One of the best things about summer as a kid, were family vacations with Mom and Dad. Vacations allowed me to (1) be a free spirit, (2) explore, and (3) wade in the tepid waters of the Gulf or Atlantic, and sometimes tip-toe in the Great Lakes’ frigid waters.
Oh how Mom and Dad embraced Florida! From Jacksonville’s soft sand beaches and Aunt Mary’s crab boils, to St. Petersburg’s old forts, and Miami Beach’s Art Deco District. Mom and Dad loved it all.
Recently, I found a black and white photo of Mom and me posing on a concrete bench at Silver Springs, Florida. A glass-bottom boat was the background scenery. Mom and I wore matching white leather huarache sandals. I loved those sandals. (My brown leather softies purchased as an adult, even outlasted my first marriage.
I was eager to discover the underwater world at Silver Springs, a popular tourist attraction. My white huaraches and I stepped foot onto a glass-bottom boat for a tour of the Silver River, lead by an official ‘Captain’. With glistening views of the sandy bottom and sea shells, the day was unforgettable.
Shortly after I discovered the snapshot in my cardboard box of memories, I read a story the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran by Alan Youngblood of the Ocala Star Banner.
The exact same boats I remember in their heyday, appeared as the backdrop for the photo in the Post, with cypress trees, bushes and a park bench in the foreground.
In the 1960’s the popular TV show Sea Hunt was filmed at Silver Springs, as well as countless movies. The attraction recently reopened as a state park. The article mentioned the glass-bottom boats are still a feature for park visitors.
Over the past year, millions were spent to preserve the springs with different anti-pollution projects. Apparently, the water clarity disspated due to nitrates infiltrating the spring water.
I’m curious to see now, if the springs are pristine, clean and full of interesting fish and bird life — the way I remembered them as a child.
And I’d like to think that the same concrete bench — the one Mom and I sat on, decades ago – is still waiting for me….to make new memories.
(I’ll need to buy a new pair of huaraches for the trip.)