Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

June 20, 2010

My Love Affair with Courtney Campbell

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Today I make a confession.  I will openly admit my love affair with Courtney Campbell.  Most of my family knows this, and my wife has known  it for most of our married life.

The love affair began the summer following high school graduation.  It would be 12 years later before the affair would be cemented, never to be broken.  Hold on, what are you thinking?  Be careful about quick judgments!  Those two words “love affair” get many minds stirring!  If you are jumping to a conclusion that Courtney Campbell is another woman, you are so wrong!  But I did mislead you a little, right?

Here is the fact:  Courtney Campbell Causeway!  Adding that last word, truly changed the subject!  But I do have a love affair with this unique causeway.  It began that summer after graduation.  With my uncle and aunt, we stopped and had a picnic on the causeway.  I had never seen anything that so attracted me.  It was truly paradise!  I loved the beauty, the smell, the breeze, and the salt water.  I would never forget that place.  We travelled on, but I would never forget!

My next crossing of this causeway would be the spring of 1961.  I was towing a car from Atlanta to Clearwater, Florida (Read my blog, entitled Clearwater, Florida,,  and that beauty and attraction once again captured my heart and I knew I was in love!

Courtney Campbell Causeway crosses Tampa Bay from Tampa to Clearwater.  It was originally named Davis Causeway when it opened in 1934 as a private toll road, but in 1944 the federal government seized it and purchased the causeway as part of the war effort and transferred ownership to the state of Florida.

In 1948 it was renamed for Courtney W. Campbell, a Clearwater Beach resident and congressman who spearheaded efforts to improve and beautify the causeway.  In 2005, it was designated as an official scenic highway.  Today it is a multi-lane road, and it still charms my heart as we drive across, but, oh, how I wish you could have seen the causeway when I first fell in love with it!

This approximately 10 miles of highway runs at sea level.  That is why it is called a causeway, which is simply defined as a raised road.  This highway is not some high bridged structure above the water.  No, you are practically level with the water.  In those early days of my affair, the road was simply two lanes.  Along the side were primarily large oleander bushes.  There were warning signs not to use these branches to roast hotdogs or even to build a fire with them because of the toxicity. These bushes were so thick in places that you could not get to the water’s edge.  There were also large Australian Pines.  These  large trees with their snarly roots lined the causeway.  They provided shade and a wind break, but they were favored for use in erosion along the beaches.  Few grow there today because most were removed with the expansion of lanes.  They are also outlawed in many parks in Florida.   They also served as a  barrier to truck and cars that might run off the road and into the water, which is their main purpose along the Tamiami Trail.

Not only was fishing good along the causeway, but there were many unique specimens of birds, such as herons and egrets.  As you picnicked or fished, you felt you were almost in the middle of the ocean, yet there was shade!

I cannot explain to you why my heart seems to beat faster each time we cross the causeway, but Judy can always anticipate my confession of my love for the causeway.  We drove over to Clearwater the other day, and I confess that my love affair for this place has not changed since 1961.  In fact, it is probably stronger because it was this causeway that took me to Clearwater, where I was to meet Judy.  Again, that story is in the blog about Clearwater!

Is there a geographical place like this in your life?  You probably have several, as I do.  I have, of course, written about several of them.  Excluding places where I have lived, none can flirt with me enough to change my affection for the Courtney Campbell Causeway.



1 Comment »

  1. Thanks, Lawson, for taking me back to one of my favorite childhood spots. Our family had many outings on Courtney Campbell Causeway. I remember the fish frys with freshly caught and fried fish, hushpuppies, slaw, etc. Mom took her big black skillet and dutch oven to use for the frying. A picnic on the causeway was a special treat for us and visiting family and friends! What a beautiful word picture you painted!! It brought back wonderful memories of my daddy on this Father’s Day, too. (Even though he’s been with the Lord for more than 25 years, I still miss him terribly.)

    Comment by Maggie King — June 20, 2010 @ 5:51 am | Reply

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