About Rick Smith

Rick Smith has been a member since March 6th 2011, and has created 3 posts from scratch.

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This Author's Website is http://www.TeachALandRemembered.com

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A Land Remembered Lives At Duette Elementary School

A Land Remembered Inspires Cracker Day at Duette Elementary School

Once a year for the last two years we ran a “Get Caught Reading A Land Remembered” contest. We’ve had some great entries. Donna King, the Teaching Principal at Duette Elementary School in Duette, Florida went one step farther. She writes, “For many years we have read A Land Remembered at Duette School. In addition to learning Florida history it instills a love and enthusiasm for reading.” Her students not only read A Land Remembered, they go out and get experience like a pioneer at their own “Cracker Day.”  Here are some photos she sent, along with this link to their Cracker Day 2010. Take some time to check out their photos. They are wonderful.


Reading A Land Remembered Under A Chickee


Students Reading A Land Remembered

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Cattle and Cowboys in Florida

Hundreds of years ago, long before tourists or even cities, there was another Florida. When the Spaniard Ponce de León discovered it in 1513, Florida was mostly wide, green spaces. In 1521 when he returned, he brought horses and seven Andalusian cattle, the ancestors of the Texas Longhorns. He knew he’d found pastureland. Spanish explorers turned Florida into America’s oldest cattle-raising state.

The early cattle-raising days were rough for Spanish settlers. The St. Augustine missionaries who raised beef also fought Indian raids and mosquitoes. Despite the cattle fever ticks, storms, swamps and snakes, before 1700 there were already dozens of ranches along the Florida Panhandle and the St. Johns River.

By the 1800s, the Seminole nation possessed extensive herds of cattle. Most Florida settlers raised beef for food. As Indian and white settlers moved south, so did the cattle. They moved through Alachua county into the Kissimmee valley and on to Lake Okeechobee. The search for new pastures was the reason for the migration south.

Railroads reached into Florida. Because trains could ship cattle, the beef industry grew. New towns sprang up around the ranches, and more people arrived from other states. There was work for blacksmiths, shopkeepers, and cowboys in these settlements. During the Civil War, Florida became a chief supplier of cattle to the Confederacy, both for meat and leather.

The herds ranged in size from 5,000 to 50,000 head. Rustling was prevalent throughout the state. This was because Florida was an open range. There was not a fenced pasture anywhere in the state and cattle roamed freely. The early cowboys would round cows up over miles and miles of open plains, in the hammocks, and by the rivers and streams. Then they would drive them to market.

Florida’s old-time cowboys had a unique way of herding cattle. They used 10- to 12-foot-long whips made of braided leather. Snapping these whips in the air made a loud “crack.” That sound brought stray cattle back into line fast and earned cowboys the nickname of “crackers.” Many rode rugged, rather small horses known as “cracker ponies.

Cracker cowboys also counted on herd dogs to move cattle along the trail. Their tough dogs could help get a cow out of a marsh or work a hundred steers into a tidy group. For those rough riders of Florida’s first ranges, a good dog, a horse, and whip were all the tools a true cracker needed.

By the 1890s, cow camps were located in most sections of the state. One such camp was located near Lake Kissimmee. It was known as “Cow Town.” The area’s cattle were referred to as scrub cows, ridiculous in appearance. They were once described as “no bigger than donkeys, lacking quality as beef or milk producers.” They were valuable because the animals could survive in wilderness areas. By the 1920s, however, the quality of Florida cattle had improved greatly.

Raising cattle is still one of the biggest businesses in the state. Florida’s ranchers raise the third largest number of cattle of any state east of the Mississippi. Their herds represent many centuries of dreams. They link the sweat and success of ancient Spaniards and hardy pioneers with today’s modern cattle ranchers.

from Exploring Florida http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/lessons/cowboys/cowboys.htm

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How much does it cost to winter in Florida in 1924?

(From an article written in 1924 by Karl H. Grismer)

Percy Gotrocks, who graces Palm Beach with his presence during the winter months, considers himself fortunate if he can get through a season without parting from about sixty thousand dollars. His “shack” on Ocean Boulevard has a retinue of servants that could man a hotel, and their wages are only a small part of Percy’s expenses. The way his parties waste away his bankroll is almost a crime.??

Of course, Percy could economize if he cared to, but what would his friends think! He has to put on the dog or people will get the idea that the Giltedge Investment Company, of which he is president, is going to the bow-wows. As for Mrs. Percy, she wouldn’t think of coming to Florida without buying at least a dozen new gowns, fifteen or twenty pairs of shoes, and a couple of thousand dollars worth of other stuff. Why, she wouldn’t feel half dressed! So she splurges handsomely, and Mr. Percy pays the bills.??

Not everyone who winters in Florida can afford to disregard expenses like Mr. and Mrs. Percy. Most people have to watch closely every item of expense, and if the total threatens to mount too high, they stay up North, regardless of the discomforts of northern blizzards. The sunshine and the flowers of Florida call them, but they turn a deaf ear.??

