If you grew up along the beaches of the Space Coast, Patsy’s might sound familiar to you. It was a tiny shop tucked into the sea dunes just off of A1A and the Eau Gallie Causeway. The front door opened into a mecca of shell-themed jewelry and gifts, all lined along shelves like a mermaid’s dream. It wasn’t fancy but the view was gorgeous facing out to the Atlantic, and Patsy had a steady stream of customers for years. At night, long after the doors were locked, the parking lot was known to teenagers in the 80s as a great make out spot (or so I have heard). It then morphed into a community center until two hurricanes had their way with the beaches and the building was razed in 2004.
Patsy’s hadn’t crossed my mind in years but I reflexively turned my head as we passed by the spot while I was home for a visit a few weeks ago. The laws that protected the beachfront in Indian Harbour from any buildings taller than three stories had expired nd the frenzy of construction that followed took my breath away. It appeared that every inch of space that could be built on was filled with non-descript condos that stretched so high they seemed to block out the sun. I saw a bulldozer in the spot where Patsy’s used to be, nestled into the sea grapes that it would probably plow down the next day. I thought of the big glass jar next to my tub filled with seashells from the beaches that I grew up on. They might be all I have left to remember with all this “progress” changing the beaches forever.
My dad spoke up, interrupting my melancholy thoughts, “Do you remember Patsy’s Shell Shop?” I had to smile as I told him I did (but I didn’t mention my memories had little to do with the sea shells). “Well Patsy passed away a while ago, but she willed the city the land the shop sat on. They are turning it into a park with beach access” he continued. It seemed a perfect fit and my heart lifted a little bit at the thought that my kids and maybe even my grandkids someday could gaze at the Atlantic and wander over the same sands that I did as a child. If they are lucky, maybe they might even find a sea shell on that beach to slip into their pocket and take home too.
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