Growing up in Fernandina

People frequently ask me what it was like growing up in Fernandina.

Some of my stock answers are:

  • Then – Living on the beach everyone had a dog, there were no fences and if you needed a leash you found a piece of rope.
    • Now – You will be fined if caught with your dog off leash on the beach.
      • Some unnamed people do break the law, Konna & Poppy on the beach video.
  • Then – Above the average high water mark was private property, therefore I was able to drive dad’s war surplus jeep on the beach when I was 10 years old.  From the north end of the island to the south end of the island because I was on private property.
    • Now – If, and only if, you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and are a county resident you can “drive/park” on about a 100 yards of the beach at Saddler Road, drive on limited stretches at Peter’s Point and the South End for free, otherwise you must obtain a Permit.
  • Then – Dad would land his Luscombe (airplane) on the beach in winter and park it in the garage.
    • Now – If you can’t drive on the beach I can’t imagine what would happen if you landed on the beach.
  • Then – If I was going to town and didn’t want to ride my bike or walk, I would stand on the corner of Fletcher and Atlantic and hitch-hike a ride.  To get home I would stand under the oak at 8th and Atlantic and hitch a ride home.
    • Now – No parent in their right mind would allow a child to hitch-hike.
  • Then – A Coke, out of the machine at Moore’s Grocery cost $0.05 cents, if you took it out of the store you paid Stella $0.02 deposit on the bottle.  I remember when the price went to $0.06.
    • Now – I recently paid $1.89 for a medium Coke at one of the fast food joints on 8th street.
  • Then – There were two stop lights on the island, and 5 or 6 restaurants.  Remember the Blue Seas, 5-J’s and the Sandbar?
    • Now – 4 stop lights on Fletcher Ave. and more Restaurants than you can count.  Why isn’t there a Cajun restaurant?
  • Then – We would sneak into Fort Clinch, to play, and eventually Mr. Decker would see us and yell at us.
    • Now – There are reenactors playing at the Fort.


Photo – Corner of 3rd and Atlantic (now Centre) looking southwest.  Hardee’s is now Fantastic Fudge ice cream shop.

Photo Credit: Holland, Karl E., 1919-1993. Fernandina Beach street scene – Fernandina Beach, Florida. 1972. Black & white photoprint, 3 x 3 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <;, accessed 9 August 2016.






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