There’s a whole ‘nother Florida out there, people.
Mention Florida and people think about Disney World, Spring Break, Biker Week, the Daytona Speedway, the Dali Museum, and so on. I’ve only been a resident of Florida – this time – for less than a year, but in that year I’ve been fortunate to find an entirely new world, away from the long lines, the traffic – well, almost – and the TTF, the Typical Tourist Florida that most people see. And I owe it all to my GPS.
Last year I let myself be talked into moving to Florida. On the drive down in my trusty self-drive moving truck, I let my GPS do the job of navigating. It took me down I-95, of course, most of the way from the DC Metro area on south. I stopped overnight in Georgia and when I set off the next morning, my navigator directed me back to I-95 south, then west across I-10 to US 301, then south again. Although I’d lived in Florida long ago when I was still a pup, I’d never seen this part of it.
Stay on the Interstates and the drive is boring. Getting on to the thoroughfares of bygone, pre-Interstate days is a breath of pure oxygen, in both the literal and figurative senses. Starting about 40 or so miles north of Ocala I began to see things. To really see things. Interesting things. And I lost my heart.
My move to Safety Harbor was then and there scrapped. I continued on to the Tampa-St Pete area, my original destination, but a couple weeks later I made my way back to Ocala. Horse country. A whole ‘nother Florida. (Did you know that Florida is ranked 12th in the US for beef production? Gotcha!)
But I’m not here to extol the virtues of the Ocala area, although I will in future articles tell you more. My subject today is the Department of State, State Library and Archives of Florida. At my local library I found a CD produced by a website that “provides online access to primary records that illustrate significant moments in Florida’s history.” Florida Memory, as it’s called, is a treasure trove of the East’s own “Wild West,” an era that the vast majority knows and hears nothing of.
Upon further exploration (and I’ve only scratched the surface) I discovered that Florida Memory does not have the one aforementioned CD available. They have five. And the amazing part? They’re completely gratis. Free. Even to the point of no postage. There are some names that most people will recognize, but there are more that most won’t recognize.
Sprinkled in with Zora Neale Hurston, Doc Watson and Merle Watson, Etta Baker, The Stanley Brothers, Johnny Shines and Bill Monroe, there are names such as Billy Bowlegs III, Progressive Seven Shape Note Singers, the Hickory Bottoms Harmoneers, and Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers. And then there are even more obscure musicians such as Goose Culbreath doing “Granny Will Your Dog Bite.” Now you’re getting into the authentic, real Cracker music.
If you want to stay ignorant and not learn about Florida’s exciting history, but you still want the freebies, go directly to this page. Near the top are links to order or download the latest CD. At the bottom you’ll see links to the other CDs available. Click on them and you’ll be able to order all five.
These CDs are not for sale anywhere, so when you request your own copies of the CDs, tell ‘em Lou sent you, and that you read about it on Blogcritics!
In future articles I’ll be talking more about the individual CDs as well as many other aspects of the Florida Archives. Meanwhile, entertain yourself by checking out the website.
And don’t forget that coming up next week at White Springs, Florida, is the 59th Florida Folk Festival. You’ll have the opportunity to see John Anderson, of Seminole Wind fame, and many other fine groups at “Florida’s Best Cultural Event,” so-named by the Southeast Tourism Society.Powered by Sidelines