Monday, December 17, 2012

Florida I

So far, Florida’s my favorite state – at least, name-wise.  Combine more than a few Native American monsters, some typical Southern wackiness, and a little over-the-top boosterism, and you’ve got a real winner. 

In fact, I’m giving this thing two posts.  This one is dedicated to the last two from above.  Tune in next week for those Native American mouthfuls.

10. Briny Breezes

It was close, but “Briny Breezes” beat out “Sticky Humidity” and “Swampy Miasma” when the town fathers got together to give their little settlement a name.

Now, would you believe those town fathers all lived, not in log cabins, but in mobile homes?  Yup, “Briny” (as the locals call it) is one big mobile home park, and dates only back to 1963.

Forty-some years later, in 2007, some developer offered the locals half a billion for all 488 lots.  One woman, who bought her lot for $42,000, was offered $800,000.  The whole thing eventually fell through though.  Just couldn’t give up those breezes, I guess.

‘50s Florida – it doesn’t
get any cooler than that

9. Intercession City

The townsfolk were more than a little befuddled when they asked the Post Office for “Intersection City” and Washington came back with this …

Interestingly, those townsfolk actually all happened to be Christians, so Intercession City actually makes some sense.  What’s even more interesting, though, is that the town started out as Inter Ocean City, the harebrained scheme of some deluded Jazz Age promoter who wanted to create a resort and link it up to both coasts with canals.  Not too surprisingly, the guy ran out of money – and the Christians then stepped in.

Today, the town of 500 does have two churches, but I’m afraid I can’t vouch for the spirituality and morality of all 500 of them.

Hmm … Considering half of the images I
found were mug shots like these, I think
the Christians may have moved on

8. Villages of Oriole

Did no one consider Oriole Village?  Oriole?  Oriole City?  Orioleville?  Oriole Junction?  Oriole Breezes?

It’s basically a block of the city of Delray Beach.  It does include a golf course in the middle, a shopping center on one corner, and a school and library on another.  Oh, and lots and lots and lots of condos and apartment buildings.  I have no idea what it has to do with song birds of the genus Icterus.

There are many other villages in Florida, by the way.  Some other favorites of mine are Progress Village and Jan Phyl Village (though I do think “The Villages of Progress” and “The Villages of Jan Phyl” have a much swankier tone).

7. Zolfo Springs

Zolfo – wasn’t he one of the Marx Brothers? 

Actually, zolfo is Italian for “sulphur.”  So, in other words, there are some springs in this town that smell really, really bad.  Apart from these stinky springs, Zolfo (what I assume the locals call it) features the Cracker Trail Museum (dedicated to pioneer-era Florida history) and a top-notch tractor show.

Kickin’ back in Zolfo
(an actual photo from a realty listing)

6. De Funiak Springs

Funiaks ...  Are they a snack treat?  A toy?  A mascot for a particularly lame amusement resort?

Would you believe it’s a family?  Yup, De Funiak is a legitimate surname.  It’s a pretty obscure one, though, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you any more about it. 

Our town just so happens to be named after one Frederick R. De Funiak, Vice President of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (the L&N founded the town).  Today, De Funiak Springs has just over 5,000 people and is the seat of Walton County.  It also has the oldest continuously operating library in all of Florida.

De Funiak Springs is famous
for its perfectly round
(well, almost) lake

5. Doctor’s Inlet

It’s where all the doctors live.  Big houses, right on the water, huge boats, surgically-enhanced second wives in skimpy bikinis …  It’s right between Lawyer’s Cove and Hedge Fund Manager’s Harbor.

I haven’t a clue where this name comes from, but would you believe there’s also a Doctors Creek and a Doctors Lake?  I really want to know who this guy was – and whether he has any times available next week.

Interestingly, there are some doctors in Doctor’s Inlet.  My personal fave is Dr. Mel Tilak of Doctors Inlet Spine and Pain.  By the way, Florida also includes a Doctor Phillips (no relation).

