Friday, April 3, 2015

The winner of the DAUPHIN ISLAND "JEOPARDY" CONTEST will be crowned
(All answers to the contest questions will come from DAUPHIN ISLAND'S STREET NAMES. There will also be a JR. ARMCHAIR ADMIRAL (age 12 and under) & a SR. ARMCHAIR ADMIRAL (age 80 and over)


Of all the many overlooked, ignored and misrepresented episodes in Dauphin Island’s colorful and dramatic story, none challenges either the historical importance or the academic indifference produced by  Dauphin Island’s four armed amphibious invasions of the Franco-Spanish War(1719-1720) which in our part of the world amounted to “Dauphin Island versus Pensacola.”  If the Spanish had succeeded in this war, their attack upon Dauphin Island would have been the beginning of a major military effort to drive the French completely off the Gulf Coast and the cherished French creole influence of our present-day Gulf Coast heritage would have never existed.

Dauphin Island’s Fourth Armed Amphibious Invasion differs from the first three of this most difficult of the operations of war in that our island was not the target of this invasion. For the first time, Dauphin Island launched its own armed amphibious invasion to capture a foreign port: the Spanish harbor of Pensacola.

When Serigny, one of the four famous Le Moyne brothers linked to Dauphin Island, arrived off the island on a company ship from France on April 19, 1719, he brought his brother orders dated January 7, 1719, from the notorious John Law’s Company of the West commanding Bienville to immediately launch an attack upon Pensacola and to take the port for France.  Earlier in 1718, France had joined with England, Holland and Austria to form the Quadruple Alliance in order to discourage the Spanish King’s ambitions in France and Italy. Serigny brought the news that France was presently at war with Spain and that it was time for Bienville to launch a preemptive strike on Pensacola.

Regardless of how unprepared and unprotected his forces were in Mobile and on Dauphin Island, Bienville grasped the fact that he now possessed the two greatest elements which can insure the success of most amphibious invasions: the ability to exploit the element of surprise and the ability to capitalize upon the enemy’s weaknesses.  Bienville was certainly aware of Spanish weaknesses. There was no way that the Spanish could even imagine an attack coming from Mobile and Dauphin Island in 1719. Pensacola and Dauphin Island acted as mutual aid societies since both of them served as isolated, frontier colonial ports for faraway European monarchs and they were accustomed to maintaining a flourishing contraband trade as both colonies simply tried to survive the twin threats of the unforgiving nature of the Gulf Coast and the constant peril of Indian attack.

The French naval attack on Pensacola embarked from Dauphin Island on May 13 and approached Pensacola Bay the evening of the same day.  The French naval force consisted of a squadron of at least three large company ships from France carrying over 600 officers, soldiers and volunteers commanded by Serigny and Larcebault. Bienville commanded the rest of the naval force of 80 men on three skiffs along with some supply barges and initiated the invasion by taking over the Spanish battery located on Santa Rosa Island near present-day Ft. Pickens without firing a shot.  The company ships were then free to enter Pensacola Bay and by firing their sixty naval cannon into town for three hours, they silenced the 29 cannon in Pensacola’s Spanish Fort San Carlos. 

France had captured Pensacola and intended on making the town Louisiana’s capital and principal port but they could only hold it for about two months. On August  4, a Spanish fleet  carrying over 1300 troops and consisting of two captured French ships, a Spanish flagship and nine two-masted coastal schooners forced the French surrender of Pensacola and the French lost their ships anchored in the harbor that were filled with John Law’s Company of the West’s supplies.

The French retreat from Pensacola ended this fifth armed amphibious invasion and led the French to reinforce Dauphin Island’s defenses. This effort was led by the famous French explorer, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis who brought 50 Pascagoula Indians to Dauphin Island on August 13. By August 20, the French had assembled between 200 to 400 Indians between Mobile and Dauphin Island and these natives represented “the backbone of the French defensive forces.”

The Spanish fleet was limited to privateers who sailed from Pensacola on 9 two-masted coastal schooners and two brigantines. The Spanish sent the French on Dauphin Island a message that demanded unconditional surrender and made some violent threats. The French on shore showed their contempt for the Spanish privateers and decided to “make a gallant defense.” Thus began the sixth armed amphibious invasion of Dauphin Island.

