Here it is, at last--the final installment of our Great Southern Adventure of April, 2009!
On Friday, April 24 Mom, Dad, and my sister Patti piled into a car with Melany and I for a drive to Cross Creek, about an hour's drive southwest of Mandarin near Ocala. Here is the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Yearling, about life among the common people of central Florida in the 19th century (the book became an Academy Award-winning movie in the 1940s, and one of my all-time favorites). She also wrote Cross Creek, an autobiographical account of her relationships with neighbors in the hammock country of central Florida. No one captured the character of Old Florida and its people better that Marjorie Rawlings (though Michel Oesterreicher comes very close in Pioneer Family).
The grounds surrounding the Rawlings home, once dominated by orange trees (and there are still some), are beautiful and epitomize Florida.
Here is the front of the Rawlings home, on the front porch of which Marjorie wrote most of her books. And here is the very table, chair, and typewriter she used!
Here is a photo of Marjorie's kitchen--she loved to cook, and in 1942 published a collection of down-home-Florida recipes for dishes like grits, hush-puppies, Florida fried fish, peanut soup, and pecan pie, called Cross Creek Cookery.
I ran into some very nice people while we were at the Rawlings place, including a lovely lady named Melany, and a couple named John and Gail (seen sitting on the porch of a farmhand's cabin), who claimed to be my parents! ;-)
After taking a guided tour of the Rawlings home and wandering about the grounds, we drive a few miles to the small town of Citra. In Cross Creek, Marjorie referred to it as "Citra, where the Negroes are gay and light-hearted of a Saturday night." Citra is where my mother's paternal grandfather William Hobbs and three of his children, who all died before age 6, are buried in the little cemetery at the Simmons Baptist Church. It was his children's deaths from sickness that inspired him to turn from teaching to become a doctor. I hope to tell his and his family's story for you in the very near future.
After visiting the cemetery, we returned to Mom and Dad's and had a delightful dinner with Patti and her husband Jason. Sadly, we had to leave our beloved family and Florida behind the next morning. But, praise God, we had another good home and wonderful family here in New York to return to! And soon, we'll have our "Way Out West" family from Idaho, daughter Donna and her husband Jonathan, to welcome to New York! We're indeed blessed to have a family whose loving arms stretch from every side of this great country to the other!