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Remembering Pensacola, 1945
"A little backward town," my mother said.
"Never heard of yogurt . . . avocados."
So she boiled shrimp, fried snapper throats instead.
Across the rattling wooden bridge there rose
one lone casino—Spanish-style—ahead.
We inner-tubed the surf . . . salt water in my nose!
Lone beaches the rule—a shell hunter's bliss;
but, if elsewhere, oh, those sand spurs could kiss!
From water 99 and 44/
100ths percent pure, Spearman brewed beer.
Dirt "O" Street sprouted juke joints galore,
and sailors had somewhere to tipple cheer.
Catch a show at the Saenger, Rex, or
Isis, or Gulf. No drive-in movies here.
No Sherman Field. No air conditioner.
Vegetable trucks and ice men deliver.
And legends! Old tunnels from fort to fort . . .
brick fences to keep mosquitoes away. . . .
Then, pelicans perched on wharves at the port,
and porpoise schools played all across the bay.
Small town—not yet time for de Luna's court.
But the old milk bottle came down one day—
What! Had the milk finally clabbered? No, wait,
we gotta make room for an Interstate.
No Monsanto then. No steam engines now.
"A Thinking Fellow Rides the Yellow," Rand
taxis read. You could get stuck, anyhow,
on those unpaved roads. But Tater Town sand
spawned PJC. A garbage dump somehow
became a fine shopping mall. Back then land
was dirt cheap . . . not a hundred an acre!
Want to get rich? Turn back the calendar.
Carolyne Butler
(Copyright © 2001)
Previously published in
Emerald Coast Review
The Third Annual Collection, 1991