January 4, 2014

Owners of ‘Myrtle Manor’ trailer park talk history

Remembering Myrtle Beach: A Local History Series

Barbara and Cecil Patrick took more than 30 attendees at a Saturday presentation at Chapin Memorial Library down their memory lane on the road to their reality TV show “Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor.”

Barbara described a pre-developed Myrtle Beach in a way that helped attendees visualize areas like Family Kingdom before it was built, U.S. 501 and Highway 15 when they were access roads and not fully developed, when the post office was an elementary school and more.

The two are widely known for their ownership of half of Patrick’s Mobile Home Park, known worldwide as Myrtle Manor.

Cecil described how the park began as a corn field until he and his wife took action.

“Barbara and I bought a mobile home and put it right in the middle of that corn field. First lot,” Cecil said. Then he moved his grandmother into a lot and they began to add more, which led Cecil to talk his father, Cecil Sr., into developing the land as a mobile home park.

“He said, ‘Son, I don’t know if I want to do that. The only thing in life I ever owned was a car,’” Cecil said of his father.

A $50,000 loan later and plenty of help from within the Patrick family, the park grew.

“All of us worked in that park to help build it,” Cecil Patrick said. “I just wish my dad could see it today.”

On ‘Myrtle Manor’

Attendees were eager to hear from the Patricks on the TLC TV show “Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” which premiered as the No. 1 show for TLC in the last three years and No. 2 all time.

“They tell us that we’re going to be their No. 1 show by this time next year,” Cecil Patrick said.

In the beginning

Cecil and Barbara were in New Orleans when they received a call from their daughter that someone wanted to film a reality show at the trailer park.

“I said don’t sign nothing, don’t agree to nothing,” Cecil recalls. “She called back the next day and said, ‘Dad, that guy’s back and I think he’s serious.’”

When he called the man back from the production company, he asked, “What kind of idiot would want to do a TV show about a trailer park in Myrtle Beach?”

Barbara said there was some skepticism.

“We thought it was a scam the entire time,” she said. “We were just riding it to see what happens.”

The Patricks were told that if they agreed to do this, it would create about 50 jobs, and the production company was going to spend “several million dollars” in the economy, Cecil said.

All in the family

The Patricks’ granddaughter had to write a paper to get into Clemson’s Honors College, and she wrote about living in a trailer park and how her family put it on TV.

“Dana [Painter]’s daughter, Maryann, said, ‘Look, I’ve been trying all my life to not let people know where I live and now you’re going to put it on national TV?’” Cecil Patrick recalled.

The Patricks had a family meeting before deciding to do the show.

“The only way we’re going to do this is for us to be unanimous as a family as to what we’re going to do,” he said, adding they agreed that 25 percent of profits made would go to charity.

Why the Patricks’ park

Cecil Patrick said the family’s trailer park was chosen because it is one of the biggest and because they “could make happen what the production company needed to happen,” which was move some trailers in and out of the park.

The city’s side

Cecil Patrick said it took about two months of filming before word starting spreading around the community about the show. He said city officials knew about it and were on board.

“We said, ‘If ya’ll don’t want us to do it, you say so and we won’t do it,” he said. “We started talking with the city and the city said, ‘Why not?’”

“The city of Myrtle Beach has bent over backwards to make this thing work.”

The critics

The Patricks have received some negative reactions to the show, and Cecil said a survey showed 98 percent of it was coming from residents of the city, but mainly people who moved here and were not born and raised here.

“I’ve been cussed out more in the last year than I have my whole life,” Cecil Patrick said. “I’ve had things said about me and my family that’s never been said before. And they told us all this stuff was going to happen.”

He said someone even said his father, Cecil Sr., would be disappointed.

“My dad would love what’s going on here because he loved people,” Cecil said. “He likes people. This is a good thing.”

How the ‘F’ word almost killed Myrtle Manor

The Patricks were adamant about three things when they agreed to do the show: No work on Sundays, no one can use the ‘F’ word and there can’t be open sex, Cecil Patrick said.

“We saw the first show one day before it showed on TV... and we called them and told them to come get their stuff and get off the property because that ‘F’ word was on 19 times in the first episode,” Cecil said. “They came in and fired that whole crew that did the first few episodes.”

It set a tone for this upcoming season, as well.

“This year, we said there will be no profanity at all on this show, and it’s been very minimal from what we’ve seen so far,” Cecil said.

Getting real on reality TV

One of the characters on the show, Miss Peggy, was battling breast cancer and producers with Jupiter Entertainment stepped in to help.

“She had breast cancer and she couldn’t even afford her medicine,” Cecil Patrick said. “The production people found out about it. They painted her house, fixed the yard and paid her medical bills and put her on the show. When she went skinny dipping, about 30 minutes before that, she found out that she was cancer free for the second time.

“This production company has done all kinds of good stuff that people don’t even know about.”

The show has brought many fans by the trailer park – some at the end of their life.

“We see so many fans,” Cecil said. “A lot of people come to Myrtle Beach for their last trip. They know they’re dyeing or they’re getting old. And it’s amazing how many people say I wanted to come to Myrtle Manor. You don’t know what to say when people say that.”

“The people of Myrtle Beach really don’t realize how big this show is because some of them live in a real small world, but it’s going to get bigger and bigger nd bigger.”

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