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Ormond Beach Observer Saturday, Sep. 29, 2012 6 years ago

Historically speaking: Over the river?


The only things that separate's Ormond's beachside from its mainland is a concrete bridge, and a cultural divide.


I felt like Yogi Berra this morning. No, not fat and furry like Yogi Bear. Berra — as in, Hall of Fame-a. He for whom the cuddly cartoon character was named; the ultimate sportsman; the master of malapropism, who provided me with today’s “It’s like déjà vu all over again” moment.

Here’s what happened: My daughter has a horse which, much to her consternation, must be boarded on the mainland. This morning, Elizabeth wanted me to drive her across the river to go riding at the stable. I quickly calculated the amount of gas our grocery-getter would burn getting us from Point A to Point B and gave her the same response my mother used to give me during the mid-East oil embargo of the ‘70s: a gentle shake of the head and a wistful, “No, Honey, that’s over the bridge.”

Mama was (and is) a local gal, and in her mind, the bridge was (and is) the ultimate line of demarcation separating two foreign countries: the Beachside and the Mainland.

While in my pre-driver’s license state, everything but a sworn affidavit was required to get Mama to drive me across that thin strip of concrete. “Can’t you get it over here?” she’d ask, referring to the peninsula. “Can’t it wait until I have an appointment over there?” she’d ask, reaching for her calendar. As frustrating as those dodges were, they were potential promises, lights on the horizon when compared to her final, frustrated, “Well, why don’t you just ride over there on your bike!”

Bridges during Mother’s childhood were different from today’s smooth, multi-lane conveyances. They were wooden, to begin with. Folks still talk about how the old timbers would rattle and shake when a car drove slowly over, causing a momentary diversion in dinner time conversation —“My, Mr. Jones sure is late getting home for supper.”

Bridges were also single-lane. And if the bridge tender had to open the span to allow a boat to pass through, well, you had a newspaper handy.

But any inconvenience paled to what our predecessors had to contend with: in the early 1880s, there were no bridges. The only way to cross theHalifaxwas by sailboat.

In future issues, I will be discussing our bridges, our streets, and other local landmarks —  because it’s fun, isn’t it, to slow down and appreciate what normally passes as blur out our car windows?

If you have any experiences or information you’d like to share, please contact me at [email protected]. I value your reminiscences.

*Marian Tomblin is a Florida historian and the author of The Mystery at Hotel Ormond as well as other titles of local interest. Her family has called Ormond Beach home since the 1940s.

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