Friday, September 21, 2012

Not To Say "Stoned"

Saw this headline in my hometown newspaper, The Gainesville Sun: "Melrose Residents Protect Their Laid-Back Lifestyle."

Melrose, Florida, is where I spent my teen years, from 10-17. Life there centers around Lake Santa Fe, which has a small cove on its SE corner called Melrose Bay. It's a great lake for fishing and water skiing. You can even sail on it. Melrose, when I lived there, was a rural area, with only a single traffic signal, and that one was only a flasher. Back then there was only a single grocery store, a couple of gas stations, a convenience store and two restaurants. No schools back then; students bused to either Hawthorne or Interlachen.

We had a house right on the lake that my father inherited from his parents. I spent those ten years out on the dock bass fishing, and later on exploring the lake on the boat we acquired. I knew many of the secrets of the lake: the old canal leading to Lake Alto, the semi-secret (and forbidding) Black Lake, which seemed like the Black Lagoon to me; and the gar-infested Bonnet Pond, which was a sort of grassy marsh.

We didn't see many waterfowl in the lake, save for the diving grebes that we called "coots." Much of the wildlife had local names; black crappie we called "speckled perch," bluegills were "bream," (pronounced "brim"), red-eared sunfish were called "shellcrackers," pickerel were called "jacks," bowfins were called "mudfish," and anhingas (a type of long-necked diving, swimming bird) were called "water turkeys." Water turtles were called "cooters," usually with a snicker by teenage boys (a popular t-shirt of the period was from The Yearling Restaurant at nearby Cross Creek, which read "Eat More Cooter At The Yearling Restaurant!)

That was the 70's, and everyone was a pothead back then, it seemed (I never even tried it; too much of a prig). The small cottage next door to our house was owned by people from Jacksonville, and they rented it out to a succession of hippies who never seemed to stay long, the rent payments being unreasonably high for the tiny one room that the cottage was. We knew by the care they gave to the lawn how long each pair of hippies would stay; when the St. Augustine grass became untended and long, we knew that they hippies had outstayed their welcome. One pair of them actually grew pot in large quantities behind a wooden fance they built beside the cottage; after they were evicted marijuana seeds would sprout for the next year or so on their property. My dad, amused, took one of the young plants and grew it himself, just for entertainment, since he smoked only unfiltered Camels and nothing else.

Halcyon days, as they say.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Yep, different 'daze' different time! :-)