South Of The Border’s 60 Year Anniversary

history_donkeyThis year South of the Border, America’s favorite roadside attraction located near Dillon South Carolina along Interstate 95 at the North Carolina and South Carolina border, marks its 60th year of operation and our plans are to get bigger and better than ever before. Pedro has seen a lot of changes in the world and a lot of changes here at South of the Border over the years, and Pedro has many new projects and renovations in the works.

South of the Border began as a 600 square foot stand selling beer to thirsty patrons from dry counties north of the border in North Carolina and has developed into a 300 acre complex with such diverse features as a motel and campground, six restaurants, a theme park, mini-golf, fireworks store, gas stations and more than a dozen gift shops with everything from Mexican jumping beans to antiques. In the beginning Mr. Alan Schafer worked the stand by himself and now SOTB is run by the third generation of the Schafer family and hundreds of employees, making it the biggest employer in Dillon County, S.C.

The people used to come to in a few at a time in American made Chevys and Fords traveling along Highway 301. Now Pedro greets millions of cars, made all over the world, traveling from New York to Florida on Interstate 95, and now some of those cars even run off of electricity. And now, people can travel on jet planes from one side of the U.S. in only a few hours instead of having to drive for days. Speaking of traveling, Pedro has even seen people take voyages in rocket ships from the Earth to the Moon and live in space stations circling high above our planet.

Communicating has changed immensely in the last 60 years. Back in 1950, telephones weighed a few pounds and their use was limited by how long the cord that was attached to it would reach. The sound traveled over wires stretched from coast to coast, and operators transferred calls by switching plugs to make the connection. Now the phones weigh only a few ounces and are wireless so that you can carry them with you on your trip to give Pedro a call if you need to reserve a room at the South of the Border Motor Inn. The cell phone signals now bounce off satellites orbiting the earth and can reach nearly any point on the planet. The satellites themselves are another creation that has happened in the last 60 years, with Russian putting the Sputnik 1 in orbit in 1957. Floating high above the earth and circling the globe, they now carry every type of communication one can image. Television, phone calls, global positioning signals (GPS), surveillance cameras and outer space research are all carried by satellites today. GPS has become a vital part of modern communication and travel. The satellites send signals to small devices, cars, and cell phones that are equipped to guide people to their destination with on-board maps that are displayed on the screen or by a voice that speaks to you.

The computer might be the biggest change in world since South of the Border opened all those many years ago, followed closely by the invention of the internet. In the 1960’s computers were so large that each one would take up space equivalent to the average living room just to do the simplest of calculations. Now smart cell phones that fit in the palm of your hand are able to pack the power of dozens of those computers, and they can connect to the internet so you can surf the web while away from home. The internet has become ingrained in everyday life, with people doing their shopping, paying bills, learning, playing games, watching movies and using social media sites to connect with their friends who might live far away.

Other notable inventions, events and milestones since South of the Border opened are:

  • Microwave oven- Pedro thinks microwave burritos should be on here too!
  • The Snuggie- Pedro has been wearing one for 60 years, we call it a serape in Mexico
  • The Polaroid camera and digital camera- Pedro looks very handsome right?
  • E-mail- Lets Pedro stay in touch with his many friends and visitors all over the world.
  • Remote control- If Pedro can ever find his, have you seen it?
  • Automatic Teller Machines- Made getting more money to spend with Pedro VERY easy
  • Salsa takes over as #1 condiment- Pedro thinks plain old ketchup never stood a chance!

We know there are so many more events, inventions and important happenings in the last 60 years and we invite you to share your memories of anything that was important to you and your family, or simply tell us your favorite memory of South of the Border and the changes you have seen to our complex here in Dillon, SC.

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24 Responses to “South Of The Border’s 60 Year Anniversary”

  1. rs303909 says:

    i miss Club Cancun!!

  2. //Ann says:

    I first became acquainted with Pedro on my first road trip to Florida in 1973 (I must have been 15). We didn’t stop in at that time.

