Memories of Amelia

When I wrote about Restaurant Week at Amelia Island yesterday, I did not anticipate the flood of memories that would come to me. My children and I had such good times there, and even though I have thought often of the place, I had forgotten a lot of the things that happened there. I didn’t own a camera back then, so I have no visual keepsakes of that era of our lives.

On our first trip to Amelia Island, we were helping our best friends move from a suburb of Atlanta to Fernandina Beach. Our little caravan of me in my car, Kay in her car, and David driving the U-Haul stopped at a gas station near the Georgia-Florida line. When my son, Seth, jumped out of the car, he asked me with all the excitement a five year old boy could muster, “are we on Gilligan’s Island?” He had just seen his first palm tree in person.

The trip to the beach was bittersweet because once we came home, our friends wouldn’t be just across the street anymore. We pledged to visit them as often as we could, and we did. We made tons of memories of good times, but we still missed them like crazy between times. Seth and Chris were almost exactly the same age. Seth was only four days older than Chris, and the boys had known each other since they were old enough to walk. They had play dates almost every day until they moved away.

After the unloading of the truck was done, David took Chris and Seth to buy fish bait. When they came home, Seth was holding a coffee can. Becca, who was three at the time, wanted to see the bait. I will never forget the look on her face, as she jumped what seemed like three feet in the air, to get away from that can full of baby crabs that looked a whole lot like spiders! It was almost comical to see.

They guys took off to go fishing off the bridge. My son caught a sheephead that weighed about nine pounds. I know David helped him reel it in, but my little guy was so proud of that fish. I packed it on ice in a cooler to take home with us. It took me a couple of hours to clean it and cut it up. We had so much meat in the freezer from that one fish that it took us weeks to eat it all. Every time I cooked some of it, Seth would say proudly that he caught that fish.

Another time we went to visit, we stayed in a rental house on the beach. It was fully furnished, with room for at least 12 people to sleep. There were even fishing rods available to for us to use. On the first night there, after the girls had showered and gotten ready for bed, we ordered pizza for dinner. When it was delivered, we were all starving! Emily was about 8 years old at the time. She was holding a huge knife that she had used to cut a slice of the pizza. Becca asked Emily for the knife, and she held it out to her by the handle, so that the blade was pointing toward Becca. Becca grabbed the knife blade, and for some reason, Emily jerked it back towards herself, cutting Becca’s middle finger to the bone!

There was blood everywhere almost immediately. It was a good thing that Kay and David were there because I am not good at the sight of blood coming from one of my children, and I had no idea where the hospital was. We wrapped Becca’s hand in a towel, and David drove us to the emergency room. The doctor stitched her finger up, and told her to keep it clean and dry for a week. I think she was more upset about being at the beach and not being able to go in the water than she was about the cut. We wound up taping a plastic bag over her hand every day so she could play at the beach.

On another visit, when the boys were about 12 years old, Becca was 10 and Emily was 9. The boys had been picking at the girls for days, aggravating them to no end. One day, Seth and Chris dug holes on the beach, got in them, and covered themselves up to their armpits with sand. The girls happened to walk up and find them that way, and decided it was payback time. They started kicking sand in the boys faces. You have never seen two boys wiggle and struggle harder to get out of a hole in your life! I told the girls they better run, because they would be in trouble when the boys got out of the holes, and I wouldn’t blame them for being mad. I guess you had to be there to understand how hilarious it was.

On every visit we made to Amelia Island, we ate all of our meals at the rental house, except for the last night. That is when we went all out at the local seafood restaurant. Although it always meant we would be leaving the next day, we looked forward to going to a wonderful seafood restaurant. I can’t remember the name of it, so I don’t know if it is still there or not. I think it was out towards Mayport, and may have been Safe Harbor Seafood Market, but I can’t remember for sure. I remember the first time we went there, we seated all the children at one table, and the adults at another table. The waitress kept refilling the kids glasses with soda, which we thought was free refills. Boy were we ever surprised when we got our checks and there was a $45 charge for sodas! We never let that happen again!

Even after Kay and David moved to South Carolina with another railroad transfer, we continued our spring break trips to Amelia Island. We all stayed in the same rental house, and shared the rental fee. Those were some of the best times of my life. Both Kay and David are now deceased, but I can pretty much say that if they were still alive, they would meet up with at Amelia Island this year.

Bernetta Style

Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island, Florida just north of Jacksonville.

Amelia Island, Florida just north of Jacksonville.

Fabgrandpa and I are going to Amelia Island, Florida soon. I can not wait to get there! I know a lot of people have never heard of it, but when my children were young, we used to go there every year for Easter Break from school.  One of my best friend’s husband worked for the railroad, and transferred to Fernandina Beach on his job. I helped them move, and fell in love with the area. Even after Kay and David moved from the area in another transfer with the railroad, we all met there in the spring at Amelia Island.

Shrimp Fleet, courtesy of Amelia Island

Shrimp Fleet, courtesy of Amelia Island

It has been almost thirty years since the last time I went to Amelia Island. I am sure that things have changed since then, but one thing that will never change is the beauty of the area. We went there because it was quiet: you could be on the beach all day long and never see another person. Crowded meant there was another family there.

Amelia Island Beach

Amelia Island Beach

One of the things I am looking forward to, though, is that Amelia Island’s Sixth Annual Restaurant Week takes place from January 17 through 26. a ten-day showcase of 18 of the island’s most popular dining hotspots, ranging from fine dining to casual courtyard cafés.  Each participating restaurant will offer a special fixed menu (priced at either $19 or $29 per person) that includes three courses and a beverage. New this year, the Amelia Island Restaurant Week is kicking off a day early with a special “farm to table” dining event at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island’s Café 4750 on Thursday, January 16. I can hardly wait to taste the offerings of Cafe′ Karibo and BarZin!

I’d love to see y’all there. Amelia Island is north of Jacksonville, Florida near the border with Georgia. Make your reservations now to come join in the fun for Restaurant Week!

Map to Amelia Island, Florida

Map to Amelia Island, Florida