Reviews: The Sun News

By Bob Bestler

Many of us grew up in the 50s and 60s — that’s nothing new.

But not many of us grew up overtop a downtown cafe, wedged in between a dime store and a cab stand, fifty feet from a movie theatre, across the street from the police station, a rock’s throw from the Ferris wheel and the bach house.

Greek Boy: Growing Up Southern in an irreverent compilation of Dino Thompson’s memories of stumbling through his first 30 years, most of them in the seaside atmosphere of Myrtle Beach when it was still a one-juke-box town. Slang dialect and an oddball collection of salty characters capture the flavor of the author’s offbeat upbringing and his hands-in-the-air roller coaster ride through life.

Much of the book is set downtown, which was once the heart of Myrtle Beach. Thompson lived with his zany Greek parents over the Kozy Korner Cafe — a gathering spot for tourists, kibitzers and local yokels.

“Hey, I didn’t think I had a weir upbringing,” said Thompson. “I thought everyone ate all their meals in a restaurant and fell asleep to merry-go-round music. Didn’t matter to me most of my childhood friends were jitterbugs, carneys, gamblers, waitresses and old men with weird accents.”

The wry recollections in Greek Boy also provide a feel for the beach’s formative years, as it progressed from a quirky beach-house town with a three-month season to a major East Coast resort. Sixty-five photos and a nostalgic map of downtown Myrtle Beach give a visual history.

Locals and visitors know Thompson as the hands-on owner of two popular eateries, CAgney’s Old Place and the Flamingo Grill. On most any night you can find him greeting customers, prowling the dining room, bussing a table or sharing a story about growing up in Myrtle Beach. His venture into the writing wold began about 5 years ago.

“My ole man and his cronies were natural storytellers,” Thompson explained. “They got old. Started forgetting their own stories. For his 85th birthday I decided to write down some of my Dad’s stories, sprinkle in a few photos and give it to him for a gift. He got a big kick out of it. He kept laughing, so I kept writing... and writing and writing.”