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Leroy Mintz, Born in Little River in the 1920s


Leroy Mintz and Marcia Lynn Walker Transcription of Autumn 2008 Interview with Mr. Leroy Mintz (born in the late 1920's and raised at the watefront), Little River, SC

The interview takes place on a golf cart, beginning on Watson Avenue just north of Baldwin Avenue (Wortham's Ferry Road). In this interview Mr. Mintz was asked to describe Little River during the 1930s and 1940s.



MLW: I want to take you around the waterfront and you describe to me what it was like when you were growing up here as a boy. Like, here, what was right here (at the intersection of Watson and Salt Marsh Cove).

Leroy Mintz and Marcia Lynn Walker LM: Right here was just a little road. Right down in here (pointing toward the waterway at Salt Marsh cove) there was a house and the other old Morse house (pointing further south east toward the waterway), that's what I've got drawn out here in this little section (pointing to the handdrawn map he made for me), and right there was where I was born.

MLW: Right by where Doris's house is now? (referring to Doris Tyler on the southeast corner of Watson and Baldwin Avenues).

LM: Yeah. Well, Doris is back here and this is Lottie Mae's house here (referring to Lottie Mae Long, on the northwest corner of Watson and Baldwin Avenues). Mr. Baxter Baldwin had a house there and this is where Mitchell Brown lives (pointing to his handdrawn map). Then there was nothing else on up that road.

MLW: Was Mitchell Brown related to Bowman Brown?

LM: No, different set of cattle.

MLW: What were these roads called?

LM: Back then, they were not named.

MLW: Do you see any vegetation like it was then?

LM: There is no vegetation like it was then.

MLW: Not even the campground?

LM: No, the campground was different at that time. Mr. Sam Vereen farmed that land over there in the campground. And we'd go through the campground and go to that first house there I was showing you (pointing toward the waterway and the end of Salt Marsh cove) right here.

MLW: So he (Sam Vereen) was a farmer before he ran the Ocean Queen?

LM: No, that was his son that started the Ocean Queen. Mr. Sam was the father. There was Mr. Sam, Mr. Bonson, Mr. Obb, Mr. Hartford, there was one called Newton, and there was one called Mr. Jack, he was the one who donated Vereen Gardens, and there was another one named Lucian, and Lucian was killed by a truck up there (pointing up the hill toward Highway 17) somewhere about 1938 or 1939.

MLW: When they were still dirt roads?

LM: I don't know, I think they had just paved them (what would become Highway 17). If I'm not mistaken, I think they paved them about 1936 or 1937, right when the WPA and all that was lively.

MLW: (Pointing at campground) So this was Mr. Sam Vereen, Senior's, land?

LM: No, this (what is now commonly called "the campground") belonged to Dr. Stone at the time but Mr. Sam was farming it. Well, actually it was more of a garden than it was farming. He planted some peanuts and some sugarcane and his garden there.

MLW: Did everyone have in their yards their own patch of garden where they grew their own stuff?

LM: Yes, not everyone, but most of them did.

Leroy Mintz and Marcia Lynn Walker LM: (Pointing to the old home in large wooded lot to the north of Watson near the outlet of Water Front Drive) Now the McGinn house, that was here originally, and is still there. And there was nothing else on this side of the highway.

MLW: So that was built?

LM: Oh that was built before my time. I would say it was built in the 20's at least.

MLW: Is someone living in it now?

LM: I believe there must be.

LM: Now this house here (pointing to house on the south of Watson and north of Water Front Drive) was my uncle's house, my aunt and her husband, Quincy Lewis. It was just a little roadhouse when they first built it there, my aunt and her husband, and my step-grandmother, it was always grandmother, we never had any differences between steps and whatever.

LM: Okay, this house right here, my first recollection was Frank (referring to Capt. Frank Juel) and his father (Capt. Chris Juel) lived in this house. That was a mobile home and they built around it. Now this was Frank's house (pointing to the brick house across the street), he built it later on.

Leroy Mintz and Marcia Lynn Walker LM: Now this old house up here on the left, my first recollection of anything, that's where we lived.

MLW: This one right here?

LM: Yeah, that old house right there.

MLW: See, I thought you lived on the other side (of the waterfront road).

LM: Well, we did, later on. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, Daddy bought that house over there and we moved over there, but my first recollection of anything was right here.

MLW: And it's still the same house?

LM: Same house, just going to pot..

LM: Then after we moved out, Mr. Chris moved from here to here, he bought it. Dr. Stone owned it, and he bought it from Dr. Stone. And then there was nothing until you got down here to the old big house that burned. You saw it, I suppose.

LM: That was Mr. Sam's and Miss Katie Vereen's place.She's the one I told you about.

MLW: She ran the boarding house.

LM: I was living right there and I would walk over and she'd give me some peanuts and stuff. (laughing)

LM: She's the one that said, "If you want to know the truth about anything, ask Le Roi." Her and Helen Kinlaw and the lady up on the highway up there are the only three people that ever called me Le Roi. Everyone else it was Leroy. And I said that Le Roi is southern for short, er, short for southern.

Leroy Mintz and Marcia Lynn Walker MLW: (Pointing at Crab Catchers) Now, what about?

LM: There was nothing there. In fact, there was nothing on the waterfront all the way up. Nothing. Until you got to... well the Hurricane Restaurant was built in the 40s.

MLW: So they named it before Hazel? I thought, for some reason, they named it after Hurricane Hazel.

LM: Frank had a boat and they named the boat the Hurricane, then they built the restaurant and named it after the boat because it was supposed to be a drawing thing for the boat, too.

LM: Now right there was where that old house was, Miss Katie and Mr. Sam Vereen's house. They're not the ones that built it but they're the ones that owned it later on.

Leroy Mintz and Marcia Lynn Walker LM: And this little house here, my uncle, his brother, owned it, and that was there in my first recollections.

LM: It was my uncle and my Aunt Minnie, my Daddy's sister, and her husband, his brother owned this, they were from Highpoint.

MLW: Are they still here?

LM: No, they're all passed away.

MLW: They're children or grandchildren here?

LM: No, none of their children are here. I only had one cousin by my Aunt Minnie and he passed away.

MLW: And how many stores were there that you could go and buy stuff?

LM: The stores at the waterfront, I'll point those out to you. Right here, this is Vance's store right here. But originally, his father had a little store (pointing across the way on his hand-drawn map) that belonged to Mr. Kinlaw and my father. My father let him have $300 but Mr. Kinlaw sold it and Daddy never got his money out of it.

(both laughing)

MLW: Funny how that works out later.

LM: Strange. But you know, back then, everything was word of mouth and handshake, yep.

LM: Vance's place right here was built somewhere around 1936 or 1938.

LM: Now right where the Hurricane Restaurant is, this part right here, there was just a little sandwich place.

MLW: I have a picture of that, from 1954.

LM: Uh-huh. That was only thing that was there. Well, later on, they put one up right here (pointing at the current ticket office). That might be the one you got a picture of.

LM: Walter Bessent had one right there (pointing at the Hurricane) and that other one was right there where the ticket office is. Sam Demomich (sp?), the one that owns...

LM: Now the hotel here (pointing at what is now the Sun Cruz Casino boat building)...



...to be continued.
(Transcription, additions of photos and clarification of topics discussed is a daily work in progress. The above transcript is approximately the first 10 minutes of an hour-long interview.)





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