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15 Years!

What Were You Doing 15 Years Ago?

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Beahcomber Editor Chris Manson hasn’t changed a bit in a decade and a half.

To commemorate The Beachcomber’s 15th Anniversary, we asked a bunch of friends, contributors and Emerald Coast movers and shakers to share what they were doing back in August 2001. Some of them actually responded.



Occasional Beachcomber Contributor (Among Other Things)

This is a good question, as this was way before Facebook and it forces me to actually go back into the files in my head. My husband and I had been living in Seagrove Beach just one month shy of one year after moving 2,000 miles away from our entire family. I was only having one panic attack a month by then. I was still adjusting to a lot, being a full-time stay-at-home mom, only knowing a handful of people, living 20-plus miles from a movie theater or grocery store.


Then there was the adjustment to giant palmetto bugs, cottonmouth snakes, sweet tea and grits, and keeping the Weather Channel on 24/7 from June to November. Tropical storm Barry in the first part of August helped me create my first hurricane survival kit—sugary cereal, red vines and canned tuna fish; one bathtub filled with water; and one with pillows in case of tornados. I learned so much during this time in my life, especially from the community—don’t panic, just be prepared. And when the storm is over, we help each other.




I had just moved to New York City. I was working at Tennis Week magazine and had just become friends with Neal Bern.



Musicians, Songwriters, Reality TV Stars

Andi: I had just moved to Nashville from British Columbia to write songs, and Ken was working as a stockbroker.



Writer and Editor (Among Other Things)

I was here on Okaloosa Island—where our family has since returned—home on maternity leave, taking cues on first-time motherhood from my one-month-old baby girl.




I was a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines, based in Honolulu, Hawaii, flying to Asia every week and loving every minute of it. The events of the following month would change my life forever…



Owner, HH Arts, Fort Walton Beach

I was working in the ticketing department of Lufthansa Airlines in East Meadow, New York in August 2001. I worked on the fifth floor and could see some of the skyline of New York City. A month later, I saw the smoke rising from the Twin Towers.



Arts and Design Society, Fort Walton Beach

Fifteen years ago I was busy—very busy—being Director of Library Services for Troy University’s off-campus programs stretching from Florida to Montana, including service to our troops worldwide… Getting to live in our gorgeous, happy area, working with marvelous folks and making academic research easier for our students—regardless of location—was a terrific combination.


Musician Gileah Taylor reading her favorite magazine at a Destin bookstore.
Photo by Chris Manson



My first record was a year old, and I was about to turn 21. That summer, I moved into my first apartment in Pensacola. I played shows at what was then Van Gogh’s—later End of the Line—and made enough money playing on the street on Gallery Nights to take all my friends to Waffle House. I read too many books and spent entire nights driving around listening to Jawbreaker, Denison Witmer and the Beatles. It was magical.



Destin City Councilman (Among Other Things)

I had just finished the 8th grade at Destin Middle School. When I wasn’t raising hell, I was working the beach service that summer with Greg Noble at Silver Sands.



Founder, Act4Murder

I was living and working in northern California with my then nine-year-old daughter. By day I was a software engineer for Lockheed Martin. By night I was an actress, writer and featured vocalist in a big band. I was busy but never too busy for fun. My daughter was usually in Texas with her grandparents in August, but in 2001 she had already come home. I was able to take her with me to one of the biggest festivals in the country, the Gilroy Garlic Festival. We both danced to live music on stages throughout the park, watched elaborate (and pungent) cooking demos, bought tons of garlic-themed gifts and stuffed ourselves with delicious garlic-infused food. That day at the festival is a favorite for both of us.




I had just sold a limousine company and moved to Destin. And started peforming in the area.




I was 21 years old, living the starving artist role in Nashville. In 1999, after a failed attempt at college, I dropped out, packed up and moved out of my home state of Texas and set off for Music Row. I was working every odd job, from washing cars and waitressing to walking dogs and making t-shirts, all the while moonlighting at Tootsie’s, the Bluebird, and 12th and Porter. I cut my teeth at any bar that would have me and burned both ends of the night just wanting so badly to write the perfect number one hit song.



Beachcomber Contributing Writer

In 2001, I was not on a Space Odyssey but decidedly grounded in the daily lives of two teenage girls. At 51, I was still teaching and choreographing for a bustling dance studio in St. Louis. Between the projects of my own and those of our 13 and 15 year old girls, my husband Dr. Steve Phlaum and I managed to maintain some steady traditions with friends and extended family. Though I see more gray hair as I bravely face the mirror each day, I expect to be around to celebrate more years with The Beachcomber!



Musician (Schatzi + the String Boffin)

I was 14 years old and in the 8th grade. I had just learned to play guitar, had started writing my own songs, and I was going through a very angst-y “punk rocker” stage of my life. I was figuring out what it meant to be a weirdo and an artist.



Producing Artistic Director, Emerald Coast Theatre Company

I was Spider-Man at Universal’s Island of Adventure.



Beachcomber Contributing Writer

I was living here and hitting the beach whenever the sun was out—pretty much the same things I’m doing in 2016, but writing about real estate instead of beer. It’s a good life, so why change it?



Musician (Jones and Company)

In 2001, Jones and Company was celebrating 12 years, performing Sundays in Destin and at the Brewery in Panama City Beach. We were in the process of recording our album From Us to You, released in 2002. I was directing the jazz band at Okaloosa-Walton Community College (now Northwest Florida State College) and working toward my doctoral degree in education. Congratulations, Beachcomber—your support of the arts is immeasurable.

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