Wow! How things sure have changed here at Holden Beach during my lifetime. I was born in Wilmington in October of 1972. My parents were living here on the island then, in a house that they built on the east end of the island on Shrimp St. My Father (Alan Holden) was then teaching school in the local high school and coaching many sports at the time. My grandparents, John F. Holden and Johnsie M. Holden lived only about a block away from me so I could walk over any time I liked. You may have seen their house. It is the only one story brick home on the island.
Anyway, I remember going over the their house when I was about four years old and watching “renters” come to their front door to pick up their house keys. They did not have many homes to rent but only a handful. My grandfather actually built most of the homes that he rented out himself. They use to sit and tell me about all kinds of cool stories. Did you know that around the 200 OBE block of Holden Beach there use to be a very small air strip? There was no airport building or anything like that, but just a long field of grass for private planes to land on. I was not around then, but I have seen pictures of it.
One wonderful memory that I have, was the many times I walked down to the beach at night and watch the locals pull in their fishing nets. Some of the local fisherman had these little shacks build directly on the strand that had a small stove and some ice chests etc. Just the basic things that were needed by them to pass the time. There might have had some blankets, lanterns, fish knives etc. Most of the time there was a fire buring out in front of the shack. Near this fire was a small table about 4 feet high and about 2 feet square on top. On it, was a large powered winch that would pull in the nets that went far out into the surf for about 50 to 75 yards out. Usually it was at night when they would pull them in. Boy, when they powered up that winch there were all kinds fish in the nets. There were Spots, sharks, Mullet, and just about everything else. We would pull the fish off the nets and throw them into buckets as the nets were coming in. I was just a little fella, and some of those fish were kind of scary for me to handle. Usually for dinner, the adults would take a few of the fish and clean them immediately. Then they would put some batter on them and fry them right there on the beach strand along with some hush puppies. Talk about some GOOD eating.
My grandparents told me how hush puppies got their name in this area. I was told that the women would be making cornbread for their families and they would usually have a little bit of batter left over. So while they were cooking, the dogs in the backyard would always be barking and begging for something to eat. So the wives would fry up the left over batter and thow them to the puppies to keep them quite. So…..it was done to hush the puppies. Now you have hush puppies. So, the next time you are out dining at local resturants, think about the puppies barking for some food.
I never knew what good memories I was making back in those days. My, how we have changed the way we do things here. If you want to read about some other neat stories by my grandparents Holden Beach History has a lot of them. You can buy those books that were written by Mr. and Mrs. John F. Holden directly through us. He was one of the original founding fathers of this quite, “Family Beach” that we all love so much.