The Bothem family moved from New Jersey to Gulfport late 1943 and stayed until late 1946. Dad was in the Navy and mom's parents lived in St. Petersburg, so as they had two children they decided we should move down here to be by her parents and siblings. They found an apt. in a duplex at 5128 Preston Ave. S. It was World War II and my Uncle Chuck, who was my dad's best friend and my mom's brother, was killed in Anzio......nothing could have kept dad from joining the Navy at age 26 when Chuck died. He was based after basic training in Corpus Cristi, Texas in the Jacksonville Navy Base, so it just made sense to bring us down there.
Once here, every single day we walked down to the beach until mom gave birth to my sister Bonnie in a no-name hurricane on Oct. 19, 1944 in Mound Park, Hospital. My sister Kathy and l spent much of that hurricane outside at Grandma and Grandpa Billinghams place. Nana wasn't real fond of children. It was a very windy and kinda scary visit for sure but obviously we survived to tell about it.
When mom was up to it, baby carriage and all, we began walking again to the beach. Every day we walked the same way down there using what is now a one-way driving on the north side of Beach Blvd. And every day, my overly rambunctious sister Kathy would run ahead and every day l heard my mother say "Daniegirl, watch Kathy by the cactus!!" It WAS a big and dangerous cactus in front of what is now the empty restaurant on the corner across from The Casino. I must admit though, it was still a bittersweet moment the day the City took it down in the beautification project around 1998.