Freezing In Florida

It should not be surprising that when I was considering where to go to college some 40 years ago, Florida was at the top of my list.  After all, I grew up in a tropical country where “cold” was anything below 65 and “freezing” was anything below 50.  I had never experienced snow.  Nor did I want to…

Never having been to the United States, I had to rely on “reputation.”  And the state with a reputation that appealed to me was…Florida.  The land of sun, sand and surf.  Just like the Philippines!

And so I ended up in the Sunshine State.  On the Suncoast of the Sunshine State, a/k/a Tampa Bay.  Florida Presbyterian (now Eckerd) was at the southern end of Pinellas County, which is a peninsula on a peninsula.  The western  and southern portions of the college bordered the water.

My undergraduate college

But even the Suncoast winters were too cool for me.  So what did I do? Why, move north, of course.  To Gainesville, home of the University of Florida… Gator Country.  I didn’t live there long but long enough to see ice and a snow flurry or two. WTF?

My problem with Hogtowne, as I understand it was once called, is that the city revolves around the University.  If you’re not a student or otherwise associated with UF, there is not much of another professional class.  Nor am I comfortable around talking heads whose lives are based on theory.  There is only one reason for theory – to act upon it and change the world! (And since I’m now too old for the latter, I have no use for the former.)

A friend suggested I’d like where her parents lived – Tallahassee.  Yes, there were not one but two state universities.  However, they were balanced by the fact that it is also the State capital.  So there’s a large professional class not associated with the universities.

Coincidentally, my Master’s is in Public Administration.  So if I want to work in my field, what better place than the political center of the state?

Consequently, I moved to Tallahassee in 1981.  And because of my job, I still live in…Tallahicky.

Now, Tallahassee is about 125 miles northwest of Gainesville.   So  I’m going north again.  Towards the snow! But 125 miles can’t be that much colder, can it?

Oh yes it can! I’ve experienced many freezing days in this part of the Sunshine State.  It isn’t as bad as the Midwest or the Plains, but cold is expected in those places.  We do not expect cold in Florida!  Folks move to Florida for the sunshine, as I did.

Last week, we had two back to back days of freezing.  Tuesday was in the 20s!  If anyone had warned me that I’d see 20s in Florida, I’d have gone to college somewhere else.  Like Las Vegas.

I still do not understand why Vegas was not on my radar in 1970.  By that time, I’d been going to the illegal Manila casinos for a good two years.  Vegas has sun.  Vegas has sand.  Vegas has surf, even if only in hotel pools.

Plus, Vegas has a huge Filipino population. Which means, there’s Filipino restaurants, grocery stores, etc.  It’s a mini-Philippines in the U.S.

Sometime in 2013, between March and September, I’ll not be working anymore.  I’ll be able to live where I want.  Maybe I’ll go “home”…to Vegas.  Assuming I don’t go to a Third World country.

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6 responses to “Freezing In Florida

  1. Yeah–whatever happened to Costa Rica? I have to tell you….I hate Vegas. I’ve only been there once, but you go about 50 feet outside the city limitis, outside the artificial glitz, and it’s a wasteland. I could never, ever live there. The one time I did go, I was walking from one casino to another, about a mile. It was in the summer and it was 110 degrees. By the time I reached my destination, I could barely breathe. That’s when I figured out that it can in fact be too hot–something I thought was impossible.
    Otherwise, I completely agree with you. When I moved to New Orleans I thought my troubles with cold were over. Then the first winter, people started telling me to wrap my outdoor pipes. What? They said here where we don’t get much cold, pipes are not insulated. So I started thinking, where can I move now, lol. Eventually I did move to South Florida and it gets cold there too. (Under 50!) So then my friends and I said, where can we move now? Key West? But here is the deal. I hated South Florida, and I didn’t think Key West would be an improvement. And possibly worse.
    So here I am in Tallahassee–which is on the same latitude as NOLA. Here we go again with the pipe-wrapping. It sort of amazes me that you are so dismissive of Tallahassee (“Tallahicky”), which if nothing else, has provided you with a very good living. I personally love it, but I had to grow into it…Other than NOLA, I’ve never lived anywhere else where I felt as accepted. Of course, comparatively speaking, in NOLA I was like the soul of conservatism 🙂
    It’s kind of like the Three Bears. The bed here is not too hard and not too soft–it’s just right. Tallahassee has absoultely everything I love, and almost none of the things I hate–like the pipe-wrapping. I have adopted Tallahassee–and it has adopted me.

    • Costa Rica, or some other 3rd world country, is not out of the running yet. Other than a job and Susie, this town’s not my style. Too many students, too many rednecks, little variation in cuisine. Heck, Eureka (CA), with a population under 50,000 has more diversity in its cuisine than this town.

