Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A `Damn Yankee' in the Civilization by the Sea

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A `Damn Yankee' in the Civilization by the Sea

Article excerpt

Civilization by the Sea, the new subtitle being used to promote

Ponte Vedra Beach, makes the area sound like an optimum place to

be. With hefty property values, it is obvious many people

believe the PR.

Anyone living here for less than 10 years would have a hard

time imagining the Ponte Vedra Beach I first saw half a lifetime

ago when I was fresh from Detroit. I was destined to become what

my husband's Granddaddy Green liked to call a "damn Yankee" --

one that comes to stay. It turns out I'm the worst sort of damn

Yankee -- I want to put up a fence to keep other Yankees from

discovering this little island with no name.

This mythical fence, which could protect us from even more

traffic congestion and burgeoning strip malls, is the only

enclosure I could smile upon. But fences with gates and guards

are very chic with the upscale crowd moving into new areas of

Ponte Vedra Beach -- unlike Old Ponte Vedra that simply depends

on high prices and home security systems to keep undesirables at

bay.

Nearly 20 years ago Sawgrass -- the development not the plant

-- was just a little idea sprouting up way down to the south. As

high school students in Neptune Beach, we sometimes felt sorry

for the kids who were stuck living way down in Sawgrass or Palm

Valley -- especially for those in Palm Valley because their

homes were generally far more modest than the new palaces

springing to life in Sawgrass. Now anyone who had the foresight,

or dumb luck, of owning a piece of the Valley stands to make a

great profit. The times they are a changing.

When I drive down the narrow two lanes of Roscoe Boulevard I

resent the palatial homes mushrooming up on the banks of the

Intracoastal Waterway. In the shadows of these great monoliths

that display great wealth and a lack of creativity, I see the

comfortable little homesteads. I am glad they persist. I liked

it better when they dominated.

Recently I went shopping for a new home in the Duval County

Beaches. I must have been sleeping soundly for the last decade a

la Rip Van Winkle. I hadn't realized that growing numbers of

people like myself can no longer afford to live here as easily

as we once did. …

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