Tide always returns to Gulf of Mexico and Flora-Bama

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2000

Fred Allen said a town he visited one time was so dull that when the tide went out it refused to come back.

Old Fred must have been visiting at Dullsville somewhere in New England.

Too bad he couldn't have made it to Lower Alabama and Lower Baldwin County at Gulf Shores.

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Now, Gulf Shores is a location where the owners and operators have no notion of, or the time to ponder the meaning of the word "dull."

It's along the sugar-sand shores there on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico that life throbs and pulsates like a regular beehive for 12 months every year.

And there's a watering hole down there, right on the brink of the Florida line, where the frenzied activity places the above-mentioned beehive in a category with a funeral procession.

We speak here of a one-of-a-kind emporium, one that knifes through all strata of society, and admittedly panders to the baser, animal appetites of humankind.

This unique establishment is aptly, though simply, yclept The Flora-Bama.

It features three saloon-type bars, a seafood short order bar, a pool hall, a lottery sales counter and an outdoor patio.

Included also is a combo bandstand where accomplished musicians vocalize and beat out requested compositions which the jam-packed hall of "regulars" and visitors join in in "sing-along" fashion with fervor.

Twas during a weekend in the recent past, accompanying tried and true friend Byron S. "Buzzy" Griffith to his condo, that it came to pass we visited the Flora-Bama, seeking to purchase lotto cards for a pending $6 million jackpot.

With that mission accomplished, we sipped on some alcohol-free O'Douls and watched, and participated in the ongoing activities of the famed establishment.

Don't know if it was the hair color or the obvious longevity we projected, but everyone was as courteous and mannerly as one could want.

Discovered later they applied the same niceties one to another as well, despite the lack of any obvious generation gap.

It was later on that my host for the weekend related a couple of incidents that enhanced my already impressed mind with the singularity of the Flora-Bama.

The manager of the place, said Byron, told him that at one time at facing tables sat two sets of folks as divergent in stalion as one could imagine. At one table was the dignified personage of West Virginia's U. S. Senator Robert Byrd and his wife, and directly across from them sat a group of black-leather jacketed motorcyclists.

My friend Byron sports three addresses, one each at Gulf Shores; Dallas, Texas, and Greenville, and it was at Dallas where the other Flora-Bama incident occurred, as follows.

Old Byron was having lunch at a luncheonette counter when a man sporting a Flora-Bama T-shirt shinnied up on the stool next to him. A conversation ensued, involving the Gulf Shores establishment.

"Dangdest place I've ever been," said Byron's new-found acquaintance. "Wife and I went to Gulf Shores for a week's vacation,"' he continued "and we visited the Flora-Bama our first night there, and went back every night til vacation was over. Most impressive place I've ever been – we had the time of our lives – can't wait to go back."

The place has established a national reputation for its quaint approach to service and entertainment. It lures its clientele from here, there, yonder and everywhere.

We are certain that when the tide goes out at Gulf Shores it just as certainly returns to lap along that Gulf of Mexico coast of Alabama.

When it washes me ashore on its return some day, hopefully it will carry me along on its crest, and you guessed it, deposit me within walking distance of the Flora-Bama.