After their bluff failed, the Spanish decided to put off a full frontal assault upon the improvised French fortress hastily constructed on the shore near an inlet the French called Trou du Major. The Spanish decided to impose a naval blockade and began to capture all ships bringing supplies to the island. For over two weeks the Spanish privateers continued their blockade on the mouth of Mobile Bay and executed raids on the warehouses and farms in the area. During a raid on a Mon Luis Island farm, the French and their Indian allies captured  18 French deserters who were fighting for the Spanish. One of the deserters was condemned to a public hanging on Dauphin Island which served as a strong lesson in civic responsibility for the islanders and the other 17 were turned over to the Indians so they could be dragged to Mobile to be tortured and killed. When a large French fleet carrying 2000 troops arrived at Dauphin Island on September 1, the few Spanish vessels still maintaining the blockade retreated back to Pensacola.

This French squadron under the command of Commodore Desnos de Champmeslin consisted of the flagship Hercule and four smaller ships. They would make up most of the French fleet that sailed from Dauphin Island to Pensacola.  After a brief conference with military and company leaders on September 5, Commodore Champmeslin added eight small boats to his flotilla and sailed toward Pensacola while Bienville marched one hundred troops and almost 500 Indians overland. This was the force that left Dauphin Island for what amounted to launching the island’s SEVENTH ARMED AMPHIBIOUS INVASION.

 On September 16, the French fleet was anchored off Pensacola while Bienville and his Indians prepared to attack. On the morning of September 17, Bienville’s Indians and the Canadians began their attack upon Fort San Carlos as the French fleet battled the Spanish ships anchored in the bay. The Spanish commander had “had no stomach for a fight with Indians” and so he surrendered to Champmeslin. The French had lost six men; the Spaniards, a hundred. Bienville also captured  47 French deserters fighting for the Spanish.  Twelve of these men were condemned to be hanged from the yardarm of a French ship anchored in Pensacola harbor and the other 35 were sentenced to serve ten years as galley slaves for the Company of the West.

Spain’s long-awaited naval expedition to drive the French out of Louisiana was finally launched in 1720 before news of peace had arrived. It accomplished nothing because Commander Francisco Cornejo “promptly ran his ships aground on the Campeche Banks in a violent storm.”

France continued to hold Pensacola while flying Spanish flags so they could capture Spanish supply ships that took the bait. Finally, on November 26, 1722, the French “destroyed the fort and town and returned the site to the Spaniards in conformity with the peace treaty in Europe.”

Peace had come but Spain had lost a golden opportunity to run the French off the Gulf Coast when they had a chance to do it. Years later Spain would regret once more her failure to drive the French from Dauphin Island in 1719 when Americans in 1803 demanded West Florida from Spain as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

 But it is no speculation that members of our present-day Gulf South society can easily understand the importance of the Dauphin Islanders’ resistance to the Spanish siege of 1719 when we consider how much we would have to regret if we had lost the fun-loving impact those generations of French Creoles made upon our Gulf Coast lives today.  

A Scorecard for Dauphin Island’s First Armed Amphibious Invasion

  January 31, 1699: Iberville’s men, sailing on three ships carrying a total of 110 cannon, occupied present-day Dauphin Island on an expedition sponsored by King Louis XIV of France to fortify the mouth of the Mississippi River in order to prevent other nations from entering the river. Iberville named this place Massacre Island due to the bones from about sixty human skeletons he found heaped on the island.

Five days earlier Iberville’s French fleet had anchored off Pensacola Bay and hoped to occupy this strategic site but found that the Spanish had recently colonized the site and established their second settlement in Florida there in anticipation of Iberville’s arrival. The 1686-1688 Spanish voyages along the northern Gulf searching for La Salle’s failed colony had convinced them of Pensacola’s strategic importance and after discovering Iberville’s secret preparations in France for his voyage in 1698, the Spanish moved quickly to occupy the site. The Spaniards who ruined Iberville’s plans for Pensacola Bay insured that Pensacola would forevermore be considered the dividing line between the Spanish province of Florida and that of the French province of Louisiana.

