Once Beautiful Florida—A Unique, But Buried Environment

by Glenn R. Geist

Florida. . . look, you’re already rolling your eyes in expectation, but no, this isn’t another expose on political corruption or public stupidity, it’s about crimes against English. Maybe it’s about crimes against reality too.

For at least a hundred years, the real estate business has defined Florida to what may be a unique degree and that “industry” if I can call it that has had a history of misrepresentation that some might call fraud although some of what might have been swampland proved to be quite profitable to those who hung on to their underwater and snake-infested plots of land now called Delray Beach or Boca Raton. Still, most of the buyers in the 1920s and later were eager to fall for the poetic nomenclature and fake stories about Spanish pirates and treasure and old maps and faux Spanish architecture.

Realtors, as they’re now called have long led the pack in dressing up the merchandise with creative English. They still do it and we still seem to fall for it. I live on the coast, like most Floridians, but I notice that the farther inland you go, the more you’ll find place names including nautical terms: cove, point, bay, etc. There’s a huge retirement living project being built near me called “Canopy Cove” Several miles inland, there are no nearby coves and having been clear-cut, hardly any canopy. Across the highway, there’s “Lost Lake” which is Realtor-speak for “Drained Swamp.”

But these things aren’t my complaint du jour. In today’s mail, I got a flyer for a boat storage and marina business now titled Jupiter Pointe. It is actually on the water, but on a lagoon, not a point, much less a pointe, but realtors and developers are so fond of adding final Es to names in the misguided and delusional attempt to add perceived value and the kind of snobbish panache of middle-class Bentley driving arrivistes from the North lust after.

Cedar Pointe is a shopping mall with no shops but only shoppes. No cedars either of course. Developments like Windsor Parke cater to the newly wealthy flaunters ten miles inland on what used to be the Everglades. It’s quite close to where my parents, who moved there from Windsor in Berkshire and a short walk from the real Windsor Park used to live. I can confirm that while Castle ends in an E, the park adjoining Windsor Castle does not. Only in Boca Raton, the name of which is traced to a manufactured story about old Spanish maps. The Spanish were never there of course, not that you can tell from the styrofoam and stucco architecture that has supplanted most other indigenous styles.

What is it about misguided and non-historical references to Georgian spellings that make people feel good about themselves while buying and selling wetlands and pine forests in the tropics? Are realtors effective in hiding reality when they talk about mobile homes as “mobile Estates” or trailer Parkes? Perhaps they are since it persists decade after decade and the flood of recently retired rubes never lets up. We continue to clear-cut a hundred acres of Slash Pine (one of the last stands anywhere) and call the development “The Oaks” We continue to title the vast acres of new tile-roofed stucco boxes with paint still wet with names including “tradition” or “Legend” as we move further into a stage-set in the wilderness where nothing is what it’s called and very little is what it is.

Florida once had a beauty all its own, with vast areas of wilderness, huge forests of pine, wild and beautiful rivers and even rolling hills and countless lakes, but it’s been subject to the whims of realtors who would rather be selling the South Pacific or the Kentucky Blue Grass country or whatever. Palm trees, acres of grass and concrete and strip malls and pollution. We’ve buried a beautiful and unique environment under sentimental simulacra of somewhere else.

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Posted by on November 25, 2018. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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9 Responses to Once Beautiful Florida—A Unique, But Buried Environment

  1. Michael John Scott Reply

    November 25, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I lived in Florida for years, after visiting it many times throughout my younger days, and I am witness to the degradation of the environment and the changing nature of the very demographics that make up the Sunshine State. This once lazy, laid-back world of fascinating folk became a melting pot of rudeness and greed, which made for a sad and disappointing tableau of rubes, rednecks, and snowbirds. I moved to Key West in the late ’80s, when it was still worth one’s while to fish off their dock or to take the boat out a few yards offshore so as to catch more fish than you could possibly eat in one sitting.

    As the years wore on, however, it became necessary to take the boat farther and farther out, in order to catch a few fish, and fishing off the dock would serve only to catch a sunburn. The water, once an azure blue even close to shore, had turned into a dirty brown, with a seemingly invisible bottom. I could go on and on about the changes I saw in the 20 plus years I lived in South Florida, but Glenn pretty much did it for me. I miss Florida, not the one of the millennium, but the one of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and before. It is gone now, never to return, at least not in my lifetime and certainly not before climate change has its way.

  2. