Tags: Agents, Books, Charleston, Current events, dogs, History, Humor, life, News, Politics, publishing, Reading, Writing
“The victims’ families in the Charleston killings teach us what WE THE PEOPLE is about.”
Once in a while a blind squirrel finds an acorn. And … once in a while my human comes up with a good philosophical observation. We’ve just returned from a multi-purpose trip to the Carolinas: to see my human’s grandson graduate from high school and to do research on a book the Geezer is writing. By happen-stance my humans and I were in the Kings Mountain National Military Park and in nearby Shelby NC the day before the racist lunatic that committed the unspeakable atrocities in Charleston was caught. We traveled the same road he was spotted on by the observant and brave lady that lead to his capture.
The research portion of the trip was enlightening both from the point-of-view of providing volumes of material for my human’s novel and as a tool to understand why we continue to suffer from mistakes we repeat … and repeat … and repeat. However, I want to tell you, my human friends, what the event that happened in South Carolina should teach you. I’ll save the exciting historical information for future posts.
“We can learn a great deal from the events that transpired in the last ten days. However, by far, the most important of those is that the greatness of a country is measured by the strength of character of its citizenry, not its government and certainly not its elites and politicians.” That’s a quote directly from my human. I believe it’s true.
If there ever was an example of this statement’s truth it’s in the actions of the Charleston victims’ families. They are what this country is about. If anyone had the right to rage, to recriminations, it would be them. What we saw was the understanding that we are one people, that those who choose to try to divide us are our enemies. The son of one of the victims spoke and as I listened, I was inspired. Why aren’t these the people who lead our country? I couldn’t help but compare the self-sacrificing language of someone who was suffering so severely to the self-serving rhetoric coming out of Washington.
The strength of the United States of America is in the character of its people. That’s you … me … and those valiant Charleston families that have sacrificed so much. We must constantly strive to fortify that strength. It is up to each individual acting in a free and responsible way to insure that our country retains its promise. Not the elites whose primary objective is power. Not the mindless automaton that is government. Certainly not the passage of a law. I remind you that slavery once was THE law.
This post is dedicated to the AMERICANS who died in the process of strengthening their character and their magnificent families. If we could only place them in the White House and Congress and remove what is there now, how much improved our country would be.
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Tags: Agents, Birds, Books, dogs, Florida, History, Humor, life, nature, publishing, Reading, Writing
Many of us accept the places we are born and live in as an anchor. A place to begin and end. A place to return to. Home. There is an implied sense of permanence to the word. We simply can’t vision a community or a house simply vanishing.
It happens. The story of Newnansville is one that illustrates how transient human endeavors can be. Newnansville once was one of the largest cities in Florida. Today, finding any of its “bones” is a project. The sign pictured above commemorates where it was. A building or two that their owners claim stood when the town thrived and a cemetery are pretty much what mark the corpse’s location. The site is near the current city of Gainesville.
The city was named after a prominent figure who fought in the “Patriot’s War.” That war is one of those bodies buried by national pride and the obscurity of the area’s history. The Patriot’s War was an attempt to seize Florida from Spain during the early 1800’s for the fledgling United States. Supposedly a settler’s attempt to throw off Spanish rule, it was a thinly disguised American exploit. It failed, partly because of the poorly organized clandestine effort the US made, partly because the Tories who had been expelled from the colonies during the Revolutionary War sided with the Spanish, and partly because it paralleled the War of 1812 that found the US scurrying to survive. Daniel Newnan took a hero’s part in the ill-fated attempt made to conquer St. Augustine.
Andrew Jackson then demonstrated to the Spanish it was time to leave. He announced his intention to make war on the Seminole’s and other tribes in the region. His edict to the Spanish Governor in essence stated “stay out of my way or I’ll make you eat dirt.” The Spanish weren’t that enamored with Florida and ceded its territory to the United States in 1821.
The war ended badly for the Native Americans. The Seminoles resisted relocation and resorted to moving further south while fighting with the settlers over lands seized by them.
In 1824 the five building community sited in the Indian territory’s original name was “Dell’s Post Office.” When Newnan settled there the town renamed itself, “Newnansville.” The government built a road that stretched from St. Augustine to Tallahassee. The Bellamy Road was the main connection between East and West Florida. Newnansville became the major station along its length. Fort Gilleland was built nearby to protect the road, the town and the steadily increasing number of white settlers homesteading the area.