Iberville planned to base his claim to Pensacola Bay upon La Salle’s 1684 expedition that entered the Gulf but was unable to find the mouth of the Mississippi from the Gulf. La Salle also failed to establish a colony but his voyage in the Gulf became the basis for a French claim on land westward of the river to present-day Texas as well as eastward to the Perdido River.

Iberville had retreated from Pensacola and ended up occupying Dauphin Island. From the moment Iberville stepped foot on Dauphin Island, his activities in establishing the French province of Louisiana assured that Mobile Bay would be its eastern limit and King Louis XIV confirmed this on September 17, 1712, when he granted Crozat a 16 year monopoly on trade in Louisiana by describing the limits of the province in the charter as being “the territories by us possessed, and bounded by New Mexico and by those of the English in Carolina, all the establishments, ports, harbors, rivers and especially the port and harbor of Dauphin Island, formerly called Massacre Island, the River St. Louis, formerly called the Mississippi, from the sea shore to the Illinois…”
 For the next 114 years, Dauphin Island as well as all these other French claims east of the Mississippi River would become a disputed land which was considered both West Florida and Louisiana.
Dauphin Island’s first armed amphibious invasion was uncontested and there were no casualties but Iberville was still faced with the problem of convincing the local Indians that he and his countrymen were not Spanish. The Spanish had already worn out their welcome with these Gulf Coast natives.


Depending on which historian you want to believe, this sandy spot where the present-day  town of Dauphin Island now stands, was next invaded in either 1710 or 1711. At that time, the place was still called Massacre Island.

Jamaican pirates, outfitted with a ship mounted with cannon, approached the mouth of Pelican Bay one day in September flying a French flag. The pirates fired their signal gun and the villagers welcomed what they thought to be a long awaited supply ship from overseas.

Without firing a shot, the little port, housing about 20 families and the King’s warehouses, was at the mercy of a pirate crew. For two days the crew made life miserable for the village and stole everything that wasn’t nailed down before they burned down all the buildings in town. The pirates loaded their ship with thousands of furs and hides which the French had gathered from all over the province of Louisiana and had stored in Massacre Island’s warehouses.

According to the historian McWilliams, the final tally on this early invasion was only one dead English pirate from Jamaica who was bushwhacked by a visiting French fur trader from Canada. After leaving port, the pirates decided to return to the island to rustle up a shipload of the villagers’ cattle and to collect a live specimen of a buffalo for the pirate captain but the islanders fought them off during their attempt to make a second landing. No casualties were reported to be a consequence of this attempted second invasion by the Jamaican pirates.

The disastrous tragedy of Dauphin Island’s sole pirate raid did produced one of Dauphin Island’s most enduring legends, “THE STORY OF THE GOLD CROSS.” Immortalized in Carl Carmer’s 1934 book of folklore, STARS FELL ON ALABAMA, the version recounted by Carmer was the one that was current among folks living in the village back in the 1920’s when Carmer visited while he was working as a professor at the University in Tuscaloosa. As told to Carmer by his island host(who Carmer called “Sandinier” which may have been the author’s version of the common Dauphin Island name “Sandagger”), the local priest jumped into action when he heard that the pirates were attacking the village. He climbed to the top of the church tower , where the big gold cross stood as a landmark to local mariners. When the priest reached the top of the church tower, he janked the shining cross loose and clutching it, he dove straight down into the well that was dug beside the church. He and the cross landed in the well and both disappeared, never to be seen again. The priest and his disappearing act with his church’s big gold cross made the pirates so mad they burned down the church and then everyone on the island forgot where it had been located but that hasn’t stopped folks from looking for it ever since.

America's Most Historic Gulf Island With The Most Ignored, Overlooked and Misrepresented
Story in North America.

