Memorable story from the past

After high school, three friends and I piled into a Plymouth station wagon and drove down to Florida. My summer job didn’t start for another week, and my steady girlfriend was off to Europe to meet some distant relatives and travel. She was far more adventurous than I, and while that whim of a trip gave me anxiety, I wanted to hang out with my buddies before we went off to different colleges in the fall. That, and I wanted to be able to share a story or two about my summer as well.

After hours on the road, we finally reached the Tampa area, and excitement replaced my trepidation.

We stopped for gas in Clearwater, and when I stepped out to refuel, the humidity slapped me in the face. Even though I was in the shade, I felt the sweat dripping down my back, and I wished I had sandals on. I couldn’t wait to reach the beach.

The Memorial Causeway had recently been torn down, replaced by a new bridge to cross over to Clearwater Beach. We picked Clearwater because Dick wanted to see where the Phillies spring team played, and Joe and I heard the fishing was decent. John tagged along because his mother gave him the “okay” to take time off from the dairy farm, an unheard of gift.

We didn’t have much money, so we slept in the car in a public parking lot by the beach or on the beach itself. We had a grand time, although I lost my fishing buddy to a tan blonde. Joe was sure smitten, and while we all gave him a hard time, he ended up marrying that woman later that year.  Those two moved to Gainesville so he could attend the University of Florida, and he lived in the sunshine state until he died a few years back.

As for myself, I will never forget sleeping under the stars, fishing for snook and trout with John and Dick, and Joe’s unexpected love story.