living in Florida…




me

Originally uploaded by jayfherron.

The place has changed since I came here in 1970. Back then you could still see the real Florida-but it was the tail end for sure. Disney World had barely broken ground when I came to this state-Orlando just a small town….nothing like it is today. I’m thankful I got to see the way it was-I wish I could have seen it in the days of Jacob Summerland,the old coot and cow cracker that pretty much founded the city of Orlando,a man who rounded up the free range cattle that were breeds left behind by the Spanish-and he got rich selling them for nothing less than gold coins,which he never banked.
It is sad seeing things being pushed aside-places that have soothed the eye for many a long year shoved into a burn pile and replaced by stucco apartments.
The old town of Micanopy,now all antique shops-and still a great place,but the old town when the antique shop buildings were still being used as grocery store and mechanics garage and the pharmacy with its own soda fountain. Across one side of the roadway the log cabin cafe was cooking breakfast for the log trucks going to Franklin Crates-the drivers stopped and the road lined with the long semi trucks while they ate up bisquits anf sausage gravy,the cafe crazily placed beneath the huge citrus shed that was built over top of it.
Theres hardly a person that knows it that right in the center of town above where the pharmacy was and where Doc Strange had his practice was a hotel-rooming house. Now I believe its just a private residence,but I know of stories about things that happened in those rooms that none of the owners of the antique shops can relay.
I ended up in these woods where I live-and have lived for 0ver 30 years now…by divine guidence and yet when it was being done I did’nt really realize it. I brought my young family out here in a pup tent and busted my ass to build what is here and is home.
In the picture -behind me is just a glimpse of what my five acres looks like. I’m in the front of my house,theres no way to say its a front yard-there never has been a ‘yard’…but never the less,I am where I am happiest.
Florida has strange winters. This picture was taken in the winter-but yet the trees remain green. The days are somewhat warm in winter-but sometimes not so great and yet there is enough of the tropic sun to keep flora green. Yes,some trees change and lose thier leaves-dogwoods do a wonderful hue of orange to give a northern transplant the feeling of fall…but the worse part of it is the climate and how it changes in radical directions during the winter months. The other day it was like a crisp winter day up north-you can tell when its cold up in the mid west by the winds and how the cold air comes from that way. Today it was 80 degrees out,now its going down and its a bit chilly-but not too intolerable. In a few days it can go into such a change that folks from Michigan that saved thier hard earned money to flee the frost find out it followed them down to the Sunshine State. Oh yeah-the sun is perfect on a winter day…you can even pull off a jacket and sweater as long as you stay in the sun,but the minute you take a break in the shade you once again realize it is a hard frost day.
You know a woman is responsable for the city of Miami to become the city it is today-she sent Henry Flager a blooming orang blossom when all the trees in northern Florida froze and the water in thier trunks caused the trees to split-killing all the citrus in the north,so Flagler ran his railroad on down to a place that was nothing but mud and boards for walkways and mosquitoes thatt could lead a team…and Miami was begun.
Today I can see our city reaching furthur out-the need for four lanes evident,and the city finally fell to Super Walmart. The place I came to in my worn out shoes and hungry family in tow was a song to buy back then in the 1970’s-and now has become quite valueable….and funny,its still the same darned trees and the same sunrise and the same sunset and the same dirt,and yet it is worth more than I ever imagined it would be. I sit back in amazed wonder of it all.
About a few miles short of twenty miles from here lived a woman writer-Marjorie K Rawlings. She came down here in the 1930’s and wrote quite a library of books about the folks around here and the way of life they had-and such a different life from what people away up north or far out west ever knew about. I saw some of that life as a young man when I first came here-not realizeing then what was rapidly going away in front of my eyes.
Miz Rawlings-as I understand it was how she was refered to…Miz Rawlings used to row a flat boat around River Styx and Locasloosa and take the national census for the government in the area-then the only way to access the people was by rowing and walking-not by car.
If you ever get a chance to read ‘Cross Creek’…do,she does such a grand job of describeing our area and its people well.
I swear to you-I could sit down next to that tree I’m leaning on and never leave this place for the rest of my life-at night a trillion little green tree frogs singing and screaming at one another,the music of it to sooth one asleep-and the stars above seen unfilter through city lights-all free and clear of the polution of light.there are ages of them out there.
I can cry about the winters-but I don’t cry long….

2 Responses to “living in Florida…”

  1. melissachickie Says:

    I love the vivid imagery of your telling of Florida’s history. I was born in Plantation down in Ft Lauderdale in the mid-70s. I always enjoyed the hard-to-reach places and off-the-tourist tracks. Back at my parent’s place in Port St Lucie, there was a beautiful fishing hole, but it got developed into multimillion dollar homes. Land when my Daddy first bought was like 2K and when he sold the land went for over 50K. How silly! Like you said, “its still the same darned trees and the same sunrise and the same sunset and the same dirt.” Even the home my Daddy was raised in Hibiscus Island is still there surrounded by beautiful homes far more expensive and contemporary.

  2. jayherron Says:

    I remember when interstate 95 ended at Vero Beach and you had to cut over to US 1 and continue south to West Palm Beach. Back in the mid 1970’s when I first started sriving truck-Port St.Lucie was a bridge and a bunch of shrimp boats and a few Ma and Pa motels….Ft.Pierce was a metropolis back then…I think it had three traffic lights.
    If you ever get a chance-read “The Barefoot Postman” based on a true story…made into a movie with Charlton Heston or one of them old movie guys-any way,an exceptional story about the lower eastern part of Florida and the original solor coast line…Jupiter and Neptune and those places. The book is based on the trail the mail took in the early days of Florida.
    Funny-here where I am they don’t clean the stores any more. They rip it down and put up a spankin new one!

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