22 Amazing Years
A nostalgic look at more than two decades of publishing excellence.
BY Pat Bradford
Our first issue featured Dennis Gillings’ Wrightsville residence, the Cotton Blossom on East Oxford Street, beginning our run of Home of Distinction features. We established ourselves as leaders in local journalism with history features, stories of life on the coast, plus notable people. This included a social section with photos of locals out at charity functions. Our first celebrity interview was in July 2001 with a fourth-grade student at Wrightsville Elementary affectionately called just Georgie, whose paintings were internationally acclaimed.
In the beginning, the magazine was printed on newsprint. We upgraded to a glossy cover in year three, continuing the newsprint interiors. In 2002, we added the weekly Lumina News to our portfolio. In 2005, we began a three-year run of publishing community phonebooks, which ended with the crushing recession. From the beginning, we loved doing stories about handcrafted things including boats, and the Simmons boat-building story is one of my favorites. I had the pleasure of meeting him long ago and seeing his facility, and it’s a memory I treasure.
Joshua Curry joined us in 2005, adding another dimension with his photography including a spectacular cover shot in our studio with tons of sand hauled in.
2009 sizzled starting in January with Environmental Voices, one of 15 installments in our Let’s Talk discussion series. The roundtable discussion took place while dining on a handcrafted Cape Fear Riverwood table in the glade at Airlie Gardens on an autumn afternoon. It was spectacular to be in that environment to talk about the environment with the experts.
In 2012 we were granted a hard-won 15-minute interview with UNC basketball coach Roy Williams. Not being a basketball fan, I crammed for 72 hours reading everything written about him. Our 15 minutes turned into an hour conversation sitting in his yard on South Lumina. It was unforgettable.
Potter Hiroshi Sueyoshi was always a favorite, not in small part because of his generosity to us. Both Allison Potter and I were treated to turns at his wheel. In 2015 Susan Warwick invited me to her beehives. The day started with me terrified of the bees to my bare arm draped over a hive full of buzzing bees. Corn parties are gatherings of friends and families that take place on the day corn is deemed ready to pick; Bert Williams allowed us to attend a few and we captured amazing photos that have always been special.
The fifteenth in our Let’s Talk roundtable discussion was Unmasking Suicide in December 2017. It is still a good read.
In 2019 and ’20 we outdid ourselves in a series of history stories on our great war veterans. The Shackleford Banks wild horse on the October 2018 cover is an all-time favorite for the strength and perseverance it represents in the people of N.C., especially post Hurricane Florence. Although, back-to-back December covers in 2020 and 2021 are also dear to my heart. Who doesn’t love our state red bird?
2022 A Look Back
Over 22 years we have built a great body of work, with substantial content that is in home library collections and those at the state’s universities including the Duke and UNC collections.
Publisher Pat Bradford’s look back at the features and covers that stand out to this day. For those of you with your own collection we’d love to hear what your favorite cover and favorite stories are. We have so enjoyed making these memories with you and we look forward to many more years.
Visit www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com for archives.
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