Good reads

  1. The art of the 'promposal': Go big or go alone (w/video)

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    He skipped his last class Thursday, raced up three flights of stairs at the back of his high school, into Room 302, where he had stashed the flowers and his fishing pole.

    Caroline Krueger, 18, of St. Petersburg, a senior at St. Petersburg High School, gets a kiss from her friend, Ryan Anderson, 17, of St. Petersburg, a junior at the school, on Thursday after saying “yes.”
  2. The last Martin of Gilchrist County (w/video)

    Human Interest

    BELL

    A traveling day. Nathan Martin is going to town. He is going to have a meal with the woman he loves. He usually hates wearing a shirt, but Vida will tsk tsk if he shows up with chest bare. He also needs to decide what to do about footwear. He hates shoes even more than he hates wearing a shirt.

    Most of the time, Nathan Martin, 72, prefers to go barefoot, like he did when he was a boy. 
  3. How one of the Blind Boys of Alabama regained his soul (w/video)

    Human Interest

    Illustration by Don Morris

    I WAS IN A DARK PLACE.

  4. A nebula awaits astronomer's eye — and his pro-grade RC

    Human Interest

    He left home before dawn that Saturday, followed two friends in a caravan to the Keys.

    John O’Neill saw a comet flash through the sky and, 20 telescopes later, the amateur astronomer is now a noted astrophotographer. He’s shown at the Science Center’s observatory.
  5. Did Westboro Baptist Church's new hater-in-chief once call Tampa home? (w/video)

    Human Interest

    The recent death at 84 of Fred W. Phelps Sr., founder of Westboro Baptist Church, has left an opening at the top of the tiny congregation notorious for its hate-filled rants about homosexuality at soldiers' funerals. Westboro's new leader, according to news accounts, is Steve Drain, who lived in Tampa and attended the …

    For Steve Drain, the road from Tampa student to Westboro Baptist Church leader included protests at funerals of military service members. He helped Fred Phelps create the “God hates …” signs and produced hundreds of videos for the church’s website, Godhatesfags.com.
  6. Dispatches From Next Door: The cabana boy grows up

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER BEACH — His rusting Nissan puttered up the Memorial Causeway Bridge, its engine wheezing. Mike McIntosh peered at purple clouds swirling just south. "I don't like weather looking like this," he said, his voice a slow-grinding blender. That wind, Mike knew, would make a hard day harder. He coughed and …

    Mike McIntosh has worked at Clearwater Beach for nearly two decades. But time and tide stop for no man, and Mike can’t be the cabana boy forever.
  7. Eddie Gonzalez was great police chief, even better party guest

    Human Interest

    Eddie Gonzalez, who died March 14 at 73 of a heart attack in South Florida, wasn't Tampa's longest-serving police chief, but he may have been its most relaxed.

    The packed news conference in the mayor’s office was nearly anticlimactic, a simple confirmation of what then-Mayor Sandy Freedman said she had known for a long time: that Eddie Gonzalez was the right choice.
  8. App happy: wedding help in the palm of your hand

    Human Interest

    Doug Appleton's grandparents couldn't travel to his New York City wedding last October, but the tech-savvy Floridians were as present on the Big Day as anyone could be from 1,000-plus miles away.

  9. At opening day game, Rays fans rave about renovated ballpark

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The minute Travis Morgan walked into Tropicana Field, well before the first pitch in Monday afternoon's Tampa Bay Rays home opener, he could smell something new.

  10. After 'Shark Tank' spot, balloon business takes a nasty twist (video)

    Human Interest

    LAND O'LAKES — If you believe the clowns, everything was hunky-dory until 2007, when Ben Alexander came along.

    Ben Alexander inflates a balloon for Amelia Woltmann, 4, at a Sweet Tomatoes in Brandon. He recently pitched his Balloon Distractions business plan to investors on ABC’s Shark Tank.