Age Number 1 (Chapter 1): Pre-historic Dauphin Island (this includes the island's transformation into being the most prominent landmark on European maps of the Northern Gulf Near the Mouth of the Mississippi River during almost 200 years of failed attempts at colonization)

Age Number 2 (Chapter 2): Cradle of the French Colony, 1699-1729

Age Number 3 (Chapter 3): French-Indian Trade Port of Call, 1729-1763

Age Number 4 (Chapter 4): British Dauphin Island, 1763-1780

Age Number 5 (Chapter 5): Spanish Outpost and Pilot House, 1780-1813

Age Number 6 (Chapter 6): A Leading Port of The Cotton Kingdom, 1813-1865

Age Number 7 (Chapter 7): An Occupying Army's Base of Operations and Fishing Village, 1865-                                                    1898
Age Number 8 (Chapter 8): Island's Fortifications Strengthened, 1898-1918

Age Number 9 (Chapter 9): The Roaring Twenties, Great Depression & WWII, 1918-1945

Age Number 10 (Chapter 10): The Development of Dauphin Island Real Estate, 1945-1979

Age Number 11 (Chapter 11): Disaster Recovery and Natural Gas Drilling, 1979-2005

Age Number 12 (Chapter 12): Post-Katrina, BP and The Future, 2005- (until)


The slogan “DAUPHIN ISLAND: SUNSET CAPITAL OF ALABAMA”  can easily be incorporated into the development of the Street  Fest concept because Dauphin Island, by being the most historic island on America’s Gulf Coast, has a story that in 2019 will span a series of 500 years of sunsets. In four short years, our island will mark 182,625 or 500 years of beautiful sunsets while being a part of recorded human history, more than almost any other place in the United States of America.

As we approach 2019’s 500th anniversary of Pineda’s voyage of discovery as well as the Bicentennial of Alabama Statehood in the same year, the Dauphin Island Street Fest will celebrate our incredible heritage by showcasing the colorful street names of our town that “are significant in the long, romantic and colorful history of this island which played a vital part in the settlement of North America …

The following suggestions for Street Fest themes provide a focus for upcoming celebrations but the purpose of each annual Street Fest should the promotion of all Dauphin Island’s cultural heritage. These celebrations should include all the elements of any community festival such as concerts, food, parades, athletic competitions and carnival rides but the Street Fest’s emphasis on Dauphin Island’s cultural heritage should also include various competitions  in public speaking, art, essays and knowledge of the subjects of Dauphin Island’s street names.

The first annual 2016 DAUPHIN ISLAND STREET FEST will honor our Native American heritage and focus upon the peace conference held on Dauphin Island by French Governor L’Epinet who met here for 60 days with 24 Indian tribes in 1717. Calumet Park takes its name from “this great congress of Indian Nations [which] was of far-reaching importance throughout the entire Mississippi Valley.”  Dauphin Island street names directly linked to this peace conference include Alabama Street, Apalache Avenue, Biloxi Avenue, Epinet Street, Fort Louis Street, Fort Rosalie Place, Indian Place, Iroquois Place, Louisianne Street, Mississippi Street, Nanafalya Place, Natchez Street, Pascagoula Street, Quebec Street and Tombigbee Street. Other streets with names that also apply to these formative years in Dauphin Island history include Bienville Boulevard, Cadillac Avenue, Chaumont Avenue, Chenault Avenue, Conde Avenue, Conti Street, Deluna Street, DeSoto Avenue , Fort Charlotte Avenue, Fort Conde Place, Fort Tombecbe Place, Hernando Street, Hubert Street, Huitres Place, Iberville Drive, Infanta Place, Lacoste Court, Lamothe Place, Lasalle Street, La Vente Street, Lavigne Place, Lemoyne Drive, Major Farmar Street, Maldonado Place, Marquette Place, Mauvilla Place, Monberaut Place, Narbonne Place, Narvaez Street, Notre Dame Place, Orleans Drive, Pelican Street, Penalver Street, Penicault Street, Pensacola Street, Perdido Street, Pirates Cove Street, Ponce de Leon Street, Ponchartrain Court, Saint Andrew Street, Saint Denis Court, Serigny Street and Tonty Street.

