Saturday, October 31, 2009

That sinking feeling

I hate it when this happens. There's nothing more upsetting and a bit sad then to come upon a sinking and apparently abandoned boat. This sailboat looks seaworthy but has obviously taken on quite a lot of water and is now grounded in the sand and grass along the shore. Is it salvageable? Probably. Does the vessel's owner care? Only time will tell. (Note, that as of this date, the mainsail covers are in place and tight and the ropelines are still coiled on the bow.)

I am pleased to welcome Sylvia, a new follower to Tampa Florida Photo. Sylvia is one of the hosts of That's My World, an every Tuesday meme (along with her co-hosts Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Louise.) Visit her blog, Sylvia From Over The Hill, HERE to learn about Seattle, Washington and the incredible beauty of the Olympic Peninsula. Her blog's tagline: Aging is what you choose to make it. What a place to age well.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Grab the paddle, captain

Of course it's sea-worthy. It also has the requisite, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, a paddle and two containers to bail water big one bucket and a small plastic cup for the last few ounces. Why'd you ask? You can swim, can't you?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twins take the night

These are the twin, 29-story Towers of Channelside. They rise up facing East Cumberland Avenue but literally tower over Channelside Drive and the Shops at Channelside. This view, facing north, is looking from atop the bridge from Harbour Island leading to Meridian Avenue. The views all around from these condo units must be awesome.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

She Must Clear Her Inventory (and she missed the Krazy Ice Cream!)

If you've followed my blogs for a while you know I cannot resist these street-side maidens (and sometimes beaus) who spend countless hot, humid days standing along some of our busiest roadways. Virtually forgotten as they go about their trade, rain or shine - mainly lots of shine - spewed by engine exhaust, they all try to grab our attention for a product, a store, a workout joint or costume jewelry outlet. Their pay is extremely low, zero, so their attitude and overall demeanor is what ultimately spells success or failure. Having paid no attention to what this gal was liquidating, I'm guessing it's long, sparkling evening wear. But it's really about her. And her many brothers and sisters, trying their very best with a wooden expression, and steely glare, pursed lips saying so much without uttering a single word. It's obvious they are all trying to communicate the same thing: "Take me inside already. Put me back in a window where I belong. I am not one of those kinds of girls you can put out on the street. And, get some shoes on me. Please!"

Do visit a couple of my previous mannequins HERE and HERE. And don't miss this Romeo awaiting his Juliet HERE.

I am pleased to welcome a new follower to Tampa Florida Photo: Mel Gilbert, who lives in Ocoee, Florida. (Ocoee is in central Florida, just east of beautiful Lake Apopka and west of Orlando.)

Retired from the U.S. Navy and teaching (high school history - yeh!) Mel takes us on a photo adventure of the U.S. and Canada. His photo skills are superb. Visit him HERE. His blog's tagline:
Every day of your life is a page of your history...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In every kind of weather

It doesn't matter what the weather, joggers, runners, walkers, bikers and dogs of every breed, size and temperament can be found out on Bayshore Boulevard. We actually got a strong, steady downpour this evening and we needed it. The temperature hasn't dropped much but the whole earth seems so much fresher, cleaner and sweeter smelling after the rains fell.

WELCOME Cal from Manchester, England, at It's a Sign, and Peter, an Iranian now living in Malaysia, at Daily Notes. Both have uncommonly interesting blogs and could not be more different from the other. Visit them both and see just how fascinating the blogosphere can be.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Moorish Domes and Minarets: Henry B. Plant's Dream

This is the dome over Fletcher Lounge at the University of Tampa. Elaborate minaret-shaped dormers encircle the dome and mimic the minarets that sit atop the original Tampa Bay Hotel building. Henry Bradley Plant built this sumptuous luxury resort in 1891 to lure northerners to journey on his railway to this tropical Florida paradise. Plant selected the architectural style and he saw his dream realized. Fletcher Lounge was the main dining room for guests staying at the grand hotel and, along with the original Music Room and Grand Salon, it is used for events throughout the year.

