Where did you spend your happiest memories with your loved one? Before all this, of course, were there special places you lived or traveled to that you can look back on and feel good about?
I forget how the topic came up. The way my parents used to tell the story, we were all begging to go to Myrtle Beach, because everyone else was, which just sounds wrong, because our family was never particularly susceptible to peer pressure. The way the story goes, though, is that we were all begging to go to Myrtle Beach so my father told us to pick out a place to stay and show it to him.
This was all back in the dark ages, before the internet. With a AAA membership, we were able to obtain a two-inch thick tourbook for the South Carolina. There was pages and pages of motels and hotels on the Grand Strand. Those little listing were hard to decipher, so my father suggested writing to the Chamber of Commerce in Myrtle Beach. I wrote the letter, and then had the thrill of receiving a whole bunch of mail. (Parents, if your children ever ask why they don’t get any mail, suggest they write to a chamber of commerce somewhere.)
With the stacks and stacks of brochures that arrived, we began culling through and narrowing down the search. I wanted a swimming pool. And small. Even then, I wanted someplace small and homey. Twelve stories simply doesn’t appeal to me, even if the rooms could face the ocean. Small, homey, swimming pool — yes, those were the criteria.
I found the perfect motel. It was called The Caravelle. It wasn’t huge. It had a swimming pool. It was right on the beach. Perfect.
Except they had no vacanices for the week we wanted to go.
So I went back to the pile of brochures and found our second choice. Small, homey, evening bridge games in the lounge (something I thought my parents would enjoy), a swimming pool, and a vacancy. We went to Teakwood Motel that year. And every year after that for about thirty years.
We patronized The Teakwood through several different owners and watched its decline. The last year we went the roof was covered with blue tarps and one of my children found an insulin needle under the bed. Now a parking lot for a high-rise hotel has replaced that motel.
In its heyday, though, The Teakwood was like family. We saw the same guests year after year. We knew the owners well, and one owner actually became family, in an extended sort of way.
There are so many, many memories of The Teakwood — an annual picture by The Teakwood sign, a bagpiper practicing in the Teaky Forest, cookouts, swimming in that pool, sliding down the slide into the pool (until they removed it for insurance reasons), kids freely going from room to room as we often booked four or more rooms in a row, crossing Ocean Boulevard to get to the ocean.
The Caravelle is still in operation today. I would drive past it whenever we went to Myrtle Beach, just down the road from The Teakwood.
I’m thankful that the Caravelle was full in 1972.
Would my mother have gotten lost trying to find the post office from The Teakwood. (see Six Ways to Anywhere)? Probably not that year. That would have happened further down the Alzheimer’s road; The Teakwood was like a second home.
If there’s a special place for us, it’s a little mom-and-pop motel in Myrtle Beach called The Teakwood that has now gone to motel heaven.