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Floridian Archives

  1. In Pahokee, football serves as a way out

    Human Interest

    PAHOKEE — On the day he thought would change everything, Fred left home early while his siblings, nieces and nephews slept. He skipped breakfast, not even a Pop-Tart. His stomach was tight with excitement.

    The summer before his junior year at Pahokee High, Fred decided to focus on raising his grades, and to get away from friends who might be a bad influence. So he transferred to Everglades Prep charter school across town. He often stayed in class to work and ate a late lunch by himself.
  1. A girl falls for her teacher …

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Addison Allen was 16, about to start her senior year at Tampa's Robinson High School, when the police called. They wanted to talk about the rumors.

    Addison Allen, 19, in her dorm at New College of Florida in Sarasota. She says that during her junior year at Tampa’s Robinson High School, she had a sexual relationship with her history teacher, Robert Lunsford. Lunsford denies it, saying Allen is lying because she was obsessed with him.
  2. From brassy writers to fussy publishers, Florida journalism had it all

    Human Interest

    When I started at the Miami News in 1966, I remember that reporters typed their stories with two fingers on cheap paper. If they needed to move paragraphs around, they did so with scissors and glue. They impaled finished stories on metal spikes for a psychopathic editor who forbade talking until sunrise.

    Miami News reporter Milt Sosin calls in his story about a hurricane from Jacksonville beach on Jan. 1, 1962. 
  3. Meet Bill Koch, the other Koch brother (w/video)

    Human Interest

    "I'll let Mr. Koch know you're here," says the man at the door.

    Bill Koch poses in the back yard of his Palm Beach home. Brother to polarizing political figures David and Charles Koch, with whom he has had a tumultuous relationship, Bill, 74, owns energy company Oxbow Carbon and is estimated by Forbes to be worth $3.2 billion.
  4. Dry Tortugas are pure Florida, but for how long?

    Human Interest

    In June, photographer Carlton Ward Jr. went to the Dry Tortugas to illustrate a story on the Gulf of Mexico for Nature Conservancy magazine. He picked the national park because the health of its reefs is an exception among reefs in Florida. Coral reefs are in bad shape worldwide, especially in the upper …

    Courtesy of Carlton Ward Jr.
  5. A Q&A with the Dr. Doug Stein, vasectomy king

    Human Interest

    One day several years ago in Kenya, Dr. Doug Stein performed vasectomies on 53 men who had fathered a combined 358 children. Afterward, the men were waiting beneath a corrugated roof for a bus to take them back to their villages when a filmmaker who was making a documentary on Dr. Stein gathered them together to take a …

    Dr. Doug Stein, 61, has performed almost 34,000 vasectomies in his career. He believes every vasectomy affects the planet, controlling population growth and reducing our carbon footprint.
  6. There's a wealth of difference, and similarity, between rich and us

    Human Interest

    “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." That might rank as one of the most promiscuously misused quotes in all of literature. It's F. Scott Fitzgerald, of course, but it was hardly his intention to glorify the wealthy or to suggest that they possessed talents as well as bank …

  1. Football concussion brings relationships into focus

    Human Interest

    The shoe painter spreads clean white acrylic over the tongue of a Nike Vapor Carbon Elite football cleat, erasing dirt and grass stains from the mesh.

    Geary “Rasta” Taylor, 44, left, poses with his son, Taj Taylor, 16 in the locker room of Largo High School. Taj, a Largo High football player, suffered a concussion in a game last year.
  2. Gaping crusaders help protect Florida's bats

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — Bat people develop superior eyesight. They often develop acute hearing. Sometimes they develop painful cricks in their neck. Bat people are always looking up.

    Bats stream out of what might be the state’s oddest tourist attraction: the two bat houses at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The houses shelter roughly 400,000 bats of several species.
  3. 1984 VA death was ruled a suicide, but was it really murder?

    Human Interest

    An hour or so before midnight on Aug. 27, 1984, Bud Thompson put on his light blue pajamas, tossed his clothes in a paper bag that he shoved in a closet and climbed into bed. He locked away his belt with his dirty clothes.

    Undated photo of brothers Charles and Bud Thompson on either side of their mother, Nellie Thompson taken in New Jersey. Bud is on his mother’s left.
  4. Where did peace and quiet go?

    Human Interest

    I just needed a quiet corner to curl up in, to finish writing. I had spent a year reporting a story, which was set to run in Sunday's newspaper. But my son had been invited to a dance competition, so we had driven almost two hours to Orlando, to a Disney resort. While he rehearsed, I had to finish editing the …

  5. The thrill of the sandy hunt is their treasure

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — The sun is low on the horizon, splaying yellow light across the pale blue, cloudy sky. Two small girls squeal as they chase each other along Clearwater Beach. The gulf is calm and low.

  6. How Tampa shaped Benjamin Booker, music's next big thing

    Music & Concerts

    Benjamin Booker's story is the kind to make any aspiring musician jealous. Less than two years after starting to play live, he has been signed to a record label, released his debut album, played festivals, opened for Jack White and appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman and Conan.

    Benjamin Booker performing at the Shaky Knees Music Festival in May in Atlanta.