The hotel rose up on the west banks of the Hillsborough River, right across from the small town of Tampa, and many an event and lavish formal affair have been held under this dome over the last century. The hotel's Moorish architecture was and is breathtaking when you first see it and it remains the singular most distinctive architectural feature of our city. Th
e minarets remain the most recognizable icons on Tampa's skyline. We've grown from a few thousand citizens when it was built to close to 300,000 today, but the original hotel building still holds magical powers over residents, students and tourists alike.

I have shown the minarets, the interior of this dome in Fletcher Lounge and the highly-respected Henry B. Plant Museum in previous posts, but I never tire of showcasing this building and this jewel in our city's history. The Tampa Bay Hotel, recognized as a United States National Historic Landmark, is a special part of who we are and it is carefully preserved and maintained for future generations to enjoy. Visit the
Henry B. Plant Museum website to learn more.
(To learn more about the University of Tampa, click HERE.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mate for life: Is that even possible?

It's been stated that ducks, like this pair of male and female Mallards, actually mate for life. Now, my unscientific experiment with this pair lasted all of an hour...very authoritative. While observing this pair, they were never more then 2-3 feet apart, moved over a hundred yards together, mirroring the other's movements, and generally seemed happy with one another. (Hey, I said this was an unscientific experiment based on my kind-of-lazy observation and at no time did I hear or witness any behavior I would interpret as unloving or a bit disrespectful from either duck. I did witness the female, the one not as colorful, look back a couple times at the male with a look that I thought said, "Could you hurry along? Keep up dear. Stop showing off your fancy feathers to every cute female duck that floats by." But, this was just me layering human characteristics on this pair of ducks.

If the hour of close(!) observation was any indication, I would say these two are certainly a very involved pair of ducks. And that's my scientific conclusion.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lakeside cabin, wash tub and casino gambling

This setting is as bucolic as it appears. Small country cabin up along the edge of a peaceful Florida lake. Just big enough to water ski on but not too big. Palmettos and thick St. Augustine grass grows right down to the water's edge, cattails fill the shallows and the oaks are as tall and grand as any that ever shaded the earth. The covered dock just off a bit and the boat tied up complete a scene of restful relaxation, almost a place that time forgot.

But just across the lake, rising up several stories is a jarring reminder that this is not old Florida but a state that permits casino gambling. If you pull in close you can see that guests on the mid- to upper-floors of the casino hotel are looking down at the small lake and it's pastoral, almost watercolor setting. Oh, well, there went the neighborhood.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Little Old Schoolhouse: Tampa's Historic Treasure

This building, perhaps the oldest building in the Tampa area, is simply called the Old Schoolhouse. Where it is located is almost as surprising as its history. The fact that it is still standing is also a surprise to me. Directly behind Fletcher Lounge, at the north end of the original Tampa Bay Hotel building, now part of the University of Tampa, and facing the John H. Sykes College of Business, the Old Schoolhouse has a nice grassy spot amidst a very busy and growing, private 4-year university. This quaint, one-story, clapboard-sided schoolhouse, in a Greek Revival style of architecture has survived over 150 years. It was moved to this location from its original spot closer to the Hillsborough River. The story is fascinating because it all ties to the idea of building a large, luxury resort hotel in Tampa. Henry Bradley Plant bought at foreclosure sales in 1879 and 1880 the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad and the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. With these rail systems he extended his Plant Line down and across the state of Florida. In 1882, Tampa, then a village of less than a thousand citizens, was made the terminus of his southern Florida railroad and also the home port for a new line of steamships to Havana, Cuba. His business empire would include several steamship lines and luxury hotels. In deciding where exactly to build his new hotel, Plant found there were advocates for building it on the east side of the Hillsborough River, across from Tampa, as well as some who wanted it in the heart of the town, not in the “wilderness.” Tampa was a town of less than a thousand citizens in the 1880s.

