Floridian Archives

  1. For ex-con, there's no glamor in straight life, but it still beats prison

    Human Interest

    A knock on the motel door at 6:30 a.m. wakes Tony Ferrentino. He lifts his 315-pound body a few steps to the door, where a Louisville Slugger leans by the window. His arms are tattooed from wrist to shoulder with dapper mobsters and sprawling, cat-eyed women flashing those parts typically left to the imagination. A …

    Tony Ferrentino in his room in the Bayway Inn, a motel owned by his cousin. Ferrentino is a lifelong criminal, who after spending 28 years of his life behind bars, is trying to remain straight. “Inside I got two dogs fighting all the time.” CHERIE DIEZ    |   Times
  2. For dancer, fairy tale breakthrough masks pain of coming of age

    Human Interest

    By John Pendygraft

    Times Staff Writer

    TAMPA — The dancer spends every day in pain and doesn't dare show it. She knows not to drop her head or grimace when the instructor is looking. Moping, complaining or being injury-prone gives a dancer a fatal reputation. Six hours of daily training is the norm, and …

    Hannah Stanford, 15, poses at the Straz Center, where she attends the Next Generation Ballet school. Stanford will attend the Royal Ballet School in London this fall.
  3. What makes a middle-aged man want to take a one-way trip to Mars?

    Human Interest


    Hampton Black plans his mission to Mars from a 6- by 10-foot office. Inside this windowless capsule, there's just enough room for a desk, a computer, a water heater and a corkboard, w

    here he tacks important papers.

    Former NASA engineer Hampton Black, right, wants to be one of four people picked by the Mars One project to go to Mars and never return. Girlfriend Ann Marie Slavik, left, would be left behind. While she wants him to pursue his dreams, she's saddened knowing it would mean the end of their relationship. [MELISSA LYTTLE   |   Times]
  4. Meet our version of Captain Citrus


    Marvel is getting $1 million to remake Captain Citrus for the Florida Citrus Board. But when it comes to what Floridians need in a citrus superhero, we think we know better. Scroll down to see what Times artist Don Morris and Floridian editor Bill Duryea have come up with.

  5. A history of a war is a history of a man

    Human Interest

    In 1943, the Army tried to turn an American lit expert into a mechanic. It took Bill Sutton's superiors most of the next two years to figure out he was no mechanic. In early 1945, the Army got smart and sent the bespectacled 29-year-old Ph.D. to France to be a military historian.

  1. Theo Wujcik's last painting had a loving steward

    Human Interest

    "I could be your painting assistant," I offered, convinced it was a good idea.

    Theo hesitated. And I knew why.

    Painters Theo Wujcik, left, and Peg Trezevant became friends during the first painting class she took with him in 1994 at the University of South Florida.
  2. Serial killer cats, rat defenders and other hot-button issues

    Human Interest

    A word of advice to any cash-strapped editors out there. (Sorry, delete cash-strapped; redundant.) Don't waste money on reader surveys. If you want to know who your audience is, or if you have an audience at all, just run a piece about cats. Get a seemingly gentle soul like Jeff Klinkenberg to write something …

  3. My dad had an artist's soul, but a temper that left many scars

    Human Interest

    I grabbed my dad by the swim trunks. He plunged into the Atlantic Ocean and began breaststroking along the beach with me in tow. When the bubbles cleared, I saw all kinds of fish through my mask.

  4. Starting over meant erasing his face tattoos the hard way

    Human Interest


    The man with the ominous tattoos perched on a metal box in a dusty welding booth, sparks spraying on his jeans and white T-shirt as he ground down another mistake.

    The scars left behind where a state of Florida tattoo used to be on Eriks Mackus' face. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times]
  1. In family's battle against teen pregnancy, a birthday carries special meaning

    Human Interest

    IT BEGAN MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY AGO, when an older man took an interest in a girl who knew nothing of sex. At 16 she had her first child. Sixteen years later, her daughter carried out the trash in their Tampa housing complex and a man asked her name. At 16, she, too, became pregnant. Two was coincidence. …

    Niya Finlayson is the first woman in four generations to reach age 17 without having a child. Family and friends gathered to celebrate Niya’s 17th birthday at Carne ChopHouse in Ybor City. While she sat at a table with a gaggle of her closest girlfriends, her family was never far away. Her mom Niki Johnson, upper left, and grandfather Carlton Spaulding joined in for the singing of “Happy Birthday.”

Photos by MELISSA LYTTLE  /  Times
  2. Road rage result shows there's power in words

    Human Interest

    Merl Reagle called me on a Saturday some weeks back bursting with a story he said was too good to wait. So good he had to tell me in person. Right away.

  3. First person: New house with all the trappings

    Human Interest

    In February, I moved into a new house in South Tampa. It's cute and comfy with a huge yard shaded by tall, old trees. Oh, happy day!

  4. Dead father's artifacts haunt fledgling artist

    Human Interest

    Editor's note: This is the first in a series of reports looking at the lives of people whose shoes help tell their story. Watch the video above to see the shoes that launched this one.

    The shoes of artist Stephen Palladino were photographed recently in his garage studio, where some of his father’s collection is stored.
  5. Outdoor cats no more than serial killers in fur coats

    Human Interest


    Times Staff Writer

    The Artful Dodger is gray, skeletal and flea-bitten. In the morning, he sometimes shows up on my six-foot fence, glances carefully in all directions and leaps to the windowsill. From there he slinks into the wild coffee bush with the idea of ambushing birds at my …

  6. For the 'oldest old,' staying independent is hardest job of their lives (w/video)

    Human Interest


    The pain emerged during her morning exercise in the hall of her apartment building. She felt a sharp pinch on her left side, just below her back. It followed Iris Kroener as she rolled her walker up and down the worn azure carpet on the ninth floor, about a mile in all, and it was still there after …

    In some ways, South Pasadena is a preview of what the country will look like as the population of the “oldest old” soars from 5.7 million today to 19 million by 2050.
  7. Preachers behaving badly

    Human Interest


    This month a Miami man will be sentenced for trying to sell faked versions of paintings by well-known British artist Damien Hirst. Hirst produces "spot" paintings, which are geometrically precise pastel spots and "spin" paintings, that, you guessed it, look like paint has spun to the edges …

  8. Excerpt: Peter Matthiessen's prologue in 'Shadow Country'

    Human Interest

    Peter Matthiessen, who wrote some of his best fiction about a forgotten stretch of coastline when Florida was still a frontier, died last month. He was 86. In honor of him, we offer the first paragraphs of the prologue of Shadow Country (Modern Library), his 2008 consolidation of his trilogy of novels about the …

  9. Someone gets his goats (and pigs)

    Human Interest


    As State You're In goes to press, we regret to inform you that Elvis the fainting goat, the featured petting zoo entertainment at Red Wing Restaurant in Groveland, is still missing. Elvis, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances for four days in 2012, was abducted along with 12 other …

  10. Derby Lane's runaway outlays circa 1969

    Human Interest

    Runaway outlays back in the day

    Here are a few nifty statistics that didn't make their way into John Woodrow Cox's Page 1 story about the decline of greyhound racing ("Derby Lane: Love for a Dying Sport," April 27). In fiscal year 1969-70, $399 million was wagered on the sport here. Adjusted for inflation, that's …

    Times (2006)