Exploring the Mysteries of Cosmo and Gullah Geechee North Florida

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Nobody knows how Cosmo got its name. White folks live here, they just don’t know they live in Cosmo. Forged from Emancipation, this historic community of former slaves spoke its own dialects more African than African American. Oh but the buckruh knew how to get their land. Now but vestiges of Cosmo remain.

Remembering O.Z. Tyler, Epic Poet on Willow Branch Canal

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A quarter century ago, the ancient epic poet, “the Colonel,” opened his Tudor style home on Willow Branch Canal to a poet in his 20s. Orville Zelotes Tyler, Jr. wanted to be to America, to the South, to Jacksonville what Homer was to Ancient Greece, and his subject was Osceola, the Seminole leader who’d resisted the U.S. Army and was only captured under truce. 

Hogans Creek, Barometer for the Health of the City

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Hogans Creek, part of Jacksonville’s “Emerald Necklace,” reflects the level of care the city takes of itself. It always has. It’s been both garbage dump and pseudo-Venetian “Grand Canal.” It’s taken lives. It’s provided a getaway route for the city’s most famous alligator. Now it’s part of Groundwork Jacksonville’s plan for an Emerald Trail. Hogans Creek is a barometer of the health of the city. 

Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, Cradle of Freedom in Florida

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The story of Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church won’t walk a straight line. It’s a story comprised of stories, of a black congregation that walked right out of the Civil War and purchased this hallowed ground. It’s the stories of its members, from Senator Joseph E. Lee to Dr. LeMorris Prier to Sollie Mitchell, who died just before his 104th birthday in March. It’s the history of tragedy and triumph, one of the cradles of freedom in Florida.

The Triangle Bar and All That’s Left of Old Lem Turner

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One block is all that’s left of Old Lem Turner Road where it met the Turner Ferry. Some seem to think the Triangle Bar has been here about that long. This is where Jesse Carver brought his granddaughter on the first night of her life in 1972, where J.W. Rich, who killed Johnnie Mae Chappell, all but lived for 30 years, where the Trout River Bridge burned in the Civil War. Stories still accrue.

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.