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OPINION

GUEST COLUMN: A toast to 'stubbornness issues'

By Ramona Cobb Special to the Times

Most people would quit. Not us. We are Apalachicola Ice Company. We have “Stubbornness Issues”

Here on the Forgotten Coast there are many great bars. All boasting a great nightlife, cold beer, incredible musicians and fun people. Apalachicola Ice Company is one of those bars.

The band Southern Flood performs Saturday night at the High Five Dive Bar, on Avenue E
The Apalachicola Ice Company chalks up its memorable dates

When you first walk in, you can’t help but notice the chalkboard listing all their Milestones... 

  • Oct. 10, 2016 - Opening Day
  • Oct. 10, 2018 - Hurricane Michael
  • Oct. 19, 2018 - Re-Opening Day
  • March 16, 2020 - Closed for COVID
  • June 9, 2020 - Re-Re-Opening Day
  • June 30, 2020 - Closed again for COVID 
  • Sept. 14, 2020 - Re-Re-Re-Opening Day
  • Oct. 10, 2020 – Four-year anniversary

Hurricanes. Floods. COVID. Floating lift stations. Rain Rain Rain!

Are you sensing a theme? Or maybe a trend?

The obvious trend is one of circumstance and chance. Hurricanes, Floods, COVID and rain… all Blessings from Mother Nature. Floating lift stations could arguably be an environmental equipment malfunction, but all trends have outliers.

The secondary trend is how James and Erin Frost have responded to each situation. They have “Stubbornness Issues”.

It’s hard to describe the determination required to own and operate a small business in a small town. But Apalachicola Ice Company has mastered it. They have survived. That’s because at the Apalachicola Ice Company, It’s always about love.

James and Erin love this town. They love the people of this town. And we love them.

It’s so easy to say you love something. Me personally, I think the word love is dangerously over used. It’s overused to the point that saying you “love” someone or something can become almost rote and meaningless.

Love requires action and hard work. Love is a verb. 

James’ verb is Creating. James loves creating. He has created a bar atmosphere so authentic and down to earth that you feel at home every time you walk thru the door. It’s like a museum. Filled with all the workings of a long ago thriving water front machine shop. Pulleys and belts and cogs and gears and wheels hang among the rafters. There are special keepsakes hung on the walls. Old airplane propellers and stickers and hats and flags. Things special to the town, special to his customers and special to him.

Another verb for James is Collecting and James loves collecting motorcycles. All kinds of motorcycles. Big ones, little ones, old unloved and abused ones. They all have a home in James’ unique collection. But Triumphs hold a special place in his heart. He has an impressive collection on display at the Ice Company.

James’ “Motorcycle Museum” always turns heads. “Where in the heck did he find that?” “That little Honda right there was my first motorcycle.” “Seriously?! A Messerschmidt? That is SO cool!” I love to watch James talk with folks about his finds ... his face always lights up.

Erin’s verb is Inspire and her passion is music. I love watching Erin listen to music. Her eyes close. She smiles. She starts to dance, but just a little bit. Maybe a better word is “sway”. Music makes Erin sway. Between her and her father, it’s safe to say that the sound system at Ice House is spot on fine!

Erin Inspires musicians. She supports their efforts. Promotes young artists. Encourages and nurtures their hopes and dreams.

I remember eavesdropping in on a conversation she was having with a band late one night after they had finished playing.

“You can DO this!” 

“You just need to tweak a few things” 

“Don’t worry, the audience will show up for you”

I can’t imagine the life of a musician. The uncertainty has to be brutal. Then toss COVID in on top of all that uncertainty. Erin got creative.

While the Ice Company and all the other Florida bars were shut down, Erin was posting videos of artists performing... complete with Venmo accounts posted for the artists to get some help with earning a living, bringing in money that COVID took away from their paying gigs. Bands and musicians were able to play ... to perform ... to have an arena to express. To connect. Because Erin connects. She connects with people and with music.

My first Thanksgiving here in Apalachicola was spent with my sister and her family at Ice Company. Now, I must preface this by saying, my God-fearing, Southern Baptist upbringing did not equip me for my first Thanksgiving in a bar. I was so surprised. What a sweet spirit filled the place! People were laughing and smiling and dancing, and hugging and kissing. Everyone Was Happy! Children were running around, turning cartwheels on the rug, playing hide and seek. Playing with all the dogs. My first Thanksgiving in a bar was just an absolute blessing.

Basically, James and Erin have Style. They have the kind of style that draws you into their world. It’s not the kind of style you’ll see on HGTV, or in a magazine or posted on some trendy blog.

It is authentic personal style.

So, with the end of 2020 looming closer and closer, here’s my toast for Apalachicola Ice Company;

Here’s to saying goodbye and good riddance to 2020, and hello to 2021! May your music be mellow, may you find many treasures, may your beer be cold and keep your bike upright.