A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich?
“You can’t have everything,” said Barbara D’Amico, president of the town of Aptos, as she sipped a cup of coffee on her deck on Saturday afternoon, as far as the eye could see in all directions.
D’Amico owns a beachfront cafe, which has been a welcome refuge for her for four decades. She’s a retired U.S. Navy officer who has a lot of opinions these days, some of them not pleasant. One thing is for sure: Not having had the town on the news all year didn’t stop her from being the first in town to welcome a storm’s impact.
As she sat, a woman drove up in a red Toyota SUV, with the windows up, a radio blasting, to drop off a suit for her husband’s cousin who was having a dinner party at his beachfront condo the next day. The woman, who was wearing a bikini, drove away, humming to herself, and D’Amico watched her go. The storm, it seemed, had just given Aptos a new lease on life.
“We have to take it all in,” she said.
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If you’re like most Americans in the second half of the 20th century, you grew up with the idea of the United States as a paradise. In a nation with over 200 million people, you could hardly imagine a place where the poor or the minorities were oppressed. In the 1950s, most Americans imagined that it could easily become a paradise, a place of beaches, swimming in the ocean, and picnics under the trees.
You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder what the United States looks like today?
It’s still a paradise, except for the fact that it’s a fairly run-down one. Its beaches have been eroding for decades, and its population is aging. In a recent study, it found that the median age in Aptos, California, was 58.
In the early 1960s, Aptos was the eighth