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SUNSET BEACH—Summer at the Old Bridge regularly features local speakers on a variety of topics related to the old Sunset Beach Bridge. Most recently Ed Gore and Bill Bradford shared stories.
Gore, whose father Mannon C. Gore built the original bridge, talked about how his father worked on the bridge at his shop near Twin Lakes Restaurant. Seated on lawn chairs under live oaks, a group of locals and visitors listened with interest. Mannon Gore also built a bridge to Figure Eight Island.
Discussing how the bridge worked, Gore explained the role of the counterweights in pulling up the steel ramps before the bridge moved. Floating on steel barges, the bridge was a favorite site for visitors when it opened.
“Children used to say, ‘Look, it’s walking on the water!’ when the bridge swung open,” Gore said.
Responding to questions, Gore told how his dad purchased the island of Sunset Beach in 1955 for $55,000. At that time no one lived on the island and the only access was by boat. In 1958 the original bridge went into service, operated by Mannon Gore.
“It was a great honor to the family to have the bridge named for him,” he said.
READING TO CHILDREN
On a breezy Thursday evening, children and parents gathered under the trees for a reading by Sunset Beach resident Bill Bradford. An accomplished graphic artist and businessman, Bradford is also the father of two daughters. It was his experience as a parent, combined with childhood memories, that inspired him to write and illustrate
“Jeremy McBright Was Afraid of the Night.”
“Are any of you afraid of the dark?” asked Bradford. Shy smiles and averted glances gave way to nods as he added, “Maybe just a little bit?” Parents smiled as their children began to share their reasons for fearing nighttime. As Bradford read the story and showed the accompanying illustrations, he let the children supply the rhyming word to end each sentence. Giggles and happy faces were in abundance as the book concluded.
Bradford fell in love with Sunset Beach in 1977 when his wife Susan brought him here for the first time. “Crossing the bridge was almost surrealistic as it felt as though I was crossing over into an earlier time,” he said.
Last fall he and his wife moved here permanently, and he works from his home office helping to position and market businesses and also as a broker of commodities.
“Susan and I have been more than happy to lend any of our talents to the cause of preserving the bridge,” he said. “It’s good to know it’s still here and will still function for the community and countless visitors who need a healthy dose of the past.”
Residents and visitors alike are welcome to visit the bridge to have a look or take a photo and learn about the bridge’s past and future.
The bridge is at 109 Shoreline Drive E., across from the Sunset Beach Fire Department. Volunteers from the Old Bridge Preservation Society are available 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Wednesdays and from 4- 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Featured programs are at 5 p.m. Tuesdays.