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Good Reads

  1. A month after mass shooting at Pulse nightclub, survivors struggle to keep the dead alive

    Human Interest

    ORLANDO — They stood on the second-floor balcony of his townhouse, staring over the chain-link fence, into the parking lot of what's left of Pulse nightclub.

    Samantha Stone, left, and Brock Cornelius visit the memorial in front of Pulse on Tuesday, a month after the shooting. Stone was working the front door June 11 and ran to Cornelius’ condo next door after the shooting began. See tampabay.com/video.
  2. For these sick children, each tiny bead is a badge of courage

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — After the transplant team finished its rounds, after nurses checked her oxygen level and a doctor came to say: Yes, she would have to have surgery again today, Maddie Price asked her mom to hand her the paisley drawstring bag hanging in her hospital room.

    Maddie Price, 16, is comforted by her mother, Melanie Price, left, and child life specialist Loren Mirsky-Piatkin as she prepares to undergo another procedure Wednesday in the wake of her second heart transplant in June.
  3. Senior Melody Sister fights to stay on the stage, even if the notes aren't always right

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Sara Ann Butler puts on her '80s-style headband and tries to curl her stiff fingers around the neck of a bass guitar.

    Sara Ann Butler, 77, center, leads Susan O’Gara, 69, and Bill Houser, 64, in A Bicycle Built for Two during a Senior Medoly Sisters rehearsal recently.
  4. After a lifetime of labor and sleepless nights, a Tampa doctor decides to deliver his last baby, No. 7,357

    Human Interest

    By LANE DeGREGORY | Times Staff Writer

    TAMPA

    His pregnant patient was progressing slowly at home. So the doctor told her to head to the hospital. He would meet her there.

    Dr. Bruce Shephard, 72, delivers his last baby, the son of Elizabeth DeRocher and Antonio Davalos III, at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital. Registered nurse Sandy Viliquett watches at left as DeRocher’s mother, Cheryl, takes photos.
  5. Born 100 years ago, mystery writer John D. MacDonald foresaw the risks facing Florida's beauty

    Human Interest

    I read a lot of paperback thrillers, especially in the summer. Sometimes I think it's because of something in my DNA.

    John D. MacDonald, in an undated photo, sits on the porch of his home in Sarasota.
  6. Acceptance gives dog owners clarity with end-of-life decisions

    Human Interest

    We watched our yellow labrador, Hendrix, die in slow motion.

    [Courtesy of Amber McDonald]
  7. Adventures in plane spotting in the post-9/11, social media age

    Human Interest

    Travelers stream from the covered asphalt lots to the main terminal, fussing with their luggage and monitoring check-in times on their iPhones, hardly noticing the two men.

    A Delta Airlines jet lands at Tampa International Airport on June 21. SKIP O'ROURKE | Times
  8. The aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting tests the courage of gay youth

    Human Interest

    ORLANDO — Matt Casler didn't recognize his neighborhood as he drove home last Sunday morning.

    Matt Casler, who wants to be a journalist, photographed a vigil Monday night, the day after the mass shooting at Pulse, a nightclub near his family’s home in Orlando.
  9. Tampa transgender teen graduates but hasn't found what she's looking for — yet

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — The graduates sat in the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall, listening to the sounds of rolling thunder, crying infants and their principal's words bounce off the metal rafters.

    Ariel Zavala smiles as she raises her mortarboard after hearing the confirmation of Alonso graduates Friday, June 10, 2016 in Tampa. Zavala, who graduated from Alonso, decided not to sit with her classmates or walk during commencement ceremonies. In the two school years Ariel has slowly transitioned from male to female. She created Alonso High School?ˆš•s first Alonso Pride Alliance, a club where students of all sexual and gender orientations talk about acceptance.
  10. Drag queen who escaped Orlando shooting calls for the music to play on

    Human Interest

    ORLANDO — The drag queen dressed in all black. For mourning. She stepped onto the stage in her long-sleeved gown, towering in her sequined heels.

