FLORIDA RECOLLECTIONS. . .
I just watched a little video about Florida Cowboys and it brought back a flood of memories. . . .
I consider myself a dyed in the wool Colorado Native but upon contemplation I realize that I left my home state at the age of 20 only to return to live there a mere 3 or so years before following my husband’s rambling career that led us on a circuit of several states, including the state of Florida.
Actually, our honeymoon, if you could call it that, was in Florida. We were married soon after Pearl Harbor, and my husband, a newly minted Ensign in the US Naval Reserve, was assigned to basic training in Pensacola, Florida. This was in 1942. My early impressions of Pensacola remain vivid. The downtown area, overshadowed by the towering San Carlos Hotel, occupied only one street.
I remember a little movie theater with a popcorn machine in the lobby, inhabited by cockroaches. To this day the smell of popcorn always brings back those images.
I only saw my new husband on weekends for the first 6 weeks of our marriage, but I was happy to spend my days exploring the beaches and the surrounding woods. I was in love.
Several years and 4 children later we returned to Florida, my husband as a project engineer for North American Aviation Inc. He would participate in the development of America’s rocket program at Cape Canaveral. This was in 1956/57. The closest we could get on a major airline was Atlanta, Georgia, and the remainder of our journey was achieved by feeder airlines, and we had to separate our family and send the two oldest kids on a plane alone. We finally met up together in Orlando, where we were obliged to rent a house for a month until our household goods arrived. We eventually bought a house in Melbourne. We bought an old clunker to get us from Orlando to the coast and it is that trip that shines in my mind. There was no Disneyland, no freeways –just beautiful green upon green swampy grassland and scrub palms. We traveled with all the windows down, on a two- lane road, with a chorus of frogs loud in our ears all the way. I will never ever forget the sights and sounds of that ride through central Florida.
It was unbearably hot and humid, and big white clouds gathered and darkened and poured down rain for 10 minutes and then evaporated to let in a fierce steamy sun.
We panted and sweated and the sweat dribbled down inside our clothes and made puddles.
We were being introduced to life in Florida- hyge bugs and spiders and mosquitoes, and alligators.
And then there was the Atlantic Ocean—beautiful wide, white beaches with no rip-tides, and the Inland Waterway and the beautiful and mysterious St. John’s River.
We bought a little boat.
We were novices to all the mysteries of this new world, but God took care of us. We bought a bigger boat. We had many delightful voyages on the waterways.
I have no trouble believing the stories of the Cracker Cowboys of Florida, even though I never met one. But I have my own Album of Images of Florida and I love re-playing the reels in my mind. I am glad I knew it before civilization took away the frogs.
Betty’s Notes 2014