by Darlene Jennings
“I don’t care who they say they are or where they say they work. Just don’t let the bums come in without paying,” screamed my Father. “They’ll say they work at the Bowery or Sloppy Joes and that I always let them in without paying. Tell ‘em if they want their dollar back they will have to come see me to get it,” he barked.
Both Sloppy Joes and the Bowery were businesses owned by my father and were located smack in the middle of the amusement district. Both across from the Pavilion that was the main draw along with the ocean for the thousands of visitors that flocked to Myrtle Beach during the summer season. The Bowery was a coming of age ritual for all teenagers who wanted to have their first legal beer at the beach. They used to have contests there to see which waiter could carry the most beer mugs at one time. It was home to a few characters such as “Don’t Cry Joe” who was a champion marathon dancer and who later froze himself in a block of ice once just for the publicity. The house band at the Bowery years after Don’t Cry Joe was Alabama who later after going gold wrote a song that had lyrics about the Bowery and Sloppy Joe’s.
Sloppy Joe’s was best known for its foot long hot dogs, bingo and 24 hour service. The sign on the outside said “We may doze but never close.” And they didn’t...not even during Hurricane Hazel or any of the other hurricanes which later would send the tourists running and the locals boarding up store front glass windows. Talk with anyone over 50 today and they will tell you that their first trip to the beach included a game of bingo, a foot long hot dog, and petting the poodle in the cage in front Sloppy Joe’s. Some of the tourists weren’t too bright. They never noticed that the chocolate poodle used to attract them to the game of Bingo inside was won night after night but was returned day after day to its cage.
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Darlene Jennings is a native of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and dates herself by remembering when "we turned off the two downtown traffic lights in the winter." She grew up with sand between her toes and sand-spurs to boot. Proud mother of two and grandmother of two, Darlene has been self employed for over thirty years in Community Management. (A job that sucks the soul right out of you, she says.) Her relief is community service and writing spur-of-the-moment short stories. Many stories have been shared with family and friends who suggested she write a book. But that just sounds like another job to Darlene!