Because of Poor Planning, Parking Storage is Hollowing Out Downtown Jax

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Call them “parking craters” or “dead zones” or osteoporosis. Mammoth parking garages are eating Downtown alive. When the flâneuX sees only parking storage on either side, they guess Downtown is the “parking district.” Jane Jacobs titled a famous essay “Downtown is for People.” Jax authorities sometimes seem to think otherwise.

This is Where the First House Stood

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Here, Lewis Zachariah and Maria Hogans built the first house. It preceded the city (if you could call it that) of Jacksonville by six years. Oddly, the Spanish had built houses here before the “first house” was built. When hotels replaced it, the Old Hogans Well remained. The city burnt and rebuilt and burnt and rebuilt. Today, the concrete discus atop the city looks like a UFO landing pad.

A Condemnation of Contraception One Afternoon at Pic N’ Save

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I bought Star Wars action figures at Pic N’ Save in 1980 and searched for “fish cheeks” in ’86. The Setzers started their first grocery in the 1920s and Pic N’ Save in ’55, then closed the drug store chain in the ’90s. Though I’d grown up fundamentalist, what that cashier said to me and my first wife, newlyweds, shocked us silent. I’ll never forget it. 

The Myth of Ancient Floridian Giants

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The fiction that the Timucua and other indigenous Florida peoples were seven to nine feet tall spread rapidly in the 1950s. My mother believed it, told me we were descended. Another fiction. Willie Browne and Father Dearing believed it. D.B. McKay — Tampa mayor, newspaper editor, and chief organizer of the White Municipal Party — believed nine foot tall ancient Floridians populated the Garden of Eden. So where did these ideas come from?

JPG is 10 Years Old: Here’s the Top 15

10 years ago today, 6/18, JaxPsychoGeo was born. I’d written a nonfiction novel trying to capture pieces of my hometown, Jax, and blend them into a mosaic. I broke the pieces up into the first JPG stories. There are now 642. Here’s the Top 15 most viewed stories on JaxPsychoGeo.com in the last decade.

Ironic Innocence at Trinity Christian Academy

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It was pastor Bob Gray who gave my mother permission to marry the man who’d become my father in 1972. I didn’t attend the school until after my mother died. My 1989 yearbook is dedicated to Dennis Cassell, Trinity Christian Academy’s first football coach, who’d soon be fired for speaking out against how Trinity’s coverup of decades of child sexual abuse. Ironically, I miss my own innocence, and my few friendships, from those years. 

Revisiting Chopstick Charley’s

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In two weeks, JaxPsychoGeo will be 10 years old. I’ve written 640 stories here in addition to my 21 books. I thought I’d revisit some of the most popular stories from the past decade. The one about Chopstick Charley’s, the oldest Chinese restaurant in Jax, is certainly one of my favorites. It’s the 11th most read story on the site.

The Perry Rinehart House Tells Its Story

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Springfield’s Perry Rinehart House is one of the greatest Victorian houses in Jax and the third-floor tower room is one of the most magical architectural spaces in the city. When JoAnn Tredennick and Jack Meeks first stepped into the foyer, JoAnn knew this was the house. From room to room and floor to floor, the house tells its own story. Here it is.

The Story of Lovelace Park and the Great Non-Fire of 1973

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The plan to burn 40 acres of underbrush beside Southside Junior High and Greenfield Elementary School made national news. Neighbors weren’t sure what kids were doing in those woods, but they worried city officials were taking things too far. Ironic that City Council renamed the area for Curtis Lovelace, a conservationist who died young that same year while speaking out against other kinds of fires.

A Mother’s Day Imagining of the Moment, 40 Years Ago

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The way my mother appears in this old photograph is how I remember her best. The inside of our house looked like a 1970s antique shop. I try to see this moment in the moment. I fail, knowing what comes next. If we could sit across from each other, this kitchen table between us, behind our writing machines 40 years apart, what would we say to each other?