This week our Chasing Shadows column is dedicated to Carrabelle. The following are two “Reflections” columns penned by Bill Miller, longtime East End resident.
Our Chasing shadows question: Where was the Carrabelle Roller Rink and when was it built? If you have any information about this, please contact the Times at 653-8868 or Lois Swoboda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good People Helped Shape Carrabelle
I’ll start this with a bit of good memories of two good friends, Charlie Millender, who was DOT supervisor and three-time mayor (The Candy Man) and “Cuz” Jackson, captain of the Miss Carrabelle.
Want to mention we had a Trailways bus station at the Burda Drug Store. Benches out front for waiting and of course you could have an ice cream soda too. I used to ship a lot of brass refinishing on the bus. It arrived at about 11 a.m., went to Panama City and came back through about 5 p.m. to Tallahassee.
Also dragging from the archives that after enrolling my oldest, Melinda, I got caught up in school activities, baseball, football, etc. They asked me to coach the junior girls against the seniors in the “Powder Puff Bowl.” Wish I could remember the whole team but I know I had Judy Smith at guard, Jeanie Smith at center, Kathy Clements at quarterback; Robbie Smith (Robbie’s Beauty salon) at end, Marion Brodie, Ruth Smith and a good bunch of other girls who I thought made a pretty good team until the night of the fateful game. The seniors just gave the ball to Bambi Weller every time and she was named right. You couldn’t have brought her down with a 30:06. I won’t disclose the score. I was writing this when I heard of Judy Smith passing away. “Mrs. Birthday Cake” will always be remembered.
No story of Carrabelle would be complete without a tribute to the “Hill” people who were a great asset to the growth of the town and its facilities. For many years, Julius Donaldson was the self-styled mayor of the Hill. If you needed things done, get Julius.
Henry Lowery was a concrete and block contractor. One of his houses is at the southeast corner of the old ball field. The slab for his home and office never got finished. It is at the southeast corner of 98 and Fifth Street. Two others are still habitable across from the Olin property on the east. Classie, his wife, had about 23 or 24 children and still worked every day. Crip Reynolds, aforementioned ice man and school custodian. William Rucker, who fixed septic tanks, drain fields and hauled oyster shells and later opened a juke next to the Magnolia Club.
Willie and Lorraine Benjamin had the Magnolia Club for many years. The Legion Post raised enough money to run water out to the Isle of Rest Cemetery on 98. Mose Jeter was a super handyman who started working for my Dad in 1955 until Dad died in 1984. Jim Brown, the man on the street, anytime there was a job to do. There was and still are my favorite comedians, Robert Lattimore and Clarence Lowery.
Mrs. Dahl had her little juke on top of the Hill and worked as a cook at Gulf Water Motel and Restaurant. All these folks and their families probably took a turn pulpwooding, as I did when I came here permanently in 1960. All good people and deserve a big hand for the parts they played in everybody’s town.
Looking back from my first visit in 1954, purchase of a lot, along with Mom and Dad who bought four and moved here in 1955. This place was a healer for the family from the stresses of Dallas. I came here with diddly and did my best to make this a better place to live. Franklin County has been very good to me and I hope you will remember my contributions as I have others who were with me.
‘Till later, Mr. Bill
Memories of a Walk Down Marine Street
Still meandering down Marine Street, there was the Florida Power office with Mrs. Edna at the helm. Next door to that was the “High Hat Tavern” with Mr. Jim Putnal at the bar. Then Mr. and Mrs. Riley Akers with their Bait and Tackle Shop and Jimmy Snapper fishing the “Barbara Ann.”
The “White Kitchen” after closing had a few tenants such as one-arm John and Voncille, Don Allen and Bonnie as manager. Finally settling with “Hook Talley” a very colorful replanted native who worked at the “CC” camp on 319 east of town and used to prize fight at Carrabelle Beach on Sundays.
