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Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Way Things Used to Be

After living in Louisiana for a few years, my family and I moved to Florida in the 1970's when it was still an inexpensive yet fabulous place to live. We had the beaches, the sun and no freezing cold or snow to deal with during the year. There was no traffic and owning a home was feasible even for poor folks like us.

Going to the beach was pure joy for my brother and me . My father would rent a room at one of the old art deco hotels that faced the ocean, and we would cross the street and play on the sand or go for a swim in the ocean. It looked nothing like today, no fancy cars parked along the strip, no famous movie stars or athletes walking by, no expensive restaurants or happening clubs. All I saw were old folks or couples with children. Sometimes a band would play in the outdoor theatre, but the crowd was always small. Looking back, it was actually run down and even sad looking.

Then some guy named Tony Montana came along in the 1980's and changed everything. The movie Scarface was a hit, a big hit, but it also depicted Miami and the Cuban community in the worst light. Then, some movie producers decided to continue degrading the city but capitalize on its fame and so Miami Vice was introduced. I know I am oversimplifying matters, but you get the idea. After that came the conservationists and the developers and the rest is history I suppose.

Today, there are so many high-rises, condominiums, hotels, restaurants and shopping centers along the coast that I can longer see the sand or the water. We stopped going to Miami Beach a long time ago, and we started heading north to Hollywood and Ft Lauderdale beach where life is still a little slower and more low key, but that is changing too.

Nothing is like it used to be and I know progress always has a price. For instance, we have great roads, highways, parks and yes, my children attend a great charter school in my area. I have seen the infrastructure in other states, and I am amazed at how good we have it. However, we pay dearly for those comforts. Property taxes, car insurance and home owner's insurance are unbearable. Home prices in my area tripled in the past few years, but now some people find themselves unable to pay for their homes, and so they sell, if they can, and move away.

Although I am far from the city and the major hot spots, I am still greatly affected by traffic and noise. If I were to step outside right now, it would be impossible for me to hear silence. The only time I hear silence is when I go home to the western North Carolina mountains. As I stand at the edge of our property and look to the west, I can see forever. And when I close my eyes, it still amazes me that I could hear nothing at all and that silence could sound so perfect.

Florida is where I live, work and raise my children. It is where my family and friends live. It is where my father's body rests. It is a great place for vacation, and if you love the nightlife, the beaches, boating, and hot summer days and afternoon thunderstorms, then it is perfect for you. There are countless opportunities in a variety of fields, and you will meet people from all over the world, for it is most definitely a melting pot.

I have no regrets. Living here has provided me with great opportunities and advantages I may not have found in another place. I do however know that my heart lies in those quiet woods where the tall trees speak to me. In my old age, God willing not too old, I will head north to the cold winters and mild springs while everyone else is heading south.


  1. Your story reminds me of what has been going on around the outskirts of Los Angeles. They're eating up every piece of land with homes and shopping centers. I decided to drive up to Lake Arrowhead the other day, some place I'd never been, and never did get to really see the lake for the number of homes that surrounded it

  2. and her Mom said,
    I too remember Florida from those days and they are memories I will always hold dear.
    Thank you for a beautifully written post.

  3. 2sweetnsaxy
    It sounds like it is happening all along the coast yours and mine. It is a shame so many people will not get to enjoy nature's beauty untouched.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Emma. And yes much of it is all a memory now.

  5. Even though I quickly became aware of just how "different" different parts of a state can be during my travels around this country behind the wheel of a tractor/trailer: the Miami area was always like being in a completely different world unto me in comparison unto other parts of Florida. For even the Orlando area, which is really something in and of itself, is much more like Tallahassee than Miami.

    No, I do not believe that this has to do with the prevalent Cuban culture. For I always felt rather uneasy in the Miami area; and in regards unto Cuban culture: there is much about it that I find quite appealing.

  6. So Fishhawk I am curious what then made you feel uneasy?

    I am bothered by the traffic, noise and high cost of living, but what is it that made the city so different for you when you came through?

    Thanks for taking the time to visit.

  7. To be honest about it: I really don't know what it was about the Miami area that made me feel so uneasy. For I have been through Times Square in Manhattan in a truck; and I was more in awe of where I was than fearful. Therefore: being in a big city was not the problem; and after being in the "better" parts of such places as Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia: such things as having to be buzzed-in at the front door of a Caterpillar dealership in order to ask for directions unto someplace were not all that disconcerting unto me.

  8. I sincerely wish for you that peaceful joy we know in our tiny village, where once in a while we have a rush "minute", half a dozen cars pass our home each day, and folks say, "Nothing exciting ever happens here!"

  9. We have made the trek to Florida almost every year (sometimes twice a year) and have noticed some of the same things. At least we have our memories of a quieter, gentler time. Good thing we were able to capture lots of them in home movies and pictures. As usual, enjoyed your post. Never a disappointment.

  10. Hi my Fearless friend,

    I know exactly what you're talking about. I live on S. Beach and it becoming a little too much. MTV and the media portray Miami as just one big constant party. We're in the middle of spring break so you know how chaotic it can get. Whenever I run into tourist they always ask, "Do you know which hotel Scarface was filmed in." Although it is hectic. I love it. I'm not into the night scene. I focus on the other scenes. The beautiful beaches. The natural parks. The amazing wildlife. I can be in the everglades in less than half-hour if I want to see some gators. So for me it still works. I am actually writing this from Cincinnati at my families house right now and I can't wait to get back to the "sunshine"(which ironically is also my petname for my girlfriend). My blood has definitely thinned out over the past ten years. Brrr...Blessings!

