’s, and I’ve never been back…except to hit O.D. while in high school! Thanks so much for stopping by the porch, and sharing your story! I was delayed in responding to you since I’ve been in and out of town quite a bit. I tried finding your blog, and couldn’t, but will try again right now!

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