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Slice of Destin, Florida History ... Gone: The Reveille Motel,
More Recently the Kokomo Motel, Demolished
By Patrick Donohue, Destin Log, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Sep. 27, 2006 - -What was a once flashback to Destin's past as a sleepy fishing village is now nothing more than a vacant lot overlooking the harbor.

The Reveille Motel, most recently known as the Kokomo Motel, which stood at 500 Harbor Blvd. for about 50 years, was demolished a week ago and with it the memories of those who remember the motel and Destin way back when. Tona Newland, 59, daughter of the Reveille's original owner, Capt. Jimmy Trammel, said her family lived in the motel until their house was built.
Newland said that as a young girl, she and her sister worked at the motel renting and cleaning the rooms and chartering fishing trips that departed from the docks down below the motel on Destin's harbor. As the hotel and her childhood home were being tore down, Newland said the sounds of the demolition were difficult to bear. "I'd drive by there and I could hear them pulling those nails out and I thought 'I can't listen to this. I can't be here,'" she said.

Sandra Early, daughter of Capt. Trammel, said when the motel was torn down, their family felt a sense of loss. "It was like a death," Early said. "We grew up in that motel, it was our home." Most of the people who stayed at the Reveille were fisherman, Newland said. "We'd have people from Alabama and Georgia and Tennessee and people from Georgia Power and even the founder of Cracker Barrel fished with my dad on the Reveille," Newland said. "Of course, we didn't have one back then but we do now and he gave my dad a card and said he could eat for free at Cracker Barrel for the rest of his life."

Karl Trammell, 55, who is Capt. Jimmy Trammell's son, said he grew up working as a deckhand on the motel's boats. The motel operated two charter boats and had small boat slips for motel patrons, many of whom were regular customers at the Reveille. Trammell said he was sad to see the Reveille go but saw the writing on the wall. "I guess I kind of got numb to it and wasn't as sad as I expected to be because of the growth in the city," he said. "You can't stop progress."

Capt. Donnie Brown owned the motel from 1991-2000 and renamed it the Kokomo. When he bought it, it had been vacant for some time and was in bad shape, he said. "It was totally run down and probably should have been torn down and condemned before we bought it," he said. "We came in and completely gutted it."

Brown said some members of the Destin fishing fleet helped Brown and his family rebuild the motel. "We had everybody down there helping us. People would come in and asked how they could help and we'd hand them a sander or a paint brush and say, 'Head into that room right there,'" Brown said. On weekends, he said, many of the motel's frequent customers would arrive at the motel. "The same boats would start to show up every weekend, it was like a little paradise. It was very homey," Brown said.

After his PumpOut USA business became successful, Brown sold the Kokomo but said he was sad to hear that the building had been demolished. "When we sold it, my PumpOut business had gone crazy and we just thought that it was time to go on to another adventure," he said. "I'm kind of sad that it's gone, we had a lot of memories in that place."

Capt. Ken Beaird and his wife, Fran, bought the motel and the Reveille II in 1977 from Capt. Trammell and ran it for years. The Beairds lived there and most of their customers were booked through the Destin Chamber of Commerce. "We lived there for seven years and we had a boat there, the Reveille II. It was a nice, little mom and pop operation," Ken Beaird said. Guests at the Reveille paid $20 a night per person, or $25 for one of the motel's four kitchenettes, he said.

Beaird said that in the winter, a group of Canadians would come and stay at the Reveille for a month or two. "We charged as much per month as they would pay now per night," he said. In the late 1970s, Beaird said, all of Destin's motels worked together and helped each other out. "If another hotel was booked up and we had rooms, they'd send them to us and if we were full, we'd call around to see who had rooms available," Beaird said.

Tona Newland said the Destin back when her family was running the Reveille was of "families helping families." Charles Morgan, owner of Harbor Docks, came to Destin in 1977 and remembers places such as the Reveille and said they served an important function in Destin's fishing history. "When fishing was king here in Destin, you'd have people who loved to fish and spent all day on the water and they didn't need a luxury resort, they just needed a place to sleep," Morgan said. "They were very well-run. We don't have hotels like that anymore."

Jerry Mucci, the city's community development director, said a developer may build a six-story, 10-unit condo on the site.


Copyright (c) 2006, Destin Log, Fla.

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