A COLORFUL CHAPTER IN WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH HISTORY
by Keith T. Barber
There was a time in the 1920s when a young boy could take a rowboat, go shrimping on Brad-ley
Creek and not dare leave his net in the water for more than five minutes. If he did, he would
find it so full of shrimp he would barely be able to haul it back in the boat.
The late Luke T. Hines, founder of Hines Seafood — a Wrightsville Beach fixture for nearly
three decades — was that young boy back then. Hines’s son, L.T., says his father’s entrepreneur-ial
spirit was evident from an early age. After making his daily catch, Luke would boil the shrimp
in a family washpot behind the Hines’s home on Oleander Drive.
“Daddy would take the cooked shrimp, go to Wrightsville Beach and he would sell them in
little bags for 10 cents a bag, three for a quarter, on the back of a mule,” L.T. says.
THE story of Luke and the late Ruby Hines,
and their children, L.T. and his late sister
Melba Hines Neville, evokes a time of inno-cence
and adventure in the rich history of
Luke Hines operated his first seafood business near
the Old Causeway Drive area where Redix now sits.
Living on a developing island kept life interesting
for L.T. and Melba. When the Intracoastal Water-way
was dredged, the mud and silt was dumped on
the marshland behind their home, which means the
“Sandman” would invade on summer nights.
“When we were kids, there was no air-conditioning, and
they filled that dirt in there and it blew through the screens
at night like talcum powder,” L.T. recalls. “You
would wake up in the morning and literally have
to wipe your eyes to get the sand out of them.”
Ever the entrepreneur, Luke Hines placed his
first seafood market in the hands of his business
partner in 1951 and hit the road with his family
in tow, trying to get rich selling “waterless cook-ware,”
a precursor to nonstick pots and pans.
After a tough year of traveling to Orlando,
Ocala and New Orleans, the family returned
to the area. Luke sold his share in the first
market and opened Hines Seafood on Cause-way
Drive, near the old Middle of the Island
restaurant and the current site of Poe’s Tavern.
Left: Luke Hines caters a seafood party on Wrightsville Beach in the early 1960s. Top: A fish-shaped sign, now part of the Wrightsville
Beach Museum collection, hung in the window at Hines Seafood.