Thursday, August 16, 2012

Those Places Thursday- A Coast Landmark

The S.S. Hurricane Camille
Gulfport, Ms

I miss this old rusty tugboat, I really do! I can not to this day travel down Highway 90 and look in the spot it should be. I feel slightly sick. I know times change, things happen and life goes on. Yet, this silly little boat was a part of me. The day they destroyed her, I cried so much my kids thought I was crazy. 

I was five months old in 1969 when Hurricane Camille struck. My mother says I gave my first deep belly laugh during the middle of the storm as we were all taking shelter in a local school. Half that school collapsed. The Hurricane was one of the worst to strike the U.S. Mississippi was devastated. 

A large tug boat had washed up on the north side of the highway and a little souvenir shop was built right next to it. It became a local landmark.

I can remember going fishing down on the pier with my grandfather and looking at the boat from the beach. The whole time I would be trying to think how I could get him to bring me over to it after we had finished fishing. I would stand in awe staring up at this tug and ask for the story of how it got there again. Some days we would take my grandparents to eat at the IHOP a few doors down and afterwards I would beg to go to the S.S. Camille. Sometimes we went into the shop and my grandmother would give me a dollar or two to buy something. I would often buy shells, which infuriated my mother because she said I could get them for free on the beach. Here though I could get a whole sand dollar, on the beach I could only find pieces. Somehow this boat had become a part of our lives, ordinary visits with my grandparents became more memorable because of it.

Oh how I loved that place! Then came another hurricane, this one named Katrina and although the tugboat stayed put, the shop was washed away. The S.S. Camille was battered and bullied, and while there were those who begged and prayed that she be restored, the decision was made to remove her completely. 

Now, as with most of our coastline down Highway 90 there is nothing left but memories.

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