Redneck Livin’ and the State Fair in Understanding the Unthinkable

  • Feb. 16, 2016, 11:28 a.m.
  • |
  • Public

I come from an eclectic background. My father, a northeastern Italian, became quite successful in the 1950s and 60s. My mother, a third generation Florida Cracker, was born beautiful and dirt poor. We lived in an upscale bedroom community outside of Boston. As Dad became more and more successful, our homes became nicer and nicer. Mine was a world of comfort and possessions.

But my parents’ marriage was troubled and whenever Mama left Daddy, she’d move us, lock, stock, and barrel to rural Florida. As a result, my childhood was filled with ballet and symphonies and summer homes as well as barefoot days at a country school and waking up to the sound of lowing cattle outside my window.

I learned early on that wealth is never the true measure of a person. It is only one marker out of many, and it is not always an asset, from the misery I’ve witnessed. I’m very grateful to have grown up with a foot in both worlds.

My Florida cousins range from successful dairy and citrus farmers to flat out, no apologies made redneck boys, hell-bent on raising a ruckus. The latter is mostly limited to their children these days, since we’re all past the age of 60 now.

That’s why the disappearance of my cousin and his wife is so troubling. They went out on their airboat to fish on Lake Okeechobee, a storm arose, and they’ve not been found. Their airboat was recovered a few days ago and a woman’s body was found today. We are waiting on identification but I’m pretty sure it’s her.

We don’t know what happened. My cousin has spent his life in the swamp, so he was experienced. Did the airboat hit an underwater stump and they were thrown into the alligator infested water? Did the storm knock them over?

The answer is not going to be good, after 10 days. I’m told that my cousin was a jealous man, although he always seemed pretty laid back to me. Murder/suicide? Not impossible, considering his mean father, my uncle, now deceased.

It’s one of those surprise moments. We don’t know exactly what happened but odds are good that the outcome isn’t going to be a happy one.

On a happier note, we decided to run away to the state fair. We had the time, having just tied up a major job and soon to embark on another, the Senior Citizen entry fee was $9 each and parking was free. We’d never been before and just decided to go. It was fun, but a LOT of walking. By the end of the day, I had blisters on the bottom of my toes and ready for a nap!

We went to Cracker Country first, where I found some excellent fig preserves (and some blueberry and strawberry…and I wish I’d bought more! No worries, there’s a phone number on the label so I can get more). I thought of lasergirl when we toured a turn of the century caboose and its history, including a second life as a doctor’s office in the 1930s.

I got some tips from the man making swamp cabbage (heart of palm). Unfortunately, he wasn’t handing out samples, so unless I go to the annual family reunion, I’ll have to make it myself. I have a hard time knowing exactly where the tender begins and the bitter ends, so his comments were appreciated. The buildings are authentic and I am connected, indirectly, with some of the people who donated them.

alt text

We did the agriculture rounds, as well, since my husband was raised on a farm. They were judging cattle, chickens, and rabbits as we were walking through.

alt text

We also saw the Clydesdale horses and their mascot dog before heading to the FWC exhibits.

alt text

alt text

The FL panther was curled up, sleeping in a corner and I couldn’t get a picture that looked like more than a tan round blob. I DID get a shot of a FL bobcat, but that’s not so hard to find in this area. I know of one that lives in the greenbelt behind my neighborhood. Still, I like bobcats. They look like little lions.

alt text

We also saw a piece of the World Trade Center. I touched it and blessed it. If that was wrong, so be it.

alt text

We walked the midway, but did not go on any rides, play any games, or let anyone guess my weight or age.

alt text

Junk food consumed: one corn dog (me), one giant cinnamon roll with butter cream topping (my husband), one corndog with bacon wrapped around it (we split that. I tried a few bites but didn’t like it), two lemonades, a lobster roll (me) (yes! At a FORIDA state fair!) (it was terrible), a polish sausage (my husband) with onions and peppers and all that stuff that makes my husband raise the sheets all night long, a bottled water and a beer.

