Excerpt from Death by Marriage:
Golden Beach is a Florida Gulfcoast town with miles of sandy beaches crested by heron, egrets, turkey-headed vultures, and snowbirds. The heron, egrets, and vultures are with us year-round. The snowbirds are seasonal. They migrate south by plane, train, and automobile between October and January and return to their northern habitats between April and June. A few—those less well endowed with green dead presidents—must sometimes confine themselves to a stay of one month. A sad circumstance, as unlike heron, egrets, and vultures, snowbirds are always in season. Hunted assiduously by both Florida natives and johnny-come-latelies for their fine northern plumage and their free-spending self-indulgence.
Some say Golden Beach was named for the color of its sand, but, truthfully, ninety years ago it was one of the first planned retirement developments in the country. And I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion the town fathers were honoring a senior’s golden years rather than golden sand. Or maybe they were simply picturing the wealth the retirees would bring with them. Whatever. The town was named before the market crash of twenty-nine, the one that precipitated the Great Depression, and by that time it was too late to change the name to Deserted, Breadline, or Lost Cause.
Golden Beach rose from the doldrums of hand-to-mouth existence only when the exuberant optimism of post-World War II exploded on the scene. And air conditioning. In two short months my grandparents (adopted) went from acres of oranges to a pink Mediterranean-style stucco mansion in the center of town. Did Gramma cringe when the vast orange grove my family had owned for four generations was platted for the Gulfcoast’s largest trailer park? Maybe. But after twenty years of hard times, she and Grampa probably just looked at their bank balance and smiled.
I never got to walk the orange grove, smell the sweet scent of spring blossoms, or pick a rough-skinned orange off the tree. I grew up in that three-story stucco a block from city hall, four blocks from the library, and a million miles from nowhere. As a child, I was happy as a clam. As a teen, awareness struck. Nothing, absolutely nothing, ever happened in Golden Beach. It was a dead-end far corner of the earth. I was young, young, young, trapped in a time warp where children should be seen and not heard.
Let me out of here!
At seventeen I fled to the Rhode Island School of Design like a rocket into the wild blue yonder. Life glowed on the horizon like a great sun rising. Freedom was mine. The world awaited.
Nine years later, emotionally battered, nearly down for the count, I came back.
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Thanks for stopping by. Next blog (promise) - EDIT THE BLASTED BOOK - a list of "Don'ts"
Grace, who writes as Blair Bancroft & edits as Best Foot Forward (editsbyBFF@aol.com)