RIDING DOWN MEMORY LANE TOWARDS NAVARRE BEACH AND JAWS II

Tom Seest
6 min readFeb 23, 2021

A Nice, Quiet Bicycle Ride Towards Navarre Beach and Fond Memories of December 1978.

NAVARRE BEACH MEMORIES

The last time I was in Navarre Beach, Florida, I believe it was in December of 1978. If memory serves, and it usually does, we stayed in the Holiday Inn, with its famous Holidome, right on the beach, in 1978. I don’t remember much from the town, but I remember seeing photos of Bruce and the nice pool and the white sand beaches.

HOLIDAY INN NAVARRE

The Holiday Inn Navarre was built earlier in the 1970s but became more famous in 1977, when they filmed the movie Jaws II, on site there, in the Holiday Inn on that little beach. The cast and crew of the movie rented out about half of the Holiday Inn, and much of the film was filmed on site in the Holidome. The mechanical shark, Bruce, played a starring role in the movie.

DECEMBER 1978

When we stayed in the hotel in December of 1978, they had lots of photos all around the hotel that portrayed the hotel and its starring role in the movie. As a young lad of thirteen at the time, it was all quite impressive to me, as I had never even been to a movie in a movie theater and had never seen the movie Jaws II.

HOLIDOME

We spent many of our family vacations back then staying in the famous Holidomes back before the attorneys at Holiday Inn decided that the risks were too high to keep them open, but after finding pictures of the Holidome in Navarre, I remember it well.

TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGING

Of course, that was all back in 1978 which is almost forty-three years ago, or something like that. So my memories have faded, and the town has blossomed from about two thousand people to around forty-four thousand people today. But the sands of time on the beach remain the same pearly white color that they had back in that day.

2004 — HURRICANE IVAN

Alas, Hurricane Ivan hit Navarre Beach in 2004 and did major damage to the hotel. I found some photos of the damage, but it was sad to see what became of it. The owners at the time decided not to rebuild it, and the land did not have another hotel on it until 2017 when the new Springhill Suites was built on the same land.

TODAY

So, since I’m missing almost half my teeth, and Bruce had a few teeth to spare, I decided to try to ride my bicycle to Navarre today. It’s about twenty miles from the condo where we are staying. I didn’t really think I could make it, because I’m not in great riding shape, but I figured I could make it half way, and I did.

WHITE SANDS

The first six miles of riding were in the city of Pensacola Beach and were basically uneventful. But I could feel the sore muscles from my ride two days ago. Even with my smooth, six-pack abs and my delicately shaped caboose, I knew at mile six that I wasn’t going to make it. But I wanted to make it out to see the sands.

THE SANDS OF TIME ARE SWIRLING

Once I made it past the large condos at mile six, the road opened up, the speed limit went down, and I lowered my speed to show my respect for the local sea turtles. I didn’t see any, but I feel like I showed them the respect they deserve.

MILE TEN

When I reached mile ten, my wonderful son Charlie arrived in the van to pick me up. My delicately shaped caboose was now swollen to about twice its normal size, and my heart rate was up around 140. Smarter people would quit riding for the day, and I chose to quit for the day too.

BEAUTIFUL SNOW

The sands bring back memories of driving in our 1973 Gremlin along the beaches. The white sand is beautiful and reminds me of the snow drifts that were formed along the roads of my hometown of Hopedale, Illinois.

TOWN NO MORE

Charlie and I drove on to Navarre, and the town of my dreams was gone, replaced by a booming city, but the heart of the town and the layout of the island remains much the same. In my mind, it still remains frozen in time: when our family of six wandered through that beautiful area and made memories so many years ago.

GOTTEN OLDER

While I haven’t really grown up since 1978, I have gotten older and so has the town. The local lady that worked at the Tom Thumb gas and grocery was kind enough to stroll down memory lane with me and has fond memories of the Holiday Inn as well.

PRESERVE THEM

The memories of my youth are fading, and I’m rushing to preserve them, to type them, to record them, to preserve the photos. For I know my mind and memories will fade, and maybe I will grow up and remember things differently. I encourage you to find ways to preserve your memories while you still have them. I appreciate you taking the time to stroll back in time to 1978 Navarre Beach, Florida.

ME

I’m going to enjoy the rest of my days on this side of the soil reminiscing about times, both good and bad. And when I ascend to my home beyond the sky, and they plant my remains below the earth, I will have done my best to record my memories of the good and bad times. Feel free to follow my ramblings at the links listed below:

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Tom Seest

I Help Entrepreneurs Harness the Power of Artificial Intelligence to Grow Their Businesses.