Florida ManOn February 2, 2022 by Elyse
As longtime readers know, I like to do my research before I board the plane, and my upcoming visit to the Sunshine State is no different. However, instead of focusing on the sights and cuisine, this time around, I’m learning about the locals. Specifically, Florida Man.
For the uninitiated, Wikipedia explains Florida Man as “an Internet meme. . . . in which the phrase ‘Florida Man’ is taken from various unrelated news articles concerning people who hail from or live in Florida. . . The stories call attention to Florida’s supposed notoriety for strange and unusual events.”
To illustrate what I mean, Google “Florida Man” and just about any month and date. Go ahead and try it now. I’ll wait.
Welcome back! Did you find a headline like this?
Classic Florida Man.
Disappointingly, every Floridian I’ve ever met has been intelligent, lawful and—as far as I know—never licked a doorbell. Nevertheless, stereotypes come from somewhere, and it turns out the Florida Man memes of today have a long and storied history.
. . . So, this has happened before?
Messrs. John Wyley and Ollie Fort, two prominent citizens living across the Oklawaha river, were out deer hunting last Wednesday in the scrub. They separated, going in different directions.
The latter later heard a rustling in the bushes, and, thinking it was a deer, fired in the direction, and three buckshot penetrated the left leg of his comrade, breaking it just below the knee. . . Mr. Fort regrets the accident very much and says that he has been taught a lesson that will last a life time.– The Ocala Banner, quoted in the Lakeland Evening Telegram, January 30, 1918
Note to self: Do NOT take a walk in the woods.
This elephantastic feat belongs in the annals of pachyderm hijinks.
A Florida man dreamed up a publicity stunt that proved successful—an elephant on water skis!– The Evening Star, July 22, 1956
Believe it or not, the historical newspapers weren’t pulling our trunks, er, legs about waterskiing elephants:
George K. End, a Florida man, has an unusual business and one that proves beyond question that you can sell anything. He declares rattlesnake meat is good eating, and he has succeeded in getting enough other people to try it—and like it—to enable him to go into the business of canning it for the market. He is prospering.– The Montgomery County Sentinel, May 11, 1933
As appetizing as canned rattlesnake sounds, I prefer to munch on Florida’s famous oranges.
[Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Spanish conquistador and founder of St. Augustine, Florida] was buried in Avilés, Spain, in 1574, nine years after he founded the ancient city. In 1924 the body was removed from its tomb to be placed in a mausoleum. The casket, a remarkable piece of workmanship in Spanish walnut, was presented [to] St. Augustine in memory of its founder.
Talk about a hand-me-down. After four years of gathering dust in the city vaults, the Florida Historical Society restored the top of the coffin but had leftover wood from the bottom. Waste not, want not.
This was turned over to Dr. Hentz, connoisseur of violins and musician of note. Dr. Hentz turned the wood into two violins, combining the ancient and modern—strings and some wood of the present with that which for 350 years rested in a tomb in Spain. . . Dr. Hentz brought out the beauty of the wood and was rewarded by an excellent tone quality.– The Evening Star, December 19, 1929
While I applaud the artistic achievement, “classical coffin” is not my favorite musical genre. I’ll take a pass on that concert.
A Florida man is going from New York to St. Augustine in a boat made entirely of newspapers. Hereafter, people should be careful how they express doubts about newspaper stories not being able to hold water.– The Washington Herald, quoted in the Deseret Farmer, October 31, 1908
I’m striking “boat ride” off my sightseeing list as well.
A Florida man has been jailed for writing poetry.– The Bryan Morning Eagle, October 15, 1907
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
No poems for you.
So much for creative writing. Is there anything I can safely do in Florida?
Last fall, while packing apples on her father’s ranch, Beth wrote her name and address on several wrappers and added: “Who reads this, please write.”
[Floridian and orange grove owner Amos Hemingway] bought the box of apples during Christmas week in Florida. He read, came and conquered.– The Bourbon News, July 11, 1922
There’s an idea: I’ll write my name on fruit wrappers and see who comes knocking. The Florida dating scene has to be better than in Seattle or Milwaukee, right?
I’d love to see what modern meme makers would do with these Florida men. It’s just a shame they were born a century too early for the internet fame they so rightfully deserve.
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Disclaimer: The modern era is far from the first to grapple with rampant “fake news.” As I am neither a historian nor journalist, I make no claims about the accuracy or lack thereof of the above sources. I assert only that they make for a good story.
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About This Blog
Welcome to Second Glance History! This blog seeks to uncover the people and the stories forgotten by history and give them another read through a modern lens. Join me every week as we examine the differences that divide and the common threads that connect the then to the now.
I’ll just leave this glowing tribute here.
😂 Readers, forget the blog post, this video tells you everything you need to know about Florida Man!