    It wasn’t until some time later, after getting married, some time after my sister moved to Florida when her daughter was about 4 or 5 (she’s 27 now). To give my niece a thrill, we actually PULLED INTO South of the Border and called her from a public phone there (pre-cell phone days).

    At some later date (although not MUCH later), my sister’s family stayed overnight there on their way to spend Christmas in Northern VA – again to give their daughter a thrill.

    We (hubby & I) finally stayed with Pedro ourselves on our way to Florida (to visit BOTH sisters) 2 days before Christmas. We’re not as young and invincible as we once were, can’t do the whole 1000 miles / 18 hours “straight through” anymore.

    We were pleasantly surprised with the room. The thing that was most notable to me was that the clean, well-kept room smelled SWEET – so many times you stay at a hotel or motel, even very nice ones, and they either smell like toxic cleaning chemicals or like insectide. And always a pleasure to find a little fridge in the room!

  3. clarence macomber says:

    Every spring for last 10 years or more I stop at SOB on my return to CT. from Florida,On my getting into SC from GA. I so look forward to the first SOB road sign,I read everyone and chuckle,my concern is that over the years I notice less and less of the things that the signs mention are not in operation and more and more things closed,is hard times delivering a toll on SOB. I’d hate to see SOB shut down,is it doing good,Fair? or just terrible?

  4. Susanne says:

    For a while things were getting a little worn … however, we’re rejuvenating South of the Border from top to bottom! In the past year we’ve done lots of renovations in the shops, added new, updated souvenir inventory, and are working on bold new things to come! Be sure to stop by to check us out!

  5. Sam says:

    Is there a casino at South of the Border?

    Thank you!

  6. Jason C. says:

    I remember as a kid seeing the billboards along I95 on family reunion trips from New England to Myrtle Beach. Genius marketing btw! We would bug the crap out of our parents for 200 miles until they caved and stopped at one of the biggest tourist attractions in the south east. Good times, good times! Happy 60th SOTB!

  7. rs303909 says:

    there isn’t one on the grounds of South of the Border, but there are three across the NC state line adjacent to SOTB

  8. Don Dilsner says:

    I really enjoy stopping over at SOB. You guys got everything, A bank,a cafe,post office,motor inn, And of course the pantry east where I can buy my cigs for NY. with beer,soda,chips to mention a fiew, hope you guys have another 60 years

  9. jim green says:

    Not much traffic here, but I’ll add my two cents. While in high school in the late sixties I worked at South of the Border for several summers. Some of my jobs were: train driver and track greaser, elephant tender, chimpanzee sitter, septic truck driver (had bad brakes), carny rides operator (late night, Paul,who went on to marry Betty, would shoot arrows at the ferris wheel cars while at top of its arc), waiter, Pedro (the guy dressed with the hat and serape who you followed on his bicycle to your room), and grounds tender (one time Mr. Saleebe came out with a pair of hand clippers, really scissors, and having cut a tall weedy grass shoot, asked me if I thought that was too hard to do, when I replied no, he then gestured at the hundreds of grass shoots and said well get going then, we workers liked Mr. McDuffie, an old WW1 vet, who was our immediate supervisor better), and garbage truck driver (that was cool as the fireworks store often threw out tons of good, but slightly damaged fireworks which we could salvage for the evenings entertainment), and that is about it. Growing up in Dillon, it was an interesting place to experience new people and culture. I am grateful for my time there and wish the Schaefer’s all the best.

  10. John and Joann says:

    as we are over the road truck drivers .we stopped at s.o.t.b. one night for tacos they were very everytime we go though dillion ,we make a point of stopping to see pedro keep up the nice work. the place is really looking good keep up the good work

  11. Snoopy says:

    I loved my first visit to SOB, had a great time …looking forward to my next

  12. Dave in PA and GA says:

    I have traveled past that pace for 40 years. I visit my family in Savannah 4-5 times a year.
    Had my first Taco there in 1973/?
    Viva SOB!