Doctors Inlet Elementary School Tinikling Club
(and, no, that is not a typo)

4. Panacea

Ask for it by name.  That’s Panacea!  P-A-N-A-C-E-A.  Cures everything.  Be sure to ask your pharmacist for Panacea.  Nothing works like Panacea.

Interestingly, “panacea” originally had a different meaning, a much more positive one.  It’s from the Greek for “cure all.” 

And that’s why the town fathers chose it.  Seems the area was originally known for its healing springs.  Today, though, it’s just another little whistle stop hidden in the north Florida woods. 

Them springs

3. Ft. Lonesome

I guess so.  Today, it’s a grocery store and a power station.  At its height (1930s), it was a lumber mill, a few houses, and a couple of stores.  

Great story behind this one.  Seems a government worker at a fruit inspection station was getting kind of lonely and stuck out a sign saying “Ft. Lonesome” as a joke.  Well, guess what?  It stuck!

No longer with us (sigh)

2. Spuds

Remember that stupid pit bull that one of the beer companies used in their ads for a year or two?  Spuds McKinley or O’Henry or something.  Well, this ain’t him.

What it is is potatoes!  If you’re like me and associate taters with Idaho, you might be surprised that Florida is number nine among U.S. states in producing the vital tuber.

Ironically, Spuds is not the “potato capital of Florida” however.  That’s Hastings, which is only three miles away (and has 500 inhabitants to Spuds’ “several”).

Unfortunately, Spuds is in St. John’s County
(just north of Flagler though)

1. Howey in the Hills / Wilbur-by-the-Sea

Howey and Wilbur had a wonderful time in The Sunshine State.  Look, here’s a picture of them at Gatorworld.  Watch them teeth, Howey!  They’re sharp!  And here’s one of Wilbur at Monkey Jungle.  Howey must have taken that one. 

Founded by William John Howey, Howey in the Hills was originally named Town of Howey.  I don’t know …  I’m thinking anything that didn’t have “Howey” in it would have worked a lot better.  Also, what kind of hills are we talking about here?  This is Florida, right?

Nothing on Wilbur, I’m afraid.  Maybe the “by-the-sea” part was to distinguish it from other Florida Wilburs.  You know, Wilbur in the Hills, Wilbur by the Railroad Tracks, Wilbur in the Swamp …

Mr. Howey’s home, in the hills (nice)

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Golf, Golfview, National Gardens, Beach Colony, American Beach, Old Town, Floridatown
  • Some cities – Florida City, Leisure City, Highland City (must be “in the hills” again), Carol City, Kenneth City, Clair-Mel City, Plant City, Bean City
  • Short and Sweet – Day, Roy, Bruce, Bratt, Sapp, Frink, Festus, Mayo, Ona (aluminum castle), Wilma, Lulu
  • Just a little out of place – Cleveland, Harlem, New York, Vermont Heights, Lake Placid, The Hamptons, Monticello, Memphis, Fairbanks*, Mexico Beach, Naples, Venice*, Bagdad, Sumatra
  • Abnormal nouns – Celebration, Medley, Corkscrew, Couch, Roach
  • Just plain weird – Needmore, Frostproof, Ozona, Cudjoe, Mary Esther, Old Venus, Dorcas, Duck Key, Dogtown, Deadman Landing, Yankeetown, Niceville, Playland Isles, Satellite Beach, Safety Harbor, Early Bird, Possum Bluff, Red Level, South Flomaton, Fluffy Landing, Bunker Donation, Dinner Island, and - of course - Two Egg
  • Heads up! – Mossy Head, Red Head, Sweet Gum Head
  • It’s too hot for that – Switzerland, Christmas, Cocoa
  • Ghost towns – Andytown, Sparkman, Rattlesnake, Chosen, Corkscrew, Picnic, Snake Bight

* - author has visited

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