I FIRST SAW Myrtle Beach in the year before my marriage, in 1946. My husband's parents owned a summer home in what is now North Myrtle Beach. The area remains an independent entity still offically called Atlantic Beach. Back then, it was the only place on the beach where Negroes, as we were then known, were allowed to swim. Indeed, there were signs at the ends of our stretch of the beach reading For Whites Only.

It was all so different then. Myrtle Beach was a sleepy little town with one traffic light, near the old pavilion. Vacant lots filled with weeds lined Highway 17.

Our annual visits stopped in the '70s, when my parents-in-law and husband died. The house was sold. In 1988, I returned with my son and his family to sell property we still owned. We were just there for Memorial Day weekend, but it was long enough for the whole family to be seduced, once again, by its perfect ambiance. The town has grown exponentially. My grandchildren are giddy at the prospect of the many activities at their disposal. But I'm content to sit on that same old beach where I spent all those summers.


Ellicott City, Md.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-356-3016, www.myrtlebeachlive.com.