Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review

I made 186 Visual Ephemera posts in 2009 and I thought I'd review some of the highlights and update their status.

On January 3rd I listed some spots in Florida I wanted to visit, and I'm happy to say I hit most of them. I just returned from South Florida, although I wont' have any new blogs about the trip until 2010. While I didn't see Monkey Jungle, Parrot Jungle (Jungle Island now), or the Everglades, I did see the Coral Castle, Viscaya, the Biltmore and South Beach. And I listed a goal to visit the attractions in my backyard like Big Tree Park, The Citrus Tower and Hall of Presidents (yes on all 3.) While I didn't get to Tarpon Springs or Warm Mineral Springs, I did make trips to Weeki Wachee, Homosassa Springs, Sunken Gardens, Sarasota Jungle Gardens and Cypress Gardens.

Cypress Gardens, the granddaddy of all Florida attractions, is still closed and at this point its future is uncertain. My wish for 2010 is that it re-opens in some capacity, so Floridians and visitors can enjoy the beauty of its famed gardens again.

On January 12th, I blogged about the discovery of more Fountains of Youth in Florida, including the sculpture at Tomoka State Park which I just visited on Christmas Eve. I'll continue to explore the theme of Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth in Florida's popular culture, and I have more discoveries on the the subject that I'll share in 2010. One of the highlights for me was visiting Punta Gorda, and finding several monuments to Ponce's adventures around Southwest Florida.

On February 19th, I introduced the late Florida artist Joy Postle. Since that initial post, a wikipedia page has been set up for Joy and an article came out in the Reflections journal of the Orange County Regional History Center. As a result there appears to be more awareness of Joy and her work, and we are hoping to put together an exhibition of work in the future. And the murals that were stored in an attic in Ormond Beach are now safely in the hands of the individual who is the caretaker of Joy's legacy.

In March I examined the plight of two Orlando institutions; one has stayed open, the other has remained closed. Kaley Elementary remained open when the local newspaper discovered the school board was not following the proper procedure in studying school closures, so they kept the schools slated for closures running this year. The Cheyenne Saloon, however, remains closed. My hope is that when the new arena opens next Fall, someone will re-open it because of its then desirable location.

In April I blogged about Casper's Ostrich and Alligator Farm, a long defunct St. Augustine attraction. I am happy to say that I recently received a Vintage Roadside shirt sporting the Caspers logo so I can do my part in keeping the memory of that unique Florida business alive.

May 21st's post on Sanlando Springs generated more comments than any other blog. Apparently there are many Central Floridians with fond memories of swimming there, who wish they could still visit it. The Springs development built around the popular spring was recently in the news when a resident was attacked by a Florida Black Bear. Later the man was charged with feeding the bears around his house after the bear that scratched him had to be put down.

July's post about the Sam Stoltz house in Mt. Plymouth produced many responses as well, and as luck would have it I met the man who would come to own the house. Florida artist Martin Cushman is now the loving steward of this unique architectural masterpiece and after many delays he has finally moved into his new home.

In August I utilized my contacts to help a friend find her ancestor's church. Since then she has made a commitment to speak at the church, and found her grandfather's gravesite at Greenwood Cemetery.

The city of Orlando is working to find ways to finance the repair of the Lake Eola fountain, the city's symbol for years, originally blogged about on September 3rd. However, the city of Winter Park continues to look for a way to expand its Central Park by moving the post office with no mention of the preservation of its unique mid-century murals.

November's post on the water skiing elephants of De Leon Springs led to an email interview with Liz Green Dane, who as a teenager appeared with her elephant Queenie at the spring. I have plans to meet with Liz in person next month to learn even more.

And this month I had the privilege of taking part in an interview with Ginger Stanley Rogers, who appeared in the iconic Creature from the Black Lagoon. She will be appearing at the History Center in March.

2009 has been a wonderful year for me, as my fascination with Florida's history and popular culture has grown as I've explored and learned more about the colorful state I'm in. I'm grateful for anyone who stumbles across my blog and my only hope is that if they are in Florida they take time to appreciate the uniqueness of this state, because it is changing rapidly, and the things that make Florida so wonderful are always at risk.


  1. Rick, I'm really glad I discovered your blog this year and have enjoyed all your posts. Looking forward to reading more in 2010... keep 'em coming!

  2. Whew! What a year. Thanks for sharing your trips and insights with us. Keep it up, there's always something just around the corner. Love the roadmap art, btw.