Years ago. Twenty something, I think, I was reading The Clarion Ledger and as any true newspaper reader does, I finished up cruising the classifieds to see what might be of interest. The Classifieds section of newspapers used to be the most popular read pages. And I’m not just talking about the “personals.”
For those that don’t know what the personals category is, it is where dating happened before the Internet happened and men and women started dating online through Match.com, E-harmony, etc. Now there are hundreds if not thousand of internet dating sites, farmers.com, hunters.com, oldfolks.com — you know where I’m going with this. All that hooking up used to be done via classified ads.
Anyway, way back then, late ‘90s, early 00s, there was a category in The Clarion Ledger’s classified section — which was a whole section or two of the newspaper I might add — dedicated to vacation opportunities.
One Sunday morning, just after daybreak, I was sitting in the hot tub, enjoying my coffee, while turning the pages of the paper — back then we had a hot tub and I did get up that early, why I do not know — and I got to the vacation rentals section of the classifieds and there right in front of me was a beach house, right on the beach, in Fort Morgan, Alabama and it was only $780 a week. We could afford that!
I had never heard of Fort Morgan, Alabama but I thought a beach house on the beach where they described the beach as your private backyard was more than interesting to me so I decided to see if wife, Danny, and daughter Rachel-Johanna wanted to go to the beach rather than mountains that year. They did and we did.
The people that owned the house lived outside Birmingham, I think, and the deal was that you mailed them a check and they mailed you the key to the house. Sounds a whole lot like a modern day scam, right?
I thought so back then, too, so I called up the Chamber of Commerce in the community where my check was being mailed and asked if they knew of these people. The lady that answered the phone said that she didn’t, but if I would give her my number she would drive out at lunch to the address and see if it was real. Nice lady!
She did. She called me back and said it was a very good subdivision and everything looked on the up and up. We took a chance, we mailed a check, and sure enough we got a key and directions in the mail, and spent our first week in Fort Morgan. It was wonderful, and we’ve been going there every summer since.
You can’t go for $780 a week anymore though!
We went to that same house for several years, and then moved to the next door house when Rachel-Johanna started inviting friends along. Later we had to move up to a bigger house and had one great year when my mom and dad and one of my brothers and his family joined us.
Then our little girl grew up and was in college and wasn’t so interested in going to the beach with Mom and Dad, so Danny and I decided to downsize. That’s the year we found the perfect beach house for two.
It’s retro look from the outside caught our eye first, and the “tiny house” size of it was perfect for my wife and myself. We “moved in” four years ago and knew we had found our summer vacation place for the rest of our lives. Last year Rachel-Johanna drove down and joined us for the second half of our trip and the three of us had a blast.
Shortly after that Hurricane Sally blew through and being concerned about what had become of “our” house I started searching the internet for information. Sadly drone footage of the devastation showed us that the house was one of those that was blown off the face of the earth.
Sally was not supposed to be that strong.
What really brought it all back home, though, was the fact that in 2005 the three of us were hunkered down in that first house we ever rented with my parents in tow when Hurricane Cindy blew through, followed by Hurricane Dennis in the same week. That was also the year of Katrina. It was pretty spooky in a beach house on stilts with the storm surge beneath your steps.
If we had been in our favorite beach house of all times, the tiny one, last year when Sally came calling we very likely would not be alive, much less back on the beach of Fort Morgan today.
Yep, we’re back on the beach today. New house, same beach. Maybe this one will turn into “ours” next.