Dr. James W. Covington, Tampa historian, author and long-time professor of history at the University of Tampa, wrote an article, "The Tampa Bay Hotel," which was published in 1966, in the Tequesta, journal of the Historical Association of Southern Florida. Dr. Covington wrote, “The entire western side of the Hillsborough was still part of the Florida wilderness- complete with thick undergrowth, large oak trees, deep rooted palmettos and wildlife of all sorts. It was a wild but not very historic part of the Florida wilderness. A few homesteads and developments were scattered about the area. One was the William S. Spencer farm in present day Palma Ceia. Others included Spanish Town along the present Bayshore Drive, Hyde Park, a subdivision established by G. H. Platt of Chicago in 1885 and the General Jesse Carter tract.

General Jesse Carter, a pioneer
mail contractor, had been in charge of the state troops during the Third Seminole War in 1855-1858 and had erected a house and several smaller buildings on his holdings. One such building erected by General Carter was a school house to provide education for his daughter Josephine. Miss Louise Porter, a young teacher from Key West, was employed as teacher and other students who joined the class included the two Spencer children and five other guest students. This school began in 1850 (see insert photo of interior), and was the first one to be erected west of [the] Hillsborough River. During the period of the Tampa Bay Hotel's existence, the building served as an apothecary shop [pharmacy].” (The Tampa Bay Hotel: Tequesta: Number 26/1966, p.3 - 20). Plant acquired the schoolhouse in 1886 from Jessie J. Hayden when he bought the property for his hotel. In 1931, the building, then owned by the City of Tampa which also owned the Tampa Bay Hotel (which had finally closed in 1930), was given to the DeSoto Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution by Mayor D.B. McKay and the City of Tampa. On December 4, 1974, the old Schoolhouse was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is maintained beautifully and used on occasion by members of the DeSoto Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Let their names be the last: Tampa Police Memorial

The silhouette of the uniformed police officer stands atop the memorial to the 29 Tampa Police Officers killed in the line of duty since 1895. Each officer made the ultimate sacrifice for the citizens of Tampa. Their names are inscribed in the Roll Call of Honor. The first officer to die in the line of duty was Officer John McCormick, who was killed September 25, 1895, right near this spot on Franklin Street where the memorial and the Tampa Police headquarters are located. And the last was Corporal Michael Roberts who died on August 19, 2009. Two names of officers who were killed in towns that were annexed after the city was incorporated were added in the front; Town Marshall Joseph Walker, of Port Tampa City, who died in 1915; and Officer Juan Nales, City of West Tampa, who died in 1920. This is a very powerful and moving tribute to these fine officers. It stands right in front of the entrance to the Tampa Police building. Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the sculptural elements just above the badge with black band.

This is a poem that is inscribed on the Tampa Police Memorial:

I never dreamed it would be me

my name for all eternity, recorded

here at the hallowed place, alas,

my name, no more my face.

"In the line of duty" I hear them say,

my family now the price to pay,

my folded flag stained with their tears,

we only had those few short years.

The badge no longer on my chest,

I sleep now in eternal rest, my sword

I pass to those behind, and pray they,

keep this thought in mind.

I never dreamed it would be me

and with heave heart and bended knee,

I ask for all here from the past;

Dear God, let my name be the last.

(Written by George Hahn, Los Angeles Police Department, Retired)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monochrome: Florida Grand Oak

Thanks . It is a challenge each week to previsualize and capture a small piece of my colorful world in black, white and shades of gray.

If you love your world in black and white, be sure and visit some of the world's most interesting places and experience the incredible photographic artistry of Monochrome Maniacs!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Like being called a Snake Bird?