There is no mystery regarding the cost of wintering in Florida. Despite all ideas to the contrary, a person can estimate before leaving home how much his expenses will be. And he can come within a few dollars of being right. There need be no guesswork about it.

?The first item to consider is the cost of transportation. That is the simplest of all. By inquiring at the railroad ticket office the prospective tourist can learn exactly how much the fare will be. For persons living north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississippi the fare would probably average $60 each way, including Pullman, or $120 for the round trip.??

Following transportation, the next major item of expense is that of rent. Although many tourists live in hotels, the majority leases houses or apartments for the season. And the prices, of course, vary greatly. They range from a medium of about $250 for the season to $3,000 or even more.??

Small houses, in the suburbs, can sometimes be obtained for the same price as the cheaper apartments. As a general thing, however, the minimum seasonal rent for a place with modern conveniences and adequate furnishings is about $400. A five-room house, close in, can be obtained for from $700 to $1,000.??

Many persons may think the above rents are excessive. It must be remembered that the houses and apartments in the resort city remain empty during the summer months or else are rented for very small amounts. In order to break even the resort city landlord must charge as much for the winter season as the northern landlord does for the whole year.??

The wide range of existing rents makes it difficult to estimate exactly just what the tourist will have to spend for living quarters. But for the purpose of estimating the average cost of wintering in Florida, let’s use the $400 figure.??

The next major item of expense, following transportation and rent, is that for food. To give exact figures for this expense, of course, is impossible. One tourist cooking his own meals, may live well on $5 a week or less. Another, eating the most expensive foods at an expensive restaurant, may pay $5 or more each day. The tourist may spend as much as or just as little as he chooses. It all depends upon his appetite and his purse.??

The tourist who eats regularly in cafeterias and restaurants can figure that he can get by easily for $2 a day, and have everything he wants to eat. The chances are he will have enough left over from the weekly food allowance of $14 to send a box of citrus fruit to his northern friends occasionally.??

To get back again to the problem of estimating the average cost of wintering in Florida, for a 6-month season the total cost for food and household expenses would be about $300.??

Transportation, rent and food are the major items of expense. Aside from those there is nothing that will mount into money. The matter of clothes can be dismissed almost entirely. The tourist need only bring his summer clothes and a few winter garments along with him and he will be all set.??

Amusements will not cost the tourist half as much as it does up North. In the public parks he can play all manner of games; he can go fishing; he can attend the public band concerts and listen to the music of the best bands in the country; he can attend the entertainments of the tourist societies. All this costs him next to nothing.??

In summarizing, let us figure how much it costs a man and wife to enjoy a Florida winter. The transportation cost for the couple would be about $240. The rent total would be about $400. The cost of meals and household expenses, for a six-month season, would be about $300, considering that the couple ate at home. Allow $100 for incidentals. That brings the complete total up to $1,040 for the six month season, certainly not a prohibitive amount for persons in even very moderate circumstances.??

Is a winter in Florida worth that amount? Is it worth it to leave the snow, and rains, and gloom, and sickness of a northern winter, to go to the land where all the time is summer; where the mocking-birds sing their songs of gladness; where the palm trees are gently waved by warm breezes from gulf and ocean? We’ll say it is!??

And when you come to Florida and try one of the summerwinters for yourself, you’ll say so, too.

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A Land Remembered Concert

Did you know that there is a concert based on A Land Remembered? It was composed by Larry Clark of Lakeland, Florida in 2009. I discovered this concert by accident when a Google Alert I have set for the term “A Land Remembered” turned it up. I contacted Larry Clark and got his permission to post the recording on this site, as well as a link to the .pdf file of the music. It was published by Carl Fisher music. You find links on this page; scroll down to “L” for Land Remembered.

According to Clark, “I was commissioned to write the concert band piece “A Land Remembered” by the Horace Mann Middle School Band in Brandon, Florida. Their band director Kevin Fuller wanted to commission a musical work and have the students work with a living composer, but he also wanted to involve the whole school in the project.  So, “A Land Remembered” was selected as the book that many students in the school would read and I would write a piece that would musically depict some of the things from the story.  At the premiere performance of the piece on May 11, 2009 I conducted the Mann Middle School Band.  Before the concert they had open exhibits to writings and art projects and even some food by the students that were based on the book. It was a very nice event and very educational.”

Clark says that it is not meant to tell specifically any specific events from the novel, but just to depict musically some of the thoughts and scenes that come to mind as a person reads the novel. The piece is set in three continuous movements, each depicting elements of the story, from the open fanfare, “A New Life in a New Land” to the beautiful “On the Prairie” and the strident final movement, “Hardships on the Rugged Frontier.”

“Being a fourth generation Floridian myself,” Clark says, “the book resonated with me as it contains similar stories that I had heard in my childhood about old Florida.  My Great-Grand Father was an early settler to the New Port Richey area.  He was also a cattle rancher from South Carolina that brought his cattle down in the winter eat grass before moving here permanently.”

You can listen to a recording of the concert here, and here is a link to the music.


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