Since we never eat at fast food places unless we’re on a road trip, fair food is sort of a forbidden orgy for us. The last fair we’d attended was twenty years ago, so we’ve justified our indulgence. I told my husband that I think I’m going to try a funnel cake the next time we attend a fair. I’ve never had one. There were some things that just sounded gross to me: deep fried butter and bacon wrapped pickles come to mind.

We also toured the arts & crafts, fine arts, and White House exhibits. That’s my husband peeking through the windows.

alt text

I’d hoped to make it to 7 PM to see Gary Puckett and the Union Gap sing “Young Girl”, but about 4 PM, I told my husband that the fair should have beds for naps! We had a lot of fun, spent next to nothing, and held hands all day. We went home happy and tired and grateful for these semi-retirement moments.

alt text

Last updated February 16, 2016

^..^Kat February 16, 2016

I caught you on the front page and am reading a few entries. This one made me smile as well. That day sounds like so much fun.

ConnieK ^..^Kat ⋅ February 16, 2016

Thanks for reading. :)

Shattered February 16, 2016

OMG, funnel cake is SOOOOOOO YUMMY!!! You have to try it!

ConnieK Shattered ⋅ February 16, 2016

Okay! :)

soph February 16, 2016

You have accomplished one of my bucket list trips, to the Florida State Fair. My Granny went often when she lived there and it is something I want to see. I am glad you had a good time and I could picture your day as you told the story. Thank you for sharing.
Connie I have read thru your entire journey of the past year and more. I felt your hurt as I read along. Choked up at time and smiling at others. In the end I silently thanked God when I read that you found that Nick was clean as he told you that he was. Please know that I am truly sorry for your loss and the hurt that your family has gone thru.
Knowing your faith and strength, you have graciously shown us how to live thru the worst days and wake to find a new day. Thank you for your friendship, and I will continue to pray for your peace and comfort.

ConnieK soph ⋅ February 16, 2016

Soph? From OD? How nice to "see" you again! Thanks for your kind words. Nick's death has devastated us. Your prayers will help.
Oxycotin has stolen so many lives. I'm glad Nick found his way out of the darkness. It helps. I do't know why, but it does.

QueenSuzu February 18, 2016

What a great entry! Altho that is horrible about your cousin and his wife. The uncertainty must be the worse.
On brighter notes, I went to the local fair a few years ago with the princesses L and M and had a ball! Jeff won't go to the fair, he doesn't like crowds and always seemed to have some sort of problem there---yeah right, it was before my time so what can I say just roll my eyeballs when he says that. My fair food was always gyros---yuck on funnel cake---tasteless dough with powder sugar on it, however jeff disagrees with me on that, his description is a big fried doughnut with powdered sugar on it. I do the guess your age think, they always get me with being younger than I am and that's a good thing!

ConnieK QueenSuzu ⋅ February 18, 2016

I can get cranky if the crowds are horrendous...usually late in the day, but this was Senior Citizen day, so it was quiet until later in the afternoon...just as we were leaving. :)

Yeah, it is a sad ending, either way. No word yet.

QueenSuzu ConnieK ⋅ February 20, 2016

I forgot to add---Gary Puckett! I was in love with him when I was about 13/14---got all his albums, had his pix up on my wall. Of course I grew up and didn't marry him😪😪but many years later when Jeff and I took our one and only cruise, he was the entertainment one night! He was just as handsome and as good---he even impressed Jeff, so sad that you did not get to see him---he put on a great show.

ConnieK QueenSuzu ⋅ February 20, 2016

It would have been fun, but I'm finding that more & more, it is not the original performers.

QueenSuzu ConnieK ⋅ February 20, 2016

Ah, but Gary was, all him, all good😌

ConnieK QueenSuzu ⋅ February 20, 2016

Next time, I'll time it better. I was too tired to stay.

QueenSuzu February 18, 2016

You must be logged in to comment. Please sign in or join Prosebox to leave a comment.