Writer Sharman Burson Ramsey









A Simply Southern Wedding.





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A Memoir of Old Florida

By:  Sharman Burson Ramsey


council oak Train excursions once ran from Dothan, Alabama  to St. Andrews, a beautiful spot on St. Andrews Bay now the western part of Panama City , Florida .    According to Emmelyn Murphry Smith, wife of former Florida Court of Appeals Judge Larry Smith, “After disembarking, people would then travel west along the bay about a mile to their cottages that centered around Highway 98 and Mound Avenue.”  Lyn and her husband bought their own cottage in that area from the Gellerstedts.  Just a block away was a “tourist court” called Little Dothan which was later torn down to build a Dairy Queen and now is the site of Schlotzky’s.  . 

      Lyn goes on to say:  “There are older families in Dothan who have been coming to Little Dothan long before we came.  Next door to us was the family of Samantha and Buck Flowers whose family had been coming many years before we moved there.  Their children still vacation there. On the other side of our house is a vacant lot owned by the Thrower family. On this lot are the foundation remains of a house that I believe had burned.  The old servant’s quarters and a carport were still there but was torn down in the 70’s.  Nowadays, there are younger families from Dothan who own houses in the neighborhood, and they continue to enjoy the area as we all do.  They include Dr. John and Pat Flowers, Beth and Ed Price, and Dr. David and Sigrid Gayle.  Sigrid Pribbenow Gayle grew up in Little Dothan but now lives in Dothan , Alabama , with a cottage in Little Dothan across the street from her parents.”  (Bill and Jan Sheffield and David and Kathy Parrish Swigler own homes there as well.  Porter Thrower is not far away.) 

            The old train station has been torn down.  But the drive to St. Andrews takes only a little more than an hour and a half.  When you arrive, drive down Beach Drive with its pristine view of the Bay on one side and the most magnificent homes in the area on the other.  Read the historic marker at Lake Caroline about the Confederate Salt Works and imagine the skirmish between the Rebs and the Yanks there on that spot.  Watch folks crabbing and fishing along the shore.  Get out and walk the beach and enjoy the beauty of the area.  Then venture on to the historic area and St. Andrews Marina area.

The St. Andrews Waterfront Redevelopment Project, under the direction Nancy Wengel has Shrimp Boat brought about a revitalization of the entire historic district from the beautiful St. Andrews Marina to Oaks by the Bay Park up to Highway 98.  The much anticipated rebuilding of the Shrimp Boat has been accomplished and the restaurant now anchors the historic downtown of St. Andrews .  The Shrimp Boat is also home to Gracie Rae’s (a bar and grill) and a Seafood Market.  Built to resemble an antique tobacco warehouse with lots of wood, a beautiful bar, high ceilings and fans, the Shrimp Boat overlooks a private marina with charter fishing boats.  Shrimp Boat owner Loren Smith has recently purchased the Cabana Motel across from the Shrimp Boat and plans to rebuild and offer packages that would include accommodations, dining and fishing packages. 

            All of the restaurants in St. Andrews are home owned and managed with seafood freshly caught from St. Andrews Bay .  Boaters have long enjoyed docking at Uncle Ernie’s to dine at one of the best restaurants in the area with reasonably priced lunch specials in addition to their full menu.  Hunts Oyster Bar and the Captains Table always have long lines waiting for their delicious fresh seafood. 

Granite Cafe             The St. Andrews Coffee Shop is a favorite for late night desserts or a very special high tea (call ahead), breakfast and lunch.  The Granite Café (once known as Le Shack) is now under new ownership and their martini bar rocks with live entertainment.  Lee Head has just purchased Pappy’s, the bait shop, the empty lot between and has combined them all to make one restaurant open to the amazing view of the St. Andrews Marina and the magnificent St. Andrews Bay. 

Harbour Village , an eight story residential condominium, was built by New Orleans developers with a coastal Queen Anne look complete with manicured gardens above the parking area, is located on Buena Vista Point, long recognized as the most beautiful spot on St. Andrews Bay .  Oaks by the Bay Park is right outside the garden gate and hosts a plethora of events from Shakespeare in the Gazebo to weddings on the grounds.  St. Andrews will also host Jazz by the Bay on October 16th and 17th , the Boat Parade of Lights on December 12th and the thousands of  Lights displayed in the Park for the month of December.  

Steet Sign Mardi Gras loat crowd at Mardi Gras On February 12 and 13th, 2010, downtown St. Andrews will come alive with Mardi Gras.  The Children’s parade on Friday is one of the most fun events with children invited to dress their pets up in their own Mardi Gras finery to parade through the streets.  Thousands of people will gather along the streets on Saturday afternoon to watch the Krewe on their floats and to catch the booty they throw into the crowds.  The streets are lined with vendors and the smells of fried elephant ears blend with sizzling souvlaki to add to the festive atmosphere.  Pirates roam the streets. 

Artist and portraitist Victoria Bush displays and teaches in a gallery on Beck Avenue .  Boutiques line the streets.   Two Sisters and Fiddlestix offering a variety of items, including jewelry, purses, paintings, and glass handmade by a variety of talented artists and crafters at stores like.. 

When you have shopped and eaten, you can rent a canoe or kayak at the Canoe Shop and paddle out with the family onto the beautiful St. Andrews Bay getting a perspective you will never see as a landlubber.  St. Andrews is “being discovered” by many visitors to the area because of the bay tours that originates on Grand Lagoon that brings guests by water to the boat landing at the St. Andrews Marina.  You might want to book a Comedy Zone, Murder Mystery, or Dolphin Cruise with Fun Facts and activities for children on the paddle wheeler riverboat, The Betsey Ann, 

Pak If small children get a bit antsy while touring downtown or waiting for a restaurant call take them to the park across from Oaks by the Bay.  Or visit the remodeled printing company that is also the location of the St. Andrews Waterfront Project.  

Enjoy the view from the Marina at sunset and hear Bill Tant blow his conch.  St. Andrews is a day trip back into the Real Old Florida that promises to be an adventure for the whole family.