Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Hope On The Horizon" Says Dr. Guy Harvey ... But "It Takes Cash To Care"

by BeachnRiver

Billy's Seafood Market On Bon Secour River, Bon Secour , AL Is Beautiful At Sunset.
JOURNAL --- The photos above are of Billy's Seafood --- the only open air fish market located at the end of the road of a quaint fishing village of Bon Secour, just 15 or so miles NW of Gulf Shores, AL. The photos were taken at sunset--- a particularly beautiful time on the Bon Secour River.

The Workers At Billy's Seafood Market, Bon Secour, AL Are Helpful And Will Help You Make Selections.
The appeal of Billy's Seafood Market lies in the imperfections of the place. Billy's is basically a wooden shack perched on the water. The parking lot and bank are made of cast off oyster shells. The workers have names like "Bubba" and some sport mullets (the hairstyle) along with their white shrimping boots. Large shrimping boats dock in and around Billy's to unload their catch.

Billy's Seafood Market In Bon Secour, AL Is The Only Open-Air Seafood Market Located On The Bon Secour River. Shrimpers Deliver Their Catch To Billy's Market And To Other Waterfront Markets Along The River.
The place smells fishy. It is not air-conditioned, yet fish and shrimp are nicely displayed on ice. That it still stands is a testimony of owner Billy Parks who has re-built after Hurricane Ivan --- despite not having insurance. In my mind, it is one of the best and wholehearted reasons why I am hopelessly in love with where I live.

This place is filled with resilient "overcomers."

But Park's business/livlihood, along with countless other businesses (like ours), is struggling to survive after the BP oil spill attacked our coast.
Signs On Cty Rd 10 Foley, AL Direct Guests To Plenty Of Fresh Seafood.

Tourists To Gulf Shores, AL Hired Shrimping Charters Prior To BP Oil Spill.

The Captain's Galley On The Bon Secour River Was A Favored Restaurant To Enjoy Seafood Prior To BP Oil Spill

Up the road a bit The Captain's Galley --- a restaurant that has been in business for the past 25 years (except to rebuild after the past three hurricanes: Ivan, Dennis, Katrina) is now closed due to lack of customers --- thanks to the BP oil mess killing our tourism business. Report from Locust Fork News of Captain's Galley Closure

The Captain's Galley Has Been A Foley, AL Business For 25 Years But Did Not Survive BP Oil Spill.
Countless other businesses are teetering on financial failure and the local news media has daily coverage of one business owner or another who says they may not survive until the end of the month --- yet alone the entire winter season. (I consider them the lucky ones --- at least their stories get picked up on the wires and get regional and national attention --- which may in fact boost their business. The businesses who are obscure from media attention will suffer most.)

These days are a real test for any "overcomer" and it takes shear will-power to remain "positive" in thinking --- especially when successful and long-standing businesses are falling like dominoes all around.

I was listening to a Joss Stone song earlier this morning, "The Choking Kind," and the lyrics "you can kill ... with a knife or you can take her pride" choked me up. "How true, I thought." Although the song had nothing to do with oil spills or financial struggles it got me to thinking about what has been the worst part of this whole BP mess --- the assault on our region's pride.

I get a knot in my throat when I think of how pristine our little Gulf Shores was prior to the oil spill.

As You Walk Gulf Shores, AL Beaches You Are Struck By Beauty Of Sugary White Sand.
Aside from having the whitest sandy beaches in the country, we are home to countless endangered species and a refuge for so many others. Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Cleaning oil from Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Freshly Caught Shrimp Bon Secour, AL.
Oysters Served "Nude" Wintzells, Orange Beach, AL
The pride in our area is almost palpable. You don't just eat a plate full of raw oysters --- you are eating potentially the catch of the day from some happy local oyster man.

Royal Red Shrimp Are An Alabama Gulf Coast Pride.
Signs suggesting tourists buy "Alabama Wild Shrimp" were put up to help the industry --- yes --- but they are the Gulf Coast's bragging right. Our "Royal Reds" are a unique specialty that taste like lobster and come from no other place on the planet.

Our Gulf Shores tourism didn't rise on the backs of theme parks, high rise entertainment centers or the glitzy glamour found along many coastal areas.

Fishing Alabama's Gulf Coast At Gulf Shores Is A Favorite Pastime.
Our appeal was as a laid back "natural" destination --- a fishing destination --- a place to take the family to bathe in all of God's natural glory --- the kind of thing that some tourists long for but never get to see once the filter of commercialization sets in.

Speaking for myself, I didn't fall in love with Gulf Shores/Orange Beach because of nearby outlets and malls and proximity to numerous chains found in many "destination towns." I fell in love with the area because of the many "mom and pops" along the one road Hwy (59) and beach boulevard.

You Can See Gulf Shores Beach Boulevard From The Inside Of This Popular Souvenir Shop.
In my mind these type businesses are what gives the "character" and charm to the area. It is not a forced "theme" park imposed feeling --- it is the "real thing" --- and the "character" comes from the owner's stamina to survive years of struggle forging a living where sand, water and wind continuously impose their will to overcome.

This Photo Of A Rainbow Was Taken After A Gulf Shores, AL Storm.
You can't buy this type of "feeling."


Nanci Scarpulla said...

Thank you for this insightful, heartfelt article about our Alabama Beaches. Our Gulf Coast neighbors need us now more than ever. I'm going to be sharing this link with others.

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