Bok Tower Celebrates 85 Years

On February 1 & 2, 2014, Bok Tower Gardens will celebrate its 85th anniversary.

Tower among the pines, 1948

Tower among the pines, 1948

Head to Lake Wales this weekend, stroll through the gardens, visit the historic Pinewood Estate, and listen to the iconic Carillon bells.

Busy day at Bok Tower Gardens, ca. 1935

Busy day at Bok Tower Gardens, ca. 1935

Bok Tower Gardens was the dream of Dutch immigrant Edward W. Bok, a winter resident of the Mountain Lake community near Lake Wales. The natural beauty of the setting inspired him to build the tower, the gardens, and a Mediterranean-revival mansion originally named “El Retiro,” meaning retreat in Spanish. The gardens, designed by famed landscape architect Frederic Law Olmstead, sit nearly 300 feet above sea level atop Iron Mountain, one of the highest points along the Lakes Wales Ridge. Bok Tower Gardens was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Infrared photograph taken by the Florida Department of Commerce, July 1949

Infrared photograph taken by the Florida Department of Commerce, July 1949

Since opening in 1929, Bok Tower Gardens has hosted millions of visitors. Learn more about the activities planned at the site for Founder’s Day.

Share Your Silver Springs Memories

Have you ever taken a ride on the famous glass bottom boats at Silver Springs?

David Lee McMullen with classmates from Terry Parker High School on their senior trip, 1964

David Lee McMullen with classmates from Terry Parker High School (Jacksonville) on their senior trip, 1964

Facebook fans David Lee McMullen and Patricia Wiggins Austin shared these photos with us and we want to see yours too!

Patricia Wiggins Austin (age 7) with her Mom, Dad, sister, June 1954

Patricia Wiggins Austin (age 7) with her Mom, Dad, and sister, June 1954

Share your glass bottom boat photos with us on our Facebook and Twitter!

Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

Pete Seeger, folk music legend and activist, died January 27, 2014, at the age of 94.

Born in New York City, Seeger learned the banjo in 1938, and worked with Alan Lomax at the Archive of American Folk Song in the Library of Congress. As a songwriter, his original repertoire included “Turn Turn Turn” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” He also formed two influential groups, the Almanac Singers and the Weavers, who sang labor anthems like “Which Side are You On?” as well as traditional numbers such as “Goodnight, Irene.”

During his extensive career, Seeger inevitably crossed paths with Florida folk artists. In 1956, he recorded for Folkways Records with the Washboard Band, which featured Florida Folk Heritage Award Winner William “Washboard Bill” Cooke. Not surprisingly, he also struck up a friendship with the Father of Florida Folk himself, Will McLean. The two performed together in 1963 at Carnegie Hall, and Will McLean was notably present for Seeger’s 1977 White Springs appearance.

Part 1
[audio:http://fpc.dos.state.fl.us/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/podcasts/seeger_part1.mp3|titles=Pete Seeger|artists=State Archives of Florida]
Download: MP3
More Info: Catalog Record

Intermission

Part 2
[audio:http://fpc.dos.state.fl.us/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/podcasts/seeger_part2.mp3|titles=Pete Seeger|artists=State Archives of Florida]
Download: MP3
More Info: Catalog Record

What Rhymes With Gigantic?

At the State Archives, one of our favorite genres of music can be best described as Florida Cheese, the sometimes catchy, sometimes grating, always brain infesting jingles used to promote the state over the years.

This song, titled “Florida Belongs to You,” was created by the Florida Development Commission during the Askew administration (1971-1979) and captures the essence of Florida Cheese.

Florida Belongs to You
[audio:http://fpc.dos.state.fl.us/memory/collections/folklife/blog/FLbelongs.mp3|titles=Florida Belongs to You|artists=State Archives of Florida]Download: MP3

Lyrics:

“Florida…

Take a ride, see the sights
Have your fun, in the sun
See the old, see the new
For Florida belongs to you

Plan a trip and do it soon
Here today, tomorrow the moon
Take the kids, have a ball
For Florida’s the greatest of them all

From the Gulf, to the Atlantic, and the Keys just beyond
It’s beautiful and so gigantic and you can dream you’re Ponce de Leon

Tell the world, sing it loud
It’s your state, say you’re proud
More to see, lots to do
For Florida belongs to you”

Florida Snow Days

We don’t like to admit it, but sometimes it gets a little chilly in Florida… and every once in a great while we even get a few magical flakes of snow.

Frozen fountain near the Capitol, Tallahassee, 1899

Frozen fountain near the Capitol, Tallahassee, 1899

 

Frozen water tower in Pensacola, 1899

Frozen water tower in Pensacola, 1899

 

Tree laden with icicles, Tallahassee, 1957

Tree laden with icicles, Tallahassee, 1957

 

Juanita Miller bundled up in Madison County, 1958

Juanita Miller bundled up in Madison County, 1958

 

Indian Head Acres neighborhood in Tallahassee, 1958

Indian Head Acres neighborhood children, Tallahassee, 1958

 

FSU students with improvised palm frond sled, Tallahassee, 1958

FSU students with improvised palm frond sled, Tallahassee, 1958

Martin Luther King and St. Augustine, 1964

People in the United States and around the world celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King played a prominent role in organizing the Civil Rights Movement in the South. His most important contributions to the struggle in Florida occurred in St. Augustine in the summer of 1964.

