A Downhome Perspective on All Things Southern
Houses reflect a state of mind. Our family beach home is a perfect example. Our father, a general practitioner and son of a general practitioner, started his practice making house calls and delivering babies in the patient’s home like his father before him had done, then on horse and buggy. His time was never his own. Even when he finally limited his practice to his office it was not unusual for him to see one hundred to one hundred and fifty patients a day. His distinctive Wilcox County drawl and his caring and efficient bedside manner soothed them immediately. His patients loved him but the pressure was constant. At home he was "the doctor." At the Beach, with the suit, crisp shirt, and tie stripped away, our father could relax, not always having to be on call for an emergency that might take him into the dark night and onto dirt roads in all kinds of weather.
The beach cottage was the best investment our parents ever made. My daddy accused my mother of getting him drunk and making him buy it. My sister and I sat quietly in the back seat on that ride back home while my mother held my little brother in her arms. We lay low while he ranted and raved about how he would never be able to afford the upkeep on a place like that. It turned out to be the best investment he ever made financially and personally. It was a turnkey deal that included a three bedroom, two bath, cinder block house, beds and linens, dishes, pots and pans, and furnishings on a beachfront lot fifty feet wide. It cost $20,000. Their marriage survived. And I think my father came to accept that it actually was a good thing.
Eloise demolished the first cottage. The second cottage was redesigned to fit the expected three separate families that would gather with my parents at the beach. We do gather at the Beach with our families. This is the first trip our newborns make.
Time brings change …
We appreciate the beauty of Panama City Beach no matter what the temperature.
Watermelon tastes better on a summer day sitting out on the deck under the umbrella.
Children enjoy the water in every form
Water sports take on a new meaning with children at the beach.
Joe and Cecily
Sharman and Drew
Elkanah and family
The little boy with the binoculars …
Brings home a wife ...And before you know it, the baby who made her first trip to the Beach is enjoying the newest batch of babies! Family is wonderful!
The beach remains the traditional place to celebrate the Fourth
of July, which just happens to be our father’s birthday. Jean Burson makes
Fourth of July Ice Cream. Neighbors remember that the Fourth is the Big Birthday
celebration and drop in for cake and ice cream. In addition to it being "the
birthday," the Fourth of July holds special meaning for George and Jean Burson
as a patriotic holiday because both served in World War II. George Burson served
as an Army doctor in Leyte in the Philippines while Jean was an Army nurse in
France. She was assigned to the 165th General and often served on a
hospital train taking injured soldiers from battles like the Battle of the Bulge
back to hospital ships at Cherbourg for the trip home.
At the original cottage. We all had our own personal shovel that we used to dig out the patio and porch from the drifting sand that had accumulated since the last time we were there. As soon as that initial job was done, we ran to the neighbors' houses...Susan, Sally and Felix Jackson (Gainesville, Georgia) were next door at what was then "Mama Sally's" house (Mama Sally turned out to be a Holman from Ozark and a cousin of my husband Joe's) and Gail and Ann Tyson (Cairo, Georgia) were across the street. We'd make bonfires on the beach. We'd sit in the back of our parents' trucks and watch the boys ride by...but if it looked like one might stop...we ran inside. Boy friends came and stayed in the maid's room on the back of the cottage (the only addition made to the original before the storm took it). It was a wonderful place to grow up.
Jean and George
Beach Bums and Bathing Beauties
|Elkanah had a good time as a teenager with beautiful girl friends before settling down with the prettiest, sweetest one of all.||This picture was taken by Toye Gannon. She and Herb had the cottage Beach from us and Russ and Ginger were friends of Cecily's. (Cecily now lives in Panama City with her husband, Steve, and their daughter, Lily.||Aunt Syl has always been the life of the party and here she is with her "hat girls" Cecily, Mallory and Elle.||This deck did not have to be shoveled out. It was a great gathering spot for folks who thought little of the effects of sun. We'll see.|
|It became tradition for the family to gather in Panama City for Daddy's birthday, the Fourth of July. Here he is with his sisters, Eliece and Elizabeth, who enjoyed visiting at "the coast."||Muddin came many times and we always enjoyed her visits.||Our neighbors in Panama City became dear friends for life. Claudine and Mickey Beverage retired on the beach after a long career in the Air Force.||Jack and Mary Ann Tyson of Cairo, Georgia, were great friends and their daughters Ann and Gail shared wonderful times with all of us.||Charlie McCall, former coach for the Dothan High School
Football team, bought the cottage next door with his wife Maxine. They
were constant friends.
Suddenly, about the year 2000, condos appeared throughout the Beach and one was put up right down from our cottage casting a shadow over the Beach (literally and figuratively). Those one met on the Beach were no longer old friends, but visitors there for a brief stay. Mother and Daddy got older and more feeble and could no longer travel to Panama City; so they gave us children the cottage. Sylvia and Elkanah both lived long distances from the Beach and it seemed better to sell than to pay the high cost of maintaining a dwelling we could only briefly visit. We sold. My husband and I shifted a few miles down the coastline to Panama City where we own a home on Massalina Bayou and a condo in St. Andrews. Elkanah and Sylvia bought at Grand Isle, but it wasn't the same as PC. Recently, Sylvia bought a home in Ono Island.
However, our memories of our childhood will always be of the white sand beaches and azure waters of Panama City Beach. The memories are vivid and happy. It was a time when our parents were relaxed and friends gathered. This was our "happy place." We all regret losing this wonderful place, but the memories will always be ours.
The Pasta Grill and Italian Bakery are just about right across the street from our old cottage...17807 W. Hwy 98. It is 2008 as I write this and real estate tanked. I need say no more about what has happened to our old neighborhood. I think we sold at the right time. But we hate seeing what has happened to our old home away from home.
However, every cloud has a silver lining and for my husband and me, Panama City has been more than we could have imagined.