Tag Archives: Tim Gilmore

This Week’s Story: Tip Top Tavern / Randall’s Ranch House Restaurant

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Before that night the Ku Klux Klan wore their hoods in for dinner, before somebody assaulted Randall Fleiss and stole his ivory, before Ron Pate initiated his “If you want to fight, you have to fight me” policy, Darryl Swearingen asked his mother if he could take a job washing dishes. The story of the Tip Top Tavern / Randall’s Ranch House Restaurant dates back almost a century.

New Story: Dix Ellis Trail

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The ghetto’s relocated to the suburbs. The cheap hotel by the interstate interchange is the port city of 500 years ago. Drugs and sex slaves do brisk business. Jacksonville murders black transwomen. I B-my-OB at suburban hotel truck stops and transcribe the “marketplace of ideas.” Get your kicks on Dix Ellis Trail!

Halloween-week story: Spence Auto Sales and Ottis Toole Death Car

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It was November 1983, six months since Spence had last seen Ottis Toole, the great fake serial killer. Detectives thought they could pin the Ottis Toole death car and a rusty machete to Spence Auto Sales. Two months later, Spencer Bennett was dead. 

New Story: Baldwin: Everybody’s Restaurant

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The restaurant’s “been here forever,” they say, Minnie Bennett-Lynn “renamed it from Sunshine” and “wasn’t messin’ around.” Mr. Thigpen “supplied fresh horses for the stage and for its passengers he supplied food and shelter.” The town called Thigpen city fathers renamed for Dr. A.S. Baldwin. The fried okra’s better’n the fried squash.

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: 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.