This is a female Anhinga, also known as the Snake Bird because when it’s in the water most of the bird is submerged and all you can see is its long skinny neck and sharp beak – very snake-like. Notice that it has webbed feet like a duck. They are found all over the state of Florida and also parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia. Because the Anhinga lacks the oil glands that most water birds have, they can be spotted very often with their wings outstretched, drying its feathers. (I thought it was unusual that this one was sitting so motionless and had its wings in tight and close....probably happily digesting its lunch.) They feed on fish, shrimp, amphibians, and even young alligators and snakes when they can catch them. They swim well underwater and when they do catch their prey they surface and stretch out their yellow beak and long neck to down the meal. Their body is black with silvery white feathers on the upper back and wings except that the females, like this one, have a brown head and neck. being that I am not an ex[pert, this could be a young Anhinga as the young ones, male and female, look like the adult female until maturity.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is it a car or a boat? BOTH - Amphicars cause quite a wave

These vehicles are both cars as well as boats and to prove that they really can do double-duty, just look at them nose-to-nose powering around Lake Mirror during the weekend activities in Lakeland at the Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival. The Amphicar was manufactured in Berlin, Germany from 1962 to 1967. Roughly 4,500 were produced and most were imported into the US and found eager buyers. Although not a huge hit, they are loved by their current owners who maintain them and have fun showing them off to disbelieving crowds. They estimate that 500 might still be around and this weekend saw owners of several Amphicars gathering to show off their unique transportation capabilities to curious crowds.

Amphicar is the only non-military amphibious vehicles ever produced in regular production and they have held up quite well. They are able to reach speeds of of over 70mph on dry pavement and about 8 knots on water. The drivers (skippers) of these two examples and their passengers had a ball racing around kicking up waves to the delight and astonishment of the crowds lining Lake Mirror. An exquisite collection of finely crated wooden boats were the ultimate compliment to the Amphicar as you can see in the smaller photo. Click on it to see some of these wooden masterpieces on display in the water. What a diverse festival of transportation all gathered together on a postcard-perfect fall weekend in Florida.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My classic car adventure at Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival

We spent the day at the 10th Annual Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival held on the streets and around beautiful Mirror Lake in Lakeland. We spotted this film crew for Dennis Gage, star of SPEED Channel's poplar weekly program and Gage's blog, My Classic Car. The car that's getting his attention is a gorgeous 1959 Chrysler Imperial Crown Southhampton Coupe, a featured vehicle in the festival's salute to the Golden Anniversary of cars built in that year. It was a pure delight to see its luxurious design-excesses ( by the brilliant automotive designer Virgil Exner, the man behind Chrysler's "Forward Look" styling) such as the 1950s era fins, chrome, stainless steel and massive grill. The careful and meticulous restoration would lead you to believe this car had just left the factory. The entire festival was filmed for a 30-minute episode devoted entirely to this year's event.

The car to the top left is a huge departure from America's car-craze and love affair in the 1950s with swooping bodies, slabs of chrome and aircraft-size fins; a 1931 Chevrolet Beach Racer.

The car on the bottom left is a 1958 BMW Isetta 300 Deluxe in two-tone and pulling its own tiny speedboat on a trailer. It was the ideal combination for its prestige location up near the lakefront. The car is seriously cute and was a real showstopper and was voted Best of Show by Mrs. Tampa DP. (Click HERE to see my show post and more cars at Tampa Daily Photo.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Autumn-like temperatures due any minute

The clouds paint quite a story on this Friday afternoon as a cold front moves through and temperatures and humidity levels take a nosedive. After weeks of 90-degree summer scorchers I am really looking forward to a cooler weekend and much lower humidity. There is an antique car show nearby that would sure be fun to visit - almost like the Octoberfest Vintage Car weekends in Lime Rock, Connecticut that we used to enjoy each year. (We would drive up in the '76 BMW 2002 or '66 Chevrolet Impala SS Convertible and split the days antiquing in Litchfield, Kent and surrounding towns and picking our way though vintage foreign cars and that is heaven. Ever seen a Facel Vega from France?) Tomorrow will not require sunscreen and copious liters of water as though we're out sunbathing on the beach. Glancing outside it LOOKS like it's a chilly fall day although it's still 81 degrees right now. But, ah-h-h, morning low in the 50s!! (All you guys who live in Florida know why I am so over this year's eternal summer. Enough already.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2-Hour Notice Required: Please call

