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Murrells Inlet: Internet helps resident preserve local history

By Sarah L. Smith
Coastal Observer

Over bowls of she-crab soup, chicken bog and fish stew, Murrells Inlet residents shared laughs and paper memories.

“Remember Bill Hickman,” Kelly Lee Dorman, owner of Lee’s Inlet Kitchen, asked the people sitting at her table.

She pulled out an old black and white of the grisly sea dog sitting in his beached skiff, waiting for the tide.

Dorman said he was the local hermit when she was young.

“He lived in a shack where the Creekside Cottages are now,” she said.

Dorman and about 30 other long-time residents gathered at Inlet Affairs on Tuesday evening to get pictures and historical documents scanned for the “Murrells Inlet History Project.”

Steve Strickland, of Murrells Inlet, said he decided to start the project this spring.

“The Murrells Inlet History Project is just something that’s snowballed out of the pile of pictures on my dining room table,” Strickland said.

He got the idea when he began researching his own genealogy for his family’s annual reunions.

“I couldn’t go to a funeral without asking for pictures,” his mother, Glenda Strickland, said.

But when Strickland looked at the pictures covering his dining room table, he didn’t recognize faces or places. The lack of information concerned him, he said.

“Pretty soon we’re going to have a box of pictures and nobody is going to know who is in there. People who know them are getting older every day, and we are losing them. I want to make sure that we record it for posterity before we forget,” Strickland said.

So he took advantage of the social networking Web site, Facebook, to connect with people who might be able to help him save the history stored in the boxes.

Using an existing group page, “It’s an Inlet Thing,” Strickland posted pictures and asked viewers to identify people and places they recognized.

That’s when the avalanche began.

“After about the first 100 pictures I figured out that I needed to set up a different group,” Strickland said.

He had so many hits that he was afraid the picture discussions would overshadow the topics of the page’s administrator, Murrells Inlet 2020.

So Strickland started his own group: “The Murrells Inlet History Project.”

On Strickland’s Facebook page, visitors identify faces or share memories of times spent with family and friends in Murrells Inlet. Discussion topics often begin with “do you remember,” he said.

Tuesday night the discussions bled into face-to-face meetings with residents as they scanned their pictures.

“Do you remember that snake?” June Chandler asked her cousin, Tookie Jones.

Chandler said a relative killed it and took a picture because it was so large. Her other photos included shots inside Atalaya, the home of Archer and Anna Huntington.

“My parents were caretakers. I had my first birthday in the courtyard,” June Chandler said, showing off palm-size black and white photographs of the sprawling castle-like home.

Dorman brought a series of pictures of Lee’s Inlet Kitchen, old paper placemats from the restaurant and receipts from purchases made when her grandparents opened it.

Signed by Elford Lee, the receipts came from the Wagon Wheel Farms poultry, Byrd Brothers, Parker and Hatchell grocery, Jamie Eason and Gordon’s Grocery.

“I just found them in an old breadbox when I moved into my grandmother’s house,” Dorman said.

Pictures like these capture the changes people like his father, Al Strickland, 79, have seen in their lives, Strickland, said; and, documenting these changes is his goal for the project.

“A lot of people my age remember growing up [here] and what a cool place it was,” he said. “Long-term, I’d love to be able to put together some type of coffee table book and use the proceeds to do something cool for Murrells Inlet.”

For now, Strickland said he’s just focusing on the “people, places and things.”

“Half the trick is putting it all in one place,” he said.

Strickland said he is open to having another scanning party.

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