In my childhood, Kim Bannister was the friend of my big sister Kelly that was frequently over on the weekend to spend the night. The friend that, with deceptively great strength, would wrestle me to the floor and pin me, laughing as she did it. The friend that made me, as a skinny 11-year-old, realize that girls existed, and that they were good.
Flash forward eight years. After freshman year of college, one of my best friends, Pat Austin and I, followed the lead of Kelly and Kim and my future brother-in-law, Chip Simmons, and migrated to the Murrells Inlet (work), Garden City (live), Myrtle Beach (play) area for the first of three summers. It was 1983. In ‘84, we had six young men making the southern trek to a house in Surfside: Pat, Paul Larkin, Joe Matheny, Joe Henderson, and Andy Carroll. A good time was had by all.
Kim, like a number of my friends, never left the beach. She became Kim Lipton. She remained pals with my sister and took the (above) picture of Kelly and her daughter, Chloe, in Charlotte, NC, in 1992. Flash forward another eight years. Kelly was tragically taken from us due to breast cancer. Kim is a breast cancer survivor. I feel a sibling-like bond with her.
My second novel, The Lost Lantern (suspense – available on Amazon.com), a book ultimately about racial harmony, also encapsulates life as we knew it in Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach in the late 1980s. I thanked Kim in the Acknowledgements as I did a number of friends who touched my life, including all of the boys, Paul and Carter Elliott (pictured below). Kim wrote this review about the book:
In the 80’s Everyone knew each other in the Murrells Inlet area. Not like that now. I loved the book! Andy’s description of Murrells Inlet Garden City area in the 80s with straight on. I live in this area and it was a blast working in the restaurants going out at night being young. This book brought up a lot of wonderful memories. Thank you Andy for this book it was a joy to read. Kim. July 16, 2018.
Thanks to new friend Bernie Delgado, I returned to Murrells Inlet, a couple of weekends ago and visited the Historic Downtown Murrells Inlet Block Party and out of Bernie’s shop, MISC: Everything Murrells Inlet, sold some books, met and talked with many wonderful people including Bernie’s significant-other Brian, a WVU grad and a super-nice person. The memories of being in and around Murrells Inlet were so thick I felt I could reach out and touch them: Bounding across quiet Highway 17, feeling that breeze off the Atlantic, playing the guitar and listening to others at the Tree Top Lounge after work, and before heading to the next friendly place.
I even ran into a fellow-wait staffer from The Ghost Ship – Sissy (above left). It had only been 34 years! I finished off a busy day visiting Out Back at Frank’s, in Pawleys Island, with Carter Elliott (middle), of Georgetown, SC, and Paul Larkin (right), of Surfside, SC. Great friends.
I also wanted to include this shot I took of Murrells Inlet at sunset, from the lot at The Tuna Shack.
I will definitely be back next year for the Block Party, hopefully with my third novel, A Most Beautiful Trigger, in tow.
Bernie shop, 4493 Highway 17, Murrells Inlet, is filled with the creations of art and home furnishings of over seventy local artists. Don’t forget, Christmas is just around the corner! Thanks for reading, A.S.