For 2017 the Second Annual Dauphin Island Street Fest will honor our Civil War heritage. Fort Gaines played an important role in keeping Mobile Bay open for Confederate blockade running up until it’s fall in 1864 and then in 1865 Dauphin Island acted as a staging area for the eventual landing of 32,000 Union troops used to invest Confederate Mobile leading to its distinction of being the last Confederate city to come under the control of Federal forces. Dauphin Island street names directly linked to the Civil War include Beauregard Street, Buchanan Street, Fort Gaines Trail, General Anderson Place, General Ledbetter Place, General Page Place, Hunley Place, Itasca Place, O’Hara Lane, Port Royal Street, Raphael Semmes Street, Ryan Court and Tennessee Street.

For the 2018 Third Annual Dauphin Island Street Fest, we will celebrate our island’s 200 years of Alabama heritage.  2017 will mark the bicentennial of the creation of the Alabama Territory and it is interesting to note that the original Congressional legislation that divided the Mississippi Territory was entitled “A BILL TO ESTABLISH THE TERRITORY OF MOBILE.”  Dauphin Island street names directly linked to our Alabama heritage include Alabama Avenue, Annandale Street, Audubon Street, Delchamps Avenue, Dewberry Street, Forney Johnston Drive, Fort Mims Place, Fort Stoddert Place, Fort Tensas Place, General Gaines Place, General Gorgas Street , General Wilkinson Place, Gordon Persons Overseas Highway, Grant Street, Hamilton Place, Hermes Place, Hitchcock Place, Houston Place, Inez Place, Ingraham Place,  Key Street, Lackland Street,  Lafayette Place, LaFitte Place, Levert Street, Lockenbie Place, Longfellow Place, McIntosh Place, Napoleon Place, Octavia Street, Olive Lane, Oleander Lane, O’Hara Lane, Omega Street, Osprey Lane, Pequeno Street, Pirates Cove Street, Portier Court, President Jefferson Court and Pushmataha Court.

2019 will mark the 500th anniversary of Pineda’s voyage of discovery and the Bicentennial of Alabama Statehood. In honor of these two important island milestones, the 4th Annual Dauphin Island Street Fest will celebrate the Ages of Dauphin Island History represented by its prehistory, its 320 years of recorded history broken into 12 approximately twenty six year “ages” and the island’s future. Dauphin Island streets showcased during this festival will be located on the west end of the island along with a focus upon the undeveloped part of the island west of Katrina Cut.

Between now and the first street fest in 2016, we propose the publication of a DAUPHIN ISLAND READER. This collection of essays should include the reprinting of THE DEVELOPMENT OF DAUPHIN ISLAND, ALABAMA (including an index, chronology of island history and annotated street directory), an annotated Dauphin Island History by Frances Young, an annotated Dauphin Island History by Richebourg Gaillard McWilliams and the DAUPHIN ISLAND chapter from Carl Carmer’s STARS FELL ON ALABAMA. Various Dauphin Island maps and other relevant material related to understanding the meaning of Dauphin Island’s street names should also be included.

The last paragraph of THE DEVELOPMENT OF DAUPHIN ISLAND, ALABAMA by S. Blake McNeely begins with these two sentences, ”The story of Dauphin Island started in 1519. It was a continuing story, now called ‘History.’ “
 McNeely ends the same paragraph with, “They [the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce] can turn over to future hands and minds a sound foundation for a great Dauphin Island ‘Gem of the Ocean’.”

This proposal for the Annual Dauphin Island Street Fest outlines an exciting way to showcase the work done by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce 60 years ago when they gave us these historic street names which automatically focus our attention daily upon our shared heritage as we travel around our beautiful DAUPHIN ISLAND: THE SUNSET CAPITAL OF ALABAMA.

For the first DAUPHIN ISLAND STREET FEST dedicated to NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE, Dauphin Island's shells should be the center piece. These were the objects of trade Dauphin Island provided. We could give Dauphin Island shells away. Have shell art competition, etc. Here's a beachcombing article I wrote for the Panama City market. STAYING ZEN : THE ART OF CHILLIN’ OUT AT THE BEACH

“Mother, Mother Ocean, I’ve heard you call.
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall.
You’ve seen it all. You’ve seen it all.

