Local Garrett Horn Shares "Postcards of Seagrove"
September 30, 2016 by Manny Chavez
Garrett Horn’s new book, Postcards of Seagrove, is a trip down memory lane. But don’t EVEN think that this is just another photo book with captions. Garrett takes readers through an unexpected odyssey, one filled with personal tales of love, laughter, discovery, loneliness, joy…well, you name it, Garett has been there and done that and he is baring it all to tell his Seagrove story.
“Many of the earlier stories were written with a felt tip pen on notebook paper, way back in the day,” explains Garrett. “I later struggled to type them up on an electric typewriter and edited using white out and primitive Zerox machines. Then, of course, once I got a computer around 1995 or so, I had to re-enter them into that format. Only gradually have I been able to actually compose on the computer, ‘Hard Way Horn,’ they call me.”
Garrett’s Seagrove adventure began in 1959 when his father purchased an old shack nestled in scrub oaks on a bluff overlooking Eastern Lake. He was a seven-year-old full of vim and vigor who woke up to the smell of the sea and the call to adventure. His daily summer activities of swimming, crabbing, fishing and beachcombing left him exhausted and his bed with a sandy foundation.
“We had a daily ritual of sweeping off our bed sheets to keep the pain of sunburn to a minimum,” laughs Garrett. He and his buddies were true beach bums, long before being a beach bum was cool.
Postcards takes us through a young boy’s fun time experiences into young adulthood as Garrett takes on his chosen profession as a journeyman carpenter. Back then, in the early 80's, Seaside wasn’t much more than a lot of sand and a few buildings. Garrett had begun work on one of the first homes to be built and was working for a contractor who abruptly walked off the job leaving Garrett holding the bag. He was “thrown into the breach” and thus began not only a lifetime of building experiences, but a journey through his mind’s eye, the tales he spins through his alter ego, Hampton Echoes.
Garrett eventually used his woodworking skills to build his dream home next to the old shed property overlooking Eastern Lake. Though the view has changed somewhat due to the construction of homes around the lake, he made sure that his home would be hugged by the century-old live oaks. No palm trees in the forecast for this Seagrove homestead! The view is both comforting and exhilarating, providing a plethora of sunrises and sunsets to stir memories.
Through the character of Hampton, we are treated to Garrett’s muses as he rambles through early Seagrove, Highway 30A as a dirt road, tales of the Short Branch Saloon (now the Red Bar), and unexpected trails leading to some pretty heavy stuff. Garrett’s voice is palpable with an incredible ode to the common shirt, a wonderful Beatles' tribute, and a unique take on the art of building…the carpenters, framers, nail-benders whose work helped him realize the “rhythm of hammering a nail and the very essence of completing projects that were truly ‘music to the eyes.’”
Who would have thought that the old Seagrove Market would be the meeting place for Garrett’s future soul mate? Known for its famous “Deep Fried Love,” the Market served as an unlikely backdrop for Garrett to meet a Mississippi girl named Nina who would, a few years later, become his wife. Today, Garrett can’t talk about Nina without a mouthful of grin. Another Seagrove story to be told.
Nina is credited with having the original idea of altering Garrett’s original plan to build his “Man Cave.” She imagined a large Pirate Ship that would suit their grandchildren quite well. Garrett took the idea in tow and let his imagination run free.
The Ship now rests peacefully on the banks of Eastern Lake, below Garret’s home…as Hampton sees it, filled with pirates (grandchildren) fighting off menacing bad pirates in the haze of an Eastern Lake sunrise.
Postcards of Seagrove can be enjoyed on many levels. Through Hampton, we are front seat at Garrett’s movie and better off for it. The stories are entertaining, historical, sad, joyful, sensual, all of those things, but most of all, they give us all hope that we too have a little Hampton in us, ready to be set free.
Postcards of Seagrove can be purchased locally at Sundog Books in Seaside, The Hidden Lantern Bookstore in Rosemary Beach, or online at Amazon.