Bay Boy is a collection of essays by award-winning young adult author Watt Key, chronicling his boyhood in Point Clear, Alabama. During his childhood, Point Clear was not the tony enclave of today with its spas, art galleries, and multimillion dollar waterfront properties. Rather, it was a sleepy resort community, practically deserted in the winter, with a considerable population of working-class residents.
As Key notes in his introduction, “Life in Point Clear is really about being outside. . . . I have never found a place so perfectly suited to exercise a young boy’s imagination.” Key and his brother filled their days collecting driftwood to make forts, scooting around the bay in a sturdy Stauter boat, and making art and writing stories when it rained.
In a tone that is simple and direct, punctuated by truly hilarious moments. Key writes about Gulf Coast traditions including Mardi Gras, shrimping, fishing, dove hunting, jubilees, camping out, and bracing for hurricanes. These stories are full of colorful characters— Nasty Bill Dickson, a curmudgeonly tow-truck driver; I’llNeeda, a middle-aged homeless woman encamped in a shack across the road; and the Ghost of Zundel’s Wharf, “the restless soul of a long-dead construction worker.” The stories are illustrated by charming and evocative artwork by the author’s brother Murray Key.
Foreword by John S. Sledge
The New Old Point Clear
Arts and Crafts in Point Clear
The Longest Day of the Year
The Green Station Wagon
Gone to Texas
The Bird Nest
The Grand Hotel
The Ghost of Zundel's Wharf—A Local Legend
The Point Clear Library
Point Clear Tennis Club
Point Clear Towing
Into the Wild
The Perfect Pond
A Night at Middle Bay Lighthouse
“Watt Key is a born storyteller—and for good reason. This award-winning Alabama novelist came of age in the rustic village of Point Clear, where adventure constantly beckoned in the swamps and the coffee-colored waters of Mobile Bay. In these easy-to-read pages, some of the stories will make you laugh out loud, while others are filled with all the dangers and trouble that a boy with plenty of time on his hands can manage to conjure. Whether you remember this time and place, as I do, or whether you are coming to it fresh off the page, Bay Boy is an unmitigated delight.”— Frye Gaillard, author ofA Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope, Possibility, and Innocence Lost and Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America
“In these short, recollective essays, from the tumult of a hurricane to the ‘afternoon squall’ and ‘glassy calm’ morning of Mobile Bay, the tranquility of the Grand Hotel to the ‘rare and unpredictable’ excitement of a jubilee, Watt Key makes his Mobile Bay boyhood vivid on the page. From his family’s Point Clear pier, Watt gives us not only a coastal realm of beauty, but also takes us inside a close and loving family. Bay Boy is a book for all our senses, written with much heart.”
—Roy Hoffman, author of Back Home: Journeys through Mobile, and Almost Family: A Novel