Pawleys Island

Thursday, January 28

We continued past Murrell’s Inlet, to find Pawleys Island, and the famous Pawleys Island Hammocks.

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Where there was once a long building where the hammocks were woven, now there are the Pawleys Island Shops: winding white walkways of shell-mixed cement paths, larger areas of crushed shell and plantings of roses, camelias, crepe myrtles, palmettos, and typical shops meant appeal to tourists, from high-end jewelry, and clothing, to sweet-shops, toy shops, restaurants, and yes, still a hammock shop and one small workshop where Marvin Jackson weaves his hammocks and tells stories, charming the socks off anyone who enters.

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Beyond the big spools of rope, and the racks on which he weaves, are hundreds of postcards from his enchanted public.

I’d woven a hammock about 30 years ago, and told him so, also telling him how a friend’s dog had chewed it shreds. He told me Scotch-guard will discourage any chewers and seemed pleased to meet a visitor who’d actually woven a hammock. I surreptitiously counted the pins on the rack and checked the initial 4-ply braid, the fan of strands that feed through the spreader bars and the knots that bind the hammock’s loops. We do already have a hammock, but I remember how much fun it was to make one and now I’ll remember just how. Just in case.

Marvin and some other visitors were discussing the best place to grab lunch, as he was about to close up and go eat. He said that DeRoMa’s pizza was good, and the visitors said that the Fish House was not to be missed.

Before seeking lunch, we checked out a rambling gift store across from Marvin’s workshop and struck up a conversation with a young man at the back counter. He turned out to be from the area, having graduated with a music degree, conducting a local orchestral group on Monday nights and working retail for now, reminding us of many great young people from home in a similar situation. We shared the joy of having binged on ‘Mozart in the Jungle’, and we chatted about the Huntington gardens and Atalaya, so he knew that we were truly interested in more than golf and beachwear.

We told him of our blog and Bruce asked him to tell us about the real Myrtle Beach: its stories and history. He said we should ask Lee Brockington at the Hobcaw Barony about the Platt Eye. What? He wouldn’t say more except to say that she was a master story-teller. This sounded like something from a Nancy Drew mystery.

We went in search of the Fish House, and it was closed, so we found DeRoMa’s and had stuffed shells. Marvin was right. They were good and the garlic bread was excellent.

We headed farther down the road to see if we could find the causeway road to the actual Pawleys Island and overshot it, eventually passing a sign with the mysterious words: ‘Hobcaw Barony’! We took a sharp left into the parking lot of a rustic compound of buildings and found a nature center with aquarium, dioramas, and two people who were cordial and helpful despite it being close to closing time. Yes, there was a lady named Lee Brockington who was their head docent, and who now taught other docents, and no, they didn’t know anything about the ‘Platt Eye’.

We learned that the center is a vast tract of land and buildings that had begun as a grant from King George I. From the original native inhabitants, then the European settlements, to home of wealthy rice planters, and their slaves, it had finally become a retreat for Bernard Baruch, whose house and stables of Bellefield, hosted politicans, generals, newspapermen, as well as Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt. In 1964, his daughter, Belle W. Baruch, had given it to a South Carolina higher education institution. It now serves as an educational and research center for coastal ecosystems, native wildlife, and endangered species. An impressive list of tours and events are offered to the public. We will return, findingourway!

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