Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cane Poles And Cold Cokes

Just about nobody takes the Tamiami Trail, U.S .41, anymore from Miami to Florida's west coast. It's so much faster to take I-75 across the state. If you're going to the Miccosukee Indian reservation or visiting Everglades National Park, or just want to do some bass fishing in the canal, that's when you take the Trail. Before it became a national park in 1948, or maybe it was1949, there were some small towns along the road and isolated shacks and hunting camps located on dirt roads off of the Trail. For the most part these were allowed to remain after the park was started but you couldn't build anything new and if you actually owned the land (a lot of the camps were simply squatters) the government bought you out.

State Road 29 crossed the trail and went south to Everglades City, which was now inside the park. There was a "general store" at the intersection where we used to stop for a soda back when cars weren't air conditioned. Nothing tastes as good or as cold as a bottle of Coke chilled by standing in a big cooler with about 4 inches of water that had melted from the 25 pound chunks of ice that shared the space. They were COLD! Out front leaning against the store were bundles of 20 foot long cane poles that were the favored tool for fishing for bream (sunfish) and pronounced "brim".

Ochopee, more a name than a town, was on the Trail just east of the Route 29 intersection. It's main claim to fame was The World's Smallest Post Office where people in the area could pick up their mail. No, there were no mailmen slogging through the swamp delivering door to door. I would guess that most of the residents who were grandfathered in to live inside the Park's boundaries are long since dead, and it's been nearly thirty years since the last time I took the Trail across the state. I don't know if this building is even there today. I took this shot in the early 1970's.


Anonymous Peter Metelerkamp said...

Dear Al,

You responded to my recent post on the Leica forum. Thanks v. much. I like your approach. You must have more time than I do, to maintain your blog!

Good going! All the best,


5:39 AM  

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