Thursday, January 26, 2017

Narnia


We left the barbecue outside on the grill, is what’s bothering me, and Happy got into it. I hollered at him, and clapped my hands, but he paid me no mind, jumped up and got into it anyway. I had to rush out and pull him out of it. Linda had covered it with aluminum foil, but it should've been brought inside to the refrigerator. As I was squatting down patting and hugging him I realized he was pure collie, not like our real shepherd-collie mix Happy, yet the same Happy anyway. He must’ve been in my dream because I liked Walt’s collie named Happy so much when I was there a few weeks ago.

69°F 90% and a line of rain just now coming through with a cold front to lower the temperature about ten degrees. We’ll see.

Why that dream, I wonder. Maybe because sleeping on my right side for, I guess, hours, was crushing my weight down on my right shoulder quite painfully. That and old Father Nature’s annoyance he was ignored all night long. But eight-thirty to four-thirty, not a bad sleep, eh. 

What would, will, it take to make me happy again? Well, other than that, which won’t be happening. Thirty-five to nearly forty years ago I had a business partner, Jerry lived in New Jersey just outside Philadelphia, a major sports fan of the Phillies and Eagles. He belonged to a sports bar club that had a supply of old b&w television sets in a back room, and a brickbat. As each member came into the bar, he drew a number out of a hat by the door, tore the stub off and dropped it into a basket. Just before the game started, someone drew the winning number out of the basket. Soon as Howard Cosell showed up in the sports commentator’s box, whoever had the winning number picked up the brickbat and smashed it through his face on the black and white television screen. I’m thinking of that, but Linda would have to clean up an awful lot of glass over the next four years, or, μὴ γένοιτο, eight, μὴ γένοιτο, wishing me long years. 

Car dealerships aren’t the only thing fading away. People like little fishing villages, the quaintness, the working character of the place, old faded buildings, memories. When I was a boy St. Andrews was still a little fishing village on the west edge of Panama City. Fishing boats, Love the Boats 



seines stretched out drying in the sun, fishermen in work clothes and wearing the flat cap like Alfred’s wearing in his picture astern of the Annie & Jennie above my head at the moment. Walker Gwaltney always wore one of those flat hats, I remember seeing him around town and in our fish market. We had an ice plant here in St Andews, a postoffice, a hardware store that also carried fishing supplies, a gasoline filling station that today is a Thai restaurant, a couple of fish markets, ours and Windham’s which was where Captain’s Table is now; in fact until she died a couple years ago, old Mrs. Windham used to sit in a rocking chair just inside the door, greeting customers; and the St Andrews ice plant was where Captain's Table parking lot is now, I learned and practiced driving taking our old Pontiac and our trucks round the corner from our fish house on 12th Street to the ice plant on Beck Avenue for 300 pound blocks of ice. Whole, or crushed. All that still exists in my memory, unlike what was in some of the dreams I’d love to have held onto except that dreams apparently do not create memories the same as real life experiences. In some cases I’d rather keep the dreams.

So anyway, people love old fishing villages as St Andrews was when my grandparents moved here in 1908 or 1909, I don’t know, my sister Gina knows -- Gina’s birthday was Tuesday while we were in Pensacola. And while my father was growing up here, and while Walt and I were growing up here. And these old fishing villages, as the way of life dies out, go to ruin for some years, then people see opportunity and start opening little restaurants, maybe mainly seafood restaurants, we have all sorts of little cafes here in St Andrews now. 

Or that and little boutique shops: when I was a boy I loved visiting Apalachicola with my father when he was in the fish business, to buy oysters and shrimp for our retail and wholesale business. Apalachicola, which began early in the 19th century as a major Gulf seaport for shipping cotton that was brought down the Apalachicola River to the sea, was a fishing village in my early years. A really run-down shabby fishing village that I loved with all my heart. The fish houses on the river, half of them tumbling down, most of the grand old houses around town needing roofs and painting. The old Chestnut Street Cemetery across the street from the old Episcopal church. That old church used to be open all the time, and I loved going in there, the ancient wood smell, and what Mamie Johnson once called “old prayer-soaked walls.” It never occurred to me in the middle to late 1940s that I’d spend my wonderful middle-age years as the priest there. When Linda, Tass and I moved there in 1984, Apalachicola was still the same enchanting fishing village I remembered from my boyhood, all the same buildings needing roofs and all the same houses still needing paint; but not long after, somebody discovered the town and during our years there it transformed from a fishing village to a town of seafood restaurants and little boutique shops. There’s even a traffic light there now. But I remember St Andrews, and I remember the golden age of Apalachicola and of Trinity Church. 

Why am I doing this, how’d I get here this morning? Ah! yesterday remembering old car dealerships around town that’re long gone, some of the buildings torn down, some boarded up over the showroom’s smashed plate glass windows, my mind fading to fishing villages.

What do I love? That from 7H I see constantly not only Landmark Condominiums where was my grandfather’s fish house and the pier where Annie & Jennie docked, Davis Point with its reminder the A&J last sailed with Alfred, who owned the old house that was never really mine; but also looking out the Beck way, all the places that, unlike the dreams I’d like my mind to have stored as memories instead of losing, are solid in memory every time I glance that way. Pop’s later fish house (picture above and below) where the Shrimp Boat restaurant stands this morning. The ice plant. Our fish house and the white sand dunes on the west side of it, where we stacked our wooden fish boxes until needed and when you went out on the dunes to get a box be damn sure to check because sure as hell there's a huge spider. The parking lot where long ago was the old St Andrews train depot: I’ve told here before about the day, I was probably ten years old, my practicum about male-female activity by hearing noises and glancing up at the stack of mattresses that Mr. Kelley by then used the old train depot as a warehouse for his surplus sales business, where atop the stack of mattresses I could see the head of the teenage boy who worked for Mr. Kelley and the long brown hair of some girl. And there was movement. They did not appreciate that I shouted "Hey!" up to them, and I hope I didn’t cause any malfunction that morning, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω.  

The Narnia story Voyage of the Dawn Treader opens with Lucy and Edmund at the home of their cousin Eustace, admiring a painting of a curious old sailing ship that hangs on the wall in his room. As they gaze into the picture, somehow the wind from the sea reaches into the room where they are and draws them into the picture: a timeless adventure begins. On the wall in the entryway of 7H hangs the watercolor painting below, 



that Linda’s mother Lucile Peters painted at the scene for my parents back in the late 40s or early 50s, and it hung over our fireplace mantle throughout my teen years, and then for years over the fireplace mantle in Alfred's house. It’s of the scene where my brother and I grew up in St. Andrews. If Aslan were back, and if I had my wish this morning …

Clearing Davis Point just now - - -



DThos+

Top picture: thanks, Mike McKenzie, thanks so very much . . 

"Love the Boats" thanks, PB407, timely and perfect!

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