Looking back at the Pawley's Island Pavilion


To honor the conclusion of summer, this column is a look back at one of the favorite stomping grounds of those of us who grew up in the 1950s. That would be the Pawleys Island Pavilion. It was a popular spot for teens and others who liked to dance the shag, drink beer, chase girls and occasionally get into a fight.

I never participated in a Pawleys Island Pavilion fight, but two of my close buddies did. Let's say their names were Bobby and Brown, the "Killer Bees." Both frequented the pavilion and somehow found their way into fist fights, which frequently led to an overnight stay in the Georgetown jail.

I hung out with them as we made the rounds along the beach, even occasionally making a stop at The Bowery in Myrtle Beach. The Bowery is still going strong at Myrtle Beach. What I remember about The Bowery when I and my cronies paid a visit is we were frequently served adult beverages at our table by a rather unsavory-looking waiter we came to know as "The Gypsy."

The Gypsy wore a bandanna on his head. He looked dangerous, but the boys and I got along fine with him. One time Brown ordered a cold one, and when the The Gypsy presented the bill, Brown decided to have some fun with him and stuck a couple of bucks in his mouth as a tip for The Gypsy, just to cut fool with him. Not missing a beat, The Gypsy stuck his paw into Brown's mouth and extracted the tip, thanking him profusely. Brown and Bobby got a big laugh out of that encounter. So did I.

Later I was told by Brown while he was in medical school he ran into The Gypsy while doing his residency and learned The Gypsy was at the State Hospital (for the insane). The Gypsy wasn't his usual jovial self, Brown told me.

Brown was always getting into situations during those summers at the beach, often resulting in fisticuffs - and another visit to the Georgetown jail. Even during medical school he got into scrapes, especially when he was hanging out with Bobby either while attending USC or medical school. How he got through medical school is beyond me, but somehow he did make good grades. Following med school he practiced medicine briefly before contracting cancer and dying at the age of 34. His wife and two children, a boy and a girl, survived.

Along with Bobby and Brown, we became regulars at the Pawleys Island Pavilion, enjoying the fun, frolic and suds. The pavilion is no more, having burned to the ground in 1960, reportedly by locals who lived at Pawleys and didn't like all the noise and carousing coming from the pavilion. It was the third pavilion built on the site, all consumed by mysterious fires.

Incidentally, the first Pawleys Island Pavilion was built during the early 1900s just north of the south causeway.

The pavilion was quite an attraction at Pawleys during the roaring '50s. We had a great time growing up within its wooden walls. The shag crowd is still having reunions honoring the pavilion. It was a fun place, as long as you could avoid the Georgetown County jail.

Reach Hubert D. Osteen Jr. at hubert@theitem.com.