Photo by TheDigitel Myrtle Beach
“I never thought I’d see the day when Folly Beach could make Myrtle Beach look classy.” - Folly Beach resident Andy Norman
"There's been a historically negative perception of development on this island" -- the fear being that its pursuit "will turn us into Myrtle Beach." - Hilton Head resident Jim Gant
The Sun News had a response to this as well as a couple of other negative comments directed at our area this past week. You can read it here.
While we are trying our best to make things better, it's tempting to ponder what we can do to get more respect from our presumably higher brow Sandlappers to the South. Should we have more art shows? More horse and carriage rides? More high-end shopping?
No. No. Nope. Take a moment to think about how Charleston came to know us.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Charleston was finally enjoying recovery from the Civil War defeat and a devastating earthquake. Pride and town were damaged but they rebuilt and carried on. They took the blank canvas and built exciting things like a new courthouse, a military prep school and an old folks home. The Great Depression, indeed.
During roughly that same period, raucous high school kids and blue collar workers were hopping on to railroad cars in Conway headed to "the beach" so they could shag dance and party all weekend. It was a little wild and a lot of fun. It got to the point where prominent landowners saw the opportunity to build more amenities and attractions for visitors. Myrtle Beach wasn't even a complete municipality until 1957.
It's easy to see how some Charleston folks might look down on such undignified... fun.
Over the past several years, I've gotten to know quite a few Charleston locals. On more than one occasion, I've had them tell me how much they admire some of the things we're doing here (outside of all the tourism craziness). For as transient as we think our population might be in the Myrtle Beach area, Charleston has a huge churn of folks in the heart of the city as students graduate and move on to bigger pastures. It makes it difficult to create any kind of lasting or cohesive community.
In that light, it almost makes me feel sad for our friends down there. I believe some part of the negative comments are people's way of self-validating their lifestyle choices. Boring lifestyle choices.
Respect is earned when you stop trying so hard to get it. We've got an exciting group of entreprenuers and passionate creatives in our area right now. If we can support and empower them to keep doing what they are doing, it's possible that we'll see a pattern of folks migrating from the Lowcountry to the Pee Dee in a just a few years.