Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Johnibel Roberts

Before I left Aunt Louise in Ft. Worth way last October, she asked me to stop in Jacksonville, Fl. and say hello to Johnibel Roberts, one of her very best friends.  "Okay, Aunt Louise, if I happen to be in Jacksonville I will stop by."  I wasn't planning to go out of my way--but I would do about anything for Aunt Louise.

I had no trouble finding their lovely condo.  Johnibel, on the left above,  now lives with her son, Don Spencer and daughter-in-law, Sue Spencer.
And this truly delightful lady turned 99 years old last week!

She wanted to show me her lovely quarters in the condo--a sitting room, bedroom and bath.  She informed me that she goes to the Senior Center twice a week and does ceramics--and she presented me with one of her very whimsical cookie jars.  (okay, I will find a space somehow)
She is also a basketball fan and never misses a chance to watch her grandsons play.  "I could watch those boys all day long!" she informed me with immense pride.

She paints (though not very much anymore) and plays the piano--which she demonstrated for me.
Her son found this portable piano at a garage sale--it comes complete with built in drums--which made her smile....but...

she became a little upset when she hit a wrong note.

She is also a ventriloquist and wanted me to meet her friend who said, "Please tell Louise how much I miss her--and all my old lady friends back in Fort Worth."
I bet they miss you too, Johnibel.  It was a very great pleasure to meet you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lightner Museum

Around the square in downtown St. Augustine are some lovely old buildings in the Spanish/Moorish style.  Originally these were hotels...

Built for the really wealthy at the turn of the last century.

If there had been reality TV shows from 1900 to 1929 these hotels might have provided a perfect setting.

The Alcazar hotel was the scene for the wealthy young people of the day but after the crash of '29 it fell into disarray and finally closed.  Millionaire Otto Lightner purchased it for only $150,000 (the hotel had cost several million to build in 1888).  Lightner had this enormous collection of 'stuff' that he had purchased at various 'desperation estate sales' (you might say he was the original 'Picker') and he needed a place big enough to store it and maybe show the stuff off.

The Lightner Museum

There was so much stuff I didn't know where to start...4 floors filled up with....

Oodles of leaded glass..

Giant urns...

and Egyptian sculpture.  Literally something for everyone.

I thought this was the most amazing thing of all.  Do you see where the restaurant is now set up?  That was originally under 10 feet of water!  That whole floor!  It was the first indoor pool in the US and remained the largest for many years.  No wonder this was such a party place for the wealthy young people of the day.  When it first opened there was a barrier that stretched across the center separating the boys from the girls.  But that didn't last long.  And on the floor above at either end were two complete bands--each band taking turns playing dance music while people danced on the smooth hardwood floors around the room.  That sounds like so much fun that I wish Mr. Lightner had held a big garage sale for his stuff and reopened the hotel instead.

But, alas, we would not have had this fascinating collection of toasters to gaze at....

or a room full of crystal.  Heaven forbid, where would he display his 5000 sets of salt & pepper shakers?

Room upon room of antique furniture....

roosters on the piano....

and a real stuffed lion.

There was a huge room full of calliopes, phonographs and player pianos...

 And, finally, this clock,  as I went out the door.
 I had seen hundreds of beer steins,  jewelry made from human hair, carved glass eggs, and a room full of dolls.  When I left town I  bought a sandwich and a coke
and drove to the beach for a quiet hour of contemplation.  I was not thinking about all that 'stuff' I had seen--instead I could hear the music playing in that old hotel and could hear the laughter and the splashing of dozens of carefree young people playing in that pool--just before they lost it all in the crash.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Castillo de San Marcos--St. Augustine, Fl

This old Spanish fort is right in the heart of St. Augustine--overlooking the bay.

It is surrounded by a moat and a draw bridge...

These funny little towers are overlooking the harbor....


So you can spy on the party-ers on the sailboats.

Luckily there is not a pirate in sight....


There is an inner courtyard...

For marching around and looking threatening....

and of course, here we have the latest in weapons of mass destruction.

I could not figure a way to get into one of these beds and photograph it too--but I wanted to show how short they all were--no more than 5 feet long!  I wonder if the Indians of that time were also short.  Were they drinking too much coffee as well?   Hogwash!  I wonder, are we evolving into a race of giants?  Will we become behemoths like the dinosaurs and mammoths?  What will the average height be in 100 years?  I'll let you know.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fountain of Youth--I found it!!

