Remembering Chuck’s Milk Bar

February 3, 2013

Remembering Chuck’s Milk Bar

Editor’s Note: This letter was received by Bill Lee, and he thought it would be of interest to readers.

Dear Bill:
My name is Ray Branch, I grew up in Dillon many many years ago—and so enjoy reading your articles in The Dillon Herald about how some things were in an earlier day.
Your story published in the Herald on Thursday, December 27, 2012 was quite interesting to me because I know a bit about the “drive-ins” of that time in the early 1950’s. Actually, the one you reference in the story was closed and re-opened across the street and between the Catholic Church and the Esso Station on the corner. It was a small frame building about 12–14 ft. by 20–24 feet with a gravel parking lot.
This business was originally owned by Chuck Cottingham and later by a Mr. Rogers, a brother-in-law of Mr. Cermette Clardy. Chuck was the brother of Royce Cottingham, who played professional baseball and later was in law enforcement in Dillon.
The business was named Chuck’s Milk Bar and provided curb service as well as eating inside. Mostly, the clientele was high school kids, and its provided a hang-out, if you will, for them. Kids who went away to college/university always came back when they were in town for the holidays. Juke Box and, yes—shagging were popular back then. A pin ball machine was active most of the time.

The menu consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, toasted pimento cheese, milk shakes, ice cream, banana splits, sundaes, and Coke floats, and Orange Crush floats, etc. Activity was frantic on nights after sports and generally on Friday and Saturday nights. High school kids dating usually brought their dates by for refreshments during the evening. I recall a young cute couple named A.B. Jordan and Carleen Myers used to come by!
How do I know all this? I worked at Chuck’s Milk Bar for about a year when  I was in 10th grade—both inside and as a curb hop. There were no roller skates in the gravel lot! Actually one person did it all—for $.35 per hour. After school and on weekends. The beginning of a college fund and a lot of fun!
Thanks for letting me share.
Ray Branch
Charlotte, NC
Just a note:  I graduated from Dillon High School, and after working for a year or so and after in the US Army, I graduated from the University of South Carolina with  BS in Mechanical Engineering.
We moved to a couple of major companies here in the states. Later we went abroad, spent a career in the Middle East and I took early retirement  as Director of Engineering.
We moved to a couple major companies here in the states. Later we went abroad, spent a career in the Middle East and I took early retirement as Director of Engineering from Arabian American Oil Company. Married 55 years this year with three children and five grandchildren.
And I still feel the service was better at Chuck’s Milk bar in the early 1950’s.

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