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Pawleys Pavilion: The romance never ends

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The old Pawleys Pavilion was all about summer romance. The reunion isn’t bad either.

Georgetown native Larry DiBiase came from Camden to the Pawleys Pavilion Reunion Saturday night for the annual trip back in time.

DiBiase said Winyah High School romances usually ended on Memorial Day so local teen-agers would be free to dance with summer strangers at the pavilion. “The TV show ‘Happy Days’ could have filmed right here,” DiBiase said from his seat beside the dance stage as he waited on The Tams to play Saturday night. “This was nirvana.”

DiBiase, who played basketball and later coached at Newberry College, said he was able to get into the pavilion as a ninth-grader because he came with his older brother. It was a big deal, he said, to have the family car. “Most folks only had one car,” he said, “but there were no emergencies back then. People didn’t even lock their doors.”

Lindy Swails, who grew up on a farm off Waverly Road, said Deputy Claude Altman and his German shepherd, Wolf, kept the teen-agers in line if they stepped outside to settle their differences. “There was never any cutting or shooting,” Swails said, “maybe a fist fight every once in a while if somebody was dancing with somebody else’s girlfriend. Andrews boys coming over here to mess with the Georgetown girls, that always stirred it up. Then you had your house parties from Sumter and Greenville. Claude would say, ‘Straighten up or I’ll turn this dog loose.’ He knew all our parents, too.”

DiBiase said his fraternity from Newberry rented a place at Ocean Drive one year for spring break. “I remember thinking, ‘This is nice, but it’s not the pavilion,’” he said.

Newlyweds Al and Lauren Joseph had the first dance Saturday night. They met at the Pavilion Reunion through mutual friend Robbie Buice three years ago. Lauren Joseph said Bill and Mary Paige Murray of Georgetown gave her their tickets to hear The Embers, but she almost didn’t go. Lauren said she convinced herself that life was not going to change by sitting on the couch.

The annual reunion at the Pawleys Island nature park is a fundraiser for Georgetown County Habitat for Humanity. Funds this year will go toward a new house for Theresa Pringle, who has worked at Wal-Mart in Georgetown for 17 years. She has always wanted her own home. “I know one day I’m going to own it,” she said. “It will be mine. That’s the best part.”

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