I said a sad farewell to Don, who has kindly let me use his place for showers, laundry, social gatherings, Tony Bennett music, reminiscing over the 'good old days' and general fun for the last three months.  Thank you so, so much.
I spent a night at the Ocala National Park then on to St. Augustine where I found this....

This spot is spring fed and the water supposedly has great supernatural powers.

So I decided to try it out.
Well, it sure smelled supernatural!

A series of dioramas around the spring helped to demonstrate to us unimaginative tourists what it must have been like before lady docents were on hand to give us plastic cups full of smelly water to drink.  Ahh!! Twenty years just fell away with the first sip.  Someone ought to bottle this stuff!  Oops, someone did.  They sell it in the gift shop and there's a 10% discount!

Tinajones?  Who was Tina Jones?  If she's selling any of these jars I would sure love to have one in my yard in Tucson.  Wow! What a neat idea.  Why don't we still do this in the drier areas of the country?

And how did they make them so big?

Canons came on the earliest ships.

I am really tired of canons.  Do you suppose there was a NCA in 1500?  Every town, fort, encampment,  jail, watering hole, and courthouse had a canon.

This very nice young man was about to fire one of the canons and he is telling us to get our cameras ready so we can get a picture of the great puff of smoke that will come from the gun powder....

The noise startled me so much that this is the picture I got.  Others in the crowd got the sky, the back of the head of the guy in front, a bird and someone got his own nose.  No one got the canon going off.

Did you know that Ponce de Leon was only 4 foot 11 inches tall!  And that was average for the day!  One of the docents tried to tell me it was because they drank so much coffee and it stunted their growth.  Huh?

Ponce de Leon named the land 'La Florida'--the land of the flowers.  That is a very good description of the state.  The flowers are in full bloom right now and so beautiful everywhere you look.
 Tomorrow--The Castillo de San Marcos.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Saying "So Long"...

I am reaching the end of my stay in Florida and it is almost time to push north.  The weather has been so mild this winter I probably could have started weeks ago--but I'm a Goldilocks.  I don't like to be too cold or too hot.

I stopped at Don's one more time to give a last 'goodbye' and check the progress of his garden.  If you recall some weeks back we got some lettuce planted and there were a dozen little tiny plants poking their heads up.  Well two weeks later and look at this................!

We actually had a lettuce salad!  Wow!  What fun to see the results so quickly.

So we planted a bunch of flowers and started some tomato seeds.   Don has promised to take pictures and send them to me and if he does I will definitely share them.  Anyway, the 'widow ladies' at Lakeport are most impressed with farmer, Don, and will soon be trading cakes and cookies for fresh lettuce and tomatoes.  Also, Don has a great new pick-up line..."Would you like to come up to my apartment and see my crops?"
I want to say 'Goodbye and Thank you' to all the wonderful residents of Lakeport who made me feel so welcome.  I will not remember every name because there were so many but you were, each and every one, so warm and friendly--Willi, Loren, Helen, Francis, Jean, Judy, Jules, Walter, the other Walter, Gloria, Marion, Leon, Pat--and more.   I hope to see you all again sometime.

A friend from California asked what my impressions were of Florida so I will share a few of them here.     First of all everyone here is an artist and art (?) appears in the unlikeliest of settings.....

"Fat Cat", front and back, adorned the walls of a restaurant bathroom.

Churches of every stripe abound!  There must be more churches per square inch in Florida than anywhere else in the country.

There are some real snappy dressers here--or not.

There are amazing homes....

and more art (note the cat)  in gardens....

or peeking over hedges.

There are lots and lots of palm readers, consignment and resale shops, check cashing stores (the above is actually a chain), and....

The largest Goodwill stores I have ever seen.  I don't know if that is a barometer of the economy here or not but it certainly is thought provoking.  There are a gazillion tourist attractions--Disneyland, Epcot Center, Busch Gardens, alligator farms and on and on.  I managed to avoid most of them.  There are also some of the most amazing museums, gardens, homes, hideaway beaches, and parks.  I tried to hit as many as possible.  I still have St. Augustine and Jacksonville to report on before I completely leave the state but I must say--Florida has been great!