Down the street was the Marine Patrol office. Carrabelle’s own Doc Adams (Gunsmoke) where our own famous doctor, George Sands, had his office. We had a super hospital back in those days, where Harbor Breeze is now. They did surgery, delivered kids and had three doctors in attendance, Drs. Sands, Pierce and Mabry.
Which brings up the funeral home which was located at 207 Third Street, which I became involved with Heywood Griner. We had an old Ford panel truck for ambulance service and an even older Cadillac hearse that usually broke down on the way to the cemetery.
Now back to Marine Street – little brick building across from Dr. Sands had no roof or front. I rebuilt it with bricks and rafters (3x12s) from the old Carrabelle School which Oscar Ewing had the contract to tear down to make way for Gulf State Bank, which moved from the Rex Theatre location. The little building was, I’m told, the post office after it moved off a pier in the river.
Anyway, I made a branch office out of it with a trailer park next door aptly named “Miller’s Mini Pads,” but I didn’t call it ‘stay free,” but that’s about the way it worked out.
I’m told that the original “Edgewater Bar” was also out in the river, but also moved into an old home on the corner of Baxter and Marine. A very colorful ole lady, Ella Eiring was the owner and bartender and lived in the rear. After Mrs. Eiring died, Paul Ranallo bought the license and built a new bar and restaurant across the street. There were quite a few owners after that, Myrtle Sands, Harvey Cox, Helen and Virgil Fletcher, Dave and Bard Sprague to name a few.
Jimmie Crowder would enlarge and create “Wicked Willies.” Across the street was the Coast Guard docks and we had some great crews here manning the cutters.
Then came the “Dog Island Ferry,” the “Spica,” first captain Seaborn Jackson and second captain Kelley and last Ned Fergoson. Back then it was $5 for cars, $1 for adults and 50 cents for kids. What a great trip. Usually three trips a day.
Jeff Lewis of Lewis State Bank had purchased the island from the Pope family in 1947 for $25,000 and begun developing it. At the Tallahassee Airport there were two Quonset buildings that served as the terminal. One was purchased and placed on a lot down at St. James and the other one Jeff moved over to Dog Island beachfront where it became the “Hut.” There were showers, three or four bedrooms for overnighters, living quarters for Doris and Dewey Covington, the managers. They had some groceries, drinks, cold beer, hamburgers etc and you could sit on a big screened porch and enjoy.
Out on the end, the Air Force tower was operated by Jim Bockelman and others. On around the curve on State Route 30A was Carrabelle Ice House manned by Fate “Crip” Thomas and ice was delivered to the boats and the “Barn.” Crip was also a very famous custodian at Carrabelle School.
Back in those days Carrabelle had a swing bridge, which sometimes had to be cranked by manpower. The new bridge was a great boost to Carrabelle economy and beauty. Going toward the beach on the right, Ruth Anson, retired Army nurse, put up a small café which later burned. On the left, Roy and Freeda Shields had a little juke called “Freeda’s Hideaway.” After that Norm Robinson and his family purchased the Town Inn Motel (part of the Moorings) and Freeda’s and made a nice restaurant and bar called the “Town Inn.” I ate my first pickled chicken gizzards there – three for 25 cents – great too!
Then our most famous restaurant person Julia Mae (Putnal) put us on the map near and far, at Sopchoppy, St. James and Terri Lynn’s in town, until retirement with Merle Brannan’s pies still going strong.
Arriving at the beach on the left was a big wooden pavilion-type building which, in 1958, was open for dances, etc. by Johnny and Chappy Gray. Down on the beach, Shellie Gray Rowell and Mr. Touchon of Georgia built “Beachside Motel,” nicest at the time in town. Across 98 on the curve was the infamous “Duffy’s Tavern.” Now Duffy and his English wife thought everyone had the right to drink most any age, most any time, including Sundays. I think he paid more beverage department fines than his inventory. Always had a big cigar and big tanks of fish until a certain party ran into the side of the building.
Until later, Mr. Bill