Us and Mexico Beach
The date on this photo reminds me of some fun times. I had recently graduated from pilot training and was now learning to fly the F-86D at Tyndall AFB, Florida.
Peggy and I rented a very little house at Mexico Beach. It was on the Gulf of Mexico and only a few feet from high tide. My twenty-five-minute drive to work along the Gulf of Mexico was very relaxing.
Immediately behind our place was a fresh water lake that had a mind of its own. It was fed by a small streamlet of water that was barely big enough to get you wet. But over time it dumped enough water into the lake to fill it up.
But there was a problem. The tide came in every day and moved enough sand to dam up the outlet that allowed spill-water to flow from the lake into the gulf. So the lake just kept filling and kept filling.
Something had to give, and eventually the lake over filled and breached the sandy dam. Water rushed out for a day or two and drained the lake. Then the process was ready to start all over again. This took place not far from where we lived.
One time some tourists walked on the beach past our house and picked up some of my sea shells that had washed up overnight. I just watched, trying to contain myself. How dare do those guys do that without my permission and in broad sunlight.
Coincidentally, the lake had reached its total fill, and the tourists were almost out of sight. It was my turn. I took a stick and drew a thin line several inches deep. It was about 50’ long and spanned from the lake water to the downhill side of the sandy berm. As gravity worked its magic, fresh water pushed the sand down my manmade gutter toward the salt water in the gulf.
At first it was a dribble that turned into a trickle, that turned into a flow. And before long it was a maniac river 40’ wide and 4’ deep. I wondered if the sheriff would come and get me.
He didn’t. When the tourists returned, they couldn’t figure out where the river came from all of a sudden. After their bewilderment subsided, they backtracked and cut up to the road. It was the only way they could get back to where they started several hours before. I never saw those guys again and I hope they’re not still mad at me.
In 1954 I was drawing 2nd Lieutenants pay. I don’t remember how much it was but I remember it wasn’t very much, and we had a monthly car payment. To help make ends meet Peggy fished off the pier at Mexico Beach. She didn’t like to bait the hook or take the fish off. Fortunately, there were always a few old guy fishermen around to help her.
That evening after work, I cleaned the fish and Peggy cooked them. We even had shark filets once in a while. It was a young family effort and life was good.
Then, 44 years later hurricane Michael came along and almost completely disappeared Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base. I took it personally. It was kind of like life got mad at me. Look at it this way. My family home in Temple burned to the ground twice, they tore down my junior high school building and they liked it so much they tore down my high school building. Over time I’ve lost 2 ½ inches and 24 pounds, my family won’t let me drive outside of Santa Fe, trout in the Pecos River contain mercury, and I probably have less than 20 years to live. How can things get any worse? If it were not for my upbeat attitude and a bunch of good treasure hunting acquaintances, I’d worry about myself. f