Days Gone By

By George E. Hamilton, Jr.


Do you remember when the River road was part of US 1 and SR 520 to Cocoa Beach was two lanes

with draw bridges (originally wooden bridges) on the Indian and Banana Rivers? And who could

forget the humpback bridge that spanned Sykes Creek on Merritt Island and the board planks that

would slap and flap as you drove over them about 5 mph.


Do you remember when the State Theater showed real movies and was not a playhouse, or going to

Campbell’s drug store for your first cherry Coke or vanilla smash? And the best hamburger in town

was at Myrt’s? How could you forget the root beer in frosted mugs at the A&W on US 1 where

Wuesthoff Hospital built a parking lot? Those, my friends, are days gone by and memories for us all

and the list goes on.


In the ’20’s my grandfather, George Louis Griley, purchased 120 acres of Merritt Island property,

now Holiday Cove and he built a summer vacation home for the relatives to use. In the mid ’50’s

we were living in Miami but would spend vacation time at the summer home. It was during those

visits that my dad began to think Cocoa Beach looked like a good place to settle so my parents

bought a house at 4615 Ocean Beach Blvd in May 1959, 8 blocks south of the Cocoa Beach pier.


In August of 1959 I celebrated my 15th birthday and my family, George, Sr., mother Mary Lou, my

sisters Elizabeth and Mary Lou moved in to our new home. There were no condos then so our view

was sand dunes and the ocean. We weren’t used to the thunderous roar of the ocean but hey, we

came from Miami so Cocoa Beach seemed calm in comparison. I was 15 and life was good.

As you drove in to Cocoa Beach on SR 520 you practically ended up in the parking lot of the White

Caps restaurant. Most of the motels had “rocket” names. The Vanguard, Polaris and Sea Missile

motel were only a few and of course if prime rib was on your mind, then Ramon’s was the place.

Brevard County was booming and new schools were being built. If you lived in the Cocoa Beach

area you attended Edgewood Jr. High (grades 7, 8 & 9) or Cocoa High, located in Rockledge. The

bus would pick you up at your stop, mine was AlA and Gadsden, and you would go to Cape

Canaveral to pick up more kids and then on to your respective school. This took about an hour each

way. Of course, we all took advantage of this time to do our homework or discuss our

assignments…. REALLY?? Better yet, you could bum a ride with anyone that had a car.

Anyway, we made lots of lasting friendships. Spending time at the beach or boating, fishing and

surfing was what most of us did and still do to this day.


Article provided courtesy of the Central Brevard Mosquito Beaters, Memory Book 2013, available at the Florida

Historical Library, 435 Brevard Av., Cocoa Village


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