On June 11, 1964, Dr. King and several other activists were arrested for attempting to integrate the Monson Motor Lodge. When interviewed during his brief incarceration, King pledged to challenge segregation in St. Augustine “even if it takes all summer.”

Martin Luther King in St. Augustine, X, 1964

Martin Luther King in St. Augustine, June 12, 1964

Dan R. Warren, State Attorney for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, convened a Grand Jury to hear King’s perspective on the situation in the Ancient City. The photograph above shows Dr. King in the backseat of a highway patrol car with a police dog moments after he testified before the Grand Jury about segregation in St. Augustine, a city he referred to as the “most segregated” in America.

Quotes attributed to King appear in Dan R. Warren, If It Takes All Summer: Martin Luther King, the KKK, and States’ Rights in St. Augustine, 1964 (University of Alabama, 2008), 95.

Gangster in the Neighborhood

Al “Scarface” Capone was born on January 17, 1899. Both before and after he served hard time for tax evasion, the Chicago gangster resided in an estate on Palm Island in Biscayne Bay.

J. Fritz Gordon, Al Capone, and Julio Morales in Havana, Cuba, 1930

J. Fritz Gordon, Al Capone, and Julio Morales in Havana, Cuba, 1930

Capone first took up residence in Miami Beach in 1928, when he purchased an estate on Palm Island for $20,000. Ostensibly acquired as a winter health retreat, the gangster invested between $40,000 and $70,000 into the home. Palm Island residents, and the city of Miami Beach in general, opposed the presence of the mobster in their midst and wrote numerous letters to the governor of Florida pleading for Capone’s ouster from the state.

Aerial view of the Capone compound on Palm Island, 1930

Aerial view of the Capone compound on Palm Island, 1930

The letter below is one such citizen complaint regarding Capone living on Palm Island (click on thumbnails for a larger image). The letter was sent to Governor Doyle Carlton by Clarence M. Busch in March 1929. Busch lived immediately across the street from Capone and, like other property owners on Palm Island, wanted the gangster booted from the neighborhood.

buschtocarlton1_275

buschtocarlton2_275

Governor Carlton shared Busch’s dislike for Capone. Beginning in March 1930, Carlton, who ran for office on an anti-gambling platform, undertook an effort to ban the gangster from the state. Capone and his legal team avoided banishment from Florida, but the mobster faced near constant harassment from Miami Beach police. He was arrested several times on various charges and the local city council even pursued special resolutions aimed at limiting his tenure in the area.

Palm Island residents expressed a sigh of relief in 1931 when Capone was indicted on federal tax evasion charges. The gangster served several years behind bars on Alcatraz Island before returning to Florida in 1939. He lived the remainder of his days on Palm Island, and died in 1947.

To learn more about Al Capone and his legal troubles in Dade County, see William G. Crawford Jr., “Judge Vincent Giblin: The Life and Times of a South Florida Attorney and Judge,” Tequesta 70 (2010): 59-119.

National Hat Day

It’s National Hat Day!

Hats are the perfect accessory to complete your outfit and shield you from the sun. So don your favorite and celebrate!

Fanny Gibbons, Tallahassee, ca. 1890

Fanny Gibbons, Tallahassee, ca. 1890

 

Unidentified man, Tallahassee, ca. 1900

Unidentified man, Tallahassee, ca. 1900

 

Annie Ray Andrews, ca. 1900

Annie Ray Andrews, ca. 1900

 

Unidentified women by the pool in Sarasota, 1947

Unidentified women by the pool, Sarasota, 1947

 

Ann Williamson, 1949

Ann Williamson, 1949

 

Moby the pilot whale at Marineland, ca. 1965

Moby the pilot whale, Marineland, ca. 1965

 

In front of the Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, 1968

Unidentified woman with a horse in front of the Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, 1968

 

Helen Bishop, Orlando, 1987

Helen Bishop, Orlando, 1987

Stephen Foster Memorial Day

Stephen C. Foster, “America’s Troubadour,” was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1826. He died on January 13, 1864.

Stephen C. Foster, 1859

Stephen C. Foster, 1859

President Harry S. Truman established Stephen Foster Memorial Day by proclamation in October, 1951. The first official observance of the day occurred on January 13, 1952. Today, 150 years after his death, we continue to recognize the life and works of “America’s Troubadour.”

Foster is remembered for composing songs that captured the spirit of the United States in the 19th century. He wrote over 200 songs in his career. Some of his most popular include: “Oh! Susanna,” “Laura Lee,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Old Folks at Home (aka “Swanee River”),” “Camptown Races,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and “Old Black Joe.”

Carillon tower at the Stephen Foster State Memorial Center State Park, White Springs, 1957

Carillon tower at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs, 1957

White Springs, Florida, is home to the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. The park, on the banks of the Suwanee River, opened in 1950 to honor Foster and his song, “Old Folks at Home.” Every year since 1954 the park has hosted the annual Florida Folk Festival.

Tenor James Melton singing during the first National Stephen Foster Memorial Day, White Springs, 1952

Tenor James Melvin performing during the inaugural Stephen Foster Memorial Day, White Springs, 1952

Florida Governor Fuller Warren hosted the inaugural Stephen Foster Memorial Day at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. Singer James Melvin performed songs from the Foster catalog, accompanied by Frank Black on the piano.

Listen to recordings from the 1952 event. Enjoy!
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/blog/sfostermemorialday.mp3|titles= Performances from the inaugural Stephen Foster Memorial Day (1952) |artists=State Archives of Florida] Download: MP3

More Information: Catalog Record