Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo

Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo Beauty Contest Winners, 1961

Published in: on March 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Georgetown Fish Fry

Edgar Norton and a Big Fish, Georgetown County, S.C., ca. 1912 Photo by Alfred G. Trenholm

For those fortunate enough to live along the South’s coasts, few seasonal traditions are more beloved than the Summer fish fry.  Growing up in a small town in Tennessee (yes, admittedly rather far from the coast), one of the things I looked forward to the most each July was the Bethlehem Methodist Church’s annual catfish fry.

Deep fried catfish fillets, hush puppies as big as small fists, barrels of sweet tea, and rows of clothed tables filled with homemade pies and desserts all made this the social event of the summer.  Everyone was there, and everyone always had a great time.

Come to think of it, I guess that the fish fry can hardly be considered the exclusive domain of the coastal folks.  While I’ve been to some wonderful fish fries and oyster roasts in the Carolinas, I’d put my humble Tennessee catfish fry against any one of them.

Regardless, here are some great images from a small fry in Georgetown, South Carolina, taken right near the turn of the 20th century.

Group of Men with their Fish, Georgetown County, S.C., ca. 1900 Photo by Alfred G. Trenholm

At the Fish Fry, Georgetown County, S.C., ca. 1900 (A.G.Trenholm)

Fish Fry, Georgetown County, S.C., ca. 1920 (A.G.Trenholm)

Plant City Strawberry Festival

With the tragic but inevitable “Americanization of Dixie” continuing to occur at a break-neck pace, it’s both enjoyable and important for those that love the South to focus on the things that continue to set the region and its people apart from the rest of the country.  Take the Great Southern Festival, for example.  Be it agricultural, historical, or just plain social, the South seems to have a disproportionate amount of wonderfully unique festivals promoting (and preserving) our regional heritage.  Today, let’s focus on strawberries.

Since 1930 the small town of Plant City, Florida-“The Winter Strawberry Capitol of the World” –  has celebrated an annual festival dedicated to one of the Sunshine State’s most beloved exports: the strawberry.  Featuring parades, live music, carnival rides, cooking competitions and the ever-popular beauty pageant, the Plant City/Florida Strawberry Festival has grown to be ranked as one of the “Top 50 Fairs in America”.

Plant City Strawberry Festival, 1939

Now to be fair, the South is not alone in throwing festivals to celebrate the glory of the strawberry. However, while it’s true that one may attend a “Strawberry Festival” in say, California, Illinois, or – God forbid – New York, we all know the real deal can only be found South of the Mason-Dixon.

For more information on the granddaddy of them all (The only Strawberry Festival with its own temporary Post-Office):  THE FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL®, P.O. DRAWER 1869, PLANT CITY, FL 33564-1869. Phone: (813) 752-9194.  Physical address : 2202 W. REYNOLDS STREET. Or, check out their helpful web-site here.

Plant City Strawberry Festival, 1939

1939

1939

1976 Plant City Strawberry Queen

CSS Virginia and the Battle of Hampton Roads

CSS Virginia

On March 8, 1862, the newly commissioned CSS Virginia was launched in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Originally built as the frigate Merrimack by the U.S. Navy in 1856,  the Confederacy had the ship raised, armored, and relaunched as an ironclad ram.

From the Navy’s Dictionary of Naval Fighting Ships,

“Despite all-out effort to complete her, Virginia still had workmen on board when she sailed out into Hampton Roads, 8 March 1862, tended by CSS Raleigh and Beaufort, accompanied by Patrick, Jamestown, and Teaser. Flag Officer F. Buchanan, CSN, commanding Virginia, singled out as first victim the sailing sloop Cumberland, anchored west of Newport News, to test Virginia’s armor against a 70-pounder rifle. In taking position Virginia passed Congress and exchanged broadsides, suffering no injury while causing considerable. She crossed Cumberland’s bows, raking her with a lethal fire, finishing off the wooden warship with a thrust of her iron ram to conserve scarce gunpowder. Cumberland sank with colors flying, taking 121 men, one third of her crew, and part of Virginia’s ram down with her.

Sinking of the USS Cumberland

Virginia then turned her attention to Congress, which grounded while attempting to evade. Opening fire from a distance, assisted by the lighter ships of the James River Squadron, Virginia forced Congress to haul down her colors. As CSS Beaufort and Raleigh approached Congress to receive the surrender of her crew, Federal troops ashore, not understanding the situation, opened a withering fire and wounded Buchanan, who retaliated by ordering hot shot and incendiary shell to be poured into Congress. The latter, ablaze and unable to bring a single gun to bear, hauled down her flag for the last time. She continued to burn far into the night and exploded about midnight…

On the following morning Virginia returned to battle. In the night the Union ironclad Monitor, after a hazardous trip from New York had arrived in the nick of time to save the fleet in Hampton Roads. The ensuing inconclusive battle, the first ever fought between powered ironclads, revolutionized warfare at sea…”

Battle of Hampton Roads, Va. March, 1862

When the Confederate troops were forced to evacuate Norfolk in mid-1862, the CSS Virginia found herself without a home port.  Unwilling to allow the prized ironclad to fall into Yankee hands, Confederate forces were forced to destroy the ship off Craney Island, Va. in May, 1862.

Today, 148 years after her re-launch and the commencement of the Battle of Hampton Roads, may the memory of all her gallant crewmen be honored.

Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan, CSN

Commanding Officer Catesby ap Roger Jones, CSN

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Girls of Gasparilla

Jose Gaspar in Tampa Bay, 1964

Celebrated annually since 1904, the City of Tampa, Florida has put on the Gasparilla Pirate Festival at the end of every January, a wild spectacle that has become one of the largest and most unique events in the South.

Every year, some 400,000 people line the streets of Bayshore Blvd. to watch various wildly dressed “Krewes” parade through the city streets and throw beads, coins, and trinkets while firing off pistols and cannons.

The highlight of the parade is the initial “invasion” of the city, led by the 165 foot replica pirate ship, Jose Gaspar. The Gaspar is helmed by the men of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), the original founders of the parade, and the most prestigious of Tampa’s many krewes.  Once the mayor presents the Captain of the invading buccaneers with the Key to the City, the pirates disembark, and the parade commences.

Many happy years of my childhood were spent on the sides of the Bayshore watching the parade, and as all who have recently been can attest, Gasparilla has lost little of its original fun and excitement.

YMKG Pirate with Girls, 1967

Young Women on Jose Gaspar, 1968

Onboard the Jose Gaspar, 1976

Gasparilla, 1967

Ahoy! 1967

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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