Justifiably alarmed by the continuing incursions of the settlers, the Seminoles were pushed to the point that war broke out in 1835 when Colonel Dade and a hundred men were ambushed and killed in the area. During this period of time (1835-1842) Newnansville became the largest settlement in the area exceeding 1000 people. When the war ended, the city retained its prominence until the railway decided not to lay rails through the community. Instead the railway went to Alachua a few miles away. With it went commerce, with commerce went people … Newnansville literally was abandoned over the succeeding decades.
Today the most prominent reminders of the town’s existence are the sign and some old grave stoves, like the one below. People things, aren’t permanent things, as much as humans like to believe they are.
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Tags: Agents, birding, Birds, Books, dogs, family, Florida, History, life, nature, publishing, Reading, wildlife, Writing
The old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is one with which my human disagrees. He says a good writer should never use that many words to describe anything. Sigh. He’s wrong. Remember he’s human. Those who visit me regularly know we have a growing rookery behind our house. If you like nature, birds, etc., don’t miss viewing the clip below. The film clip and pictures show something my humans (and me) were privileged to observe. Its of a mom night heron feeding her young. The photos are of neighboring young herons that hatched several weeks earlier. I’ll let the clip and the photos do most of the woofing, sorry humans that’s talking in your lingo. Tell your friends to have a look.
The clip is of the parent feeding the babies regurgitated crabs. The fact that Mrs. G was able to get a clip of such a rare sight as the feeding was great, but unfortunately there was an even better shot that was missed. Humans don’t walk around with cameras ALL the time. That would have been the film of the night heron parents collaborating with one of the green herons who also nest in the mangroves across the canal. The three birds caught and drove off a four foot long black snake that tried to rob their nest. It was a once in a lifetime sight!
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Tags: Books, dogs, Florida, History, Humor, life, publishing, Reading, Writing
Sometimes signs simply don’t tell it all. If you have a surface knowledge of history, you probably know that the Seminole Nation was one of the Native American people that first colonists, and later the U.S. Government, “displaced.” What is the word I want to describe their treatment? Unfair? Detestable? Corrupt? Dastardly? Yep, all of those.
The Seminoles emerged as the principal inhabitants of what is Florida today after the Calusa and Timucua tribes were decimated by early white settlers. Fighting caused some fatalities, but European diseases introduced by the Conquistadores practically exterminated these people. The survivors were absorbed into the Seminole tribe as were portions of other tribes in the area. The tribe was a true “melting pot” as many of the villages became havens for escaped slaves, some being accepted as peers by the Seminole. (But, some blacks became their slaves as well)
When the English gained control of Florida in the mid-1700s, the first serious influx of white settlers invaded the “Fourteenth Colony.” The Spanish had been less than enthusiastic caretakers of their Florida holdings. Their focus lay further west and south. In most ways Florida had been a disappointment to Toledo – no gold, poor soil, disease infested, war-like inhabitants … those facts didn’t pique Spain’s interest. Their Florida Colony was held at arm’s length. Because of this the Spanish and Seminole relationship wasn’t strained past minor hostilities that arose spasmodically. Then the American Revolution occurred.
Two things happened. The Tories (loyalists) fled the fledgling United States where they weren’t welcome (Having people wanting to kill you IS a sure sign of not being welcome). Many crossed the border into Florida which remained “loyal” to the king. The second event was that Florida was returned to Spain as a result of the Treaty of Paris (1783), ending the both the Revolutionary War and a wider conflict between Europeans. It meant Spain was given something it was luke warm about receiving. In many ways it was like the Wizard of Oz being congratulated on getting a blind date with the Wicked Witch of the West. Spain never took full control. Anarchy reigned.
The Seminoles had seen what happened to the Cherokee, Creeks, Calusa and Timucua. When they tried to protect their lands from an increasing number of white farms and plantations, things became violent. Raids, destruction and massacres became more frequent. Both sides were guilty. Basically, the Seminoles were indicted for protecting what was theirs. Enter Andrew Jackson. Jackson cared little about minor things like a country’s boundary. He gave the Spanish governor an ultimatum, the governor caved, and Jackson conducted what became know as the 1st Seminole War. Though the Seminoles made brave efforts to defend, it was more of a slaughter than a war. The whole story of Florida’s early days was one of violence, broken treaties, violated white flags, false accusations, murder, destruction and anarchy. It makes the old West seem as menacing as a Quaker prayer vigil by comparison. For example, the Seminole Wars were the most costly of any fought against Native Americans. The Seminoles never signed a “final” peace treaty with the US government.
