Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Smells of Old Florida

It was suggested on my Old Florida Facebook page that I solicit comments for the smells that best reflect the essence of Old Florida. Here are the responses:

Coppertone. Noxzema after the Coppertone didn't work.

Night blooming jasmine or Natal Plum citrus blossoms in the spring; Confederate jasmine.

When you were on your way to the beach and you're starting to smell that salt air.

Coconut scented suntan lotion, fish... and that earthy, swampy smell on the rivers.

Maxwell House Quality Control, Jacksonville, 1950s, State Archives of Florida
Maxwell House coffee traveling the freeway in Jacksonville and roasting Bustelo coffee in Hialeah.

Paper mill in Port St. Joe, 1954, State Archives of Florida
Everglades pines when the sun first hits them in the morning. Hot asphalt as it rains...freshly cut grass. Paper mills.

Sulfur water. An oyster flat at low tide. Red Tide.

State Archives of Florida
Burning off the cane fields. Old time, real Florida tomatoes. And boiled peanuts

State Archives of Florida
Palmetto flowers, Spider Lilies in the swamp, Speckled Perch or Bass on the beds... for me the stinky Anheuser Busch Brewery, low tide estuaries, Deviled Crabs, smoked mullet.

State Archives of Florida

The smell of seashells forgotten in the backseat of the car.

State Archives of Florida
Smoked fish and orange blossoms. Oyster roasts!

The smell of fresh cane juice slowly turning into cane syrup on a cool November morning in North Florida. 

Plant City Strawberry Field, State Archives of Florida
Guavas cooking to make guava jelly. Strawberry fields in Plant City when the fruit gets ripe.

Magnolia blossoms and gardenias. Mangroves! Oak wood smoke. Muck fires!

Leaf tobacco in an Ybor City hand rolled.

Orange blossom perfume. Hot Krispy Kreme donuts. The Wonder Bread factory in Tampa.

Mold and mildew. Wildfire breeze, fresh cut pines, lemons, Wax Myrtle, Cypress, the "left overs" from the neighbors catch tossed in the ditch.

State Archives of Florida
"Off" mosquito spray. A/C unit that hasn't had its filter cleaned in a long time. An oyster bar after a college football victory celebration. Roach spray. Kerosene heaters. Burning melaleuca trees. The smell of mullet frying in an un-air conditioned restaurant.

Frangipani in old town Key West early in the morning.

Afternoon rain showers, you could almost tell time by their arrival. 

State Archives of Florida
When the Cuban neighbors invited you over and roasted a whole pig on a pit all day and you took turns turning it...

State Archives of Florida
Seaweed baking away in the sun. The smell of Clorox bleached shells. Bait, brine and slough.

Pine needles, crushed Palmetto bugs, pool chlorine, little motel rooms on the highway, golf course on a summer night, mosquito trucks, wet Oak leaves, bait wells, backyard cookouts, horse stalls, well water, fried seafood, citrus groves in bloom, mucky spoils islands, fresh lime in iced tea, smoke from fireworks on the 4th of July, turtle tanks at Kresges.

State Archives of Florida
Rotten citrus, bog/muck fires, swamp or dead fish smells around lakes, hot tar paving roads.

Pastures of grazing horses and cattle. Tea olive blossoms. Exhaust from the races and fresh turned soil.

State Archives of Florida
A family fish fry, cornbread baking, the earthy smell of the Everglades. Salt water and diesel.

State Archives of Florida
The dirt around the earthworms in the bucket, and then on your hands when you're fishing at the river. The smell at the docks after the shrimp boats come in. So many more! Dear God, Florida smells good!


  1. You just about covered everything, I'm a native Floridian and experienced it all!

  2. My childhood inFL the all the pics bring back memories

  3. Made me remember my childhood inFL On this rainy day in TX thanks

  4. stumbled on this page, love it. the smell of the Donald Duck orange juice factory signaled we were getting closer to Disney World!

  5. Crushed palmetto bugs smell like cinnamon.

  6. Remembering all these smells makes me "homesick" for the old days.