Thursday, September 8, 2005

Dauphin Island, Alabama

When I was a young girl, I lived in Mobile, near Dauphin Island. This was back when they still had the draw bridge to the island, not that new, fancy bridge.

I used to adore going to the island for the day, but I always had to beg for hours to do so. My parents, you see, didn't seem to enjoy sun and fun and sand. I also didn't discover until years later that Daddy didn't really like to drive that much and the long bridge with the break in the middle for ships was quite daunting to him.

I loved driving on that long bridge. Watching dolphins, sharks, stingrays and whatnot swimming around. Watching the barges and ships pass by. Just watching the water lap gently at the rather low in the water bridge. A lot of the "bridge" was actually causeway and so at times, I was pretty sure if high tide came in we'd be stuck on the island. Not that I would have minded.

When we used to go it wasn't really populated. I hear tell that before this last hurricane it had 1,200 residents, which boggles my mind. I've been down to Mobile several times in the last few years, but never went over to the island. I now regret this bitterly.

On those sunny days, way back when, Daddy and Mom and I would pile into the car, generally dragging along whatever dogs we had at that time. I believe we once took a guinie pig for the day. My memory of this is somewhat fuzzy, but I'm assuming the guinie pig didn't enjoy the sand all that much!

We would drive for what seemed like hours to me over that causeway and bridge. It would be a big treat to me if the bridge had to raise up for a ship. Mother would flutter her hands about and talk about us sliding backwards or the ship crashing into us until it finally passed by safely. Dad would sit there, lighting handrolled cigarettes and telling her to stifle.

Finally we would get to the actual beach. I don't remember any homes being anywhere near where Dad would park the car. I think he would always look for the most isolated spot. Then we would pile out of the car. Rather, Daddy and I would pile out and mom would open the door, take off her socks and shoes and place her feet gingerly outside the car. She opinioned that she could receive enough Vitamen D just through her feet for good health.

Dad would charge into the ocean and swim for all of 5 or 10 minutes, making so much noise and movement that I'm sure he scared anything hungry out there away for the rest of the day. He would then head back to the car to continue smoking.

And being great parents, they would then proceed to sit in the car and do nothing for 2 to 3 hours, watching me play. Finally they would call me over to eat a picnic lunch, still in the car, and we would drive home.

I look at this picture here at the island after the hurricane. Oh how I wish I had taken the time to show my family this great island the last time we were in Mobile. I don't know how long until it's back to it's beauty, or if it will be at all.


aka_Meritt said...

It's prime building... it absolutely will be built back up - and quickly!!!!!

I've never been there but it seems beautiful - I may just have to visit some time!

Cowtown Pattie said...

From the "after" picture, it almost looks completely wiped away. Lot of folks might rethink rebuilding at this site. Maybe it is better left to nature and pristine.

Anonymous said...

It will be built back,no doubt.I love the island,we always go over for the fishing rodeo.Great fun for the entire family.
Emily aka madmommy

Dana said...

I knew a guy from Dauphin Island back in college. Even being from Alabama, I have never spent much time on it's shores...we always went to Panama City Beach to visit my aunt.

Very nice memoir.

mensabarbie said...

Amazing after photo.. (sigh)
So it is that one can never loose these memories...Writings on your site really share so much, I feel as though I had been there.

poopie said...

How sad that pic is! Those are some great memories ;)

Katya said...

I love the before picture of Dauphin Island. My husband told me it was now Dauphin Islands -- I'm wondering about the Dauphin Island Sea Lab there and Fort Gaines -- I live in Mobile and I've heard nothing about either of these places.

Laura said...

Wow, great picture! What great memories you have, too.

Idgie, it'll come back, and I'm sure they'll rebuild with stronger hurricane codes, better than ever.
It'll be beautiful, although it will never be what it once was. :(