Archive for the ‘Fernandina Beach’ tag
Well, Happy New Year folks!
When I don't spend the New Year in SC, I like to ring it in in Fernandina Beach, my father's hometown. My own little mini-tradition dating back a decade or so was to hit O'Kane's Irish Pub on Centre Street for the live music and champagne toast at midnight. So, I was rudely surprised when I ambled down from the hotel New Years Eve, and found the storefront dark. The next day, I asked another merchant on Centre Street what had happened, and she indicated that she had heard the owners divorced then couldn't agree on handling the lease. Whatever happened, the place seems to have closed in November.
Here is the place on New Years Eve/New Years Day 2012/2013:
In the event, I ended up next door at The Courtyard which was a smaller, a more sedate venue with an older crowd (ie: my age). I was quite impressed with the music though. Local artist Nora Ricci was performing, and she is quite good, with entertaining stage patter (very important for a small venue) as well as solid singing and playing:
I wish I had gotten better pictures of this place. Heavens knows I had enough opportunities over the years, but I never thought about it until quite recently, and the last few times I was in the area, it was either evening or heavily overcast, otherwise it might have been a picture on my Roadside Florida calendar.
This fruit stand was on A1A in Yulee Florida between I-95 (exit 373) and US-17. If you look closely on the door, you can see a Master Charge logo which dates the place to before 1979, when Master Charge changed to Master Card.
I like the shape of the building from the sides, and the wood cutout lettering and fruit shapes. It's the type of place that, while you may find its like still in service, is not being built anymore.
The fruit stand and an abandoned service station of the same vintage (about which I may do a closing eventually) stood on adjacent lots. As you can see in the later pictures, both have now been knocked down and the land is for sale (apparently interest is not high, as the price has been reduced).
And not to worry about being able to find Indian River citrus and Florida souveniers in Yulee.. Across the street from this stand's former location, a converted Stuckey's still offers all you could wish for:
You'll recall that we discussed the announcement a few months back about how Sears & Kmart have announced a round of store closings which largely left South Carolina stores (except for Sumter) untouched.
Well, I was recently in Fernandina Beach, and found that their Kmart is one of the ones which got the ax. The store is on Sadler Road, which is the first major connector between 8th Street (the bridge road onto the island) and the beach, an area which is in general doing *quite* well, with lots of new upscale shops (both there and on the other side of the bridge).
When I was growing up, Fernandina was still quite a small town, and this would have been a major blow. Now there is a Wal-Mart a few blocks away, and Target within a mile.
The store is still open for now, and while the inventory is starting to hollow out and the vacant space to spread (as in the Dutch Square Kmart) there is still while until the final days when the fixtures start to go..
UPDATE 10 October 2012 -- As these pictures from 5 August 2012 show, the place is closed and all the logos and branding is gone:
Home Is the Sailor
Home is the sailor, home from sea:
Her far-borne canvas furled
The ship pours shining on the quay
The plunder of the world.
Home is the hunter from the hill:
Fast in the boundless snare
All flesh lies taken at his will
And every fowl of air.
'Tis evening on the moorland free,
The starlit wave is still:
Home is the sailor from the sea,
The hunter from the hill.
Normal posting resumes tomorrow if I can get recombobulated.
Tonight it's time for one of my "out of area" posts, which is the category into which I throw everything that's not Columbia or The Grand Strand. I was trying to get some pictures I took back in February into shape to upload, and came across these of Topsy Smith's Topsy's Downtown Gulf on Centre Street in Fernandina Beach.
This was where we always got our gas when we were visiting Fernandina, and where we got our car worked on when we needed it. (In those bygone days, driving US-301 all the way to Florida could take a lot out of a car). The station was around the corner from my Aunt's house and I'm sure I walked past it most every day I was there, either going to the Atlantic Avenue park, or just generally wandering around town (as kids could do in those times). this appreciation of Topsy Smith says that his was one of the only two stations in town at the time, and I can believe it, at least for the town proper -- I'm sure there was something way out on 8th street as well. It had the drive-over air hoses that would 'ding' as you pulled in (a sound you don't hear anymore) and which would alert the service staff to come out, pump your gas, wash your windows, check the radiator and battery levels and inspect your tires.
The linked article says that Smith retired in 1997, though I suspect it may be off a little as this link says that an operation called Richard's BP took out an SBA loan in 1996.
After the follow-on BP station went under, the building didn't really settle on anything solid. I believe it was a bike-rental operation at one time, and then the last business in there, the remnants of which were still visible, was a beachwear/casual-wear store called apparently Island Breeze Shop. I don't believe that lasted any longer than one season, and the building is currently still empty.
I see that Topsy Smith is remembered yearly at the Shrimp Festival with The Topsy Smith Memorial Beard Contest
UPDATE 21 July 2010 -- Apparently it's going to be a Philly cheese-steak operation next:
UPDATE 3 January 2012 -- Well, the Philly Cheese-steak thing didn't last long at all, and it was in a state of tear-down last time I went through (Aug 2011). There were also scooters there, though I saw no sign of anyone actively offering them for rental:
UPDATE 4 March 2012 -- It's now a burger joint called Tasty's. Note how the logo looks like an oldtime Gulf sign:
Well, I'm on the road, and didn't get all the pictures I wanted to take done beforehand, so I'm going to throw in a few ringers this week.