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30 November 2007


FC's post today made me think of my childhood home. I grew up in a very small town in the Tampa Bay area. Our tiny neighbourhood was surrounded by orange groves. My father picked oranges and my mother packed them. When I was old enough, I'd go straight to the packing house after school and 'help'. It just broke my heart the first time I went home after they tore down that packing house. *sigh* The groves, of course, were long gone before I even got out of elementary school.

We used to run barefoot through the groves, oblivious to the wonder of our environment. (Didn't everybody live in a place like this?) Nothing like a big juicy orange fresh from the tree. Sometimes we'd peel and eat them on the spot. I particularly enjoyed peeling a small circle at the top, then cutting out a small wedge where we'd suck out the juice as we squeezed with all our might. Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!

Back then, we saw orange groves just about everywhere we went in Florida. (We very rarely went north.) So many have been plowed under to make way for high-rise apartments and shopping malls. And Dismal World. >:\ Oh, they're out there, but for how much longer? And would we dare set foot in one?

my cousin's place

For a little history of the citrus industry in Florida click here.


Cathy S. said...

So, does this have any relation to Ulmerton Road? I grew up in St. Petersburg.

Gary said...
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SophieMae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SophieMae said...

Cathy, it does indeed. Ulmerton was actually a community in the corner (as I recall) of Largo. It, along witrh several other Largo places, was named after M(arion) W(heeler) Ulmer, who was my first cousin twice removed... or some such. A google search brought up several interesting items... thanks for the nudge. 8-]

Gary, hard to imagine, isn't it? FL held out quite a bit longer, but a bad freeze finally did in a large portion.

SophieMae said...

Correction: the community was called Ulmers. The more I learn the more I forget. 8-}

Floridacracker said...

Places like this used to be everywhere.
Is that the Ridge Road in Pasco County?

Unfortunately for orange groves, and in the end, for us, is the fact that the very well drained highlands that grow great citrus also make excellent subdivisions.

Love that old postcard.

Meems said...

what memories you have stirred in me. your description of the orange groves that we too ran around in with bare feet and without a care in the world... the memory of my dad and my papa reaching in their pants for their pocketknife that would peel the top of the orange for an instant drink. when i visit my dad he still does this for me on the spot from one of his few trees in his yard.

who knew the groves would one day be a memory? i got so excited when driving over to lake wales a few weeks ago when we saw large, healthy groves that i stopped the car and took photos ... like a tourist who had never seen them. mom and i got a chuckle afterwards when we thought about it.

SophieMae said...

FC, as I recall, Largo's Ridge Road is alt 19, which ends where it hits 19 in Holiday. I remember when they built 19... back then we called them 19 and 'new 19".

I do miss those places. I still look for fruit/veg stands whenever I'm on the road.

Meems, that was the best way to grow up, wasn't it? How I wish our kids could experience those things. *sigh*

What a beautiful sight those groves are! I do the tourist thing, as well. LOL!