Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Wednesday through Sunday, October 9 to October 13, 2002
We tried to leave early on Wednesday morning, but somehow things always come up.  Late on Tuesday afternoon a beautiful Grand Banks trawler, One Grand, came into the marina.  Frank and Kate Dunn are Loopers from Illinois who are on the first of three legs of their trip.  Unfortunately, they had run into a crab trap and had both the trap and the line wrapped around one of their props.  We had to delay our leave taking to watch the haul and share stories.  Fortunately there was no damage and One Grand was soon back in the water.  Frank and Kate plan to cruise along the western Florida coast visiting some of the same places we have on our itinerary.  It would be nice to cruise along with them, but now they will be a week ahead of us.
We packed our clothes and Lucky, our yellow parakeet, in the rented car and headed east on route 319.  It begins on the west coast of the Florida Panhandle and travels north and east to Bartow, Georgia (now that town is another story).  The road through Florida reminded us of the trip down the rivers -- not much to see except the route stretching ahead and bordered by trees.  We went through 50 miles of  state and national forest.  Just as on the rivers, there was not much traffic and we made good time.  Soon we were crossing route 75 and were in the familiar territory of Tifton, Ocilla, and finally Fitzgerald, Georgia.  We greeted Aunt Frances and Cousin Coota (whose real name is also Frances), unpacked the car, and joined the congregation at the Central United Methodist Church for their traditional Wednesday night supper and gathering.  The speaker that night was a minister who had spent several years in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where there are still missionaries bringing the Christian gospel to those inhabitants who wish to convert.  Although he did not go into details about the current problems in those countries, he did mention some of the difficulties the missionaries encounter.
Fitzgerald is an unique town.  While Georgia can trace its roots to early colonial days (it was also the fourth state to ratify the Constitution), and the western portions of the state were surveyed and settled during the first half of the 19th century, the town of Fitzgerald was settled in 1895 by ex-Union soldiers and other people from the Midwest.  The founder, Philander H. Fitzgerald of Indianapolis, Indiana, had searched for farm land where Northern veterans of the Civil War could relocate out of the cold winters and summer droughts of the Midwest.  Governor W. J. Northern of Georgia was interested in promoting his state, and he was supportive of establishing this "colony."  Shares were sold including tracts for residences and businesses within town and farm lands outside of town.  

Aunt Frances' grandfather, an accountant from Nebraska, bought a town tract and brought his wife, son, and daughter to Fitzgerald in 1895.  They built a house on their tract on West Lemon Street.
The town was an exact square of 1000 acres.  Main Street which runs north and south and Central Avenue which runs east and west divide the town into four wards.  These streets have parks down the middle and other areas in each ward were set aside for parks, schools, and public buildings.  The seven streets north of Central Avenue are named for Georgia rivers, and those south of Central Avenue are named for Southern trees and shrubs.  One of the historians speculated that the original settlers expected to see more "southern" trees in Georgia and named two of their streets Orange and Lemon.  The streets east of Main Street are named in honor of Northern generals and those west of Main Street are named for Confederate generals.  The four streets that form the boundary are named for battleships of the Civil War -- Sultana, Merrimac, Roanoke, and Monitor.  Perhaps because horses and wagons rather than cars drove the early streets of Fitzgerald, all houses fronted on the streets and had an alley access in the back to house the barns.

We thought it was longevity to live in our house in Amityville for 40 years, but Aunt Frances and her family have lived here for over 100 years.  There are houses that have passed through many families, and there are houses that have belonged in the same family for all those years.  Aunt Frances' father, a pharmacist from Quitman, Georgia, met the young lady who had come from Nebraska in a covered wagon, married her, moved into and expanded the home on South Lee Street. He owned the Rexall Drug Store in Fitzgerald and was known by all for the rest of his life as Doctor Denmark. Many years latter his great-grandson married a girl he met in Fitzgerald and they have restored one of the early houses down the street.  Several of the homes have been converted to businesses -- bed and breakfast, long term care, doctors' offices, etc. Fitzgerald is a wonderful small town in South Georgia that still has one foot in the Nineteenth Century while the other is edging into the Twenty-first.
Monday, September 14, we load the rented car, say goodbye to Fitzgerald and reluctantly head south back to Kibon and the Loop. A few hours later, as we were about to meet up with the Gulf again, a wall of rain arrived. The storm that became a nor'easter that pounded the east coast for the next several days, started here in Apalachicola. It finally stopped raining Tuesday night, but wind and waves kept us in port through Wednesday. Great, a chance to really do Apalachicola and find out why this part of Florida is call The Forgotten Coast.
Back to Log Index page for The Forgotten Coast... Apalachicola to Tarpon Springs