The legendary day a Coast Guard plane landed at Paul’s Place Famous Hot Dogs

By Michael Raab

Pass by Paul’s Place Famous Hot Dogs on Route 117 in Rocky Point, NC any day and chances are you will see Hondas, Harleys, mini vans, maxi trucks, pickups, SUVs, sports cars, and bicycles all in the same parking lot. Only once in 1954  could you see a U.S. Coast Guard plane at rest, getting  fueled up while the pilot was  filling up on Paul’s Place Famous Hot Dogs. It really did happen.

During an average summer week, Paul’s Place sells 8,000 hot dogs, which is a lot of good eating.  Celebrities like Andy Griffith, Ben Affleck, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Buddy Hackett, and others have enjoyed Paul’s Place hot dogs. Paul’s Place is famous for their unique relish. Beverly Paul created the relish during World War II when the rationing of hamburger came about. He couldn’t create his chili sauce and turned to hot dog relish instead. Paul took a rich, thick barbecue sauce made by the John Sexton Company, combined it with pickles and relish that he had gotten from the Mt. Olive folks up the road,  and made the Paul’s Place relish.

Could that be why the U.S. Coast Guard plane landed in the parking lot—to pick up some of Paul’s Place Famous Hot Dogs and relish? No, he simply ran out of gas, and in 1954, Paul’s Place had gas pumps out front.

David Paul is the next generation to operate the business, and he talks about  the surprise visitor from a half century ago.

“I was eight years old and at school, and didn’t get to see it, but my daddy said the plane landed on Highway 117, right out here, and taxied up to the gas pump.  The pilot walked in and said, ‘Can you take a U.S. government money purchase order for gasoline?’ Daddy said, ‘Yes sir, but the hose is not long enough.’  So a bunch of men put down their hot dogs, went out and picked up the plane, and slid it over to the gas pump and filled it up with gas.  The pilot thanked them for their help, and the men went back in and finished what they were eating.”

So then what was that U.S. Coast Guard plane doing in the skies over Rocky Point?

“He was spotting illicit whiskey stills from the air,” David explained. “He had spotted one and needed to show the ground crew where to go, but he ran out of gas and just landed on the highway. It’s been a long time since, but the pilot later became a Presbyterian minister by the name of Kinlaw.”  

David adds, with a smile, that  the pilot and ground crew ate hot dogs while they were at Paul’s.  After the plane was fueled, and the pilot and ground crew were too, it taxied back to Highway 117. With the ground crew blocking any traffic that would be heading from either direction, Kinlaw flew off into the wild blue yonder to go hunting for some more illegal stills.

To see “Relish Our Dogs,” a 5 minute 10 second documentary about Paul’s Place, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhtBOxgCfhY&feature=youtu.be  The documentary is currently being submitted to several film festivals in North Carolina.

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