“ A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection..“ ( Patrick Rothfuss)
Last week, I presented part one of my recent mini road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa with the intention of retracing the exact route I took in the mid 1970s during my undergraduate days to and from the University of South Florida.You might recall as well in this previous entry that I planned to drive at a more leisurely pace so I could then stop along the way whenever I wanted, hoping past memories of notable landmarks would resurface at will. Using the cover photo of this blog and followup paragraphs, you can thus review the 2nd leg of this blog covering (1) past and present memories of two small towns along the Central Florida portion of my original route to USF along Route 60, (2) a noteworthy foot path I frequented to and from classes on this main campus itself, and (3) some memorable shoreline movement experiences along Old Tampa Bay.
Note in addition that I will continue my re- assessment about this nostalgic adventure to USF in 2023, with regard to the following questions below that continually occupied my mind during that time.
1. What’s changed or remained the same from such visual impressions?
2. What self revelations about living my life in the moment more today can be revealed by such time observations?
BARTOW: OLD SOUTH IN TRANSITION
The sleepy town of Bartow, Florida in my college days acquired its name from Francis Bartow, a famous Confederate general of the Civil War. Thus it’s no surprise that those drives through the town always impressed upon me with a seemingly unchanging “Old South” spirit where one could live, work, and worship peacefully likely among those of their own kind. Thus in waiting impatiently in the past to cross the old railroad junction along Route 60 to bypass Bartow’s downtown, I might have witnessed on occasion church bells from the 1st Baptist Church ringing to announce upcoming Bible sermons, company pickup trucks returning “blue collar” workers to the local phosphate mill, or a country hardened old timer” hobbling crossing the road. Based on on those previous memories, I could thus never envision during my latest jaunt in 2023 that Bartow would be making a serious effort to create a more inclusive public community involving a serious effort in to attract a more diverse and friendlier pedestrian appearance downtown. I thus realize that other small town Southern communities as Bartow with such a forward thinking growth management would make excellent places to stay on future road trips “off the beaten path”
MULBERRY: A DIRE ENVIRONMENTAL PROSPECT
Eight mile west of Barstow lies Mulberry, which I vividly recall from my college days as a factory company town victimized by a perpetual cloud of phosphate dust emanating from surrounding mills. But I would always try to ignore this putrid smell by counting on Mulberry as a convenient destination for simply finding a cheap gas fill up or a quick restroom stop before finding my way to or from the more congested environs of Tampa. In 2023, continuing phosphate mining operations on both sides of Route 60 now permanently scar the surrounding environs with sickening slag piles, unsightly factory shells, and toxic foul air. Such corporate greed conducted at the cost of environmental destruction is truly wrong. So with the impending climate crisis now threatening our earth, it seems the right time for me to actively participate in volunteer land and water cleanup efforts as well as citizen protest demonstration movements in South Florida and on our road trips when I can.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: A HOME OF ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE
One of the attributes that immediately attracted me to the University of South Florida relates to its spread out landscape encompassing natural greenery of the region for over1500 acres. Such spontaneous moments like studying for an exam under the shaded canopy of an old oak tree or attending those intensely raucous rallies on the historic hill adjacent to the old Student Union definitely occupied my mind as I entered the campus again last week as a past alumni alumni graduate of the University’s Education Department. Yet I also recall that walking from place to place seemed quite difficult in those times given the considerable travel distance I hurriedly trekked then between each building in order to arrive at class on time. So it made sense for me to retake such a challenging hike along a familiar pedestrian walkway retracing my steps to and from those academic areas of music, social science, and education where my classes originally met. Shuffling at a slower pace on this occasion, I seemed quite observant of passing students briskly making their way around these spacious campus grounds as well as a rebellious student street protest taking place along an adjacent campus street. Such “now” impressions seemed to be a fitting welcome back to my college town home where serious immersion to attain well rounded academic excellence and serious issue involvement most deservedly continues on like I remember from 1970 to 1974. To never stop learning seems to matter more than ever to me now as I attempt to continue leading a fulfilling life in retirement.
OLD TAMPA BAY: YOUTH FILLED REMEMBRANCES
I often wonder why my long road to the University of South Florida from Fort Lauderdale typically runs beyond the college itself. But I’d obtained a long history of enjoying Old Tampa Bay further west during my childhood when I spent several summers with my grandfather living in Tampa often fishing off old Courtney Campbell and Gandy Bridge and playfully exploring the shell filled shorelines. Such spontaneous frolic would continue during my college years as I “blew off steam” from academic pressures many times by parking my vehicle under a tree shrouded canopy to enjoy the silent presence of gentle winds over tranquil winds along the bay. So with high emotion, I settled into my most recent walk along Old Tampa Bay on the Clearwater side with similar thoughts of youthful nature enjoyment as both a recreational and mind clearing time in my present life. Thus as I practice these days more self help tools like yoga, meditation and kundalini, my recent travel experience to Old Tampa Bay powerfully reminds me to be at peace with myself whatever the circumstances and fully enjoy the now.
How do you stand on this issue of revisiting roads of the past? Thanks for the reblog.
Sad how sometimes things that change aren’t always for the good.
Mini trips have their charm and evoke memories and comparisons to earlier times,
You’re right Ultra. It’s like entering a time tunnel into the past.
It’s always interesting to return to a place and see how much you remember from your first visit and how much has changed (and how much you’ve changed).
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Probably more of the latter in my case. How about you?
Interesting idea to go back in time and return to old memories. And some annoying smells…
I am enjoying this series, Jim, as it brings back fond memories of when I lived in Florida.