My Memories of Beach Drive

We love Beach Drive just the way it is. It is the most beautiful street in Panama City to us with the beach, palm trees, and St. Andrews Bay on one side and the lovely old homes, many dating back to the earliest residents of Panama City, on the other. My parents would drive visitors to Panama City along Beach Drive just to show them why we were so proud of our small town.

I had no idea that one day my wife and I would be lucky enough to own a home on Beach Drive. Members of my wife’s family lived on this street for decades and there are pieces of our family’s history everywhere we look. You can’t walk far down Beach Drive without seeing my grandfather’s name when you look down, whether it’s stamped in the concrete sidewalk or stamped on manhole covers. At the western end of Beach Drive is St. Andrew Marina where my great-grandfather fished to earn a living and feed his family. This is where some of my best memories come in as I am walking along the beach and seeing what he saw every morning going to work and coming home.

It is not a concrete jungle yet and I hope it never will be. I remember when I was a youngster my grandmother would talk about picking up scallops along Beach Drive with her mother. Unfortunately, due to the constant encroachment of people the scallops are no more and this has happened in my lifetime. We must protect what we have and save it from further destruction.

Whether I see the osprey or the bald eagle along the tops of those old tattered pine trees or the sandpipers and ringneck ducks scurrying along the beach looking for a meal, I always enjoy my walks along Beach Drive. As I step over those old four-foot sections of pipe my grandfather made seventy years ago or looking over at the marina, I am proud to call this place home.

We’ve been here a long time and I can tell you why. Panama City is a beautiful, small Southern town with a friendly charm all its own. We love it here, so please don’t mess it up with an ugly mile and a half, twelve foot wide concrete slab covering up the pristine sand beach and killing every creature living there.

- Local resident Panama City Beach Drive HS

Personal memory of Beach Drive...

My family moved to Panama City in 1961 and my father bought an historic home on Beach Drive known as the Milton Cottage or Hurricane Hall. I was two years old and one of six children. My brothers and I had a blessed childhood. St Andrews Bay was our playground. Our summers were spent exploring everything this body of water had to offer. From scalloping, crabbing, fishing to swimming, sailing, skiing, and scuba diving to name a few. The sea life was plentiful and amazing. One could go swimming and find a small sea horse attached to a blade of sea grass.

My older brothers and some of the neighborhood boys were quite mischievous. They found a civil war cannon ball under a neighbor’s porch and played with it all day until they decided to bury it in the sand because they knew they couldn’t take it home. After some considerable time, they dug it up and showed everybody what they had discovered. The Navy EOD unit was called as well as the press. Turns out the cannon ball was full of gun powder. Their picture was placed in the newspaper for their historic discovery. Confessions occurred years later.

Beach Drive has created so many fond memories for me and my family. It must be preserved for our future generations. Development on the south side will negatively impact this memorable stretch of beach forever.

- Local resident Panama City Beach Drive

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