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Why the Poo Crew is renaming a bridge after North Myrtle's Captain Poo

Captain Poo sits at the bar at Captain Archie’s in North Myrtle Beach.

It’s Wednesday and the Poo Crew is having its weekly meeting at a table nearby, although Poo isn't directly involved with the meeting and is more interested in having a few drinks with his friends at the bar.

Farther down along the Intracoastal Waterway is the Little River Swing Bridge. But thanks to the Poo Crew, it will have a new name next month: The “Captain Archie Neil ‘Poo’ McLauchlin Swing Bridge.”

So who is "Captain Poo?"

Archie McLauchlin, 82, is a lifelong resident of the North Strand, known by many in the North Myrtle area.

He's soft-spoken with blue eyes, white hair and a beard.

He's a former owner of Captain Archie’s, his usual hangout. Some still call it Captain Poo's, although the place can't be legally named that after a previous owner copyrighted McLauchlin's nickname.

When he was a baby, his father took him to see the opening of the bridge that will soon bear his name. He was a large infant, and his sister gave him the nickname “Poo” after an early 1930s cartoon character known as Poo the Giant.

He grew up along the Intracoastal Waterway and made a career out of being a Coast Guard certified captain after serving in the Air Force.

To honor him, a group of community members, who call themselves the Poo Crew after McLauchlin's old fishing tournament fish crew, have convinced the South Carolina state legislature to rename the swing bridge in his honor.

The dedication is 2 p.m. on April 14 at Filet's restaurant, which is located right next the bridge.

"He's not Jack Sparrow, but he's our Jack Sparrow," said Holly Heniford, the District 1 school board member, who's also part of the new Poo Crew that's planning the dedication ceremony. "He's lovable, he's endearing, he gives back to the community. When he's with you, he makes you feel like the most special person in the world."

The dedication will feature a boat parade, with boats decorated by all "the little pirates" in the community, and t-shirt sales with the profits going to Poo, she said.

"He's a simple life, he's a fisherman's life and we just want to make him feel as comfortable as possible," Heniford said. "He's so humble, he has no idea what this community thinks of him."

The Cherry Grove native has been there before WWII and has seen the area grow.

"My family first moved down here in 1934," Poo said. "There were 44 houses on the beach in the wintertime, less than 20-something people."

He grew up fishing along the Intracoastal. "It's in my blood," he said.

He went to Wampee High School, and then served in the Air Force between 1954 and 1958 as a security guard station at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas when the Air Force was testing U2 spy planes.

"I was so happy when they told me I'd be going down there," Poo said. "I said 'Damn, that's the Rio Grande! ... I'll bring my water skis down there and everything."

But the Rio Grande didn't have much water.

"I have more drink in that drink right there than the Rio Grande flows," Poo said, tapping at his vodka soda with lime.

When he got back, he began captaining boats up and down the Intracoastal.

As a captain and tournament fisherman, Poo met a lot of NASCAR drivers, and captained a boat for Dale Earnhardt Sr.

"Nice guy," Poo said of Earnhardt. "He used to run at Myrtle Beach. He owned his own fishing boat."

Poo said he would hang out in Earnhardt's pit area at Carolina and Virginia-area tracks and would go to dinner with him after.

"Him and his wife, we’d go out and party and have a few drinks," Poo said.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, Poo ran a King Mackerel fishing tournament called the Arthur Smith King Mackerel Tournament that attracted lots of NASCAR drivers. Later, he ran the Captain Poo's King Mack Attack tournament.

"There were a lot of NASCAR celebrities we were exposed to," said Poo's daughter Pam McLauchlin, 61. "He used to have a fishing tournament out of here and a lot of them fished in the tournaments. Most of the NASCAR drivers, until recently, have been involved in boating too."

As a kid, Pam said she met Earnhardt, as well as Rusty Wallace and Neil Bonnet.

"We had a lot of experiences, especially with celebrities and boats," she said. "The things I remember the most is going up and down the waterway and getting to drive the big boats and then later on meeting a lot of race car drivers and that kind of thing."

Poo himself doesn't have a lot of "good" stories to tell publicly. The reason? "They're all X-rated," he said.

"When I turned 30, he decided that I was too old to be his daughter because most of his girlfriends were much younger than I was," Pam said. "He said I was a bad influence on him and I'd have to go by being his sister from now on."

She said her dad is a lady's man who's been married and divorced twice.

He has two daughters and one son.

"One of the big jokes was somebody said 'Poo, how many wives have you had?'" Pam said. "And he said 'Mine or somebody else's?'"

But McLauchlin said her dad is a gentle soul without anything bad to say about anyone.

Pam's grandmother on her mom's side and her dad have remained close despite the divorce.

"She said one thing you can say about Poo is he never has anything ugly to say about anybody," Pam said. "I think that's a big virtue to have in today's society because it's hard not to talk ugly about people."

Nowadays, Poo usually hangs out at Captain Archie's, even though he still maintains his captain's license.

He used to run the bar, but when a previous owner took over, Poo says the owner copyrighted his name without him knowing, and wanted $10,000 for the right to use the "Captian Poo" name for the bar.

"The guy that I let take it over for about four years copyrighted my name and I didn’t know it," Poo said. "I ain’t paying for my name. It ain’t worth that much.'"

But Poo is still connected to the bar on the waterway and even has a brass plaque at the corner of the bar with him name on it.

Soon, the Little River swing bridge will also bear his name.

"He has held this bar up for a long, long time," his daughter said. "He finally earned his place."

This story has been updated to correct the name of the Arthur Smith King Mackerel Tournament.

Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian



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