Reprocessing and Digitizing the William D. Workman, Jr. Papers Photographs: Beach Music

On October 22, 1960, the Drifters’ beach music classic, “Save the Last Dance For Me,” reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. According to the South Carolina Encyclopedia, “[b]each music, as it is known in the South, originated in the coastal Carolinas in the years following World War II.” The encyclopedia entry goes on to detail the origins and evolution of the genre. Beach music is particularly associated with Myrtle Beach and Ocean Drive, which is now part of North Myrtle Beach.
Below are two of William D. Workman’s images of the area in the 1940s, when beach music was born. Each picture is followed by a Google Maps Street View image of the same location in 2017. Of particular interest is Workman’s photo of the Roberts Pavilion. This was one of the early venues for beach music and shag dancing. A historical marker commemorating the pavilion is visible in the Google Maps image of the area.
Ocean Drive

Photograph showing the dead end of an unpaved road. Ocean is visible in the background. One and two-story wooden buildings are visible on the left side of the road. Roberts Pavilion, a large, white, three-story building, and a small cafe are visible on the right. Multiple cars are parked near the buildings, as is a greyhound bus. Two unidentified men walk across the picture's middleground.

The Roberts Pavilion and other businesses in the Ocean Drive area. May 27, 1946. Photo by William D. Workman, Jr.

Intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Main Street in North Myrtle Beach, looking toward ocean. Both roads are paved. A modern, multi-story hotel is visible on the left. On the right, a historical marker for the Roberts Pavilion is visible on the street corner. Behind it is a parking lot, with a business in the background.

Same section of Ocean Drive as shown above. January 2017. Google Maps Street View image. Click image to open Google Maps.

Myrtle Beach
Photograph of a wide, unpaved road. Road curves to right in background. Businesses visible on the left side of the road include gas stations, a restaurant, and a two-story brick bank. Two gas stations and two restaurants are visible on the right-hand side of the road. Other buildings are visible in the picture's background. 1940s-era cars are traveling down both sides of the road. Cars are also packed in front of the the businesses along the road.

Businesses along SC-17 in Myrtle Beach. August 5, 1947. Photo by William D. Workman, Jr.

View of SC-17 Business and US-501 where they fork. In the background, SC-17 veers to the left, while US-501 veers to the right. No businesses are visible on the left side of the road, only a sidewalk, short grass, and palmetto trees. On the right side of the road there is a sidewalk, beyond which there is a grass lawn and relatively modern-looking one-story businesses. A light-colored, two-story restaurant is visible in the background on the right, where US-501 curves out of sight. This building is also visible in Workman's picture, although in his picture its facade was darker and housed a different restaurant.

Same section of Myrtle Beach as shown above. January 2017. Google Maps Street View image. Click image to open Google Maps.

Reprocessing and digitization of the William D. Workman, Jr. Papers photographs has been made possible by a grant from the National Historic Publications & Records Commission.

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