Saturday, August 18, 2012

A taste of Old Florida

I started the Old Florida Facebook page to help promote this blog to a wider audience. It developed slowly – my first bump was after another fan of Old Florida posted it to his page, and then it grew steadily in fans (or likes) until recently, when it took off. The first explosion of growth happened when Visit Florida blogger Gary McKechnie posted a link on his Facebook page. But the most recent spurt occurred when I posted a postcard of the Kapok Tree. My blog about the Kapok Tree is my most viewed post by a wide margin, so it is clearly missed by lovers of Old Florida. But the innocuous postcard of a chandelier has far surpassed anything else I've ever posted and caused the page to take off.

According to the Facebook analytics, this post has a reach of over 700,000 people

Generally I try to post images that appeal to my tastes – kitschy, graphic stuff, mostly color, mostly 20th century. I have found that Cracker architecture gets a good response, as does favorite eateries like the Kapok Tree or Wolfies. I try to slip in some Florida history now and then but it seems that the newer fans are really about Florida nostalgia more than anything else. It's an interesting process for me as I post images and speculate how popular they will be.  I've learned that pictures generate more response than links to websites and that photos shared for other Facebook pages can be just popular as original posts. Links from other pages also helps the original page that posted the image glean followers from the Old Florida page.

Classic Florida postcards like this tend to get a warm response

This image of manatees, linked from another page, was very well received

Wolfie's had locations throughout the state and well-remembered by my page's fans

Nostalgic images of familiar places also do well

Hard-to-imagine scenes of steamboats are popular

My goal with the page, and with this blog, however, is to create more awareness of some of the great Old Florida places that still exist, so that they have a chance to last well into the future. Over the summer that message has been pretty subtle, but as the weather cools off there will be more opportunity to promote festivals, rallies and benefits that support worthy causes. I'm hoping that with my new found audience, I can help support some of these worthy events.

This shot of Western Indians held at the fort in St. Augustine drew some surprising comments

Fun postcards with good graphics are my favorites

I like to add my own photography- this one from Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's house in Cross Creek

I love the kitschier shots from the State Archives

Some of Florida's oddities are fun to post – this one got a huge response

My poster design did fairly well recently

Old Florida fans loved remembering the milkman and Charles Chips

This one has several things going for it: Cypress Gardens
and the legendary Willa Cook and Dick Pope

The Holiday House was a well-remebered chain of restaurants started by Willa Cook

The other benefit of this page is that I learn from the fans and hopefully they learn from the stuff I post. Together we are creating a virtual community of people who care about the Florida's past. Hopefully, we can help shape a future based on preserving our state's colorful history and incredible natural resources.


  1. Hey Rick,
    Interesting post. Nice to see the Kapok tree pulled in so much! My memories from there are on par with Tiki Gardens - even as a kid you knew it was a kitcsh haven, but you went with it 'cause the parents were having fun. I'll post some slides I recently found from there.

    Real nice Senator poster, too. Great design.


  2. Rick...any way you could scan these at higher resolution? I really love them but some are just too hard to see clearly.