Friday, 20 August 2021 15:22

COLUMN: Our trip to White Lake

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If you have ever lived in the Coastal Plains sections of our great state of North Carolina, you have most likely paid a visit to the 1,200-acre lake known as White Lake, sometime in your lifetime. With its clear water, sandy bottoms and gradual drops in water levels, it’s known as one of the safest big bodies of water in the U.S. — plus it’s a big boast for tourism in Bladen County.


No one knows where the many lakes in that area came from. Some say meteorites hit these areas many years ago and formed these great holes which are fed by subterranean springs. No matter how they were formed, they have provided fresh drinking water and all types of water recreation for many years.

The Indians also used these lakes along the Cape Fear River for their livelihood. Over the years, several old dugout canoes have been discovered in the sand and among the cypress trees that grow around the lake. Also, let us not forget the beautiful Spanish moss that grows in the cypress trees — it’s like icing on a cake and adds a little creepy look to the area.

The lake started getting commercialized in the early 1900s. People started selling lots around the lake, until the Great Depression hit in the '20s. After World War II, things really started taking off at the lake.

I remember in the early '50s, my granddaddy, being a part time surveyor, did some work in the area and had a chance to buy up a few lake-front lots at a good price but my grandmother somehow talked him out of it. That was as close as our family ever got to owning any property on White Lake.

Well, not owning any land on the lake didn’t stop us from taking day trips to the lake in our '50-model Ford, no siree. Why, we’d leave bright and early in the morning, driving down old Hwy. 74 right through the middle of Laurinburg, hit Hwy. 211 in Lumberton and then take Hwy. 41, right into Elizabethtown. Then we would drive down the hill and cross the Cape Fear River, at Tory Hole, and in just nine more miles, we’d be a sittin’ at White Lake.

Goldston Beach was and still is the place to go if you don’t want to rent a motel or cottage for a night or two. They have large bathhouses you can change your clothes in, a long pier over the water, a place to eat, souvenir shop and game room, and, last but not least, carnival rides like bumper cars, tea cups, tilt-a-whirl and, of course, hobby horses.

A while back, my wife and I thought taking our two youngest grandkids to White Lake would be a treat for them and us as well. Some of the roads had changed but it took us less than two hours  and we were at the lake. 

Arriving at the lake, we found our hotel, unpacked, and the grandchildren wanted to take a dip in the lake. The lake wasn’t as clear as I remembered it to be because there had been five inches of rainfall the day before we arrived.

After a good night’s sleep, it was back in the lake for all of us. Seems during the rush to pack, I’d forgotten my bathing suit. You know a country boy can survive, so I put on a pair of Bermuda shorts and jumped right in.

We hadn’t been in the water long when a small man and a rather large and robust lady walked out on the pier. Both had on their bathing suits. The lady was carrying one of the biggest plastic floats I reckon I ever seen. Now I’m not telling no joke folks, that float was bigger than any big man recliner I’ve ever seen.

After rubbing on about a quart of suntan lotion, the lady told the little man to jump in the lake and hold the float steady so she could get on it.

Well folks, what happened next was a sight to behold. The little man held the float right under the steps beside the pier. All the while, the robust lady made her way backwards down the steps. She told the man to hold the float steady as she fell back onto the large float. Well, ‘bout time she landed, that float turned over and flipped her right out. Now, I want you to know, before she came up, that little man had jumped on the pier and was headed to the house.

Now that lady wasn’t gonna be out done, no sir. Why, she pulled the float to the edge of the water and flopped down right in the center of it. She floated around for a while and then a boat came by and the waves washed her and the float under the pier. Folks, you ain’t gonna believe what happened next!

As the lady was trying to maneuver that float from under the pier, a nail punched a hole right through it. Have any of you ever let the air out of a large balloon and released it? Well you know what happens next. Having a least 400 P.S.I. of air in the float; that float sputtered right loud and flew out from under that pier like a rocket — all the while, that lady was hanging on for dear life. Both the float and the large lady zipped through the no-wake zone in nothing flat and headed toward the middle of the lake.

Folks, I ain’t never seen nothing like this in all my born days! The float finally ran out of air, and the woman and her float sank like the Titanic. The people around the lake stared in disbelief, their eyes as big as saucers. But mind you, that lady just floated to the surface, and backstroked all the way back to shore as if nothing had happened.

Folks, I have seen a lot of strange things in my lifetime, but I’d put that lady’s ride on her monster float in the top one hundred of my list!

I hope you have enjoyed this story of our trip to White Lake and remember, there are stories everywhere if'n you are willing to look for them. 

J.A. Bolton is author of “Just Passing Time,” co-author of “Just Passing Time Together," and just released his new book, “Southern Fries: Down-Home Stories,” all which can be purchased on Amazon. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..