FORMER SOCCER COACH WRITES HISTORIC BOOK
Howie Thompson, “Coach Howie” is a well known soccer coach in the Triangle area. He coached Soccer for Southern High School Boys, DSA High School Boys and Middle School Girls, Durham Chapel Hill Strikers and Triangle Futbol Club before moving to South Carolina in 2006. Thompson won 3 consecutive NSCAA/Adidas Regional Coach of the Year and in 2002 won the NSCAA/Adidas National Coach of the year.
Since leaving Durham, he penned his 3rd books, Overtime, the Legend of Trey Shooter Parrish (2nd printing out soon). Overtime has a screen play written for a movie by Alan King of Darien, Ct. Now, Thompson has entered the world of Shag Dancing and has written the biography of Harold Bessent, aka Fat Harold. The book is the only authorized biography of this Legendary King of Shag.
Xlibris Publishing has published this historic book, now on the shelves and online at all the major chain outlets.
“It was a revelation writing this book, and Harold is the most positive man I have ever met. The world of Shag Dancing is a large group of “Baby Boomers” and more. They are people who get together and just want to have a good time. I feel privileged to have been chosen to write this historic book as I know that so many people have been waiting for it.”
Thompson’s other books deal with sports. The Complete Book of Youth Soccer is a how to coach novel, A Game for All Seasons is a fictional book about a young girls soccer team, and Overtime is again a fictional novel about a young man who grows up in Indiana and is all that as a basketball player.
“I know now why writers like Grisham and Clancy only write fiction. Biographies take a long time to write and research. You can’t just make up stuff about a man’s life. I interviewed over 30 people for the book and another 75 gave me comments. It was a labor of love though. I learned so much about the North Myrtle Beach area and how the Shag Dance evolved here in the 50’s. It was a wild time down here.”
When you walk into Fat Harold’s Beach Club, you realize that you are in a special place. After parking your car in the concrete parking lot, if you are lucky enough to get a space, you traverse the traffic, hordes of people coming and going from the one set of glass doors on the front of the building. You pause for a moment to read the plethora of information that abound adorn the entrance to “OZ.”
Make no mistake about it, you are about to leave Main St. in North Myrtle Beach, and enter into a place straight out of a Rod Serling Twilight Zone script:
“Notice if you will the lights just up ahead, the neon sign that catches your attention, the laughter and music that pours out of every crevice of the building onto the parking lot and rolls out to the street like lava pouring from an erupting volcano. The entrance beckons you like the Sirens of ancient mariner lore as you feel yourself being pulled closer and closer to the door. There it , the door opens for you and you enter ‘The Shagging Zone.”
Shag is the only dance allowed in Fat Harold’s Beach Club. Just ask the “locals that frequent this historic landmark on a weekly basis. But it is much more then the dance as you will learn as you make your way through this biography of a man known affectionately as Fat Harold, whose real name is Harold M. Bessent. You will find out that this self made man, self made entrepeneur,the undisputed King of Shag dance, is a man who has a heart the size of all outdoors and a man, much like Will Rogers, “never met a man he didn’t like.” At least not one he would tell you about.
Harold M. Bessent was born on 6-13-33 in Little River, SC. Harold was given to an aunt to be raised when his mother died after child birth. He lived with 5 different families growing up as his father gave him away 5 different times. Despite this tragedy in his life, Harold managed to make amends with his dad before he passed. To this day Harold speaks glowingly of his 5 foster parents and feels that these were the character building events in his life that made him what he is today. One of the most successful entrepreneurs in the State of South Carolina and the most loved individual in all of the Grand Strand.
Harold attended Little River Elementary School, Wampee Jr. High School and Wampee HS before going on to Clemson for one year. He played Club Basketball for Clemson and when the Football Coach saw his size he said:
“Son have you ever played football?”
“Then Son you need to report to my office immediately.”
And that was Harold’s introduction to College Football. However, Uncle Sam came calling and Harold was drafted into the Korean Conflict .
