Monday, January 20, 2014

The Beginning: Memories Of Fort Pierce

Monday's I plan to feature a guest writer, my husband. He has been painstakingly writing down the stories of his childhood to share them with his 9 year old niece. I wanted her to know what kind of childhood her beloved Uncle was able to enjoy. While enjoying them myself I thought these are so much fun to read, why not share them? So here are the short missives of his memories of growing up in wilds of Florida during the 1950's and 1960's. They're packed with misadventures, romance, and all the confusing things that can happen in our youth. Even though his hometown of Jacksonville is a big city with over a million residents now, during his childhood it was several small communities surrounded by countryside. 
This is his story.
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Memories of Fort Pierce
by Steven R. Hudson
The following stories are a collection of memories that I have been encouraged to put into writing by those who love me despite my many faults. Even though my life has not been one marked by great deeds or accomplishments, perhaps it will be a picture of life as it was many years ago before cell phones and video games. When children ran barefoot and innocent along forest paths and creek banks. 
One of my earliest recollections is staying with my maternal grandmother. She and my mother's stepfather lived on Angle Road in Ft. Pierce, Florida, in an area that was at that time, typical
south Florida pine woods. Grandma "Cootie" as she was known by me and my cousins kept chickens and turkeys for meat and eggs, had a concrete goldfish pond in front of the house and a yard full of Chihuahua dogs. I was 2 to 3 years old at this time and the fish pond was a source of great wonder for me. Perhaps it was the fluid movements of the goldfish that brought out a hunter instinct of a sort. I needed to find a sharp stick and spear one of these golden colored wonders. Stick found, I went after my prey and actually managed to spear one of grandma's prized goldfish. Grandma, however, was not amused by what I had done and I was punished with a good and proper "switching" with my own fish spear. This punishment may seem harsh by today's standards but the "switch" was a common type of discipline in those times and was an effective way to discourage wrongful acts. 
Grandma Cootie was a strict but very loving lady. She adored her grandchildren and would walk through fire to protect her family, displaying a fearlessness that belied her small 4' 10" stature. One day I was helping her gather eggs in the poultry yard and was attacked by a big tom turkey that managed to spur me good before grandma was able to get the bird away from me. After checking to see that I was not badly hurt, she retrieved a hatchet and promptly killed the turkey then dressed it. Later we all had a nice roast turkey dinner, compliments of the old belligerent bird.
Our family has always been a family of fishermen mostly out of necessity back then. Fresh fish was often on the evening menu and was the staple of most people of moderate means. We ate Snapper, Sea Trout, Croaker, Red Fish, Flounder and our favorite, Snook. Fish were abundant then. The river and creek banks were covered with Sea Grapes and Mangroves instead of condos and expensive houses like today. Fishing was as easy as driving down to the river bank and throwing out a baited hook. A fishing license was not needed and there were no size or number limits on the fish you caught. We never caught more fish than we needed, just enough for supper, served up with homemade hush puppies and cheese grits. We ate like royalty and did not even realize we were rich beyond measure. I can still see a picture in my mind of one of the fishing spots we went to then. I remember a beautiful tidal creek and a muddy bank at the water's edge covered with the holes of Fiddler Crabs. Spider-like roots of Mangroves formed a barrier on each side of the creek bank and you could see schools of Mullet cruising the shallow water. It was a splendid place.
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Jackie said...

Grandma Cootie sounds like a lady who loved....and I really enjoyed reading this writing by your husband, Sparky.
I remember switches, too. It didn't take but about one or two (in my entire lifetime) for me to learn what to do or what not to do.
Sending you hugs, my blogging friend,

Anonymous said...

This was an enjoyable read and such a cute photo. What a great idea to record his childhood memories. I look forward to following along! Hope you both have a nice Monday.

Simply Linda said...

{Steve!!}--as you know, we lived in Vero Beach..I sure miss that area. All too familiar with all the goings on within your story (chickens, mangroves etc).

Gosh, we have lived/visited many places..ANYWAYS..thanks for sharing. Love the story. Love you guys. Blessings

Deb said...

So is always good to record our lives and memories for those who love and car about us. Thanks for sharing your hubby's story. He is quite a guy!

linda eller said...

I sure did enjoy reading what your hubby wrote about his early days. Oh,but we could have these days again. Family was important, and $$$ was just what we needed to buy simple things. Love fish too, and would certainly enjoy sitting down to those and homemade hush puppies. Thanks to him for sharing this with us.

Patsy said...

How sad children of today will never know what freedom we had to romp and play like we did in 1940's to the 60's. And those switching made us better little people. I had to go get the switch for mother to use on me.