By Dick Platt
Corsicana Daily Sun
During the 12 years we lived in Corsicana (one year in town and 11 years on Golden Pond), I tried to learn about the history of Corsicana, Navarro Country, and Texas. My main sources for gleaning such information were: my dear sister-in-law, CeCe who made “Brick Streets and Back Roads” required reading; Gelene Simpson’s weekly column where she wrote historically about all things Texan; and the good old boys of the “Island Cattle and Goat Club” who provided this Yankee with their rustic and somewhat exaggerated perspectives.
We are now in a new state which appears to be the last stop for me and The Little Woman (she really dislikes that name). If anything, there is even more history to be learned about the state of Florida than the great state of Texas. Gelene and the good old boys may dispute that statement but how about this? On April 2, 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon anchored his caravels off the Florida coast. The next day, he and his merry men slogged ashore like Douglas McArthur returning to the Philippines, stabbed the Spanish flag in the ground, and dubbed the place, “La Florida.”
Now here is the real kicker — there are two cities, about 125 miles apart, that claim to be the site of his original landing. St. Augustine has long been accepted as the landing site but now there are some upstart historians and mariners who say it was actually Melbourne Beach. On Tuesday, both cities held commemorative events which included landing reenactments and unveiling statues of good old Ponce. I give the nod to St. Augustine for two reasons: the city was founded by Spain in 1565 and is billed as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States; and their Ponci-deli statues outnumber Melbourne Beach’s by three to one.
This week, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune ran an article entitled “How well do you know Florida?” It consisted of 25 questions and I definitely flunked miserably. However, in my defense, I must state that they had a bunch of trick questions.
Here’s and example: “Florida’s state anthem is what?” I immediately jumped on answer “a) Margaritaville.” Waaah! The correct answer is “Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky.” The follow-up question was a cinch, “Florida’s state song is?” All one needs to do is look around and one knows it’s “Old Folks at Home.” O.K., you’re so smart, here’s one for you Texans — the state song of Texas is? If you said “The Eyes of Texas,” waaah! on you. Gelene and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas know it is “Texas Our Texas.”
I did learn a great deal about our new state by taking this quiz. I learned that Florida means “Flowery Land” and not the “Land of the Hanging Chads.” I learned that the highest point in Florida is Britton Hill (345 feet) and not Space Mountain at Disney World. I learned that the United States paid $5 million for the state of Florida back in 1819 — almost as much as Corsicana’s own Louis Vasquez makes per year with the Broncos. I learned that Florida has been inhabited by humans for 14,000 years and those earliest folks were from the snowbird tribes. I learned that the first governor of Florida as a state was William Dunn Moseley and not Jimmy Buffett. Finally, I learned that the Florida state amphibian is not the alligator but the barking tree frog. I guess the creature goes “woof, woof,” instead of “ribbit, ribbit.”
I have mentioned that we have found a new doctor who we think we will really like. At my first appointment, he went over my current medications, my medical history, and listened very patiently as I enumerated all my aches and pains. After the examination, the doc summed up by saying, “Mr. Platt, you seem to be in reasonably good health for a man 73 years old. It is only natural that you have some aches and pains which come with age and, even though this is Florida, I cannot offer you any Fountain of Youth magic potions to regain your youth.” I said, “Doctor, I am certainly not asking you to make me any younger — I just want you to make sure I keep getting older!”
Then the good doctor said, “Well, Mr. Platt, if you really want to improve your longevity, the best thing for you to do would be to give up your happy hours and all that rich food you have been eating.” I gave that some serious thought for a moment and then asked, “Doctor, what is the next best thing?” I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling him I’m not looking for the Fountain of Youth — just a fountain of martinis.
Don’t you just hate it when a doctor charges an outrageous rate to tell you you’re just going to have to learn to live with the aches and pains. That’s like a hooker telling her john to take a cold shower!
Oh well, as Lady Godiva said as she was coming to the end of her ride, “I think I’m coming to my clothes.”
Dick Platt is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org