The sign pictured at the beginning of this post is testimony to the ruthlessness of the period’s history. Billy Bowlegs III was the grandson of the primary leader of the Seminole Nation during what is called the 3rd Seminole War. After realizing that he’d been cheated when he signed the Treaty of Payne’s Landing in 1832 agreeing relocate his people to Oklahoma, he successfully resisted forcible eviction until 1858. Exiled from his “country,” he died of smallpox in 1864 on the Oklahoma reservation. Interestingly, Billy served with distinction as a captain in the Union Army during the Civil War.
His grandson, for whom the sign is erected, returned to his grandfather’s home lands years after the great chief’s death. Billy Bowlegs III became an outstanding member and leader of the Seminoles that remained in Florida. Sometimes signs simply don’t tell it all.
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Tags: Books, conservation, dogs, ecology, Florida, History, Humor, life, nature, publishing, Reading, wildlife, Writing
Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of how things used to be. The Geezer took Mrs G and me to a place that figured prominently in Florida history. It isn’t a site of a battle, or the first fort-school-etc. The sign in the picture above doesn’t commemorate a disaster, though one took place here. However, what was done here changed the states future and continues to impact it today.
Say South Florida to most folks and they envision white sand beaches, tourist attractions, and a retirement Mecca. Before what occurred at the spot pictured, South Florida had a very different reputation. An army major serving during the third Seminole War described the land as, “Much like Hell with insects replacing the flames.” Half the year the flat land was inundated with “sheet water.” Sheet water is the result of the lack of change of elevation; rains flood the ground and they sit moving at a snails pace in any direction that’s a few inches lower. The land becomes one gigantic “river without banks.” It’s what creates the Everglades. This also was what served as a super incubator for mosquitoes, deer flies, and countless other pests. It was malaria and yellow fever’s home town. The fertile land beneath it was unusable in what was still an agricultural country.
Someone thought, “Why don’t we drain it?” The whole story of how Hamilton Disston was drawn into this enterprise as a result of a Florida fishing trip is a fascinating but long tale. The Disstons led by father Henry had become fabulously wealthy as a result of their development of saw technology. Drastically shortening the story Disston and the state of Florida played lets make a deal in the early 1880’s. Disston was to get half of the lands he drained. (An area the size of Connecticut)
The picture above is the site of one of the primary results of his efforts. He dug a canal from Lake Okeechobee to connect to the Caloosahatchee River. The “lone cypress” marks the spot where the canal empties lake water into the river. It served as GPS, channel marker, and signage for the early water-born trade that helped develop this section of Florida. He dug additional canals on the south lake shore. His efforts resulted in the partial drainage of the land, the opening of rich agricultural areas, and eventually the Florida land boom … and bust … that added more to the unsavory reputation many Disston contemporaries bestowed on the “Sunshine State.”
The cypress and sign are located in the town of Moore Haven. It remains an agricultural area and a heaven for bass fishermen (and ladies). Ironically, the town’s growth promoted by the canal, proved deadly. In 1926, a hurricane killed 400 and was a precursor to an even worse storm. The 2nd greatest storm related loss of life in US history occurred when the 1928 hurricane killed more than 2500 a few miles east along the lake shore in the Belle Glade area.
The 1928 hurricane figures prominently in DL Havlin’s book, Blue Water, Red Blood. If you’d like more information on the storm and, how through some fantastic coincidences, the disaster helped win World War II, it provides a good read.
The canal historical marker is pictured below.
Today the canal remains controversial. Much of the pollution of the surrounding rivers, Everglades, and the costal estuaries are a result of Disston’s efforts to improve life in the area. Human’s are slow learners. We canines understand that screwing “Mother Nature” can result in creating a baby that turns out to be a monster.
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Tags: Books, dogs, fiction, Florida, History, Humor, life, novels, publishing, Reading, Writing
The Geezer is at it again. The old boy has been working on this for four years. He’s deeply immersed in research for another book. He calls what he’s writing a “near-history novel.” His fictional characters accompany historical individuals as they relive their lives on the pages of his book. This one is titled, The Claytons: The Wild, Wild East. It documents the formative early days of Florida starting with the Battle of King’s Mountain in South Carolina during the Revolutionary war and ends with Florida’s disastrous 1928 hurricane. The Claytons flee the colonies fearing retribution because of their loyalty to the English. They migrate to Florida where they hope to restart their lives. The family settles in an area and time that is one of the most violent in American history. Political intrigue, Indian wars, anarchy, civil war, unscrupulous leaders, greed, and a hostile environment test generations of Claytons ability to survive and their character.