Watch the men who rode you
Switch from sail to steam
In your belly you hold the treasures
Few have ever seen.
Most of ‘em dream, most of ‘em dream”
                                  Jimmy Buffett

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.”
                                                                           ~ Zen proverb

Sometimes in our hectic lives even the most ambitious among us desire to turn our backs on the daily pursuit of power and success, to leave the suburban sprawl behind and to embrace the enchanting but unprofitable art of beachcombing. Like our prehistoric hunter-gatherer ancestors who started some of the mounds around St. Andrews Bay, we may choose to begin our intertidal zone scavenger hunt for shells, driftwood or some other part of Poseidon’s treasure on one of Bay County’s many isolated Gulf front beaches [see the BAY COUNTY’S BEST GULF BEACHES box in this article] but even if we don’t get a kick out of having the chance to enjoy Neptune’s blessing by getting something for nothing, a nice stroll on a peaceful beach is a great opportunity to decompress in the salt air, to calm your soul , to “give your head some space” and in the current cultural vernacular, “to stay Zen.”

The word “beachcomber” made its first appearance in print in Herman Melville’s 1847 book OMOO. Melville used the term to describe unemployed sailors who foraged along the beaches of Pacific islands for the remains of shipwrecks. Over the course of the next 166 years, the term has been associated with deserters, free-loaders, bums, drifters and in some cases, the criminal class of wreckers who were known to set up false beacon lights to lure ships onto shoals. Wrecking became such a tradition in the Shetland Islands that Christian preachers there once included this appeal to the Almighty in their prayers, ”Lord, if it be thy holy will to send shipwrecks, do not forget our island.”

Well, times have changed and these days it’s not your Mama’s beachcombing.

Not only do we have “Dr. Beach”, “Dr. Beachcomb” and pricey expeditions that promise “full immersion” within “the beachcombing experience”, we have the annual International Beachcombing Conference, beachcombing autobiographies and self-help beachcombing books that “explore self-being” while bringing a “simplified perspective to beachcombing.” In other words, BEACHCOMBING, INC. (made up of a variety of shamans, neuroconservationists and born-again eco-environmentalists who desperately need copy for their next book or mixed media presentation) is now selling a mixed bag of beachcombing gear and amazing adventures in unadulterated nature.
Beachcombing is really not a tough sell for the corporate beachcomber because it’s hard to argue with the joy beachcombing brings us.  A simple walk surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of shifting sand and shimmering surf, accompanied by the sounds of rolling waves and shrieking shorebirds, somehow has the magical ability to transform us, to bring us deep contentment and to return us to memories of our childhood and our families. In fact, there’s a great deal of scientific curiosity concerning exactly why the sea has this ability to suddenly bring us deep contentment. In the midst of the stress of work, smart phones and deadlines, we often find ourselves daydreaming about our beachcomber life and find ourselves revisiting our excursions in our imagination.

On just about any beach on Earth, beachcombing takes you through some really cool nature but Bay County beachcombing has an added bonus that makes it unique to all of North America. These Gulf front beaches are absolutely, astonishingly beautiful. When clear water comes in with the tide, it doesn’t take a trained eye to see the spectacular display of color produced by sunlight upon the exceeding whiteness of the sandy bottom. Any painter of landscapes who can concoct the right combination of pigment and is able to get just some of that beauty down on canvas, deserves to charge a good price for their work. 

From the intersection of Highway 98 and Florida Road 386 in Mexico Beach on the east to the Walton County line in Inlet Beach on the west, Bay County is blessed with over 40 miles of cherished Gulf-front beaches. Even though Bay County is only 100 years old, accurate maps of the area have been available for almost 250 years. During this time the sea has pounded and flattened this strand of sand many times and over the years, geographical terms like St. Andrews Island (1766), Crooked Island (1827), Sand Island (1827), Hummock Island (1827) and Hurricane Island (1855) have come and gone. This is not the place for a discussion about wave erosion and marine geology but, suffice it to say, the form and extent of the sandy barrier between the bay and the Gulf have changed over the years; in fact, there are no true barrier islands in Bay County anymore, only peninsulas. Even with all this geographical alteration, high rise condominium construction and urban beach, much of Bay County’s shoreline remains in the same natural state it was when the Spanish found it: a quartz white sandy beach with a few scrubby weeds in the dunes.

