I wrote this post while there.
Friday, January 20, 2013
My father, long before I knew him, lived in Palmetto, FL with his brother Charlie and worked on Charlie’s farm. In fact, that was when my daddy fell in love with growing crops. Those days produced in him a dream of someday owning his own land.
Sitting around our large dining table, my brothers and sisters and I heard the tales of life in Palmetto, Florida with Charlie, Verta and their family. In his letters to my mother before they were married, my father described the work he did and also the fun he had on weekends. He mentioned going to the beach with other young people.
|Uncle Charlie's daughter, Monteen, in her nineties on the right in white.|
In my father’s time, the beaches were open to the public.
Weekends meant fish fries on the sand, and young people gathered to dance and flirt with each other. Daddy pretended to Mother, in his letters, that he never had fun and just went along because his sister and his friends were there. With little to do for entertainment, a night in summer on a warm beach with good food and lively young people must have been enjoyable. Today one would be hard-pressed to find a public beach. The high rise hotels own the waterfront.
I try to imagine what it was like in the nineteen-twenties here in this now metropolis with tall buildings and traffic. I understand that St. Pete has quite a few millionaires and some billionaires living in mansions around this town. I remember hearing about traveling on the Tamiami Trail. In my childish mind I pictured it as a path through woodland. Today I saw a sign for the Tamiami Trail, a wide highway not far from my cousin’s house
For years I heard about Pinellas County where my aunt Oleo and her family lived and also Manatee County. Driving into Tampa and seeing the signs with those familiar names, bring back to me the voices of my aunts and cousins. Because of them, I feel a kinship with this area.
My father finally brought my mother to Palmetto to live and their second child was born there, but she never liked Florida. After a few years she persuaded him to take her home to Pelham, Georgia where she would be near her family.
Today we drove to Clearwater where both my parents once had kin.
We went to the Marine Aquarium to see Winter, the dolphin that was injured and rescued. She had to have her tail amputated and a prosthesis made for her. That is some story. A movie has been made about Winter. I had the chance to see her up close and fell in love with her as everyone does.
|On a visit to Palmetto, we saw this giant whooping crane walking on the road.|
|My pretty cousin, Pam, talking|
I'll always remember, after Aunt Judy moved back to Florida in her later years, she would say, "Florida tomatoes just aren't as good as Georgia tomatoes." I think she had to buy her tomatoes in Florida from the grocery store, but in Georgia, she ate the ones grown by my father in his garden. Fresh beats cold storage any day of the week.
So many things seem familiar to me here, but in truth, I've only heard about them in stories passed down from older generations.That is what we do. Like most families, we tell stories in one way or another, and have been doing this since the beginning of time.