  13. Deterral Brockington says:

    yo pedro wats goin on wit ya amigo!!!? yep and besides thats my favorite joint i alaways go to when i go home to see my grandma n my cousins in florence s.c. or headin down south to visit my mom n dad n my classmate in ga. keep that business up n goin strong n add new things to attract more n more tourist there dude! cus u know im cominn back soon when i get a chance!

    well adios amigo!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. jose says:

    U should bring back the old school 70s honeymoon suite

  15. George from NJ says:

    Easter break 1971–tacos for breakfast on Sunday morning. Unforgetable.

  16. Mike says:

    I was a kid of the 1980s. My family started going to Myrtle Beach in 1979 and we went every year for 20 straight years. In the 80s, each summer my brother and I would travel with my grandparents and stop at SOB. I had some of my fondest childhood memories there. I remember those humid SC nights – having the Pedro on his bike guide us to our room then walking around the grounds. My grandfather is gone now and my grandmother is well into her 90s. Those days are but a whisper now – but at one time … Life was good. Happy 60th SOTB! Thank you for the wonderful summer memories!

  17. Danielle says:

    I live about 45mins away from SOTB. I was in high school when I took my first trip. This was during the “dark days” when Mr. Schafer had just passed and everything was starting to become rundown, but even if the shabbiness of it all, I fell in love. I’m 25 now, and every month or so, I make the trip up there to just walk around and enjoy. This is one of the greatest roadside attractions I’ve been to, and the history of it all is amazing if you take the time to learn it..(trust me, I did several papers and speeches on SOTB in college)

  18. Barry says:

    I have many fond childhood memories of going to SOTB from my small NC home in the 70s. We used to look at all the billboards counting down the miles until we arrived. It was my small pour town version of Disney. They were wonderful experiences. I miss it.

  19. James Saunders says:

    I was borned and raised around Clinton, N.C.. Always fascinated with the SOTB signes along the I-State. Well any way In May of 1967 got married in Ct. where I ended up after my tour in the US Army. My new wife and I drove down to S.C. SOTB, spent our wonderful HoneyMoon, there. I belive it was in room 15.. We hope to return there, this May, for our 46 Anny. But I don”t see anywhere on this site where I can make Res.???? Guess I’ll try and call.


  20. kimberly says:

    To whom it may concern, what is the best room for a couple? Its my anniversary. Will be there sat dec 7.

  21. Brian and Rachel says:

    The best kept secret at SOB is the fried chicken in the restaurant next to the big man. It is some of the best fried chicken that I ever had and it is made fresh, so be prepared to wait, chicken this good cannot be rushed!
    We enjoy stoping there and going through the gift shop. They still donate proceeds of all bumper sticker sales to charity. I have been going to SOB for over 30 years.

  22. Aaron says:

    Every year my family took a trip to S.C., coming from central P.A. My folks always kept my brother and I involved on the long trip, playing games like “find all 50 states license plates”, and “first to see a palm tree”. The winner of each little game got some sort of prize, usually small, but interesting enough to keep us awake and looking. Then there was the “BIG” prize, 10$ of wrapped quarters for use at the arcades in downtown Myrtle Beach….thats like 1000$ to a kid back then (im 35 now). The first person to see that glorious, multi-colored, giant Pedro got that fat log of quarters, and believe me, to this day, when my wife and I travel down I95 I still get super excited to see Pedro standing there, right where I’ve always known him to be!!!! We still stop in on the way down to stretch our legs, even though its to early for the shops to be open, and again on the way out of S.C., ….just for the fun of it! South of the Border is as much a part of my vacation as the beach, and relaxing, and it always brings a smile to my face. Pedro’s right, not many people have ever “Sausage a place!”

  23. Rob and Annie says:

    I love SOB, I stop each way to and from Florida, I love the neon, the Rt 66 look everything about the place, its fun and a great place to stop. We visit at least twice a year, each way…keep up the good work and tell your friends like we do. This is the real Americana….may yuo be around another 60 years…

  24. dave says:

    My family went south on vacation in a 1965 Ford 500. I was 7 years old. My sister and I counted Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, and South of the Border signs. we had fun. We stayed in Lumberton, N.C.. We swam in Silver Springs, and had fun in the ocean.

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