I have wonderful memories of long weekends when our family traveled from Richland to Panama City Beach for days of rest and recreation in the beautiful sunshine state. For a time rather than staying directly on the Gulf, we rented rooms at the Holiday Lodge which was located in the shadow of the old Hathaway Bridge.
Daddy and David frequently chartered a boat for a few hours of deep sea fishing; there was a nice marina conveniently located there on the property. Other times they fished from the concrete dock that surrounded the lodge while Momma and I lounged in the sun at the swimming pool.
During one trip Daddy talked Momma and me into joining the guys on a charter trip; at first I thought it was going to be a boring time so I took a novel to read. It did not take long before I noticed the handsome young man who was working on the craft and I began to truly enjoy the adventure. He had a great tan from working long hours in the Florida sunshine as a deck-hand; he had black hair and brown eyes and I thought he was the classic tall, dark and handsome.
The next afternoon I walked down to the dock so I could spend time with the cute guy. I sat on one of the available wooden benches and chatted with him as he scrubbed down the boat deck and prepared the fishing gear for the next charter. Later, he joined us at the pool and asked Daddy if I could go riding with him on his motorcycle. I was anxious as we cruised on the historic Highway 98, which was in those days a two lane road which passed all those iconic family owned beach front resort motels. I am forever thankful that we were safe during the rides because even back then the traffic was frightening.
Ours was a typical summer romance at the beach. We were teenagers, the beach was beautiful, the seafood was fantastic and the music was rock ‘n roll. We walked on the beach, rode around in his convertible and danced at night to live music.
Ed visited our family home twice in Richland and we saw each other several more times in Panama City. Daddy had talked to the captain of the vessel and discovered that Ed was not just a deck-hand, he was the son of the owner of the “Sea Witch.” In fact, his parents owned other charter boats.
He and his family lived in an upscale housing development on the outskirts of Birmingham, Ala. where they were owner operators of the largest auto salvage business in that area. They had standing reservations at a local resort and called Panama City Beach their second home.
We continued to stay in touch with letters and the occasional long-distance phone call until time and space got in the way. Ed joined the Army and served in Vietnam and then several years in Hawaii.