South of the Border

img_1352-1If you’ve traveled up or down the East Coast of the United States on Interstate 95, and crossed the North Carolina/South Carolina border, you know about South of the Border!  Famous for it’s mascot Pedro, and for their advertising signs up and down I-95, it’s been a staple of our trips, as children, as parents when our 3 kids were young, and as retirees running away from the northern winters!  What you may not know is the history of this long time fixture at the North/South Carolina border.

Located in Dillon, South Carolina, like me, it was born in 1950 as South of the Border Depot. It was originally a beer stand adjacent to what was, at that time, one of the many dry counties in North Carolina.  Known as the halfway point between Florida and New York in the early days, as the years went on, the business was expanded with Mexican trinkets, and then added a cocktail lounge, gas station and souvenir shop and, and in 1954, a motel.  In 1962 they added a firework’s store, capitalizing on the fact that fireworks sales were illegal in North Carolina!  By the mid 60s, South of the Border had a barber shop, drug store, a variety store, a post office an outdoor go-cart track and other outdoor recreational facilities including a miniature golf course. 

In 1964 it was announced that the route for the under construction Interstate 95 would pass right by South of the Border, and its place in Americana History was assured.  From as far away as 200 miles, you see billboards alongside I-95, many featuring the South of the Border mascot, Pedro.  


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While many have called the SOB mascot Pedro culturally offensive, politically incorrect or racist, South of the Border has dismissed the criticism , saying that Pedro is a light-hearted joke. An interesting fact….today all South of the Border employees  are referred to as Pedro.  

As you approach the 350-acre compound along the east side of I-95, the first thing that you see in the distance is the 200-foot observation tower with the sombrero shaped observation deck .  


As you come upon the site, the miniature golf course, truck stop, 300-room motel, multiple souvenir shops, campground, multiple restaurants, amusement rides, and Fireworks stores come into view.


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Unfortunately, in recent years South of the Border has fallen on hard times, as less and less families travel via car, and many, more modern facilities have opened along I-95.  Every time we’ve driven by in recent years, the place has looked very empty, as opposed to the times we visited in the late 80s and early 90s when Billy, Krissi, and Kenny were little kids.  Times change, and perhaps in the near future, South of the Border, mascot Pedro, and the roadside billboards will go the way of Berma Shave signs….just a memory of a time when we all were younger.  

PS – In 2016, shortly after I retired, we made our first retiree winter trip down to Florida. On the second day of our trip, we passed the North/South Carolina border, and South of the Border.  In that blog, I told the story of a much earlier trip to Florida, with three little kids, and of our adventure at SOB.  Check it out….


July 3rd, 1977

This blog is called R New Adventures, and its purpose is to document our lives together as we move into our next chapter, retirement.  That’s all well and good, but if something hadn’t happened 39 years ago today, there would have been no chapters in our life and no blog. That’s because  July 3rd, 1977 was a monumental day is Susie and my life.

imageThe summer of 1977 found me working as a Vacation Relief Engineer at ABC, but July 3rd found us in the middle of a 5 1/2 month strike by our union (NABET) against the American Broadcasting Company.  That meant that rather than being in MUSICRADIO 77 WABC’s Studio 8A with the likes of Dan Ingram, George Michael, or Chuck Leonard or in 95.5 WPLJ’s Studio FM-1 with Pat St John, Tony Pigg or Carol Miller playing music, we were outside the ABC Building picketing 3 times a week!  Meanwhile, Susie was working as an RN at Glen Cove Hospital, covering the evening charge shift in Pediatrics.

So, on Saturday July 3rd, 1977 we were both invited to an early July 4th BBQ at our friends’ Maryanne and Bill Epperhart’s house.  I knew Bill from WCWP and Susie worked with Maryanne at Glen Cove Hospital.   Years later, we discovered that the purpose of the whole party was to get the two of us together, but on that day 39 years ago, all I knew was that I was able to attend a Saturday summer party at a friend’s house, because we were on strike and I didn’t have to work!

I’ll tell you something that did work…getting the two of us together!  Susie had some fireworks she’d brought back from a road trip visiting relatives, and I was imagedesignated to be the one to help her ignite the display.  Something besides those fireworks ignited that night!  Frankly, it was love at first sight and of course I wanted to see her again!  The next weekend, we went out on our official “first date”.  One of the elements of that date was dinner at a favorite Chinese Restaurant.  My fortune cookie told it all that night.  “You will marry your present lover and be happy”, was what the little slip in the cookie said, and it couldn’t have been more right!

So 39 years later, we still celebrate this day as a milestone in our life together, and every night I give thanks for meeting the most wonderful person, the love of my life, my best friend, and person that I have shared every adventure in this life with!  Love you Susie and am so thankful that July 3rd, 1977 happened and gave me my life!!!  You are the best and the key to our adventures!