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Meander with columnist to an actual interview

A lot of Boy Scouts wanted to help me across the street after my column last week about eastbound and westbound Dale Mabry Highway.

Some of them picked up on my inability to distinguish between bodies of water.

"You will have a long trip west to reach the ocean, even from Pinellas County,'' wrote Paul Cooper of St. Petersburg. "That's the Gulf of Mexico lapping at our shores.''

Gulf. Gulf. (An editor tried to correct that passage, thinking I meant the bay, but I stubbornly changed it back to "ocean.")

Cooper went on to remark that, just a couple of pages after my column, "there was an ad for a condo called West End Tampa that talks about being a great location in South Tampa, and the sales center is on North Rome.''

A woman in the real estate biz wrote that "it is not Dale Mabry that goes west, it is U.S. 92 westbound. It runs west along Hillsborough Avenue to Dale Mabry, then south to Gandy and then west again.''

Another reader blamed "mere humans" for the lack of logic in road signs, although "the ocean and the Gulf of Mexico were not put where they are by a human.'' The ocean is east, the gulf is west.

I did get an actual interview with Terry Schoenborn, who informed me that Gunn Highway was named after John Gunn, former county commissioner.

Schoenborn, a former Hillsborough sheriff's deputy, is in his 70s and lives with his wife, Virgie, in a quaint farmhouse on Racetrack Road. Virgie Schoenborn grew up turning cartwheels on that now-scary road. She was born a Jackson, and had so many relatives in the neighborhood they called it "Little Jacksonville.''

They went to school with Jim Casey, descendent of the man for whom they named Casey Road.

Name, please? "Old Man Casey,'' they said in unison.

All right, then.

We met the day of the sex scandal involving a former teacher at Davidsen and Martinez middle schools. Both Schoenborns mused that when they were kids you wouldn't dream of doing it with a teacher because, Terry said, "all the teachers were so old!''

Then they got out black and white photos from their school days in the 1940s and the teachers did not really look that old.

Guess they just seemed old at the time.

• • •

A postscript about that teacher story: Two of my reporters got shot down pretty hard when they went looking for parent reactions, which is what reporters are instructed to do.

An e-mail went out advising Davidsen parents to say only what they knew firsthand, and some interpreted those instructions as "Whatever you do, don't comment!" We were accused of trying to "sensationalize" the story. Having seen a gazillion images of Debra LaFave, it's hard to argue.

Still, if you ever get such a phone call, please keep in mind that a) seeking comment is what we do, and b) just like Mr. Schoenborn, you're entitled to express your opinion.

Meander with columnist to an actual interview 03/20/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:43am]

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