Friday, March 14, 2014

Air Force Beach

            I did not know about the beach and what I should not wear 
           She should have given the "bare" facts before she dropped us there
            It took all week before we finally chose to go clothes free         
           We never thought that we'd be shown on national TV

The story that I am about to tell you happened over thirty years ago. It was originally included in Mr. Joe, but somewhere along the line it was omitted. It's the story of Air Force Beach.

I still couldn't believe that we were actually on the airplane. We were headed for West Palm Beach, Florida. My friend and I were finally taking a vacation together. Denny and I were the best of friends and had been working together at the meat plant for the past ten years.

I had a friend living in Florida and she had been asking us to come down and visit. In return for giving us a place to stay, we agreed to fill up her freezer as best we could. It seemed like a win situation for all three of us.

Carol picked us up at the airport and we quickly arrived at her condo. It was a beautiful three bedroom with two full baths and just minutes from the beach.

She was not able to take time off from her job so she agreed to drop us off at the beach on her way to work each day and pick us up on her way home. Our vacation would last a week.

I remember the first morning that Carol dropped us off. It was around 8:30 a.m. so we were the first to arrive. An hour or two later others started "showing up"...literally! Carol had failed to tell us that she was a nudist and that Air Force Beach was a nude beach! Oops!

Most everyone at the beach was topless, but few were completely naked. It seemed the local Rangers would come running over the hill to the beach in order to catch nudists and arrest them. There was always someone acting as a lookout to warn the others when the Rangers were about to show.

They had been circulating a petition for several months to have the beach become legal for nude patrons. Denny and I had no problem signing this when we were asked. Even though modesty had prevented us from joining the crowd, we agreed that they should have that right. 

That stretch of beach had been donated to the city with the condition that it be allowed to remain "clothes optional". The city was trying to take that right away.

The day that the petition was to be presented happened to be our last day there. They wanted to get all of the "coverage" of that moment so they had called the local television station. They came up with a great plan! When the petition was unscrolled, it was over fifty feet long. The plan was to have fifteen or twenty  nudists holding up the length of paper that happened to be just wide enough to cover their "assets".

Denny and I must have gotten caught up in the moment because we were the first two to volunteer. We decided that since we were a thousand miles from home and we would never see these people again, why not go for it. A few minutes later we were standing on the beach naked holding a petition in front of us and waiting for the television cameras to arrive.

Carol arrived to pick us up just as the news crew was leaving. We took her out to a farewell dinner and then packed our clothes and got ready to fly back to Cincinnati in the morning. 

I would like to think that the story ended there, but it didn't. That same summer I went back to Glen Ferris to visit my mom and grandmother. As soon as I saw mom I could tell she was mad about something. When I asked what was wrong she told me that I didn't need to worry about her. My grandmother was the one I had to calm down. I found out that somehow another station had picked up the story about our protest at Air Force Beach. My grandmother had been watching a news show when Denny and I came on camera standing naked behind the petition.