Larry Strickland outside of his two-room cabin on Old River near the Flora-Bama Yacht Club.

By John Mullen

June 21, 2019 – Orange Beach, AL - (OBA®) – At one point it was a cobbled together, bustling village of a couple of dozen musicians, artists and some drifters who’d stop in from time to time. It was a menagerie of recreational vehicles, thrown together shacks and porches making up one of the legendary scenes in the history of the Flora-Bama Lounge and Package Store.

At the center of it was musician – mainly a keyboardist – and author Larry Strickland. He recently released his second book, Redbeard’s Revenge, about a treasure buried in the sand underneath the Flora-Bama. The Alabama-Florida Gulf Coast is the backdrop for the new book.

Larry's book can be purchased at the Flora-Bama Gift Shop or online at www.LarryStrickland.net

Back in the day, his wooden porch was a gathering place for other residents in what was called, and still sometimes is, Boystowne.

“I would say probably two dozen people, artists, mostly musicians, a couple of bar backs and vagabonds that would come in and stay a week or two, something like that,” Strickland said. “It used to look like a carnival down here with all the different trailers and tents.”

But Hurricane Ivan scattered Boystowne to the wind but also leaving Strickland’s porch still standing.

“I’ve been living in Boystowne since about 1994,” Strickland said from the living room of his two-room cabin on Old River, just a stone’s throw away from the old site of Boystowne.

Some say he’s the last man standing in Boystowne.

Larry Strickland inside his two-room cabin on Old River near the Flora-Bama Yacht Club.“That got shut down because John McInnis III came in and took over the club and wanted to turn the old Boystowne area into a restaurant and bar,” Strickland said. “He took my old porch where my old motorhome was parked next to it and he was able to build at ground level even after Ivan. After Ivan, the county code of Escambia County said out here you got to go up 10 or 12 feet. Because that porch was grandfathered in, he was able to turn it into his bar which it is now. He was able to build on ground level.”

The porch is still part of the Flora-Bama Yacht Club. And McInnis made it possible for Strickland to stay on as it’s only remaining resident. Bama soundman Mike Locklin, also a Boystowne resident back in the day, doesn’t live there but keeps a camping trailer on property owned by the club nearby.

“He moved me up behind the liquor store for four months and said as soon as the Yacht Club was up and running, he’d move me back down by the water and build my porch back,” Strickland said. “And he did. He could have just as soon said you’re going to have to go. He’s a good man. None of us would be here right now. I’m the last of the Boystowne.”

Today Strickland pretty much lives a life of leisure after more than 30 years of playing in a variety of bands. He keeps busy working three-hour days at the Flora-Bama.

“I work over there six days a week from 11 to 2,” Strickland said. “My job is to come in to make sure recorded music is on all three stages so that when people come in at 11 o’clock they hear music wherever they go. I set up the bingo five days a week, the sound and the microphone.

“I started working here off and on since 1985 and I decided I was going to make a home here so I did. I started working here steady in 1991 so I’ve been here 30 years now. I don’t regret the move at all, not one iota. It’s so much fun, I’ve met so many people and experienced so much here at this club. It’s amazing.”

About a year ago the 70-year-old decided he’d spent enough years lugging musical equipment to gigs and decided to instead pick up his pen and finish his second book.

“For four years I put it on hold because we were into writing our own original music,” Strickland said. “Larry Brown and I formed Men of Leisure, a keyboard duo. I got out of it a year ago in March and I said I’ve got to get on this book. It’s been about seven years in the making.”

It starts out hundreds of years ago but ends up in the present with several unique characters trying to find the lost gold.

“Supposedly the old pass to get into Perdido Bay used to be here at the Flora-Bama,” Strickland said. “Redbeard’s ship is laden with gold and he’s trying to get into Perdido to lay for respite and get supplies, trade with the Indians. He sails into a land-alternating hurricane and his ship sinks where the pass was. He survives but his boat is buried in the sand.”

Never able to find the gold, he’s eventually captured and beheaded but puts a curse on the gold itself. Modern characters emerge, some based on people he knows or has met, and a protagonist named Strick-9.

“Slowly but surely, coins start showing up with fishermen, people walking along the water,” Strickland said. “These guys get gold fever and two murders take place in the book. I’ve got a biker from south Florida, I’ve got a burned-out meth head chick that lives on Innerarity Point and a professor of archeology who thinks he is Redbeard’s reincarnate. He’s been collecting some gold coins here and there and having the biker steal ‘em for him.”

Several locals and locations are also included.

“The protagonist is a guy named Strick9 which is my nickname and he lives in Boystowne,” Strickland said. “He’s a honky tonk keyboard player at the Flora-Bama Lounge and he’s also a private investigator. I’ve got Lillian’s Pizza, the Burger King down here, Doc’s Seafood. I use this area as the basis.”

Some of his time spent these days at the club is also for selling the book, CDs from the Men of Leisure days and other products.

“I’ve got my wares set up,” he said. “I’ve got ‘Tales from the Davenport,’ my first book with stories of my life, all true, some funny, some sad but all revealing. I’ve got my CD, an audiobook from ‘Tales from the Davenport.’ I sit there and hawk my wares and talk to people.”

Next up is the third book, “The Weather Canyon,” is also in the works. And relaxing in his two-room cabin overlooking the Flora-Bama Yacht Club and Old River.

“Basically, I’m camping all the time,” Strickland said. “This is my front room, my entertainment room, living room, TV. That room is my computer room, my bed and my kitchen. I’m doing fine. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve got. It’s not much but it suits me to a T.”