The Brorein Street Bridge, another of Tampa's bridges that is listed in the Historic Bridges of the United States database, crosses the Hillsborough River just up river from the first crossing, the Platt Street Bridge. Built in 1959, the Brorein is the newest of the bridges and lies in the shadow of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway. The bridges are all operable and can be raised to allow for tall boat traffic to pass underneath but as the sign in the upper left states: BRIDGE OPENING, 2 HOUR NOTICE. If your watercraft is taller than the Never Never Land and you need the bridge raised to enter or leave the river, you must give the city two hours notice so they arrange for bridge tenders to raise this bridge and all of the others that you plan to pass through. So that took care of that. I guess that late night, last minute idea to cruise into the Gulf to enjoy a romantic view of the moon is a no-go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tony Jannus landed here: The birth of the commercial airline industry

Hard to believe when you look at this monument in a small park on the Hillsborough River that it actually honors a singular achievement and one that changed almost all of our lives forever. Tony Jannus, born Antony Habersack Jannus (1889-1916), became the first airline pilot when he flew the inaugural flight of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line on January 1, 1914, the first scheduled commercial airline flight in the world.

Prior to that year, it was a long way from Tampa to St. Petersburg. You could opt to travel by slow-going steamboat, or on dusty, bumpy roads by horse and carriage – or maybe even in an early horseless carriage – or survive the three-hour trip by the railroad. It was proposed that Jannus, an accomplished pilot by that year, fly a Benoist flying boat as a “commercial line” over the bays and connect the two cities. Hard to imagine that the idea for an “airline” hadn’t been thought of or attempted before, but planes were still new and were a scary novelty mode of transport to most sane folks. A contract to operate the airline was signed on December 17, 1913, ten years after the Wright Brothers first historic flight. The contract called for two round-trip flights a day via the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line – the first scheduled airline company. The rest, as they say, is history. I’m just glad technology has kept pace with our need to travel faster over greater and greater distances and we can count on more than a mere 75 horsepower engine and a speed of 75 mph to take us across the country or overseas. The original flight time was 23 minutes and my guess is, it was on time and no luggage was lost…on the first flight anyway. You had better have packed goggles and a rain slicker though as Jannus flew at about 50 feet off the water.

This aircraft propeller monument was erected in 1956 to honor Jannus' achievement. The Tony Jannus Award is given annually by the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society to recognize outstanding individual achievement in the scheduled commercial aviation industry.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parking at the Courthouse: A Ceramic Tile Mural in the Tampa Public Art Collection

This is the right side of a mural that stretches 145-feet along the south-facing wall of the Tampa Police Department Parking Garage. (It is on Kennedy Boulevard between Florida Avenue and Franklin Street.) Although the location is in the heart of downtown, and right across from the Tampa City Hall, it is not easily seen (or photographed.) The wall is back off the street and hidden in shadow most of the day. Benches stand in rows along its entire length. That said, the mural,named Parking at the Courthouse by the artist Mike Mandel, is well worth finding. The best part of his creation, which is part of the Tampa Public Art Collection, is that it was made entirely of ceramic tiles. From one end to the other it rises from 9 1/2’ to 15’ and is comprised of a mosaic of historic photographs created with thousands of small colored tiles. Because this was the site of the grand, domed Hillsborough County Courthouse that was built in 1892 - and designed by J. A. Wood, the architect of Henry B. Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel – the main scene is of the courthouse (which sadly was demolished years ago). Other photographs that are represented in tile include uniformed Tampa Police officers standing beside their 1959-60 police squad car, a courtroom scene from 1927, and a 1920s photo of the Eli Witt Cigar Company with the brand slogans Won’t You Hav-A-Tampa Cigar and Tampa Nuggets emblazoned on a delivery truck and wall. The artist used the intricate Victorian arches that you can see to frame and divide the scenes. His reference for the design of the arches came from the original Tampa Bay Hotel (which I have posted photographs of several times HERE and is today home to the University of Tampa and the Henry B. Plant Museum.) If you ever find yourself with business at City Hall or you’re on your way to lunch at a restaurant nearby on Franklin Street, be sure and find Parking at the Courthouse, Mike Mandel’s artwork of ceramic tiles and enjoy a truly unique installation celebrating the history of Tampa.



