The beaches around Destin and Ft. Walton Beach are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!! White sand like sugar, clear blue water, sunny days.......
I have good memories of hanging out at the beach as a child. My father was stationed at Eglin Air force base in the early 70's. Going to the beach in the summer was pretty much an everyday activity. Mostly I just went with my mom and her friends who all seemed to have kids about my age so there was never a shortage of playmates. I only remember going with my dad a couple of times. He was always either at work or just did not want to go I guess.
The amount of shells that you could find on the shore was incredible, especially after a big storm. Huge sand dollars, large conch type shells, and other great specimens were plentiful and usually still in good shape and not broken. After a big haul, my mom would put buckets of bleach on the back porch to bleach the sand dollars and clean out the insides of the shells. Believe me, that is a smell you will never forget!!
One of my mom's best friends at that time was a woman named Bridget. She lived across the street and had a little girl named Molly that was a year younger than me and a baby named Mikey. Bridget's husband and my dad were also good friends so we were always over at each other's homes a lot.
One of the best places to hang out at the beach was the Eglin Beach center. The structure was destroyed in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan but it has since been rebuilt. It had kinda a boardwalk feel with plank floors, snack bars, showers, and restrooms. I seem to remember lots of dark hallways and small rooms. It was also very damp.
Since most of the military men were working on the base, the beach was mostly moms, kids, teens, and retirees. There were also surfers..... young tan guys with shaggy hair and tan skin. They were always showing off for the hot moms and the teenage girls. One summer there were a couple of surfers that kept hanging around our little group. They were fun and friendly and we all had a good time. Bridget especially liked hanging around the surfers. She would flirt and laugh and they would try to teach her to surf.
I remember asking my mom for some money to get a drink.... running across the hot sand in bare feet to get to the snack bar.........and deciding to go to the bathroom before I got my soda. Back then you did not think much of a little 6-7 year old girl running around by herself. It was a different time where little kids were more independent and people watched out for one another. I was coming out of the restroom when I saw one of the surfers and Bridget in an alcove under the boardwalk area kissing. They were a little upset when they saw me and they quickly tried to cover it up with excuses as to what they were doing. I guess they thought I was just a dumb little kid who would believe their story. I remember Bridget being extra friendly to me that day and I don't ever think I mentioned the incident to anyone.
A couple of years ago I was talking to my mom about the days we spent on the beach with Molly and Bridget. I asked my mom if she knew about Bridget and the surfer and she looked kind of surprised. She said that she knew nothing about it but that she knew that Bridget and her husband had experienced some marital problems in later years. looking back, it is hard to believe that Bridget would have risked doing something like making out with a surfer in a place where a lot of people knew her family and husband, but who knows why people take risks and do things. I know what I saw and I am sticking to my story.........