The “Miss Tek-Ni-Color” was a 65-foot fishing vessel that operated out of Destin and was captained by Tim Boone. In 1955, during the Destin Deep-Sea Rodeo, Frank Brown Jr. of Atlanta generated a lot of dock talk after landing a 32-pound red snapper while on board the large party boat.
The boat changed hands over the years and was moved to St. Michael’s, Maryland, where it was operated as a cruise vessel, and then to Columbia, South Carolina, where it served as a tour boat known as the “Southern Patriot” until just a couple of years ago.
Gideon Thomas was known as the first developer of Panama City Beach. In the 1930s, he owned 104 acres of beachfront property, part of which boasted a 1,000-foot-long wooden pier that extended into the Gulf. While visitors to Panama City Beach can no longer walk the length of this particular pier — the remains of which can be seen at Pineapple Willy’s Restaurant — two even longer piers are now located in Panama City Beach.
Head down Front Beach Road in Panama City and you can’t miss Goofy Golf. Developed by Lee Koplin in 1958, Goofy Golf was just one of Koplin’s miniature Gulf Coast golf parks (called “Tom Thumb” parks in the ’20s and ’30s); he also developed parks in Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach. The three parks were filled with cement statues of all shapes and sizes, the odder, the better! But Koplin’s design skills expanded beyond the concrete structures at Goofy Golf: In the 1960s, perhaps due to the popularity of Wild West TV shows, Koplin built a kitschy ghost town called Tombstone Territory, which visitors could reach via the Iron Horse — an open-air steam locomotive.
In the 1960s, a beautiful young woman named Melody May Keene (1948-2015) became one of Panama City Beach’s first “beach models.” She was featured on numerous “Miracle Strip” postcards, brochures and ads, all of which promoted tourism along the Gulf Coast. Keene is best known for posing for what has become the iconic Miracle Strip postcard. While Keene’s beachwear would be in fashion today, the Top o’ the Strip Observation Tower, which appears in the background of the photo, was demolished in 1995.
Take a close look at the right side of this postcard, which depicts Pensacola’s Palafox Street as it existed in the 1940s, and you will see a building labeled “Rex.” For the first 15 or so years of its existence, this building was known as the Rhoades Futch Collins Furniture Store. In 1937, however, it became The Rex Theatre, where many a black-and-white Humphrey Bogart movie was enjoyed. Motorists driving down Palafox Street today still pause at the site
of this gorgeous, art deco-
From 1963 to 2003, Miracle Strip Amusement Park in Panama City Beach attracted visitors from across the country. It was home to The Starliner — the first roller coaster in the state of Florida. In 1983, Shipwreck Island Waterpark was added across the street. While only overgrown sidewalks and structural foundations remain at the original Miracle Strip Amusement Park site, some of the park’s rides are now found in Miracle Strip at Pier Park. Shipwreck Island Waterpark is still in operation.
Postcards have been in use almost as long as mail-delivery systems, with the first postcard making
its appearance in England in 1840. In 1861,
John P. Charlton copyrighted the first American-made postcard. The first postcard in the United States that was printed for souvenir purposes advertised the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
“Linen” postcards, not actually made from linen, were popular in the U.S. during the 1920s, and they remained popular until about 1940. Linen postcards are easily recognizable due to their super-bright colors and embossed, linen-like paper. The “chrome” postcard, which looks like a glossy photograph, has been in use since 1939, and it remains the most popular postcard style today.
Deltiology is the study and the collection of postcards but you don’t need to be a deltiologist to appreciate the vibrant colors and funky fonts on these vintage beauties.
Coastal Northwest Florida is rich with history. Throughout the years, many colorful characters have lived in the area. Evidence of their contributions can still be seen, not just in postcards from bygone days but in a leisurely drive down Scenic Highway 30A.
Check some of them out below!
Images Courtesy of State archives of Florida, Florida Memory (Melody May Keene, Gideon Thomas, Goofy Golf and Palafox Street), AbandonedFl.com (Miracle Strip Amusement Park), digitalcommonwealth.org (Florida and “Miss Tek-Ni-Color”)