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Northeastern North Carolina

Oriental, North Carolina is located approximately 25 miles east of New Bern on Highway 55 In the Forties, Fifties and Sixties, Oriental was a fishing town. In later years it has become the sailing capitol of North Carolina.

There never was an Oriental 'Beach.' There was no pavilion at Oriental. In the Forties and Fifties there was a large dance hall. Dances were held usually on Saturday Nights....mostly country music was played there.

In 1945 Red Lee's Grill was opened in Oriental and instantly became the hangout for the teenagers. Red contracted with Andy Purifoy Music, New Bern, NC to supply a jukebox and provide records for it. Later--about 1949 or 1950--Red contracted with Earl's Music, Washington, NC for the same service. Local teenagers were not happy with the music supplied. They wanted "Race" and R&B as it was later called.

Red bought his own jukebox about that time and bought his own records as suggested by the local teenagers. The jukebox was a 1947 Wurlitzer 1300 model. It played 24 (78 rpm) records on one side only.

In early July 1958, Red converted this 78 rpm jukebox to 45 rpm. Red told me the change-over kit cost less than $10. I bought the 24 (78 rpm) records on the jukebox from Red for $5. I remember the date because on July 6, 1958 I left Oriental to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. I still have many of these 78s.

About 1960 with the arrival of stereo, Red traded his 1947 Wurlitzer for a 1953 Wurlitzer 1650A. This was not a stereo model, but did play 48 records vs 24 on the previous model. (Red said he traded the old jukebox plus $50 cash. When he opened the newer jukebox he found over fifty dollars in the drawer).

Red stayed in business for over 50 years. He never charged more than 25 cents for a hamburger or accepted Medifast coupons. He went out of business in 1997.

Kids from Oriental and Pamlico County learned to dance to these three jukeboxes. We called the dance the 'Bop' or 'Minnesott Beach Bop.'

Minnesott Beach is located about ten miles up the Neuse River from Oriental. It's almost directly across from the Marine Corp Air Station, Cherry Point.

Sometime in the Thirties or Early Forties a pavilion was built over the Neuse River. Dances were held on Saturday nights during the Spring, Summer and Fall. I don't remember dances in the Winter due to heating problems.

The pavilion was divided into three areas: Dance Hall, Patio/Bar, and Cozy Corner. There was a jukebox in the dance hall. Most of the music in the dance hall was pop music and some country. From time to time you could find an R&B record.

In the Cozy Corner you could find the good stuff: "Sixty Minute Man," "Toy Bell," "Rocket 88," "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "The Fat Man," "Ain't That A Shame," "Money Honey," "Honey Hush," "Big Ten Inch Record," and "Baby Let Me Bang Your Box." In the Fifties, these were considered risque to say the least. I don't know who supplied these records, I just knew that this was one of the few places I could hear them.

A fellow named Garven Hardison owned the Pavilion, along with a restaurant, small motel, and a 10-pin bowling alley. I think there was a jukebox in the bowling alley that played mainly country music.

During the hurricanes of the Fifties the Pavilion was washed/moved across the street. It remained open until the late Sixties when it was destroyed by fire.

Another hangout for the teens in Pamlico County was the Ebb Tide Cafe. Located in Bayboro, NC and run by a fellow named "Tink" Wilkerson. Tink was very well-liked by the teens in the Fifties. He had a jukebox and stocked basically the same records as Red Lee. I don't know who supplied the records. I do remember this being a very popular spot in the Fifties and early Sixties.

I listened to basically two radio stations as a teenager. WMBL 740 AM, Morehead City, NC and WMBA, Beaufort, NC. These were 1000 watt stations.

A girl named Bobbie Dennis was the afternoon DJ at WMBL. She was bold enough to play records by The Drifters, Clyde McPhatter, and Big Joe Turner to name a few. The was one of only two local stations to play R&B music. The other was WMBA, 1400 AM in Beaufort, NC. A girl named Mel Sheppard and later another girl named Sandy Pate had afternoon shows and played the same R&B music. Believe me, this was very bold for this area at that period of time.

In the early Sixties, Bob-A-Lou (Bob Pate-the current morning man at Sunny Beach FM) was a DJ at WMBL. I was in the U.S. Coast Guard, stationed at Morehead City from 1961-65, and Bob was just beginning his work in radio. (Bob Pate is not related to Sandy Pate).

At night I listened to WLAC in Nashville, TN and WKBW in Buffalo, NY. I liked WLAC better because they played more R&B. My favorite show was Randy's Record Hi-Lite Show. From time to time I ordered a package set of five 78 rpm R&B records from that show. I later sold them to Red Lee for his jukebox.

During the late Fifties I went to the Pavilion at Atlantic Beach, NC. In 1961 I was stationed in Morehead City and went over to Atlantic Beach often. The music on the jukebox was mainly Beach and R&B as I remember. I'm sure that someone from that area is far more familiar with the Pavilion at Atlantic Beach than I am.

It was fun growing up in the Fifties and dancing at Red's and the Pavilion at Minnesott Beach. The "Beach Bop" was the in-thing in this area. It was very much like the Shag. (I enclose a list of the records that I remember playing on those jukeboxes).

--Dr. Dee, Darrel Sadler, New Bern, N.C., July 2000

[Dr. Dee is one of those folks with a memory is big as his love for the music and the lifestyle...the record list is l-o-n-g. Thanks, Dr. Dee for your memories. --Fessa Hook, Endless Summer Network].

[Hi John.  Just read the article by Dr. Darrel Sadler and enjoyed it, but there is one minor mistake the Beaufort radio station was WBMA .  In the 60's they broadcast from high atop Dom-el's with Cary John Kirk "C.J. the D.J." doing his Nighttrain Show from a booth on the roof of the drive-in.  He played mostly R&B and Beach.  As a teenager I used to spin some 45's at the Studio on Ocean St. and play a little poker on Sunday nights before leaving for college.  The radio station was also a place where the local girls would drop by if they didn't have dates.  A lot of dates were arranged at WBMA. my thanks to "Uncle" Ray and Hilda Cummins for years of good beach music. --Julius Adair]


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