Testimonial Tuesday: Conway & Myrtle Beach and Conway in Vintage Postcards

Author Susan Hoffer McMillan shares a number of stories she's heard regarding the impact of her books, Conway and Myrtle Beach and Conway in Vintage Postcards

When Laura, Barbie, Marshall (husband) and I were dining in Conway following my book launch party, the president of a Myrtle Beach bank stopped by our table and said his bank had used my first book to develop the architecture for their new bank headquarters. He said they wanted it to look like "old Myrtle Beach" so they copied architectural elements of the building styles shown in various pictures from the book! (I thought it very timely that he chose to stop and tell me that when my former and current Arcadia editors were present!)

The City of Conway purchased a copy of my first book because the city planner said they constantly receive renovation requests for downtown store facades, and they wanted a reference book for styles consistent with Conway's past.

The best story I ever received was an email from a researcher who is collaborating on a book about Myrtle Beach history. She gave me permission to read her email in my presentations, which I sometimes do. It is as follows: "I took your postcard book with me a couple of years ago to interview a wonderful and very old lady whose parents had come to town in the 'twenties with the Woodsides. She'd grown up partly at the Seaside Inn, and her parents had managed the inn and the concession area below the dance floor at the Pavilion. But she's been so young at the time (ages 8 through 11, I think) that she didn't remember a great deal at first when we were talking...until I showed her your book. I wish you could have seen how excited she got. She just poured over all of the 1920s photos, started pointing to the wings of various hotels to tell me which rooms housed the lifeguards, which housed the waitresses, where so-and-so lived. It was just fantastic, information she probably hadn't thought of for seventy years, and probably would never have recalled without seeing your postcards. She loved the book so much that I fibbed and told her that I actually had two copies, and would she like to keep this one? She was just delighted, swapped me a book about the Bighams, and was so wrapped up in the postcards that she hardly lifted her head to say goodbye when I left. I didn't in fact have another copy at the time, but I soon got one."

Here's the story: A friend of mine had a father with Alzheimers. She asked her grown son to sit with her father/his grandfather one evening while she went to a meeting. The son showed him my book, Myrtle Beach and Conway in Vintage Postcards. The grandfather, who had not spoken in months, recognized places and began to talk, noting the post office where he had worked and the church he had attended. Through these and other pictures he told his only grandchild stories that he had never before related to him. The young man was elated that his grandfather talked to him, and the family was extremely appreciative of my book as the catalyst for this final conversation. The grandfather never talked again, and I visited him in the hospital shortly before he died, which is when my friend/his daughter told me this story. I sometimes tell this story at book presentations; the first time I told it I cried too. I felt ridiculous crying, but afterwards a lady came up to me and said, "I'm glad you cried because I was crying too."

Another story I like is about the lady who keeps my first book in a Ziplock bag and won't let her grown children handle it without washing their hands because her childhood home is in the book, and her grandmother is sitting on the porch in the picture (bottom, page 61). "Grandmother is but a small speck in the picture, but must have been quite the opposite in real life!

From that same book, one man told me he was named "Caboose" as a child, the eleventh and last to be born in his family. The homeplace had been near Main Street in Conway when the railroad tracks ran down the middle of the street. As a grown man, he said his dad finally told him the reason for his nickname; the first train of the day came long before daylight, and Daddy said there was only one way he could get back to sleep! Thus, a Caboose was born! The man who told me that story died a few months ago, and to my surprise, his obituary indicated he was born several YEARS after the railroad tracks were removed from Main Street. Oh well!!