Here he is, the original Chopstick Charley.

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I did not know, when I first published my story about Chopstick Charley’s, the oldest Chinese restaurant in the city, that it was his birthday. On August 18, 2017, John Ming “Chopstick Charley” Cheung would’ve turned 99.

Mai Hoo Cheung emailed me on Wednesday, February 27, 2019, solving mysteries and saying, “I knew the original Chopstick Charley. He was my father.”

New Story: Old St. Johns River Lighthouse

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When I climbed the lighthouse in the year 2000, we found, in place of the light, the nest of a great night bird of prey. The Old St. Johns Lighthouse should stand for hundreds of years, perhaps a thousand, says Herschel Shepard, the architect who restored it. The door’s long buried in the risen ground. Wanton S. Webb called it a “pretty romance,” the story of a retired maritime sergeant who locked his daughter in the lighthouse a century and a half ago.

Curry-Thomas: A taxidermied specimen for every year of business

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70 years from the founding of Curry-Thomas Hardware and Gun Shop, two men in their 70s stare at each other. They’re both retired cops. Roger’s father Everett Curry worried about the death of the hardware trade, but Charles Thomas’s son Steve says gun sales have kept the store thriving. Big-game trophies of physicians and philanthropists take starring roles in the hardware store menagerie.

Two Centuries of Creativity: William Morgan, McMurray Livery

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A complete architectural vision would seem to have assembled itself overnight. In William Morgan’s architectural offices, in the old livery and stables he’d renovated downtown, he drafted designs for homes and headquarters where Isaiah David Hart, the founder of the city, built his own first home.

There was a fire in 1850. There were fires in the Civil War. The Great Fire of 1901 was the third largest urban fire in United States history. In 2012, artist and photographer Tiffany Manning smelled smoke in her studio above where a blacksmith’s shop had stood 100 years before. Firefighters said if she hadn’t been there, the building would have burned down. She writes with light.

The final story of this Quartet: Paxon Lounge

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Nobody in 2019 remembers the serial killer who drank deeply and regularly here a quarter-century ago. A Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist called it “a redneck bar” with “a two-tooth minimum.” Patrick Allen Herald conned young girls at the bar and cashed stolen checks. A man at the bar named Hump says he “cain’t even remember this mornin’.”

 

The Pickettville Serial Killer: Patrick Allen Herald’s Old Stomping Grounds

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In 1990, she was tired of living in a West Beaver Street trailer park. Her father had given Pat Herald permission to drive her, a minor, home to New Jersey.

He probably hadn’t yet murdered prostitutes. One victim who survived him said, “He was real nice.” His former sister-in-law says, “Pat had mommy issues,” but was “a hard worker.” When he murdered the women he picked up for sex, he also posed them. Samantha got to know them first. She was one of the few cops they trusted.

Even Still, Pickettville

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Pickettville remains. It stands ghostly and longleaf up through Jacksonville. The oldest houses burnt down, or still stand, some of them both. The churches, the farms, the canning kitchens, the sawmills and dairies–what happened? And can’t they still be experienced beneath the new factories and roaring semi trucks?

Love and Loss in the Harrison Pickett House

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Great love and heinous crime have called this old house home. The Thompsons took care of old Mr. Pickett upstairs. Having butchered and farmed all his life, now the former Duval County Commissioner felt a sense of communal love and appreciation at the end of his years. When Patrick Allen Herald committed his first crimes in the house, he probably hadn’t begun murdering prostitutes yet. 

Terminal Hotel

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While I hate to add this endnote to a tragic story from a week ago, after just posting the celebratory story of Ethiopian Timkat in Jax, I must share how the stories of Jax writers Hamilton Jay and Sam Russ led to one more tragedy connected by an old Jax hotel. So here’s what happened at the Terminal Hotel in LaVilla in 1912 and the half century that followed. Thank you, Mitch Hemann of the Jacksonville Historical Society, for pushing this one forward.

Ethiopian Timkat / Baptism / Resurrection in Jacksonville

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Today, all four of Jacksonville’s Eritrean and Ethiopian churches come together to celebrate Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan, his destruction of Satan’s letters of possession of humans as slaves, and the reunion of Eritreans and Ethiopians.