We planned a while back to bring Jim and Mallorie on our favorite summer trip through old Florida, and at the last minute Mallorie had to back out because of work commitments. I was so sad when I found out, but Jim insisted he wanted to go regardless—they had a room reserved and he’d never been to Wakulla or seen St. Augustine’s historic district. So, off we went today, east bound and down.
The moment we arrived at Wakulla, I began searching out the exact location of mammaw’s photo op in the 1940s. The hotel first opened in 1937, so it was brand new when she, my grandfather and her parents and sisters visited. Inspired by Dear Photograph, I wanted to hold this photo and stand in the very spot my little grandmother stood when she snapped it of Aunt Eleanor and Aunt Bert:
At some point they had to build a fire escape which changed the exterior a little, but that’s definitely the spot.
After the photo shoot was finished, Ben and Jim, because they are still little boys, put on swim trunks and ran to the springs. Ben ran straight into the frigid spring-fed water.
So he went to the top and watched others jump. Many others. For a long time.
It wasn’t long before Jim got the courage to give it a shot.
While Ben kept thinking about it. And pumping himself up. While being heckled by Chris, a ginger 11 year old with a major attitude. He said, “You’re man enough to grow that beard but you can’t jump? I’ll do it. Watch!” Kasploosh.
So he thought about it some more. And probably prayed some too. Cause let me say this again—the man is HORRIFIED of heights.
And at the moment we all decided he’d given up (1 hour in), he just jumped.
And then he climbed right back up to do it at the same time with Jim.
And that was the day Ben jumped from the high dive at Wakulla Springs.