Tag Archives: Jacksonville

How Mayor Hazouri Defeated Stink / History of the City’s Greatest Offender

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When Jacksonville’s air ranked most fatal, when parts of the documentary The Smell of Money aired nationally, when the city was best-known for its stink, Mayor Tommy Hazouri declared war on odor. The oldest chemical plant in the city still offends. It began more than a century ago. 

New Story: The Cosmic Church of Truth

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In that little blue house in North Riverside, the spirits spoke through Ethel Tunks and told her she and Harold should found The Cosmic Church of Truth. A headline told readers, “Take a tour of the city’s nether world from séances to a visit to a haunted house.” Half a century later, though the Tunkses are gone, The Cosmic Church of Truth continues in its fourth location.

From the JaxPsychoGeo Archives: Dine with the Man in Green

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He lived in the tiny “cottage” on top of the Florida Life Building of the “Laura Street Trio.” For 35 years, he operated Berney’s Restaurant where Bark Downtown is now. As reported in Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Time magazine, Bernard Berney wore all green from head to toe. So did his Boston Terrier Peggy. In the restaurant, the chairs, booths, floor tiles, columns, menus and the bar itself were green. People called him a leprechaun. But he wasn’t Irish. He was Russian. In the 1990s, 30 years after closing, the bar, tables, chairs, and mirror were covered in dust like Miss Havisham’s Wedding.

Springfield Hospital: Part 3 of 3

Click below for the last story in the three-part series on Springfield Hospital. The story has never been fully told before now:

In this last installment, the newspaper-described “tall attractive blonde” speaks in court, an abortionist skips town, another abortionist dies in jail, police find a “little black book” with names of hundreds of possible patients throughout Florida and Georgia, and Dr. Weathers appeals to the Florida Supreme Court.

Springfield Hospital, Part Two

Click below for the second in a three-part series:

The story of Springfield Hospital has never been fully told before now. Part Two brings the disreputable Dr. Alvah Weathers suffering dizzy spells in court, bones found buried on East 27th Street, the testimony of a so-called “comely blonde,” contraception information labeled obscenity, and Celia Settle finding her birth father, 70 years after Dr. Weathers faked her birth certificate. 

New Story: Springfield Hospital

Click below for the first story of a three-part series.

The story’s never been fully told before now. Two decades before Roe v. Wade, disreputable clinics like Springfield Hospital offered dangerous operations for women in desperate situations.

Weathers AP photo

Other women gave up their children, for which Dr. Alvah Weathers faked birth certificates. Seven decades later, men and women who consider themselves “Weathers babies” still try to find the true identity of their birth parents.

Goat Island, Christopher’s Pier, Rattlesnake Hunting, a Man Shot in the Face, and Tim Gilmore’s Upcoming Book Launch at the Jacksonville Historical Society

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On August 23 at 6:30 pm at the Jacksonville Historical Society, Tim Gilmore will launch, read from, and sign his newest book, Goat Island Hermit: The State of Florida vs. Rollians Christopher. (Your invitation is at the bottom of this post.)

Rollians Christopher, 1955, photograph unattributed, courtesy Florida Times-Union

Here’s an early version of a story that makes its way into the book, a story about Christopher’s Pier, the tavern that protruded from the fishing village over the river for decades, about a Yellow Fever quarantine hospital, about a fisherman whose legs were car tires, about shrimp boats and hunting rattlesnakes, about a man shot in the face.

Goat Island, 1955, prior to its development into Blount Island, photograph unattributed, courtesy Florida Times-Union

You are invited: https://www.facebook.com/events/314940972382209/

When Ideal Trailer Park (and Trailer Parks in General) Were New

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Ideal Trailer Park has claimed these four acres along U.S. 1 at the old City Limits for six decades. Nobody here knows why the trailer park is called “Ideal” or who named it.

In the back of her trailer, Channa’s made a small shrine to the Virgin Mary. One cat has but one eye. When Alexander Wellington writes of a little girl bitten by a rat in a trailer park, he sneers, “Good thing it wasn’t her face they chewed, isn’t it?”

 

The Grave of Confederate General Joseph Finegan

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The stone lamb lacks a head. The titled stone says, without dates or surnames, “JOSEPHINE and her LITTLE BROTHER.” Confederate Lost-Causers still tend the grave of Joseph Finegan.

What happened to Finegan’s plantation house during the Civil War was poetic justice.

The stone angel looked down over Diana when she visited the Livingstons’ grave like Mary Shelley visited the grave of her mother.

St. Vincent’s Hospital

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Mostly my father just sits here in the hospital bed—like a Buddha—awake and aware. What’s it like in there? I cannot fathom the question.

The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul founded this hospital in 1916. You could see them, walking the city, walking Riverside, in their elaborate starched habits that looked like ossified wings or horns flung out from their heads.

It’s time for my father to go home. (More than a decade ago, he told me it was okay when it was time for him to go.)