It’s hard to believe that beachcombing would become a potentially criminal activity but that’s exactly what we have in our present day. Everyone knows there’s always been rules and regulations at the beach like “no dogs”,  “no glass containers” or “walking on sand dunes or sea oats prohibited”, but now we have the threat of  “no shell collecting allowed” or barriers that keep people from walking on the beach such as closing walkways that go through the dunes to the beach. The recent events pertaining to the locked beach walkways at Bid-A-Wee are not the first time this conflict between the private and public has occurred on our beaches. Bay County has seen the horrific results that can occur when private property owners become a barrier between the public and the beach. In the summer of 1930, the owner of Long Beach Resort decided a great way to limit access to this treasured and limited public resource was to pistol whip a man the owner claimed was trespassing “on property of the beach “ when the man decided to relax in the sand just west of the resort. While his entire family stood by in shock, the “trespasser” not only was struck against the head repeatedly with a pistol by the Long Beach owner but was also kicked repeatedly in the groin. This assault resulted in permanent brain damage and impotence in the “perpetrator” and he ended up having to be institutionalized in Chattahoochee but not before May 23, 1931, when someone walked up to the owner of Long Beach Resort as he was getting out of his car on Highway 98 near St. Andrews and sent him to an early grave with a load of buckshot in the face.

The bad arrests on Shell Island during the summer of 2006 were amicably resolved but they exposed the erosion of legal principles as old as the common law itself but you know something’s happening to our right to walk on the beach in the United States when an agency like the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources issues a standing prohibition that “denies the removal of any natural artifacts from the public beaches of Hawaii.” Could this type of regulation be in some Bay County beach’s future?  For beachcombers, the hunt for shells, driftwood and artifacts is as ingrained within us as our own DNA so we bristle when we are permitted to pick up unoccupied shells but not allowed to take driftwood or sea glass. The marine resource enforcement bureaucrats who come up with all this “look but don’t touch” mumbo jumbo, are afraid we might remove an important clue from some ancient shipwreck blown to shore. So next time you find a gold coin on the beach fronting Spanish Shanty Cove, feel free to photograph it but make sure you leave it in the sand the same way as you found it. Always remember that touching anything on the beach could cause terrible erosion or destroy the natural oceanfront camouflage so important to insects and shorebirds.

Falling in love again with taking a stroll down a lonely beach may be the perfect way for each of us to take control of our cluttered lives. In May of 2013, Cruzan Rum took the “beachcomber lifestyle” as the state of mind and the way of life they want to brand onto their rum. In their television commercial, the viewer finds himself adrift within the towering waves of a stormy sea and hears the announcer say, “You are drowning. You are literally drowning in a figurative sea of busyness. When…wait! Is that?” The viewer suddenly sees an island on the screen and hears a greeting from a voice with a strange accent, ”Welcome! Welcome to the Island of Don’t Hurry where life never moves too fast and Cruzan Rum flows freely. For two hundred and fifty years our pastime has been ‘passing time.’ Join us. Come leave your hurried life behind.”

After introducing you to the National Bird, a rapping parrot who “can fly but chooses not to” and showing a domesticated tortoise hauling a cart of rum on the beach, the announcer gives you a preview of the national sports of “Zero K Runs” and “Sleep Yoga” along with advertisements for “Monkey Massages”. Then the announcer ends the ad with the words, “Slow down and enjoy the Don’t Hurry lifestyle wherever you may find it. When you hurry through life, you just get to the end faster.”

There’s is a tendency to underestimate our experiences walking the beach. How much is “pretty” worth to you? The value to the elderly or infirm of their entire life’s catalogue of beach scene memories has not been accurately calculated but a nice testable hypothesis would be whether pleasant memories at the beach are a great predictor of late-late-late life satisfaction.  Stay tuned…

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