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A Look Back: The Travels of Edgar Spaulding – Part 7

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Looking back, we finish the journal written by Edgar Spaulding when he took his family (including the cat) on a trip to Florida in 1926. He is beginning to tell us about the campground he is at and the neighbors around him…

Next to the mobile salesman from Michigan is a Methodist minister from Massachusetts on a vacation. Back of me is a barber from Buffalo, down here for health and to buy a little Real Estate, etc.

Across the street and near the fence is a hotel man from Vermont and the owner of a sub-division. Right by him a sheet metal worker from Northeast, Pa. Next is a car porter from Michigan and a road builder from Texas.

Directly back of me, but on the other street is an outfit from Auburn, New York, owner of four lots of real estate to sell, etc., while next to him is a Vermonter who is a member of the DeLand Police force. Does this sound as if tin canners were bums?

Our living expenses run about $15 per week for the three of us plus the cat and the campground rent. On the road from $5 to $6 per day. Board and room here is a third rate hotel, cost $20 per week, which may explain to some extent the popularity of the tourist campground.

The weather so far this winter has not been up to the advertisements; there being much rain and cold with a few good days in between. On four mornings, ice has formed in our water pail beside the door. Many campers do without heat, but a stove of some kind is a great help. To be absolutely fair, I will state that for the last ten days (this is winter, early February) the sun has shown every day and the weather could be described as perfect.

I can not agree with those who write up north saying there is no boom in real estate. They are certainly using boom methods of salesmanship, with free dinners, free rides, male quartets, bands and dance orchestras. In this small city, there are 60 real estate offices. Would you say there is not a boom?

A conservative estimate places the number of building lots for sale in Florida at 61,000,000. Do you think that half of the whole United States is going to move down here? Would you call that good solid substantial development?

In a new development 12 miles from DeLand, the nearest town, lots are selling at $ 2,100 for the cheapest and there has actually been many sales. If lots 50 X 145 feet were selling at Morton Corners, say at $2,100 would you or wouldn’t you say that there was a boom?

No one should buy any land down here without coming to see it first. I can show you a place, where small farms of five and 10 acres are being sold and developed, more than half of the land is from two to three feet underwater right now.

There are good developments as well as bad and I can name some of which I think are good, but the times when you could buy a lot, keep it three months and double your money are gone.

Florida will grow and prosper. I firmly believe though possibly not at the speed of the past two years. Real Estate must find its proper level and fingers are going to be burned in the process. The State holds wonderful possibilities in agriculture and dairying to the farmer who is willing to make his home here. Tourists, however, will probably always be the main crop.

So picture me in a chair, beside the tent writing in my journal while Ethel is working over the gasoline stove getting dinner. Florence is at the tent next door, while the cat is sleeping peacefully on the bed. It is late afternoon, for most campers have their hearty meal at night.

Roast pork in the camp over while potatoes are baking in the gravy alongside. One the table is cornbread and pie baked in that same over while in a bowl is applesauce. The coffee is beginning to boil and the fragrances are everywhere.

The campfire is in front, ready for the match as soon as it is dark. Just picture this scene if you can, picture the dinner eaten out of doors where you have the appetite of a ten-year-old. Picture all of this my friends, for this is one of the joys of the great outdoor sport of Motor Camping!

I want to thank Edgar Spaulding, who was a local man, for writing his trip down in a journal so I could share it all with you. I hope you enjoyed this journal as much as I did.

Can you imagine in 1926 the travel and cost of items, road conditions as we read were not always great, had to purchase food each day, but all the folks you would meet along the way and opportunities that presented themselves to him. I am still amazed that the cat traveled and camped with them.

I am going to print out copies of this article and the trip home, for those of you that would like a complete copy of it and they will be available at the Lucy Bensley Center, located at 23 North Buffalo St., Springville, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Come and tell us of your trips this summer you took of some from in the past. Email us at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com or call us at 592-0094.

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