After the paper mill in Port St. Joe had closed and the largest private landholder in the state had become its biggest developer, the small community at the mouth of St. Joseph Bay began to change. With the pungent, acrid odor and thick smoky fog of the mill a thing of the past and land once reserved for slash pines released, wealthy people from Atlanta began to pay unimaginable sums of money for a sliver of sand close to the Gulf. The powers that be thought they had seen the future, and the future they saw was tourism. ... Man had come to the forest and money had come to town, and nothing would be the same for the land or the people of what once was the forgotten coast. ...
Rachel Mills and I were in the Dockside Cafe sitting on high stools at a tall wooden table with a view of the bay. The window was open and through it blew the warm bay breeze and the soothing sounds of seagulls and sailboat riggings -- all swirling around in a muffling din of waves and wind.
I had the fried shrimp basket with fries, she had the oysters with onion rings, and we both had sweet tea with lime. Gazing into the setting sun sinking into the bay, she said, "No wonder people are paying small fortunes to have a place here."
"Never thought I'd miss the paper mill," I said.
"Don't tell me you're not in favor of progress."
I didn't say anything.
"Well?" she asked.
"You said not to tell you."
"I can tell you that most of what people are sold as progress, isn't," I said.