    Drag queen Angelica Sanchez lip-synchs to Jennifer Hudson’s “Bring Back the Music.” Three nights earlier she was at Pulse.
  11. At report card time, kids bring their grades to 'Grandmom'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    She wasn't sure, with the rain and all, how many kids would come by. She couldn't sit out on the porch and call them over. It was still too wet.

    Marian Williams hugs Al’zaveon Harris, 11,  in her living room last week and congratulates him and his brothers, Tra’von Welch, 8, center, and Ja’Veon Harris, 9, on their report cards and stellar conduct reports from Gulfport Elementary School. 
  12. It's no sweat for a machine to fix Florida's humidity

    Human Interest

    It's maddening. One state has too much moisture. Another too little.

  13. New dad tries to keep professional soccer dream going with Rowdies

    Human Interest

    Maria Isabel Carabano watches from the stands as her husband, Juan Guerra, helplessly paces the sideline during the Rowdies' season opener. His mood gets darker with every tick of the game clock.

    Maria Isabel Carabano, left, watches as husband and Rowdies midfielder Juan Guerra kisses their son, Santiago, after a season-opening 0-0 tie with the Indy Eleven on April 2. Guerra didn’t play in the game, something that in the past would have frustrated him for days. But since the birth of Santiago, Guerra says, his mind-set has changed.
  14. Hurricane season: Our annual reminder that Florida is trying to kill us

    Human Interest

    A couple of years ago, a real estate blog called Estately announced that, according to its highly scientific calculations, the scariest state in the union is Florida.

    Hurricane Dennis hits Key West in July 2005. A big hurricane hasn’t hit Florida in more than a decade.
  15. Here's what this high school teacher learned about life as an American in Hiroshima (w/video)

    Features

    HIROSHIMA, Japan — Reminders come, if she lets them, as Leslie Wier walks to school.

    Leslie Wier looks out on the view at a shrine at Miyajima island in Hiroshima, Japan, this past November. The former University of South Florida student teaches English at a high school in the city. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]

  16. Even in the pain at the beginning and the end, motherhood never wavers

    Human Interest

    I watched from the second-to-last basement stair, which was covered in the original short-pile marigold carpet from 1959.

    From left, Katherine Snow Smith; her mother, Nancy Snow; her father, A.C. Snow, and her sister, Melinda Snow, who was killed at 31 by a drunken driver 20 years ago this month.
  17. On Memorial Day, she remembers her fallen father, verse by verse

    Perspective

    JUNE 1969. Just days before Dad left for a second combat tour in Vietnam, Mama bought him a black leather Bible. Last year, I found it packed away in a box labeled "memories." Still crisp, only a single passage had been marked. As my finger traced familiar words, it all came rushing back; his deep voice from the …

    Mementos of Capt. William A. Branch and his family, including the Bible his wife game him.
  18. Community gathers to thank Alberta, the yellow lab guide dog who served them all

    Features

    ST. PETERSBURG — All afternoon, they streamed into Alberta's home. Students and professors, kids from the church down the street. A yoga teacher. A tennis pro. Friends from the dog training club.

    Deni Elliott, left, who is visually impaired and a professor at the University of South Florida, spends time with her guide dog Alberta on the last birthday they will share together at her home in St. Petersburg. Elliott will have to part ways with Alberta because of a recent discovery of melanoma in the canine's right iris. OCTAVIO JONES | Times 

  19. Trauma survivor shows off physical feats in Vinoy Park to chase away addiction

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Chad Marsh wraps a wooden bracelet of Catholic saints in his callused hands. One at a time, he holds each saint between his thumb and index finger and whispers a short prayer. After the 12th, he kisses the bracelet, crosses himself and places it on the post of a pullup bar in Vinoy Park.

    Chad Marsh, 35, performs a “human flag” in downtown St. Petersburg as part of his daily street workout, a trick he learned while trying to kick a painkiller addiction.
  20. Joe Henderson: I'm proud to be a newspaper guy

    Perspective

    Some people want to teach, or coach, or wear a suit and make important decisions. I wanted nothing more from my professional career than to be known as a newspaper guy. I couldn't imagine doing anything else.

    Joe Henderson