Tag Archives: jax psycho geo

New story: Normandy Motel

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At the shabby old motel where he grew up, where the Ku Klux Klan burnt a cross and moonshine soaked the pastures, the retired judge still practices law. Old family dairy buildings stand back in the woods, while the former “blood bucket of the Westside” is now an insurance office. The judge’s mother was a homecoming queen. No one remembers the puppy’s name in her earliest photos. 

Whether the Beacon Motel Haunts the Waterford Condos

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Where Condo Row marches along Jax Beach, yesterday’s motel dreams occasionally trickle to the surface. Where the Waterford stands, once stood the Beacon Motel. It was here a Toledo carnie named Billy Elledge, “Willie the Kid,” tied up the proprietors and committed his third murder in 36 hours. Few Waterford residents have heard the rumors the building is haunted. Bob Kelsey dreamt a big bird picked up the Beacon and dropped it in the ocean.

Remembering Craig Morris

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In praise of Craig Morris, who passed away on September 22nd. Craig spent his career here at the 46,000 acre Timucuan Preserve. This place had called him. He’d never forgotten the vision. When he was a child, having just moved into a Fort Caroline subdivision, he went for a walk and saw “human bones by the hundreds eroding out of the bluff.” He honored them his whole life.

New Story: Collins Road Christian Academy

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My desk stood against this wall. Now there’s no roof above it. How could I not have known about the fire? This is the school I attended near the ends of both my mother’s life and my innocence. Here, I fell for a Filipina and my classmate’s death rocked the school. Even as all our righteousness was nothing but “filthy rags,” wickedness, in the menacing form of popular culture, knocked at the doors. Oh, but there was Popcorn Day!

Vote, 2020, against the Terrorist Tactics of 1920

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It’s been 100 years. Since women got the right to vote. Since Eartha White ran that registration drive. Since the Ku Klux Klan marched in intimidation parades all over Florida. Tiny Eartha White stood up against a terrorist giant. Klan members hid behind patriotism and appeals to “law and order.” Local newspapers wrote of the Klan with reverence and mystery. Across Florida, people died for wanting to vote. Across the United States, people wrote of what happened in Jacksonville. If you find yourself intimidated this election year, think of Eartha White. This story ends on an up note. Click below for it.

The Oldest House at Atlantic Beach: The Christopher / Bull / Hionides House

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It’s the oldest house at Atlantic Beach, its original owner’s “party house,” home to the family of the town’s first mayor for seven decades, to the Hionides family for three. Here the fate of black Manhattan Beach played out and the mysterious Jax blues musician Sugar Underwood played at dances. Inside, bright sunlight coruscates across golden heartwood pine. Outside, grandchildren run up from the ocean.

New Story: Three Oaks Plaza, FBI Headquarters, Offshore Power Systems

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New Story: Wandering the Ruins of the Thunderbird Motor Hotel

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The Thunderbird Motor Hotel lies in ruins on 19 acres. We wander through it. It was “one of the brightest jewels in the Florida Crown,” created to “give Jacksonville a Las Vegas, New York, big-city type of night club atmosphere.” It featured multiple lounges like The Zodiac Room and The Wonderfall, dinner theatre and convention space. The stars came. For a while. Few realized its full history of financial troubles. Now a hawk flies over the abandoned swimming pool. Click below for the story.

New Story: Resurrecting Hill Top, Black History on Forman Circle

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Cooking for Martin Luther King, Jr., Maude Burroughs Jackson says, was one of the greatest honors of her life. Two decades prior, her father built this house by hand. Maude entered first grade in 1947 in the one room schoolhouse she ended up saving from destruction in 1995. Because of repeated vandalism, she no longer ventures to the community cemetery by herself. It’s because of her love for those who loved her those early years that we know now of this community at all.

New Story: Tim Armstrong at Armstrong Farm Has a Message: “Eat Your Yard, Jax!”

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Tim Armstrong’s both Old Florida and new. He’s in the business of springing life from compost and earth, constant renewal, though his family’s been in Florida “since the last Indian war.” Three generations ran a steamboat on the Apalachicola River. He walked to his elementary school and high school in Jacksonville’s Woodstock Park neighborhood, but he’s no provincial. His farm, which works with special needs kids across the city, grows and sells native plants and plants from every continent but Antarctica.