I am so glad you found me again.

Sunny has the most wonderful blog, Barnyards and Barnacles, that I recommend you visit often. (Sunny had been following me at Tampa Bay Daily Photo so when I stopped posting there in August to concentrate on Tampa Daily Photo and Tampa Florida Photo, she thought she'd lost me.) Born in Cornwall, England, Sunny has made Massachusetts her home and through her blog she takes us on a journey through her America. From luscious, colorful scenes of covered bridges in Vermont to barnyard animals, to the rolling, rock-walled fields and rolling hills of Massachusetts, you will enjoy her view of New England and other stops on her personal journey. I especially like her old barns and covered bridges. Go meet Sunny.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It better be FRESH!

"A Fresher Way of Eating Is Coming" declares the crisp white signage showing fruits and vegetables splashing and sinking through clear water. I must say the graphic approach caught my eye. The restaurant is slated to open on Franklin Street in Tampa downtown in January 2010.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stop Termites with Yellow and White

I was initially drawn to this image not for the stop sign, which you can find on your street corners, but rather for the acres and acres of yellow and white striped canvas. What you see behind the sign is the canvas tenting that is used in the termite fumigation process that has to be performed roughly every five years with homes and buildings in Florida, even schools. Every structure at some interval must be tented and treated for termites with a gas which is contained within the tenting. In this case, the school is Gorrie Elementary School, the oldest operating elementary school in the state of Florida. This school is quite large, tens of thousands of square feet. The school, located in the Hyde Park Historic District, is named for Dr. John B. Gorrie to honor his achievements in medical science and the invention of the first ice-making machine (which led to the refrigerator and the modern air conditioner.)

I readily admit that this is not a flattering portrait of our oldest elementary school nor is it a respectful way to portray a fine and restored historic structure, but I just couldn't help myself after the STOP sign jumped into view. I guess I just like the way all the colors work against and with each other.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Breezer Trolley Passes the Globe of the World

Tampa's World Trade Center building on Channelside Drive makes a good backdrop for the meeting of two of Tampa's TECO Streetcar System trolleys. I have posted shots of the Birney type car before which you can see coming into the frame from the right. The one I have not seen before is the one in the center, a Breezer. It is an open-air streetcar where passengers hop on board right at their seat and ride in the breeze, in the open-air. Although the cars do have blinds that the motorman can drop into place if it rains, that hasn't been much of a problem lately. With our 90-degree heat the breeze would be very welcome as your trolley makes it way from the station near the Tampa Convention Center to Ybor City. The Breezer streetcars began in the US with flatbed, horse-drawn wagons - open of course, which moved passengers around as early as the 1830s. Tampa’s original streetcar system included 50 Breezers. It can seat 78 passengers and 10 standing and requires both a motorman, as on all Birney cars, as well as a conductor. This car, sponsored by the Alessi family of Tampa, and its VIGO Importing Company, was built in 1984. It remains Tampa's only open-air trolley. If you look past the cars and into the windows of the World Trade Center building you can see the giant globe of the world. It is huge.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bugs LIVE in all disguises

Volkswagens hold a special place in the hearts of owners and drivers all over the world. At one time or another just about everyone has either owned a Volkswagen of some type or at least has a story to tell about a friend who did. It was the nature of all early VWs to be quirky and exhibit strong and unique personality traits. if you have ever been a VW owner you know what I'm talking about. Love. Hate. Whether you were passionate about your Bug, or Bus, or at times desperate, of whichever variant you owned, it was never just a means of transportation. Each had a strong human-like hold on you. Until you sold it.

