Remember hangin’ out at AEA

Published 7:00 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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Spring Break.

Those two words that were not in my schoolgirl vocabulary.

I’d never heard of such a thing.

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In March, we were just “let out” for two days for AEA Holidays so the teachers could go to some kind of conference in Birmingham. I don’t think they did though.

When girls and boys got old enough to “notice each other,” the (Y)EA Holidays took on a whole different meaning. We started beggin our mamas and daddies, “Please let us go to Pannie Maw City.”

Cinder blocks motels were strung along the beach but we stayed at the historic Edgewater Beach Cottages, built by the WPA during World War II. They had screened-in porches where you could sit at night and the mosquitoes wouldn’t tote you off.

The cottages were furnished with Early Salvation Army furniture and had a gas stove and a refrigerator with one ice tray. You could raise the windows if you got hot but the Easter cold snap always came during the YEA! holidays.

And down and across the street was The Hangout! — a wood pavilion with jukeboxes and cuddle benches on both ends and colored lights strung all around. 

We would spend all afternoon getting ready to go to the Hang Out to meet boys that we didn’t know from howdy. They came from faraway places like Elba and Samson.

We rolled up our blue jeans to show our ankles, swore sleeveless, button up shirts, bobby socks and penny loafers but we cut out all the Bill’s Dollar Store tags.  We looked good.

But, before Hang(ing) Out, we had to fix our hair that the damp, salty air had either frizzed or rendered straight as a board, Then, we twisted and be-bopped the night away with the dreamboats that had come sailing into our lives.

The most gorgeous male creature that I’d ever seen swept the pennies out of my loafers. He had a ducktail and wore his collar turned up. He was from way off — Unadilla, Georgia.   He name was LaVon; he was French. I was in love.

I had an YEA teenage crush. Apart we wrote letters. One day, he came to see me. He had red freckles, was swayback, bow legged like he’d been on a horse all his life and his Adams apple bobbed all the time.

I fell out right of love.

Maybe it was the damp, salty beach air that caused things to look different in that magical place called the Hang Out on a moonlit night at Panie Maw City Beach.