Throughout this book you will learn about Harold Bessent the man, Fat Harold the Legend and you will see how North Myrtle Beach, Ocean Drive and the world of Shag Dancing were influenced by this humanitarian individual, who has given far more to the community then the community has given him. But he won’t tell you that.
Harold is a humble man from truly humble beginnings. He will tell those that sit down with him at “His Spot” at the end of the bar, all about how this person and that person have been so wonderful to him and how if it wasn’t for the community and the way they embraced his beloved Harold’s Beach Club, he wouldn’t be the success he is today. Truth be told, Harold has raised millions of dollars for Camp Kemo, helped out people in the community who truly need help, both financially and physically, and created a world where people from all walks of life, young and old, rich and poor, black, white, brown or whatever can come and enjoy a dance that he has promoted for over 50 years.
Harold M. Bessent, aka Fat Harold has been the most influential man in the entire Grand Strand from 1955 to present. His Legend is only second to his generosity and that pales in comparison for what this man has done for North Myrtle Beach, Ocean Drive and the entire Shag Dancing World. As you read this book, please remember that this man is the most influential man of our time here in South Carolina. He can pick up the phone and move mountains, and he can reach out and help the neediest of people. The great people that have come along in our life always seem to be remembered by the simplest of phrases or words.
Jackie Gleason; “And away we go.”
George Burns; “Say good night Gracie.”
Jim Valvano; “never Give up.”
Japanese Commander After Pearl Harbor Attack; ,”We’ve awakened a sleeping giant.”
Harry S. Truman: “The Buck Stops Here”
Harold Bessent will be always remembered by one simple phrase.; “He always made it happen.”
Making it happen is Harold’s trade mark. Whether it be opening up the Pad when he and Buddy sold the Spanish Galleon, or opening Fat Harold’s On the Beach (HOTO’s) and Fat Harold’s Beach Club when the pad and Harold’s Across the street were torn down. He also made it happen for so many young and old people here in North Myrtle Beach and all over the Shag world. Harold is not only a wise and wonderful business man, he is generous to a fault. He makes sure that people who cannot pay their hospital bill get the money to do so, and makes sure that those people who need the “life lines” have them as well. He has helped numerous musicians from Jim Quick and Butch Barnes to Craig Woolard get a start, get a restart, and made sure their personal issues in life were taken care of. Harold Bessent would be my choice for the Medal of Freedom Award. That is the highest honor the government can give to a civilian.
I think you will find this book interesting and very informative on this man’s life who has become an icon in our time. As I collected interviews and heard all the stories of how Harold fell into a septic tank, how he and Buddy ad Poo would “tear it up” at the old Spanish Galleon, and how he and Harold Worley, despite the gossip that abounds along the beach, are really good friends and great business partners. I think you will also come to realize, as I have, that this man that so many people call “Mr. Harold” out of respect, has touched so many lives, saved an entire world culture called Shag Dancing, and through it all is one of the most genuine people you or I have ever met.
I hope that you love this book as much as I loved writing it. Being just a small part of this world was great for me before I got introduced to Harold. Now, as they say down here, I’m in. Or as Jim Quick put it; “Your cool brother.” I was honored with Jim’s approval, “even if he is a fat sissy” I have tried to chronicle this man’s life in several ways. Harold Bessent the cop, postal worker and life guard who worked his ass off for years and finally came back to Myrtle Beach to help Pappy and Buddy Owens. Harold Bessent the gambler who rolled the dice on several bars and beach clubs before settling down at Fat Harold’s on O.D. Drive. Harold Bessent the humanitarian who ran for the House of Representatives, has raised over 2 million dollars for Camp Kemo and is always ready to help someone in need. Harold Bessent the lover of Shag dancing who single handedly helped preserve the Shag dance here in North Myrtle Beach. And lastly there is Harold Bessent the man. Harold is a man’s man in every sense of the word and someone who will be your friend for life.