TOP OF THE TOWN – Seabreeze keeps blowing in my face. I can’t escape from it. That’s alright. I don’t want to escape from it. I wrote about this place – Seabreeze – some time ago. It haunts me. I’ve never been there and I had to look on a map to find it (just a little southeast from Charlotte, NC). Why it haunts me is because during the 1920s through about the middle 1960s this was the place to be — for blacks. Jim Crow was busy suffocating blacks just as much as slavery did and blacks were not allowed in the beach areas of North Carolina. Except for Seabreeze, a two-mile stretch of beach with 31 juke joints that led to some interesting interaction. When the place was going good there were three hotels, beach cottages, an amusement park with a Ferris wheel, and 10 restaurants where clam fritters became legendary, along with shrimp, oysters and fish and fries.  This place became a refuge for blacks and the music that came out of the area along with strange-sounding dances became as good as it gets. The place was just across some water where the whites frocked and attracted blacks all the way from New York. At Seabreeze the blacks could be free, free of segregation, free of Jim Crow and free to be themselves. They could dance and dine and swim without being persecuted by whites. Over time, roads into Seabreeze were cutoff to blacks, but boats continued to ferry them across the waterways and the music, dancing and mingling went on and on. What is important to this is that by law blacks and whites could not be together, but at Seabreeze whites and blacks mingled together to the music, drink and dance. The music was not white music, but black music. Some of the most popular music was Paul William’s “The Hucklebuck” and County Basie’s “One O’Clock Boogie.” But often Fats Domino would be around, as would Bob Diddley, Bobby Blue Bland, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington, Little Richard and Big Maybelle. If they didn’t appear in person, the many Juke Boxes blared out their music, which was the start of Rock ‘n Roll. Many of the blacks that came were poor and had never experienced the water. Because they didn’t have swimming suits they often would jump in with the clothes they had on, and children would go naked. Bootleg liquor was the main drink. What was good about Seabreeze was that whites also showed up. And while Jim Crow was busy in the South at Seabreeze whites and blacks, drank, ate and danced to the Jerk, Truckin’ Susie Q, The Swim, The Dog, The Twist, Jersey Bounce, Camel Walk and The Horse together. This showed that the races could mix in harmony. Hurricane Hazel in October of 1954 devastated Seabreeze and while it survived for some more years it finally died with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when segregation ended.  The beach is still there, the buildings are now gone, but the memories of a time when whites and blacks fished, swam, ate and drank and danced together are still alive. Okay, enough for now. Stay safe.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.