I know this photo isn't one of my images of Tampa's history, or our gorgeous waterfront or even a blazing sunset, but rather four VWs lined up together. You would have passed this in a heartbeat without even noticing. I passed it too but circled back thinking I saw something to shoot when they appeared dead in front of me across the street. What caught my attention was the four represented almost the entire range of Volkswagens produced for a good while. (I think the only model missing is what I called the 1500 Squareback, built from the 1961 until 1973.) The Beetle, on the left, maybe a '68-70 was produced from 1938 to 2003, when the New Beetle was introduced (On a trip to Mexico a few years back I almost couldn't believe seeing a brand spanking new Beetle, then only being built and sold in that country but no longer imported into the US.) The most interesting model in this used car lineup is the one known affectionately in this country as the Thing. It is actually the Volkswagen Type 181, or "Kurierwagen, " a military model that enjoys a cult status today. Only built from 1969-1983, roughly 90,000 were produced. It is known in the United Kingdom as the Trekker and in Mexico as the Safari. It was built from 1969 to 1983, although civilian sales stopped in 1980.
I think its strange to find a Volkswagen Beetle, a van or Bus, a Thing and the last example, on the far right, a dune buggy, all sitting on a street together. The dune buggies were a big hit on beaches from Florida to California and found a long life as off-road fun cars. The only place with this assortment of VWs would have to be a Volkswagen repair garage, but still, that's quite a collection of Volkswagen history...and many memories for lots of us. (By way of disclosure I must confess to having owned two: a brand new VW Super Beetle (bright orange with an 8-track tape deck); and a new green and white van (with air conditioning - yes, AC - as cold as a meat locker and a FM radio.) Wow, that's when gas was still 25 cents a gallon and I could travel a long distance on a tank. And did. Notice that the van is a camping type and is in need of major restoration. Although they were extremely slow, and wouldn't climb a steep hill floored, they were solid. dependable and lots of fun to own and drive.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shark's Head NOT for Sale

Scary, yet whimsical are the elements captured and combined in this image of the Southeastern Fishing Tackle Liquidators store on North Florida Avenue. They carry just about every brand and type of fishing equipment and perform repairs as well. Plus they sell things that are essential to every fisherman/woman such as lanterns, knives, coolers and camp stoves. Nets, too, like the bait nets I have featured in the past. What they have that every tackle shop can't boast of is their very own shark's head planted squarely in the center of their store in plain sight of passing motorists. Hey, it did the trick. It caught my eye.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sligh Middle School: Terry Klaaren's murals mean it isn't middling anymore

One of the best things I ever "discovered" while wandering through Tampa - camera in hand - was a creation of the artist Terry Klaaren. It was in May and I had decided to cruise the streets of our downtown business district for the odd, unusual or extraordinary...something worthy of your discerning eyes. It had to be interesting, perhaps even unique, and not be something you would find in your town or neighborhood. I came to a stop at a light on Franklin Street, looked to my left and there it was: huge hungry BLUE NOTES were escaping from a building. One of the coolest works of outdoor art I had ever seen. Playful but threatening blue musical notes were leaping slithering and escaping from the top corner of an otherwise staid old brick office building. (Go see it HERE.)

After that post I heard from the artist and others about locations where I could see more of his work. It's been a while but I set out to see one of those places that's near Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood. Just as they said, the transformation that an otherwise ordinary Hillsborough County middle school underwent had to have "lifted up the spirits of the students and administrators." More of the school then I could capture on camera is covered with Terry's outdoor murals of Florida's native fauna and wildlife. (And I took a lot more photos of the murals then this one wall.) There are walls with blue Florida skies, rivers, raccoons, birds, bushes and trees. And he didn't just paint flat brick walls. He painted wide expanses including roof overhangs and downspouts that seem to go and on around corners and walkways and over and around every obstacle.

