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A Look Back: The Travels of Edgar Spaulding – Part 5

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Looking back as we once again read about the motor camping trip in 1926 from Edgar Spaulding…

The weather being perfect, we visit the fair finding it much the same as fairs everywhere, but with many vegetables and growing things that were unfamiliar. Here also we had our first taste of the real estate salesman, he is telling us that we could make as much from Georgia Real Estate as we could from Florida. Am inclined to believe him now. Being afraid of rain, we moved after two days bidding goodbye to the rest of the party as they were going to Lake City. Jenkins we had found out had gone on ahead and was OK.

Had intended making the next stop at Fitzgerald, a city of 7,500, founded in 1895 by a colony of Federal Soldiers under the leadership of P.H. Fitzgerald of Indianapolis, but on arrival it looked more like rain than ever, so we kept on to Waycross, which we reached at just dark having made 85 miles after 3 o’clock over fairly good roads.

Pigs and cows are allowed to run loose in this part of the country and several times I just miss hitting a pig or cow. Occasionally we came to a dead one on the roadside, mute evidence that somebody could not stop quickly enough. Presume that the people owning them must think like the Chinaman, “plenty more.”

Waycross is a city of some 20,000, largely maintained by the shops of the Atlantic Coast Line Railway. The long Main Street has stores on one side only while the railroad is on the other side, giving the place a somewhat peculiar appearance. The campground is ½ block from the Main Street back of the Court House and is neither very good or very bad.

This being Saturday and the road ahead being reported as good, and being somewhat tired, we stay over Sunday.  This was a mistake as it rained Saturday night and Sunday night, a result of which was to give us the worst drive on Monday of the whole trip.
The traffic over the road to Jacksonville had been so heavy that the gravel was completely worn off leaving holes from 3 to 5 inches to a foot deep and each one filled with mud and water. This caused me half a day of the hardest kind of work later as the car was completely covered with it. Nothing except tar can stick to an automobile equal to the red mud of a Georgia road.

The country was now all flat, not having seen any hills for some time. Coming to the St. Mary’s River, we cross the toll bridge and are in Florida. Wonderful Land!! Land of Spanish moss and sand. Development and subdivision, alligators and lakes. Home of the orange and grapefruit. Big motor bus and the free dinner, 25-foot building lots and 9-foot brick roads. Florida at last… and… it rained!

We are now on a wide macadam road and thought our troubles were over, but there was yet another detour (oh, how I hate that word) that made anything before, look tame by comparison.

All things have an end however and we finally arrive at Phoenix Park Camp at Jacksonville where we pitched our tent and prepared to wait for our mail… it rained, the next day… it rained… and the next day.. it rained… it rained for the next 10 days straight, except for a little while one morning. Talking with a man at the post office, who said he had been in Jacksonville some 30 years, I asked him if they had this cloudy, rainy weather all winter. “Yes,” he says. “It does rain quite a bit in the wintertime,” but he added, “it’s a dry rain, you don’t mind it as much.”
Jacksonville is a city of 125,000 located on the St. John’s River and is the commercial center of Florida. It has many big banks and financial institutions. Real estate offices are everywhere. The streets are crowded with traffic giving one the impression that it is much larger than it really is.

Big motor busses are there in countless numbers to take prospects around to different real estate developments. All is free if you are willing to listen to an hour or two of sales talk. You could go on a free ride every day for a month if you so wished. Many of these bus rides include a free dinner and they beg you to go even when you assure them you are not interested.

On the street corner, the talk is of real estate. 95% of the advertisements are in the newspapers (priced 5 cents) are real estate. Real estate is in the air and everywhere present. And no matter how bare the sand or how little work has been done on that particular development, all is beautiful. All Florida and everything down here is beautiful to the real estate man. Beautiful lakes, beautiful streets, even when all you can see is a bunch of surveyors stakes and a little lake with some grass in it. Yes, all is beautiful and wonderful. Next week, part 6.

We would love to hear of your summer trips that you took this summer or in the past. Write them down, attach some photos and keep a journal for the future. We are open at the Lucy Bensley Center located at 23 North Buffalo St. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Call us at 592-0094  or shoot us an email at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com.

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