Usually, when he searches for historical facts, I get left at home. Au contraire, mon amie. This time he stretched his meager human mental capacities and decided he’d take me along where my keen canine intellect would add depth to his observations. With the exception of certain museums and county records offices where there is still a bigoted bias against canines, he said he’ll take me everywhere.
The Geezer believes in visiting the historic places he writes about. It may look completely different than it did at that time, but he doesn’t care. He says he wants to develop a relationship with the place and visualize what it must have been like. The Geezer won’t admit it, but I believe he thinks he can establish a bond with the souls that lived there.
We visited a number of sites in the last couple weeks. I’ll be telling you about them in my next few posts. One thing is for sure: If you want to learn about a place, start by reading the signs.
Tags: Books, dogs, Florida, flowers, Humor, life, nature, photography, publishing, Reading, wildlife, Writing
My humans visited close friends in northern Florida last weekend. On their trip Mrs. G snapped this photo of a field of wild flowers. Undulations in the terrain create the illusion of waves rolling across the ocean.
The Geezer and Mrs. G’s friends live on the Suwanee River near the town of Bell. North Florida is a historically rich area that’s wild beauty is still in evidence. This picture was taken from Florida Highway 26 between Trenton and Newberry.
An unexpected bonus the trip provided was the accumulation of valuable historical information for his novel, The Wild, Wild, East. I’ll have lots more on this in my next post.
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Tags: Birds, Books, dogs, family, Florida, Humor, life, manatees, nature, publishing, Reading, spring, wildlife, Writing
Tis the season. Spring time brings birth in SW Florida. We now have eight night heron nests, two green heron nests and a kingfisher all nesting in the mangroves across the canal. Up higher a red-tailed hawk pair is raising their young. The young night herons are about ready to leave the nest with the others all a little behind. There are seven Osprey nests scattered through our neighborhood, we wake up to their screaming every morning.
The manatees have returned to the canal to have their young as they do each year. We’ve only been able to identify one “baby” this year. There are seven who are spending most of the time in our canal. They come and go. But mom and little one stay there; it is a lot safer than braving the propeller blades they’d face in Charlotte Harbor or Pine Island Sound. Hope you enjoy the pics.
Spring has sprung!
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Tags: advce, Books, dogs, gossip, Humor, inspiration, life, publishing, Reading, Writing
Do you ever get the feeling that people are talking about you? I saw Oreo my feline friend and The Geezer in a secretive conversation yesterday. I watched them whisper back and forth, glance around the room, and exhibit all the signs of two individuals engaged in a conspiracy. My vantage point was from under the dining table, a place hidden from their probing eyes.
I just KNEW they were talking about me! What had I done? What was wrong? Had I rolled in something more offensive than normal? Was my breath bad from the garlic on the left-over Italian steak scraps? Was I snoring in my sleep again? Then I considered that it might be something my human could be planning. Was he and Mrs.G going off on a trip? Leaving me behind? Would the pet-sitter be my only companion? For how long? Were they taking me to the vet? Shots? Did I have a mysterious malady? Was it Serious?
After their conversation broke up, I began to stew and fret. What disaster was about to befall me? I spent a sleepless night. This morning I looked at Oreo and the Geezer suspiciously and gave them the silent treatment. To my chagrin, they didn’t seem to notice. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any more. I cornered Oreo and asked, “Old Buddy, I know something is wrong – tell me, I can take it.”
Oreo looked puzzled. He asked, “What are you talking about?”
“I saw you and the Geezer talking about me on the stairs the other day.” I tried to be contrite. “I sorry.”
Oreo laughed. “We weren’t talking about you. The Geezer was asking for suggestions. He’s looking for ideas for things he might give Mrs. G for their anniversary. He said he’d asked you also. You have a case of Canine Paranoidus?”
I remembered he had and I said, “Oh.” Where was my red rubber nose, my pointed hat, huge shoes, and clown make up? I felt foolish.
The Geezer wrote a piece of advice in one of his books that one of his characters gave to another – “It’s not important what others say or think about you as long as you’re happy with what you say and do. You can’t control their judgment … you can only control your actions that they base those judgments on … and, most importantly, only to the degree to which you want.” I have to remember that.
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