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Real Florida

  1. Postal service cutback could kill a piece of Florida history

    Human Interest


    Nobody knows who mailed the first letter. The correspondent may have been Freddie Wood's great-granddaddy, William Drayton Evins, a Confederate Army captain who founded the little North Florida hamlet where barred owls still call from the pines at night.

  2. Mirroring Tour de France fits with cyclist's regular 100-mile rides

    Human Interest



    Let us begin by singing the praises of John Steeber Jr.'s macho butt. It's tough, man, tough like a Parris Island drill instructor, tough like a cast-iron frying pan with bacon grease crusted on the bottom. Every few days he sits the Clint Eastwood of behinds onto a mosquito-sized bike …

  3. Roadside vendor sells tupelo honey, mayhaw jelly; the Scriptures are free

    Human Interest


    Summer has arrived in North Florida, which means the wily Honey Man is waiting patiently at his accustomed spot at the corner of U.S. 98 and State Road 267 south of Tallahassee, every Monday, Friday and Saturday.

    Trucker Smokey Rowland talks with Preston Bozeman while buying tupelo honey at U.S. 98 and State Road 267 in little Newport. “I drink tupelo honey right out of the bottle,” Rowland says. “Well, sir, that’s a good thing,’’ Bozeman responds. “It’s real special this year.’’
  4. Indian Pass Raw Bar, beloved oyster bar, worth detour for a few dozen



    The problem with spring in Florida is that summer is sure to follow. We anticipate sand spurs. We know it's going to be hot, buggy and wet. If we're especially unlucky, we'll be threatened by a hurricane.

    Jimmy Mack — Jim McNeill III — runs Indian Pass Raw Bar, which is known for its fresh Apalachicola Bay oysters.
  5. A raft is his Ritz on a creek in Ocala National Forest

    Human Interest


    Welcome to Blue Springs Creek, in the Ocala National Forest, where Lee Allen Young lives on a raft he calls the Huckleberry Finn with a faithful mutt he has named Becky Thatcher.

    Lee Young, 59, lives in a small cabin atop a raft he built by attaching a couple of pontoons and a 5-horsepower engine to a canoe.
  6. Master of the bouzouki finds joy in the pain

    Human Interest


    They once were many, but now are few — George Soffos and other men who know how to play the stringed musical instrument known as the bouzouki and the melancholy tunes often described as Greek blues. In the old days the grizzled musicians sat in crowded cafes, bouzoukis on laps and cigarettes …

    George Soffos at 17, playing in Atlanta. He fell in love with the instrument when he was just 5, and dropped out of high school to pursue a musical career.
  7. Why do vultures prey on cars? Because the putrid pranksters can

    Human Interest


    Diana Donaghy, wildlife biologist, removes her sunglasses and gazes at the vultures of Myakka River State Park. Soaring like majestic kites, the vultures land on the highest limbs of the oak trees and look around like fat men at a barbecue. • They're waiting for an opportunity to quench appetites …

    A black vulture peels the rubber from a windshield wiper at Everglades National Park. Why are they picking at car parts? No one really knows.
  8. Man living in seclusion on Orange Lake behind new night ban on airboats

    Human Interest


    The quiet man tries to live quietly in the quiet woods, except when he must turn on the power saw. Then for a while things get loud.

    Near the end of the day a passing airboat scatters ducks on Orange Lake. Starting in January, airboats will be restricted from operating on the lake from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  9. With crocodiles and alligators, Gatorama lives as old-style roadside tourist attraction

    Human Interest


    Allen Register, retired Navy, values structure. He maintains precise records, dislikes clutter, can always find his tools. It bothers him whenever he notices algae clinging to the prehistoric teeth of his favorite crocodile, Goliath.

A newly hatched alligator can’t do any damage as it clamps down on Register’s pinky. But he lost part of a middle finger to an adult crocodile.
  10. Golf ball hunter thrives on gaffes of Tiger Woods wannabees

    Human Interest


    On what could well have been the worst day of his life, Glenn Berger felt something hard and heavy crawl upon his back. It turned out to be an amorous alligator apparently hankering for a mate. At that moment, Berger entertained doubts about the wisdom of his chosen profession, diving for lost balls …

    Veteran ball hunter Bubba Thompson scores in a pond on the 17th hole of the Silver Dollar Golf Club in Odessa. He says he has been bitten twice by alligators, but “I ain’t going to quit.”