Category Archives: Mailbag

I’m so in love with reading about me


Calypso and I love to travel. She feels totally at home on my left leg, looking out the window, while I navigate Florida. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yeah, OK, I’m vain. But in my defense, I do love reviews of this book. Seriously, I love it when I read reviews of myself. And this one made me particularly happy. Thank you, David, for this. It’s nice to see people discovering the WPA guides; they should probably be taught in high school. You know, in between all the STEM stuff that apparently *really* matters, as opposed to history which is, well, fluff, right?

Anyway, check out…

Florida Before Theme Parks




Reader Mail: When you can show your wife what’s great about Florida

Everyone has great memories of old Florida. This is me in Anna Maria Island, ca. 1980.

I seriously love getting mail like this. It makes me happy to know my book can evoke happy memories in my readers.

My neighbor gave me a copy of ‘Backroads’ because he knew I was an old Florida boy.  I thought it sounded interesting, then I read the Table of Content and got excited and then I read the Preface and you had me.  I have only read the SR 50 chapter but that took me back to the many times I traveled that road to Playalinda (which, at 18,  I thought was way cooler than New Smyrna or Cocoa).

“I always chose the back roads to travel Florida.  I took 441 to 27 to 98 to get back  and forth to FSU. And childhood trips to Sanibel Island, before the interstate, are embedded in my head not only because they were long and rough on a child (no AC in those days).  Sunday trips to new Smyrna from Winter Park through Sanford and across the rickety bridge over the St. Johns near Mims were memorable.  More recently, for old times sake, I drove my mother from her Sarasota condo to Winter Haven and Haines City to find Gramma’s and Uncle Lee’s houses and returned via Arcadia.  The sights and smells (boiled peanuts) are all still there.  My wife from Arizona had never seen such sights.

“I could go on. Thanks for writing this book.  It’s good to find someone else who appreciates the real Florida.” —Mark M., Austin, TX

Thanks, Mark!

Haven’t read Backroads of Paradise yet? Get your copy from your favorite indie bookstore (I love Inkwood) or, of course, online.


Reader mail: Clearwater in the 1950s

Hula Florida girl
Everyone has their own memories of road trips in Florida. If only my hula girl could talk…

One of the things I didn’t expect when I published this book was how many people wanted to share their memories of Florida with me. I love these emails because it’s wonderful to know there are people in the world who love Florida as much as I do. Send me your memories here, and please feel free to include old photos — as long as I have permission to post them along with the letter.

“I was stationed at MacDill field, Tampa 57-59, and saw first-hand much of ‘old Florida.’ Saw the article about your book in Sunday paper and it brought back memories of Clearwater beach when all that was there was beach, no condos, only a small parking lot and beach. Also a place east of Tampa called Lithia Springs, beautiful fresh water spring in the middle of nowhere that we use to go to and play. But the first thought  was a road trip on 41. I had a Vespa motor scooter. I traveled down 41 into the great swamp area and camped overnight at a little island rest stop.

“Shortly after my setting up, a Trooper came by. He stopped and advised me of alligtators, bears and snakes and this might not be a good campsite. I pointed out my jungle hammock stretched up between two plams and showed him how I could climb in and raise it to about 20 feet above the ground. He laughed and said that might work, and left. Florida was fun then beause it was still not crowed.” — Warren A.

Thanks for getting in touch, Warren!