Sligh Middle School, at Sligh Avenue and 22nd Street, was deserving of this kind of total visual makeover and every public school could benefit from the same delightful thinking and creative execution. It is hugely uplifting and a visual pleasure. You can't help but smile. It might be that like living near the beautiful bodies of water that surround us that after a while you stop noticing; I hope that isn't the case at Sligh. They attend a school that's wrapped in a magnificent work of art. I give the artist Terry Klaaren and those responsible for allowing him to create his realistic, inventive and even playful murals at Sligh straight A's for excellent in ambition and creativity.
We need more!! To see and learn more about Terry Klaaren and his art visit him at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sulphur Springs Bank?

Sulphur Springs is a neighborhood of Tampa located just a few miles north of the downtown business district. It can be found along the Hillsborough River at Nebraska Avenue. Look for the the giant 214-foot water tower as a landmark. It began as a resort around the turn of the 20th century and developed into a very popular destination from the 1920s through the 1950s for folks looking to "take the cure" promised by the healing waters of the natural spring. A hotel, movie theater, shops, restaurants and banks sprang up as people flocked to the area and enjoyed the swimming and natural beauty of the area. It was even dubbed the "Coney island of Tampa" by a local historian who has studied its history. Eventually locals and tourists converted vacation cabins into homes and it became a neighborhood. Sadly the entire area declined and only recently has it begun to show signs of new life and rebirth. It presents a great story and the website Ghost Towns has a lot of fascinating information about the early years and what has become of the original town. (Click HERE.) I was told that this brick building was one of the banks in Sulphur Springs. It's certainly well constructed and save for the brightly painted blue doors, it doesn't appear to have changed much from the day it was built. (I found some other interesting and surprising photos in the area and there is a lot of history so I'll post a bit more of Sulphur Springs in the days ahead.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

She's barefoot and 50% Off.

How shocking she's working the street in her bare feet. Didn't her mother teach her better? Next thing you know she'll show up with a tattoo and wearing a silly hat from her grandmother's closet. Oh, no. That IS grandma's Easter hat. What is happening to this younger generation? At least she isn't wearing a studded black leather belts slung over her shoulder. Yet. (Does she look a bit wooden to you or is it just me?)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Want a couple horses with that sod? Or a lion or two?

As the sod business must have really suffered during our period of drought and severe water restrictions, exploring a different business model could keep you afloat in this down economy. This place may still sell sod - although I didn't see any signs of it - but statues big and small are everywhere. Small naked women and tiny St. Francis share space with fountains, flower pots, mailboxes, several lions and full-size gold horses, rearing up and ready to greet friends and family at the end of your driveway. If you think that might just be a bit much for the neighborhood, stick with two of the 5-foot tall golden lions...and pretend you're the New York Public Library.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brick mason lives here?

I thought this home really stood out from its neighbors because of the intricate brick work used in the home's walls, gateways, towers, lamp post and even the mail box pedestal. The homeowner, and I have to assume he's in the "brick business" in some major way, let his imagination and masonry skills go wild as he designed an unusual and not unattractive entrance to his house. He likes the castle-look, niches and archways and has used them liberally throughout. The biggest surprise is that his driveway is concrete. What a major disappointment and missed opportunity. (Maybe it's still in the drawing and planning stage.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What planet is this?

Something as simple as a brand new portion of an Interstate highway, complete with massive sign support structures, makes me think that it all looks far too slick and almost over-designed. I'm not saying I don't like the look - I do - but it seems so in contrast to most of the streets, roads and major highways that it appears to be almost alien...from another planet maybe. This section of several miles through the center of Tampa was so recently completed that it doesn't even show dirt or wear yet. And the sign support actually looks like it could withstand 100+mph hurricane winds, or higher. Let's hope so.