Keystone Heights

I grew up in the small town of Keystone Heights, Florida. We lived 45 minutes from a bigger town that had a movie theater and a mall. Our town had one light and here it is. 

If you went straight you would be in the middle of nowhere in less than 5 minutes. Lakes surrounded the town so on either side of the road were different lakes. Before you got out of town was the  local Hardees which was our late night hangout spot.”uptown” was the term that was used if you were going anywhere in this vicinity. Going “uptown” meant anywhere on this road.  If you turned left you would get to the small grocery store, Millers, and then 5 minutes more you’d be in the middle of nowhere. If you turned right you would get to my house. 7 minutes down the road and then down a long windy country road before you hit our dirt road that led to a very long driveway to our lake house. We lived on five acres of woods and lake. No cars to be heard. The only sounds were of nature and boats on the lake. 

Before you hit this light you would go past Keystone beach. It was just lake Geneva but it is where everyone went to swim and hang out with friends. I had swim lessons there. The pavilllion had bands that would play and street dances. Fireworks every July 4th were at Keystone Beach. It is so shocking to see the lake almost dried up now. All the lakes out in Keystone are drying up. 

The water used to come up to the railing. You could walk up the stairs and get a soda from the soda machine or play ping pong or lay in the sun.

After passing Keystone Beach you would hit the dime store, Mallards. Still right there. I LOVED Mallards. I can tell you how it smelled and exactly how I felt when Nana said she was taking me there to get my dime store barbie. It smelled like a barbie! When you first open the box and you get that new barbie smell that most girls love. IT is a place of wonderful memories. 

And on that same road was the library. Nana took me to the library all the time. I love the smell of books and libraries. I loved Nana taking me there and presenting my library card to check out a book. I loved looking through the card catalog, a thing of the past. And the library is still right there. 

Around the library, behind it in that area they do arts and craft shows and had a playground. Keystone truly was a tiny town. Our highschool was 7-12. It took 45 minutes by bus to get to school so I was VERY thrilled when we could finally drive to school . 

My best friend still lives in Keystone and her daughter, the doll that she is, took these pictures today for me! 

For the thousands of bad memories I have from this town, I have some REALLY good ones too. The parade every year sitting in front of Mallards. Bonfires with friends. My first job at KFC that was right to the right of the only light in town, KFC is no longer there but we did have a blast working there. All of my friends worked there at the same time. KFC was my staple meal for a good year of my life! 

The dirt road to my house was also one of my favorite things. It was orange clay. I often went for long walks barefooted down that road. I loved the orange wild flowers that I’ve rarely seen anywhere else. There were no fences and the roads were lined with blackberries. When it rained you could make all kinds of things from the clay and I frequently did. My Nana lived across the lake from me and it was exactly a mile by foot to get there. I typically swam across the lake to her house and then walked home petting horses and waving at neighbors on the way. 

Tonight I went to a banquet. I saw my old next door neighbor from out at the lake and it brought back some really great memories. She reminded me, of the people there in that town that were really good. 

I am still friends with my friend from the 3rd grade. My very best friend died a number of years ago from cancer but she was one of the purest souls ever, from Keystone. Out of Keystone came some quite phenomenal people. It was LOADED up with its share of secrets, horrors and abuse. But, in the midst of that, was good. I love to remember the good. 

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