Wesconnett: Pucketts and Gunnings

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No dogs inhabited the doghouse, just 10,000 fleas. The gazebo welcomed the alligator. Rodney’s memories of his mother and his father are radically different. His mother connected callers at the hospital. His father chased his mother through the Wesconnett house with a machete. He recalls the Gunnings, the hardware store, the bulldogs, the 15 year old girl, his baby, his first truck. 

 

New Story: Wesconnett: Turknett/Parnell House

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When the community congealed, three families merged their names to rename the village Wesconnett. Old Orange Park Road, sometimes called simply the Clay Road to Orange Park, became Wesconnett and Blanding Boulevards. The Turknett House became the Parnell House became the center of town. You came to its porches to get your mail, hear the news, receive a phone call or listen to weekend music. The town is gone, buried beneath this inner ring of suburbia, but the house at the center of town still stands.

New Story: My Father’s Grave

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I never expected my father to move back to the city, but he was contrarian enough that he’d be dead before he did. So here he is. I’ll never forget the sight of my father, 90 years old, trying to lasso a goat. He wouldn’t have minded the Golden Corral in the midst of the cemetery, but I doubt he could eat “the Whole Buffet!” Click below for the story. He’d have liked it.

New Story: First Baptist Church

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First Baptist Church has perhaps received more love and more hate than any other entity in Jacksonville. It dates to a ca.-Civil War split with black church members who retained the original name, Bethel Baptist. In 1923, Pastor W.A. Hobson welcomed 200 Klansmen in full regalia into his farewell sermon. In the 1980s, Pastors Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines ignited a showdown with more “liberal” members of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2019, what once seemed unthinkable occurs: the church plans to sell 90 percent of its downtown campus.

New Story: Thomas Porter House

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Last week’s JaxPsychoGeo story was about a crossroads once the most prestigious in the city. This week’s story centers on the one house that remains. Its future is uncertain. Half a century ago, Bess Porter Keely remembered what it was like, half a century before, to get married in her childhood home.

The Crossroads: One House Still Stands

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It was the most prestigious crossroads in the city. Two senators lived here. Anna Fletcher said her house was haunted, that a grandfather clock had thrown itself upon a young woman. She wrote about it in her 1929 book Death Unveiled. Now only the Porter House remains. Click below for the full story.

Jax Zoo (For Harry Crews, Jiggs and Gandai)

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In Harry Crews’s 1992 novel Scar Lover, the Jax Zoo becomes the scene of Southern Gothic anti-epiphany. For years, descriptions of the zoo in the news sounded hardly more pathetic than in Crews. If what happened to Jiggs seems unforgiveable, maybe, hopefully, the baby gorilla named Gandai can offer us all redemption.

Conflicting Tales of the Burdette/Clarke House

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This week’s story, as Hurricane Dorian bears down on Florida, proves suitable for stormy weather. The 1887 riverfront house in Floral Bluff isn’t as well known as it should be. It is, however, for sale. Its story involves moonlight shrimping, an “abandoned sanitarium,” and a frustrated artist. 

A Tribute to My Father

My father, Leslie William Gilmore, died Thursday morning, the 22nd day of August. He was 95 years old. These links take you to my tribute to him. It doesn’t do him justice, but it’s something.

New Story: Sloan / McQueen House

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William has lived his whole life here on Spearing Street on the Eastside. Mable lived here almost half a century. Then tragedy struck. The letters on the pantry door spell, “Mable’s kitchen.” The Reverend McQueen took in boarders, but when a choir member couldn’t make rent, the pastor still paid the community’s mortgage.