Thanks for the memories! Readers remember the Bay County of yesteryear
About a month ago, as I admired the rebirth of Bay County after Hurricane Michael, I was flooded with memories of the sleeping paradise my family first saw in the late 1960s: open beaches without high-rise buildings, without 23rd Street and a classic downtown.
In my June 26 column, I mentioned the Isle of View drive-in theater, Castle Dracula Wax Museum, Jr. Grocery Stores, Miracle Strip and Petticoat Junction amusement parks, Silver Ice Rink Circle, Zip’s Ice Cream, Loco’s Bar and Grill, House of Chan, The Hangout, the observation deck at the old Bay County Airport, and a once-thriving Panama City Mall.
Many readers were grateful for the time travel and were kind enough to tell me about their childhood memories. In today’s column, I highlight responses from Larry Kinsey, Chris Watkins, Cynthia Hazard, Chip Brigman, Jane P. Leach, and Stewart M. Crane. We will remember through their eyes.
Thanks, readers, for the memories!
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“Seeing your article…brought back a flood of memories of childhood in Bay County. Having recently retired, gone through many old keepsake boxes had already started training to run and your article gave him a boost,” wrote Larry Kinsey of Lynn Haven. “Thank you so much for being another boost for all those wonderful memories!”
Kinsey added a long list of his favorites from the era that “came to mind.”
His list included former Panama City Beach icons such as Jungle Land (later Alvin’s Magic Mountain Mall), Top O’ The Strip Observation Tower, Snake-A-Torium, Sui-Slide, and Tombstone Territory.
Moving to downtown Panama City, Kinsey remembers McCrory’s, JC Penny, Sears, Murphy’s, then later the “Mini Mall” on Grace Avenue with the Cheese Barn and the Greenhouse Restaurant.
Kinsey said this about Tommy Oliver Stadium: “The new is beautiful, but the old is where memories live.”
“I really enjoyed reading and reminiscing about your post about my days coming from Silver Circle East to Callaway/Parker to compete at Silver Circle West for a shootout on who the fastest and best Boogie Shuffle teams were,” wrote Chris Watkins. . “I want to start the best steak and seafood restaurant on the east side of the bridge. Rustler’s Reef…locals waited hours for oysters, steak, fish or even chicken. We need a new Rustler’s Reef.
“We can…all get on board for another East and West rink rival! The Sterrets were great people. I worked at East for many years for Ron. Long live his legacy at Silver Circle East!
“I enjoyed your trip down memory lane,” Panama City’s Cynthia Hazard wrote. “Nothing like them these days.”
Hazard listed six restaurants among his seven favorite things in Bay County that he misses: Joby’s, Seven Seas, Allen’s, Blue Dolphin, the Four Winds and Chuckie Cheese.
“We also fondly remember Johnson’s golf mat on US 98,” Hazard wrote.
The food was also on the mind of Chip Brigman of Youngstown, who misses the blueberry muffins with butter from O’Malley’s Drive Thru at 23rd Street and State 390.
“I picked up these muffins while we were carpooling to work,” Brigman wrote. “The smell and taste of the fresh blueberries was excellent. The smell of blueberry muffins today brings me back to a happy, good time with fond memories. Another missed spot is The Captain’s Table when it was on Panama City Beach. Parents used to take me there when we weren’t going to the downtown Elks Lodge near the old library.”
Brigman also recalls when Vegas-style show band Clutch rocked the Breakers: “I only got to see them once, but it was really fun.”
Jane P. Leach
“I too miss Chan’s original home and the Seven Seas Restaurant, where I first tasted pastitsio and it has become a favorite dish,” Lynn Haven’s Jane P. Leach wrote. “I miss the Harbor House restaurant and the best squash casserole this side of anywhere. …
“I miss the many seafood ‘joints’ that dot the cities. Thanks for the memories.”
Leach also said she misses driving on US 98 and only seeing the Gulf of Mexico and roadside parks.
Stewart M. Crane
“The first time I went to Panama City Beach was in April 1981, with my wife’s family,” wrote Steward M. Crane of Loudon, Tennessee. “His family had been going to the PCB for years and always stayed at the Driftwood Lodge on Front Beach Road, near the pier, before the days of the gigantic condo towers. We ate at the Allen Seafood Restaurant on 23rd Street. I have yet to eat better seafood.
Ray Glenn is content coach and engagement editor at the Panama City News Herald. You can reach him at [email protected]
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