MARY READY: Idle tears for Destin and days gone by

Mary Ready | Ready or Not

I admit I’m a nostalgic dinosaur. Ironically, when I was younger, I said I’d never be a narrow-minded, grouchy old curmudgeon who lives in the past and hates the changes that progress inevitably brings. I think I may have even said, “Shoot me if I get like that."

Well, now I’m exactly like that.

I hate Destin’s over-development, traffic, 3-ring circus atmosphere, and pollution of our waters. I hate what’s happened to my beloved town, and I’m angry at city leaders who let it happen. And I’m angry at myself and others that we didn’t try harder to stop the destruction.

Actually, many of us did try, but in vain, to hold on to our little fishing village, but it was all voices shouting into the winds of a hurricane. Now, we are left to shake our heads in sorrow and remember those things that are no more.

As a side thought, I remember teaching my students Tennyson’s poem, “Tears, Idle Tears” and the lines that lament “Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, in looking on the happy Autumn-fields, and thinking of the days that are no more. Dear as remembered kisses after death and wild with all regret … the days that are no more.”

Yep, call me a sentimental fool. Especially where Destin is concerned.

I know when I’m embracing a lost cause, and I’m trying to let it go. But, I think what has me saddest of all — and the symbol of my wild regret — was a recent article about even more carnival sideshow additions down at the docks.

Sarcastically, I commented online under that article that a casino, strip club, opium den, roller coaster, nude mud wrestling, motorcycle races, helicopters, and a zoo full of exotic animals should be added to the zip line, ferris wheel, and other attractions. After all, we must think BIG.

Sarcastic or not, some will agree that my absurd suggestions seem perfectly reasonable, entertaining, and highly profitable.

I’m old enough to have visited Gatlinburg, Tennessee, before it was ruined by development and the do-anything-to-attract-tourists mentality that turned a folksy little country town into the tacky place it became. I also remember Guntersville, Ala., once a sleepy little fishing village like Destin.

Beautiful mountains, crystal clear lakes, and quiet enjoyment for residents and visitors alike. Frank and I had a little cabin up there on the Tennessee River. When the floating condos, high rise hotels, chain restaurants, mega shopping centers, flood of illegals working at the chicken plant, and accompanying increase in crime violated its serene charm, we sold our place and resigned ourselves to the fact that there may be no more innocent little towns untouched by development and its concomitant human greed.

For better or worse, Destin is home, and we’ll die here.

In addition to the extinct innocence of Destin and places like it, there are other things that do not presently exist in America. If they ever did.  *Truthful politicians *Equality of justice *Reliable service *Pride in one’s work *Businesses that return your phone calls *Wealth earned honestly *Reformed pedophiles, spouse abusers, and rapists *Taking personal responsibility *Honest leaders in local government *Enforcement of immigration laws *People who “used to cheat” *Diet pills that actually work *Healthy food that tastes good *Safety and security *Racial respect *Religious tolerance *Educational excellence *Incorruptible power *Honest work that pays well *The perfect husband *The perfect wife *The perfect marriage *Families like the Brady’s and The Walton’s *The perfect church *The perfect life *A positive outlook for Medicare, Social Security, and the Postal Service *Something for nothing *Unbroken promises *Developers who have a city’s best interest at heart *City councils who listen to the citizens’ voices *Always, never, and forever

You can add your own to the list of things that do not exist.

My sorrow over Destin and my generally pessimistic attitude may come from having seen too much lost over so many years of living here. From seeing the carpetbaggers destroy my home. Maybe the nostalgic sadness just comes with old age. Maybe it’s something that happens to the brain when pleasant memories clash with present day realities. For whatever reason, I’ve become a grumbling old dinosaur.     

So, shoot me.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.