July 13, 2015- Panama City, FL Yes, I believe from now on, I will add location to my datelines. I am back on track, writing, after several days of focusing just on what’s in front of me. Today, I connected with two friends: One, an extended family member who’s in an exile, of sorts and the other, an online friend who’s been after me to come by this town, off and on, for the last three years.
So, here I am, in lovely northwest Florida. The area does seem more soul-connected than some other parts of the Sunshine State, but maybe that’s because its heritage, along with that of St. Augustine and the northeast, runs a bit deeper. I began my visit by lunching with said family member at Gary’s Oyster Shack, in Springfield, about five miles east of PC. My eponymous restaurant host was a taciturn sort, a bit reserved, but he and his kids put forth some great Low Country Boil, and a full range of other dishes. It’s great to be back dining by, and of, the sea.
After an hour’s conversation, I bid farewell and Godspeed to my friend, and leaded forth to downtown Panama City. Walking around the seemingly defunct Hawk’s Nest Bar and Grill, I spotted signs that the place was once a fabulous place at which to while away an afternoon, or an evening. The woods outside make for a fine picnic spot.
Murals most often tell a good story, as this one does.
Then, there is the front veranda and patio- one of the great appeals of the Coastal South.
Back along the waterfront, there is a crowded marina- reminder of fishing’s prominence here.
I walked along the coastal path, crossing a drawbridge- the oldest working such bridge in these parts.
Towards the end of the road, there were several lovely historical homes. Some are large, like the Howell/Hobbs House (1909).
Others were cottage-style, like the McKenzie/Pickens House (1918).
These homes are in grand proximity to some of the clearest ocean anywhere.
My host later explained to me that there are pools of fresh water, parallel to the ocean, and that alligators traverse between the two water supplies, feasting on the best of both.
I was in need of a rest, and of wifi, after this fine little outing, and so repaired to Willows British Tea House, just up Harrison Street, as it happens, from the Martin Theater, where I would observe a play practice in a day or so. The awning shows where Willows is located. There were some ladies inside, who did not wish to be photographed, so this is as close as I choose to show the lovely establishment. Here, I finally connected with my host, and arranged to meet her at the Martin. After a refreshing pot of orange tea and a piece of lemon cake, I headed for the theater.
Here is a scene from the Martin Theater’s lobby. It has a long exchequer of fine performances, and still serves as Panama City’s center for showing art cinema.
That evening, after a marvelous meal of gumbo and rice, Kelly, Fernando and I headed for Kaleidoscope Theater and watched a pleasing, though overlong, production of a play entitled “There’s A Burglar In My Bed”- a British-style farce, where several people got in one another’s way, mostly in an inadvertent manner. It’s all great fun.