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Let's Meet Some Strangers

I woke up this morning and my internet connection was down, never a happy occurrence, especially when it is 5:30 in the morning. As is often the case, I went to re-set the modem, except that did not solve my problem. I tried again, which if you really want to know, is not all that easy, or at least the access to it is not. I climb underneath Bruce's desk to do the resetting, and although I'm fairly limber, I still am not super excited to do so.

Good grief I think. I'll call Brighthouse, except the house phone did not work either. Hot dog! Reaching them with my mobile, I discovered that our area was experiencing an outage, which after talking to the helpful young man, I learned that it would be back up within the hour. Okay, I can deal with that. I'd already emptied the dishwasher, and I wasn't hungry just yet, so to kill time if you will, I made brownies. I really wanted to make my bread recipe, but with the milk a week out of date, that plan had to scrapped.

Still not up when I left a little after 8 for my bike ride! Very frustrating indeed. So here I am, at 2 in the afternoon, finally connected after a very interesting morning. I mentioned yesterday that I would introduce you to some folks, as well as show you a bit of the Stephen Foster Cultural Center, and so I shall.

Before heading into the park I saw this building which intrigued me--you can see my car parked..
Yup, that sign proclaims it is the White Springs Library, however, that will be coming down as they  moved last week into their beautiful, brand new building. This structure, built in 1911, formerly housed a "filling station" which I'll translate for younger readers--a gas station. Imagine what a new product the automobile was when this station was built! Knocking on the door, I had a nice chat with the library manager who has lived happily in White Springs for 40 years. Moving there as a fairly new bride with her carpenter husband, they settled down and raised a family. Asking her what brought them there in the first place, she replied that her husband is a carpenter and he came to help build the large phosphate mine located nearby. Back to the new library--she explained that she felt like she just moved and held a wedding reception all in one! Sunday was the grand opening and 1/4 of the town came out to celebrate! In raw numbers that means 200 of the 800 residents came to see the new digs.

Finally I made it into the park! While there I learned that Stephen Foster penned over 200 songs, and is considered to be the "father of American music." Sadly, he died a tragic death when he was only 37 years old. Imagine what he would have done had he lived longer!
I know when we were growing up, we sang many of his songs in elementary school, including, "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races," and of course, "Old Folks at Home," otherwise known as the state song of Florida, albeit quite controversial these days. At any rate, in the museum there are these super cool dioramas depicting some of his songs. "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair" below:
Honestly they are so fascinating. I don't recall any moving parts on the one above, however, the one for "Camptown Races" has horses that move quickly around the track.
As you can imagine, these intricate scenes took thousands and thousands of hours to create. The grounds are quite lovely with the tubular bell carillon serenading park visitors. Built in the mid 1950's, it is 200 feet tall. Inside there is a model of the bells, as well as information about how they were made and installed.
The music is lovely, and as I said, the grounds are as well. There is what they call a "craft village", where, as I later learned, volunteers practice their crafts.
Heading into the first building, I met Marge, a Massachusetts native who, along with her husband, spends five months in Florida every year living in an RV on the park grounds. According to her, if they volunteer 10 hours a week, their rent is free. Now that sounds like quite the deal, right?
I really, really like this photo. Doesn't she look like a kind soul? She makes aprons to sell along with a few other items on the old Singer pictured. From there I made my way over to the blacksmith shop where I met Pablo.
Although a fairly new resident of White Springs, having moved there from Miami!, he had nothing but good things to say about the town. After living in the crazy world of Miami for most of his life, you might think that a town with 800 residents might be too quiet, but he says no to that. Just right. No crime, no problems. He does not live on property, however, he still works there as a volunteer. Graciously, he allowed me to photograph him at work.

After a visit to the park gift shop, I made my way to Fat Belly's Grill & Bar,  pretty much the only place to eat in town. Hard to believe I see it is on Trip Advisor...
As you can see, the place was filled with what appears to be mostly locals on their Monday lunch break. Despite the name and logo which sports a pig, the server said that the hamburgers were what they are known for. She had no objection to me ordering the kid's meal, as well as dumping the Mountain Dew she claims I ordered. I'm strictly a Coke girl, but on this occasion I forced down a Pepsi. Eating at the bar, I realized that never once in my life had I ever been to a restaurant that had ALF dolls on their taps.
How about you? This is the sort of place where the Chief of Police dines--I saw it with my own eyes so I know this for fact. Furthermore, the folks walk up to the jugs of "sweet tea", filling their glasses themselves. Although the young lady pictured was not my server, mine looked pretty similar. As I was finishing and the lunch rush was nearly over, she had a few minutes to chat. I learned she is a student at the University of Florida, however, taking only one class a semester might take her quite a while to finish. She's a recent resident to White Springs, having moved there from Jasper, an even smaller nearby town. They live on her husband's family farm making the idea of moving to Gainesville an expensive proposition. Paying my bill of $5.00, I took my leave to head back to Lake City.

You know me, I can't just drive the regular route, I have to take a few side roads where I saw these pretty horses. I'm so intrigued by the fence between them....
Plus, I can't figure out what the tires are for. Can you? As well, the horse on the left has only one thin wire up top and nothing more to keep him in. What could this mean?

One more stop along the way..
Stephen Foster's Suwannee.

You already know we took one small detour on our way home and it was all good. I was so happy to spend two whole hours with Bruce! He had a phone call or two, but mostly we rode and talked which is what we do best. It seems remarkable to me that we still have a lot to say to one another after all these years, but we do. I don't have to tell you that is a good thing. We are anything but strangers. :)

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