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History: County historical society benefit focuses on Murrells Inlet

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

The way things were in Murrells Inlet, long before developers came to the area and even before any of the roads were paved, will be at the heart of a program sponsored by the Historical Society of Georgetown County next week.

Bill Chandler, 78, and Suzanne Gasque McIntyre, 72, will share their memories of growing up in Murrells Inlet and watching the area change through the decades.

Additionally, two books that chronicle the area’s history through the eyes of the authors, will be discussed.

McIntyre, and possibly her brother Pratt Gasque, will talk about “Rum Gully Tales from Tuck ‘Em Inn,” a book written by their father, B. Pratt Gasque. He was 85 when he died in 1993. He was a lifelong resident of Marion, but he came to Murrells Inlet year after year. His family built Tuck ’Em Inn in 1914.

“Heaven is a Beautiful Place,” a memoir of one of Chandler’s sisters, Genevieve “Sister” Peterkin, will be discussed by William “Billy” Baldwin of McClellanville. Baldwin co-wrote the book with Peterkin, who died last week. She was 83.

All those interested in the preservation of the area’s history are “truly indebted” to the authors of those books, said Wallis Houseman, the historical society’s events chairwoman.

“These two books are on my shelf and if you want to know about Murrells Inlet, they are wonderful,” she said.

In reading them, she was particularly interested in the details about how people traveled to Murrells inlet.

“There were no bridges from anywhere,” she said. “Everybody had to come across on ferries.”

She also loved the stories of how “it was just a little village and everybody took care of everybody else.”

Born in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, Chandler said he remembers when everybody was poor and all the families in the area relied on the creek to keep food on the table.

“Nobody had any money, but we were all happy,” he said.

Chandler will talk at the program about what it was like for his family in Murrells Inlet when he and his four siblings were growing up.

“I’m not going to try to go back beyond that,” he said. “I’ll be talking about how we managed at the inlet and the war years and what it did for us.”

Though he was very young, Chandler said he remembers going to Brookgreen Gardens with his mother, Genevieve Willcox Chandler, after his father died in 1936. She talked to Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, the gardens’ founders, about working in the museum there.

“She was educated and knew how to write, so she was writing articles for magazines and things, trying to make ends meet,” Chandler said.

She also worked for the Federal Writers Project of the Works Projects Administration, collecting local folklore from communities in Georgetown and Horry counties.

During World War II, airplanes used to fly in from Shaw Air Field and practice shooting at targets set up on the inlet. When the planes would crash — a common occurrence — boats were sent out that would pick up the debris. The opening of a crash boat station in Murrells Inlet brought about 80 soldiers to the area, Chandler said, and his oldest sister, June Hora, married one of them.

“It did a lot for us, right on up to the present,” Chandler said of the station.

In Gasque’s book, he talks about his memories of the creek and how creek boys would go out and bring in crabs, shrimp and other seafood to sell.

McIntyre said she’ll retell a story her father told often about a group of ladies who “all had real bad arthritis” and discovered that swimming in the inlet helped alleviate the symptoms.

“They would get out there every day when the weather was warm and just soak and tell stories, and have a good time,” she said. “They claimed they were swimming, but one of their husbands said, ‘all you do is go out there and bob up and down, and weave in and out, and gossip. So they called it the Bob and Weave Club.”

Her favorite story from her father’s book, she said, is about a group of men who used to surf fish in the Surfside Beach area. One day when the weather was getting cool, they saw a boat in the distance and a man on board waved to them. They waved back.

The same happened when they went out the next day, but on the third day, no one was waving and the boat was still anchored, McIntyre said. They decided to investigate and found the man had been waving because he needed help, not just to be friendly as they had believed.

They built a big fire on the beach so they could see to get him to shore and rescued him, McIntyre said.

“There will be a lot of short little vignettes about things that went on,” Houseman said.

The program is the first the historical society has had in Murrells Inlet, according to Houseman. It is a fundraiser for the Georgetown County Museum, which receives no county funding. The museum is preparing to expand and relocate into a new building, at 120 Broad Street, that was recently vacated by county staff.

The program is Oct. 6 at the Chandler home on the creek in Murrells Inlet’s Sunnyside area.

Social hour starts at 5 p.m., followed by dinner. Beer and wine will be served.

Tickets are $35 for historical society members and $45 for nonmembers. For information, call the museum, 545-7020.

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