  2. I think we have your winter, up here in MN. You must have ours. There is a scant bit of snow on the ground here, left over from a New Year’s Eve snowfall. Last year at this time, we had already seen a couple of blizzards and had plenty of snow on the ground. Recent temps here have been in the mid to upper forties.

    I can’t say that I miss the snow, but it still tends to be dull and gray here most of the time, which is depressing. The older I get, the more I understand the allure of year-round sunshine and warmth.

  3. I first visited Tallahassee in the summer 1961, staying 6 weeks at Jennie Murphy Hall for a summer music camp. The campus was still like it was in the 40’s. Montgomery Gym was both the basketball, swimming and bowling centers and the gymnastic team was the strongest NCAA team they fielded.
    I loved everything about it and made up my mind on the spot I would attend FSU.

    I returned in 1964 and the Campus was going through massive redevelopment. The softball fields and grass tennis courts gave way to the new swimming pool center and the old student union became the new post office and a cool new 2 story student union center was completed with a separate bowling alley. Tully Gym was the new basketball gym and Doak was expanded to seat almost 43K. There were new classroom buildings springing up everywhere and the student population reflected the changing times in America beginning a 2 decade long rush to diversification.

    Leon County itself had changed very little. The only shopping center of any size was the Sears strip center at Apalatchee Parkway and Magnolia (now New Leaf and Books a Million). The town was a virtual Ghost Town during the summer months when most students left for summer break and the Legislature went anywhere they could to escape the oppressive heat.

    After taking a 3 year hiatus in the spring of 1966 I returned in 1969 to live, work and graduate in 1972. We had a 2 story back end of a house on a site where Albertons was later built on North Monroe (now closed.) Northwood Mall across from that site was completed, showcased by the biggest Publix North of Pinellas County. Ground was broken for Killearn Estates, and some of its grey roman bricks found their way into a homemade bookcase that stayed in the family for 20 years.

    I have returned to Tallahassee often during the last 25 years to work and play and have 2 sons still living there. It is in my blood and in my heart. But I have no desire whatever to live there. Visiting is fine with me.

    Things I like least about it are:

    1 weather particularly winter and summer. Fall is OK and Spring (though fleeting) is as good as it gets anywhere. But overall onee wouldn’t chose weather as a plus.

    2 Employment, if you don’t work for the state you are limited to mostly a service based economy which is historically in a state of flux.

    3 Shortage of quality healthcare providers.

    4 Lack of non university culture, even the Brogan Museum has died for lack of interest. I would include the arts, dining and lack of professional sports.

    Things I like most are
    1 All things FSU
    2 Surrounding environmental treasures like Wakulla Springs, St Marks, Panacea, St George Island and the Red Hills.
    3 Personal Nostalgia
    4 Springtime Tallahassee (wihch a group of us helped kick off with a soap box derby race down College Avenue in 1965/66).

    I could never again live there by choice nor could I live in Vegas unless I was confined to a Federal Prison.

    I could live in Key West, which I adore. But it lacks most of the things that Tallahassee lacks too, however it overcomes that with a unique end-of road Island Culture. If I were going to have a winter home it would be there.

    Hogtown is a boring and obnoxious assembly of professors and rednecks who spend their days at each others throats.

    So I will stay in Tampa, which has it all.

    • So you lived in my part of town. I’m off Meridian, two blocks north of John Knox.

      I shopped that N. Monroe Alberston’s until it closed. Then the one that replaced a Winn Dixie on Ocala & Tennessee. After all our Albertson’s closed, I now go to Publix at Lake Ella, which replaced the Northwood Mall one. Interesting to hear that Northwood Publix had some fame.

      Re-reading my post, I notice that I did not see any reason to mention that if I had to live in Florida, it would be Tampa Bay area. (Wesley Chapel looks to be up and coming, and is just a few minutes from north Tampa.)

      A co-worker is moving to Tampa next week. Her fiancee got a job there. I told her she’s going to the best place in Florida. (She’s somewhat of a “refugee” from Albania who came here during the civil strife.) She said that the Clearwater area, I think, has a significant Albanian population.

      And of course St Pete has changed quite a bit since I was there in the early ’70s. That downtown is very urban compared to when I worked in City Hall between ’75 and ’77. (I wrote the grant to the State which purchased that green space between The Pier and south of it.)

      Sometime, I’m going to check out the new Dali Museum. I visited the previous one. It should be no surprise that I like Dali….

      Bottom line I guess, is that I am an urban type, not a “cabin in the woods” type. I like many options, and that’s why I prefer a big metro area. If I stay in the U.S. and do not go to Vegas, it’ll probably be Tampa area.

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