  11. I am a Cleveland-er at heart love the Cavs, Indians, Browns, theatre district, art museum. If I could have Cleveland's ambiance thrown in a melting pot w/ West Virginia's tranquility that would be the perfect city. It's a shame that you can't have your cake and eat it too.

  12. It's not only in States, it's hapenning all over the globe. I live in the area of Costa Blanca, Spain. I'm in a tiny mountain village and it's still very old fashioned and quiet, but once you hit the coast, you'll see the mess. High-rises, cranes, new new urbanizations..., natural coast line is disappearing here.

  13. Patti
    I don't mind "nothing ever happens here" at least for a while anyway.

    I also have great old 8 mm film of Naples and Ft Myers before the million dollar homes arrived and took over the west coast beaches.

  14. Dexter
    Brrrr....Does that mean you are already missing South Florida? Must admit the sunshine is great in the winter and spring months...not too hot. Ultimately, every place has advantages and disadvantages, I guess. Glad we are neighbors.

  15. SSB
    I guess I am a bit ungrateful. :(
    You are also right about that cake. I guess it might just be human nature to want "Everything" and want it to be "Perfect?" Or No?

    I do not think that ultimate Utopia is possible, not on this earth or at this time.

    So then it is an epidemic and it sounds like the disease has spread... :(
    Thanks for visiting.

  16. I understand where you are coming from;I was born & raised here sometimes it is hard to leave a place you love,yet sometimes your tiredsome of what is ... or what is to come. And Florida is no exception! ... its too busy and not the same as when i was a child;the safety of just walking outside is now teditous!

  17. Hi Fearless,
    I was captivated. Your description of the beauty you found as a child and the many changes in places you've lived calls to mind New Orleans, the city where I grew up. It will never be the quaint, cultural haven as most knew. Thanx for having me.

  18. There seem to be two planes of importance to you. Try to bring them closer together, as soon as you can find the opportunity; before it is too late.

  19. It once was a possibility for me to buy a patch of wooded country in western North Carolina not far from Winston-Salem. So beautiful. So tranquil. So natural. The possibility passed, though, and now I'm in a place also beautiful, tranquil and natural. Thank-you for reminding me how lucky I am to be here well before my old age, despite sadnesses and difficulties. L. PS Your article also reminded me of the simpler days of my own childhood holidays by the sea in the UK - with bucket and spade, the penny arcade and some fish and chips before bedtime.

  20. It's so hard to witness change sometimes,especially at the expense of natural beauty.
    I understand your wanting to one day settle in the beauty of the 'woods'.The peace and tranquility offered with 'country' living outweigh anything else.
    Great Post!

  21. Miracle and Patricia
    I believe you have both understood me well. My intention was not to degrade my city, quite the contrary I am sorry that others have done just that.

    You are absolutely right. For years I was torn between where I was and where I wanted to be. I have spent years analyzing, questioning and disecting my life, looking for answers to questions I had not yet asked myself.

    A few years ago and because of life altering circumstances, I stumbled upon the path that I know now I should have always taken but did not because of my own fears and insecurities. I am working hard everyday to bring those "two planes of importance" closer together. I know my time on Earth is limited, but believe me when I say, I have made tremendous progress.

    Louise and Liz

    Because of the environment in which you both live, I guess it is also easy for you to understand my post. There are great advantages to big city living, but there are also great advantages to quiet country living. Ultimately we must be where we must be...
    Thank you both.

  22. I understand what you mean about changes in places you grew up. I grew up in metro Atlanta when it was a rural area. Now it is an extension of Atlanta. When I go back to visit my relatives in that area it is like a different planet. I can't wait to get back home to normal sounds. The sound of birds, cows, goats, Jack and back to my chosen way of life.
    Things are changing fast even in my little hidden farm in the woods too. Power lines cutting out chunks of forest, property taxes double in one year, etc. Life and time progress.
    I really enjoyed your story.

  23. There is an author who says;" when you waste a good time, you will never get it back. So, every body has to enjoy her or his good time because no body knows what tomorrow will bring.

    From: Evodie

  24. Sounds like a nice place to be!

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  26. Oh my, FLorida sounds wonderful after another Chicago snowstorm today.

  27. I am a city person, but I definitely am not in favor of eating up what's left of Nature to give way to the unending desires of man. I doubt that our children will ever experience the quaint beauty of the mountaintops, meadows, springs, lakes, rivers, because of all the "urbanization" our leaders are pushing for.

    Hi, I really liked the site! Care to exchange links? I'd really appreciate it. I'll also add your beautiful blog in my technorati favorites. Hope you can return the favor by adding me up to your links and making mine a technorati favorite.

  28. Not that I ever doubted it, but now I KNOW 1000% that we are on the same wave length. An excellent piece. I can so relate. It was confirmation for me on so MANY levels and I thank you for writing it. I loved the ending, could feel the anticipation knowing in my heart that you would end it like that, and when you did I just SMILED and felt so happy and connected. Excellent writing.
    GO to my website and click BLOG on the menu bar and read the thing I posted today titled "ME: When the World is Not Looking". You will see why when you get there. ; )


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