For the first couple of years after Katrina, I could not take a ride down Highway 90 without my eyes misting over. You don’t realize how much you love a place until it’s hopelessly gone.
The SS Hurricane Camille seems a quirky place to be sentimental over, but I can’t help it–I miss it. As a child growing up on the west side of town, I made frequent trips to the gift shop with its garishly painted tugboat posted by the front door. The tugboat, blown ashore by Hurricane Camille in 1969, remained on land and became a giant lawn ornament for a souvenir shop. The shop had a selection of seashells organized in bins across the middle of the store that could be purchased for 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, …depending on the shell. At ten-years-old, I considered myself a “shell collector.”
Even as an elementary school child, I visited on foot, several blocks from my home, to add to my collection. I remember buying a strawberry top, a sundial, a pink murex, a tiger cowrie, an alphabet cone, a whelk, and more over time with my pocket change. I saved up at one point to buy a Nautilus, a large spiraling shell with beautifully intricate chambers.
Gulfport High School no longer has a school newspaper, but when I entered in 1977 (the first class of Admirals), a new name for the paper was being sought, and my suggestion, “The Nautilus,” was accepted. I even drew the logo using my shell as a model.
I was showing Nathan my old shells, the same ones I purchased from the gift shop all those years ago. He liked them okay, but he is a “candle collector”–buys scented candles from
the Hallmark store whenever he gets a chance. He has about twenty with scents like vanilla cupcake, juicy
watermelon, red apple wreath, fresh cut roses, and sparkling lemon. He put my strawberry top to his nose–I don’t think he was impressed. Still, he said he’d like to have them one day…some things are more appealing when we get a little further down the road.
[The SS Hurricane Camille was demolished in May of 2008.]
See also: Hurricane Camille – Forty Year Anniversary.