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Beach Music

We were living in Washington DC in the summer of 1960 where my father, after returning from the Second World War and Korea began working as a cryptographer for the National Security Agency.

A Cold War was raging and tensions between the East and West were on the precipice of global destruction as the Soviets pounded their chests in defiance seeking to conquer the world telling the U.S. that “Survivors of their assault will envy the dead”. Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union held the US in terror as they shipped nuclear missiles to Castro’s small island 90 miles south of Miami.

Tensions were extremely high and my father, being a part of Washington’s intelligence community realized that DC was most likely ground zero for a nuclear attack should one occur. Fearing for our safety and having grown up in the Carolina’s he shipped my mother, brother and me south to a vacation town frequented by workers in the textile industry during the ’40s and 50’s known as Myrtle Beach. A summer beach resort on the northeast coast of South Carolina where a few years earlier they had purchased a small, faded white and grey, two-bedroom cottage sitting on cinder block footings with a screened front porch, sandspurs the size of marbles, beavertail cactus at every step and sidewalks made from warped, nail exposed, pine boards which lead to the dusty road and beach.

A place where dreams were born and where this 8-year-old believed he had discovered a door into the adventure of a lifetime.

Where old white and grey beach houses rested along the windblown sands of time and day after day, crystal blue skies welcomed the warmth of an early fall sun. Where walks along beautiful sands and dark blue waters with sunsets of orange, yellow and red welcomed billowy white clouds that darkened upon reaching the shore welcoming blowing hot winds that whistled through the front porch screens. Where we watched huge purple and black storm clouds growl and swirl in the distance, rattling the weather-beaten wooden windows in this pre-WWII cottage signaling a late summer rain and the closure of another day.

Where cottages over the decades had blistered in the heat causing their pine and cypress sidings whitewashed decade after decade, to peal in an array of muted colors from the salty humidity and intense southern sun of summer. Where the smell of tanning lotion, Georgetown paper mill, flounder being fried for supper and lowcountry marshes blossomed in the breeze and the rumble of stock cars racing on an old dirt horse track near what we called the “Hill”, filled the air. This was the south few people know, a place where we felt safe, a place which nurtured a romantic past buried deep within my heart with scents and sounds still treasured today in memories I call, “Beach Music”.

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Johnny Johnston
Johnny Johnstonhttp://www.blufengr-art.com/
An artist/writer as well as graduate of the University of South Carolina with degrees in journalism/20th Century American Literature, and retired senior executive of several international hotel/resort corporations, Johnny is the product of the south having been raised in the ever-changing transient lifestyle of a Carolina coastal resort. A point where he discovered, within his 300-year-old heritage and the world's dramatic social/cultural shifts during the late '60s to early 80’s an ambitious hunger and overwhelming curiosity to touch, see and become a participant in the virtually unlimited possibilities offered to those who wish for and seek life experiences. A journey which when hearing its details initially makes one a bit skeptical, questioning its validity as it is hard to imagine that incidents such as these may have crossed one man’s lifetime. This is the fodder required to step into zones exposing one's personal inner self, which many of his paintings and the words he writes do, openly. An ability to see and hear the tragic, beautiful, accomplished, exciting journey in a life free of inhibitions allowing others the opportunity to live vicariously and become, through his works, a part of its future. His larger works which have been featured in several Colorado and Fredericksburg Texas galleries and resorts have produced a number of collectors and fans. However, over the years, his paintings are mostly viewed by friends, enthusiastic new artist encountered on the streets or a small number of acquaintances he meets when dining in local cafés with his wife.

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