Thursday, July 24, 2014

Annie & Jennie, Bay Fisheries, St. Andrews, Florida


At least in their beginnings there was rivalry of sorts between St. Andrews and Panama City (Harrison as it originally was called), physical separation with rivalry. I might visualize it like the sense of rivalry we had in sporting events between Cove School and Millville School in the 1940s, or between Panama Grammar and St. Andrews Elementary, when all the schools went through eighth grade, before the early 1950s when the junior high schools (grades 7, 8, 9) were established and Bay High changed from grades 9-12 to 10-12. That started Fall 1950 actually, my Bay High class of 1953 having two consecutive years as the lowest grade. That break may have been what stopped the tradition of the “frosh cap” when freshman had to wear the little red and white beanie cap and were subjected to some mild degree of hazing, taunting. 

The school system has been changed again since then to the middle school system (6, 7, 8) and the high schools back to grades 9-12, and there is strong rivalry of all kinds including academics and sports between the high schools. That’s the kind of inter-city rivalry there was before the merger of St. Andrews and Panama City. My grandfather always carried a sense of the tension, and I remember Pop telling me that Panama City should have merged to become part of St. Andrews instead of vice versa. Going from St. Andrews to Panama City was “going up to Panama” not unlike “going across the bridge” is today for the drive between Panama City and Panama City Beach.

A better local history buff than I will know, but seems to me the divide between St. Andrews and Panama City was Balboa Avenue. Or it may have been Lake Caroline. Regardless, the division was both physical and emotional, even a bit testy. The house where I live now, dating from 1912, was solid in St. Andrews, as was my grandfather’s seafood business, Bay Fisheries just across the street and a block to the east, just west of Frankford Avenue where Landmark Condominiums is today. 

Exactly at the SW corner foot of Frankford Avenue in my early growing up years stood a large tin building, which was the old ice plant, by then abandoned and a haven to drunks. I remember a Sunday afternoon in the 1940s going to the jetty there to go swimming, the ice plant office door was standing open, seeing a man lying under a cot. I pointed him out to my father, who said "leave him alone, he's sleeping off his drunk." In the PCNH the next day was an article saying that he was found there dead.

I remember the stone jetty jutting out into the Bay at the foot of Frankford: we used to swim there, but on the west side only for some reason. It was deep enough for a shallow dive off the jetty. In earlier days there was the pier that stretched out there, pictured below, with Bay Fisheries at the end of it and a railway spur going out to it. Bay Fisheries began as Pop’s business about 1908, but my father told me maybe seventy years ago, that he had learned his lesson about control of a private enterprise when, to raise capital, Pop had sold partial ownership shares of Bay Fisheries and inadvertently lost control.

Where am I going with this? To wrap up my Alfred Story, actually. Dr. McKenzie sent me four pictures that show the pier and Bay Fisheries, and the Annie & Jennie. I had seen at least one of them in local area history publications, but all together they complete the story for me, and my mental image, and with gratitude to Mike, I’m posting the four pictures here this morning.

Bay Fisheries with the fishing smacks at pier. I can't read the name on stern of the boat.


A 1920 shot of Bay Fisheries and the pier showing the railway spur


A portside view of the Annie & Jennie


Annie & Jennie under full sail, 1912

Thank you, Mike.

Tom

TODAY IS MY BROTHER'S BIRTHDAY. WALTER GENTRY WELLER, JULY 24, 1939. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WALT!!





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