Dickie Anderson loves to walk the 13-mile stretch of sand known as Amelia Island. Theresa Hamilton loves to walk the historic streets of downtown Fernandina Beach. Would they trade their daily jaunts? Maybe…never.
Dickie Anderson: Fernandina Beach
Local writer extraordinaire, Dickie Anderson grew up in Chicago but traveled to the east coast beaches every summer. “The love of the beach is a genetic thing in my family,” she laughs. “I step on the beach and it’s magic to me.”
Amelia Island drew her in over 20 years ago with its peaceful resort feel mixed with a unique realness she calls “Mayberry by the Sea” or “Key North.” People are friendly and relaxed. “In addition, I do love the charming historic district,” she winks.
“The beach draws me in,” Dickie says. She loves the light and the peace…the allure of the waves. She also loves the marshes and the wildlife it shelters.
Dickie adores walking on the beach with her grandchildren and has passed her love of ‘picking up things on the beach’ with them. Shark teeth and pure white shells are her preferred treasures. Everyone has a secret spot to find shark teeth on Amelia Island and Dickie shares hers, “As far north as you can go.” She proclaimed her love of all things beach by decorating her home for Christmas last year with oyster shells.
Armed with an adult beverage and her Yorkie Oglethorpe, Dickie frequents her favorite beach at Scott Road Access. Early in the morning at sunrise is her favorite time. Dickie likes that “The beach has always been scrubbed” by Mother Nature. She mentions the sculpting of the sand and how it is never the same twice. One magical moment when the shrimp boats were close to shore and hundreds of birds were following along creating a “circus parade” is a favorite memory.
Dickie loves to hang out at Brett’s Waterway Cafe, Salty Pelican and Cafe Karibo in town. She also admits to being a Cumberland Island junkie. The pure white sand that is like sugar, the curve of the island and spending the day and rarely see another person are the source of her addiction.
Dickie enjoys searching for sea turtle tracks and evidence of a nest as an Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch volunteer one day a week. Walking the beach at dawn during sea turtle season (May through October of each year) “is very rewarding.”
Dickie is a writer through and through. She has authored several books on island history and collections of her weekly column. A new book is in the works..
Do you think the beach and the town intersect? After some thought Dickie said simply, “We are all island people.”
Would you move into the village? “No!” Yet she feels we have the best of both worlds here on Amelia. We can walk on the beach and then meet a friend for lunch…in the same clothing.
Theresa Hamilton: Fernandina
Innkeeper of The Fairbanks House, Theresa Hamilton, was looking for three things when she chose Amelia Island as her home some 17 years ago – a place that was warm, near water and historic. Theresa was drawn to ‘the village’ as she calls it because “it is the heart and soul of the island. It is where the history lives.”
Theresa moved to Fernandina from 11 acres in Maryland’s farm country. She adores the sense of community she finds here. “If you have a disagreement with someone, they may be behind you in line at Publix tomorrow.” People rarely burn bridges here.
Theresa feels that one can nourish the soul by visiting and walking in the historic district. “It is not overdeveloped, plus there is a lot of diversity here.” She loves the sense of place you feel here in the downtown and rarely leaves. “I have placed only 40,000 miles on my car in the 17 years I have called Fernandina home.”
People come to stay here and never use their car. “Believe me, some of our guests come to town and never even go to the beach.” They are able to gain a sense of Fernandina Beach as residents do. They walk to restaurants and see the beautiful river views and the historic buildings she calls, “eye candy.” Their guard is always down because it is an island without security worries. They can walk as freely at night as during the day. Some 45 of her guests have made Amelia Island their home. “That says something big about this place.”
She plays outside as much as possible. Watching the colors of the sunset as she walks through the historic district is a favorite pastime. “It might take 45 minutes to go two blocks because you stop and talk.” There are impromptu parties and community efforts throughout the town. She loves the downtown pubs like Salty Pelican and Dog Star tavern and dining at Joes 2nd Street and España Restaurant & Tapas. She also likes the farm-to-table 29 South.
Theresa’s favorite activity is a carriage tour through the historic streets. “It sets your heart rate at an entirely different level.” It is romantic and informative. “No matter how many times I go, I always learn something new.” She also loves gardening and growing herbs, blueberries and citrus to use in her organic cooking. She adds, “We have always been a very reduce, reuse, recycle couple.” Theresa also has a photo blog you can access through fairbankshouse.com. She has an active Facebook page that she says drives loyalty to her Bed and Breakfast because she can interact with guests.
Do you think the beach and the town intersect? She thought for a moment and said, “I don’t think it does.” She continues, “There are four distinct districts on the island – beach to the east, historic to the west, suburbs in the middle and resorts on the south.” Everyone goes everywhere. “The island is really just two lanes of the same road,” Theresa ends.
Would you ever move to the beach? “No, I am a townie. The beach is magnificent, but I love the 52 block historic district. I can always ride my bike to the beach.”
The footprints of these island women cross paths on occasion. They both admire each other’s sense of humor. A fun fact – Dickie was married at The Fairbanks House.