Nearly 30 years ago, I drank a beer with Lewis Grizzard in front of an Alabama sorority house. The former Atlanta columnist told me he hated loudmouth yankees and loved being in the land of the bubbas, the kind of man that appreciates cold beer and a nice pair of Duckheads. I didn’t think much of it at the time. After all, I started my newspaper career in Montgomery, Ala., the heart of Dixie, covering University of Alabama football. It wasn’t Gainesville, Fla. but I just sort of rolled with it.
Fast forward to 2014. I’m a day or so away from starting my move from Tampa to Palm Beach County. I now know what Lewis meant. PBC is the land of the loudmouth yankees. I like the snook and tarpon fishing off Florida’s east coast, but I’m not sure how I feel about moving to a place where the men wear as much jewelry as the women. Gold chains, anyone?
I’m moving to Juno Beach, not far off Donald Ross Road. Every neighborhood, it seems, is gated. I attributed the extra security to to snobbery. Mike Holliday, my soon-to-be fly-fishing friend, assured me that is NOT the case.
“It’s ’cause people from Miami come up here and steal our shit,” he said.
Mike lives in Stuart. One, the fishing is good. Two, he figures the South Florida undesirables will stop off in PBC to get their fill of loot and won’t even think about schlepping up to Stuart. Needless to say, I’m glad I live in a gated community.
After almost three years in Tampa, I’ve got plenty of people to thank. Walt Ruda, Walt Durkin, Enver Hysni, Keith Sawyer, Parker Rabow, Phil Thompson, Pat Damico, Terry Tomalin, Leigh West, Bryon Chamberlin, Ted Hagaman, Logan Valeri, Joe Sefchick, Joe Welbourn, Evan Jones, Christopher Preston Hargiss, Sam Root, Jared Simonetti, Rob Walters, Spencer Goodwin, Brad Lowman, Cody Miller and Ryan McGue all made my stay here more enjoyable. If I’ve forgotten anyone, I apologize.
Wednesday morning, I pack the Jeep Liberty with the first load of stuff before the movers arrive next week — thank goodness for the professional help — so I’ll be back and forth, but hope to touch base with all of my Tampa-area friends before leaving for good on the 25th.