Let me encourage everyone who enjoyed the popular new book “Saints of Old Florida” to buy a copy of Kermit Marlin Brown’s wonderful collection of brief stories, “My Life in North Florida.” I loved this book.
“My Life in North Florida” is the other side of the Indian Pass story. Much of the slim volume is devoted to childhood years spent at the Pass but this is not the point of view of someone who vacationed there or spent weekends in a family beach cottage. This is the hardscrabble world of a youngster who grew up in the colony of working people who eked out a living harvesting the bounty of the Gulf.
“People at the Pass, in general, had no formal education and no illusions about getting rich,” Brown writes. “They worked hard to feed their families and earn enough money for necessities. The stock market crash in 1929 had no effect on the Pass nor did the Depression. My mother said, ‘We didn’t notice because we were already depressed.’”
Nevertheless these are stories full of fun. The yarns include accounts of driving on dunes with names like “SOB Hill;” outhouse etiquette and an exhibition sharpshooter in Apalachicola. There is a fascinating account of Brown’s induction into the world of firearms and the reader will learn about why the Mayport Ferry got radar and how to approach an alligator.
Each story ends with a haiku poem. The volume is peppered with black and white photos illustrating the stories Brown shares.
The dedication reads “This book is dedicated to my daughter, LeAnn, who should know these things about her father.”
Author Kermit Brown is a native Floridian who has devoted his career to Florida history. According to his biography, he has crewed racing yachts, raced hydroplanes, competed in pistol shooting tournaments and taught a course on “canoeing for couples.”
He is also an accomplished writer with the ability to paint a picture of a hilarious, precarious, messy and completely wonderful world that is sadly lost to us, but if you read these stories it won’t be forgotten.
My Life in North Florida retails for $10 and you can find a copy at Downtown Books in Apalachicola.