A North Florida Story

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KevinM

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It’s a rainy afternoon here in Tallahassee, and my memories have taken me back to one of the funniest stories I ever heard about life in the swampy woodlands and small towns of my beloved part of the world. For the more sophisticated and urbane among you, this slice of American life might seem shocking. So be it. I just find it damn funny.

First, the lay of the land. Tallahassee proper is a lovely, progressive town with nice weather eight months of the year, hills (yes hills!) and so many trees that one can barely see buildings and homes from the air. The hills flatten abruptly a mile south of town as the terrain changes to the sandy coastal plain leading the 25 miles down to the coast. And believe me, the culture changes more than the geography.

On the way to Appalachee Bay you pass through the little river community of Sopchoppy, home to the annual worm grunting festival (look it up), a highlight of the towns social calendar. A little further south the road from Tally dead ends in the town of St. Marks.

Known mostly for its access to the Bay from the beautiful St. Marks River and the expansive St. Marks NWR, which was the general location of the 2018 movie Annihilation, it is truly old Florida. Only a short drive from the “big” city, it feels like another planet entirely. And it is there where our little story takes place.

About ten years ago, the nonprofit I worked for hired a temporary admin. assistant named Vivian, a friendly redhead that had grown up as a St, Marksian before moving west to THE big city, Los Angeles. The 15 of us used to eat lunches together in the conference room, and we always asked new employees to tell something about themselves. When we asked Vivian for her story, what followed was a hilarious tale that had us shooting water through our noses.

In LA Vivian fell for a guy, and brought her very urban boyfriend home one summer to meet the family. She tried to caution him in advance about the, uh, different ways down there, to which he replied, “don’t worry, I’ve been around and seen pretty much everything.” Nope. Not even close.

Upon arriving at the homestead tucked way back in the sandy, piney woods, they were greeted by a dozen freshly killed squirrels hanging upside down from the tree in the front heard. Dinner! The boyfriends eyes widened, but he said nothing.

As they sat awkwardly on the couch exchanging small talk after lunch, Vivian’s uncle woke up and made his way from the back bedroom. He was still wearing the dirty, blood caked overalls from that mornings hunt, and with a grunt in their direction headed over to the old ham radio in the corner. Picking up the microphone, he pointed it at his ass and farted loudly into it. Shortly after, a crackling voice came back...”Roscoe, is that you?” LA this was not.

According to Vivian, the boyfriend didn’t say much on the flight back. She thinks he was in shock, and unfortunately they parted ways a bit later. Vivian said that was okay, because it was her family, after all.

I still crack up thinking about it all these years later. Kevin
 

KimT

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Kevin,
I did audits in Tallahassee and in Alabama. I've seen the drastic difference just a few miles makes. Thanks for the laugh.
 

KevinM

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I forgot to add that poor Vivian realized too late where Roscoe was headed, but she froze and didn’t head him off at the pass (pun intended). She also said she immediately broke out in the worst flop sweat of her life.
 

EricInLA

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I love those stories. I'll throw one back at ya. Years ago when I wore my lawyer hat, I often had occasion to go down South for business. One time I was assigned to go to rural North Carolina to meet with a local man who had a little real estate portfolio down there that my client wanted to buy. I spent a few days with this guy, learning about his business and building a relationship with him. We couldn't have been more different - me, a liberal Jew from West LA, and him, a good ole boy from the sticks who was the former head of the local Republican party. Despite the cultural divide, we developed a nice rapport and genuinely enjoyed our time together. He had great stories. My favorite one: He explained that everyone in his social orbit was a good Republican, with the exception of his "crazy" mother in-law. As he explained, "Mama says she don't like Republicans because they aint never done nothin to help da poe (the poor). So I says to her, 'Mama. . . who pays your rent? (you do) Who pays your health insurance? (you do) Who pays your car bills? (you do) That's right! So don't ever tell me that no Republican aint never done nothin to help DA POE!!'"
 

KarenNWendyn

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Here’s one for ya.

Early in my medical career, I evaluated a gentleman who listed his nationality as “white“ and his occupation as “freedom fighter” and “fighting the government”. He came to the appointment wearing camouflage fatigues and wanted me to prove he was disabled so he could claim social security disability benefits.
 

KimT

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I've probably told this one before but it still haunts me.

First, I was born and raised in a small village in upstate NY. 99% of the town were white European descent. We had a couple of black families and one Hispanic family.

I moved from that village to Daytona Beach Florida in 1978. I loved to explore different towns on weekends. One weekend there was a big thing in the paper about the annual parade in Deland, about 10 miles west of DB. I decided to go to the parade since it sounded like a big deal and the anniversary of something.

First group to march down the street was a bunch of hillbillies playing some instruments I had never seen. It looked like a scene out of Deliverance. A couple of horses next THEN HUNDREDS of KKK passed by followed by a huge applause from the crowd.

I didn't stay for the rest of the parade. Back then I was too poor to have a phone in my apartment but I called my Dad from the phone booth. He said, "you wanted to live in the South, get used to it." The KKK continued to march in DeLand well into the 80s, then they turned their parade into a dog parade that was kind of nice. I still avoid that town.

Here, all this time I thought I was cool moving to a beach town and learning how to surf. Little did I know.
 
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