Category Archives: Mailbag

Reader mail: Craig Pittman’s also wonderful

After Backroads of Paradise appeared in the New York Times, I found myself getting a *lot* more reader mail. I love this one because I suspect Geoff may have done as much work reading Backroads of Paradise as I did writing it. I kid, of course: he won’t camp, and says as much. Thank you for writing, Geoff, and welcome to our corner of paradise. And yes, Craig’s book is also wonderful. I’m going to have a lot of fun teasing him about the “also” bit. 
What a wonderful read.  Yea, I am a transplant from N.Y. state (Buffalo) and Bruce and I have retired here (St. Petersburg).  Once I downloaded your engaging book, it took only 36 hours to complete it.  Makes us want to travel the backroads as did you, Barry and Calypso.  Now, 30 years your senior, I’m not about to jump below water or camp!  What I did do when reading Backroads was to pull up a finely detailed Google map of your routes, and then to Google locations and eating establishments that you include.  The depiction of most of those eating establishments are wonderfully distinct from what our normal choices here.  From Backroads I have a sharply elevated sense of Florida’s geography, fauna, and flora.  I was not cognizant that Route 27 is the “spine” of Florida.  (I did notice that you skirted around mentioning Bok Towers — something I marveled at as a kid in 1956 but was disappointed in in 2015 with the computer-played carillon.)  I have extremely supportive empathy with you for the despoliation of Lake Okeechobee by U.S. Sugar and the effects of the 1928 hurricane which killed so many African-Americans.  Like you, I see the existence of a Dollar General in a small community as a predictor of poverty, and went indeed to to catalog the depressing income and demographics.  I had no idea that so many towns along Route 90 have primarily African-American residents.  Since northern Florida is really Dixie, life must continue to be tough there.
Backroads has given me an understanding and appreciation/disappreciation of what Florida is all about.  I remain a proud and unrepentant Yankee, but, like you, have grown to love Florida.  Craig Pittman’s Oh Florida is also a wonderful book.
Geoff Segebarth
St. Petersburg, FL

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.