In December of last year (2011), my friend Shirl called and told me of a mobile home across the street from her place at the beach. It was for sale. This was out of the blue, for we had not talked about it in years. But, it seems that years earlier, Shirl had been talking to these friends in the mobile home and told them that if they ever wanted to sell their place, she knew someone who may want to buy it. (She and I would talk in our “one day talks’ about how we would love for me to have a place there also, so all our kids and all us ‘old folk’ and all our grandchildren could go and be together and play and laugh and dance and sing and swim and cook out and other such nonsense as people do at the beach. I don’t think we even had any grandchildren then). Anyway, these friends were selling and called to give her friend…ME…first chance!
I passed along the info to Don, just knowing that that would be the end of it. He and I had not talked about a beach place at all and he usually has to get warmed up to an idea before he makes any moves. He is not one to move impulsively, which, I must honestly say, I am. I have more fun…He keeps us out of trouble! But, surprisingly, he said we would go down and look at it. And, a day or two after Christmas, we did. It was not a possibility for us due to the size and the age. But, while we were there, we spotted another place, and he called a realtor to show it to us that day. I really don’t know what happened…I think he got a double dose of Christmas Spirit or something. We looked at it and were sort of impressed, but not really. He asked her to keep her eyes open for us, if anything came available…on that stretch of beach. And, I really thought that was the end of it. Because he was not keen on spending the money and even though I had always wanted a place at the beach…he had not. Besides, this was not in any of our plans. (Below, Laguna Beach, 2012)
Now, the place we were looking at was in Panama City Beach, FL. This is about 30 miles from Destin, FL. Panama City was THE place to go when we were children and teens. I went the first time when I was just a baby! (Below, Mom and Pop and me, 1954)
There was once a wonderful community of little cottages where people from all over AL, and GA, and Fl. and further would come and spend all or part of the summer. There were tons of Mom and Pop type motels along the strip, and a huge amusement park for the kids would come along soon. (Below, this card is from the 50’s…this 2 lane road is Hwy.98)
When I was a little girl, we always went to The Laguna Beach motel, that was owned by a fishing buddy of Pop’s. Such fun there. I can still remember the look of the rooms and the fact that the floors always felt wet.There were also swing sets in a pavilion at the back, set into the sand. And, if you didn’t have a cottage, or money to stay in a motel, it was close enough to us who lived in Dothan…80 miles…to go down for the day. (Below Don and I at Miracle Strip Amusement Park…appr.1973)
And go, we did! It was THE place to ‘see and be seen’. And, then when Don and I married and had the boys, this became a favorite place for them as well! (Below, on the beach, appr. 1986)
Poor planning by the city fathers in later years has allowed buildings practically touching sides and tall as can be to line the beach side of the road. So, today, as you drive along the strip of highway next to the ocean…you only see buildings. A majority of the little cottages were demolished and huge high rise hotels, fancy restaurants, and tons of beach shops and condos were the replacements. This has continued to recent years when someone in two areas had the sense to restrict the building to the the side opposite the beach and leave this ocean view open to motorists!. It is such a shame that this has happened in this beautiful area of the state. However, it was our good fortune that Shirl’s place was close to this stretch of beach and this was where we wanted to be also…Laguna Beach. There were many, many cottages left standing in this area and these have been continuously occupied since then. It is the area of these older cottages that we were considering, due to the distance from the most popular attractions and hotels, the open roadside next to the beach, and the sense of community that still exists among the residents in this and neighboring areas. Also, new ordinances now in place will insure that the areas will continue to be upgraded. (Not to mention THE best little doughnut shop 1/2 mile away!)
And so, after our day of looking in December 2011, Don and I drove home. Soon we heard from the realtor. She had found two lots for a wonderful price and they were side by side which would give us the chance to put a mobile home on it and have a little extra space. So, Don agreed to buy it and even sent in a binder. Then while looking closer at the documents, he discovered that the two lots were separated by a road. No deal. And then we looked at two more places, but what we thought we saw was not what was actually there. By then, I had had all the ups and downs I could stand and I just said “let’s forget it”. And, I did. Unbeknownst to me…Don kept in contact with the realtor and they exchanged pics of houses back and forth for some time.
TO BE CONTINUED….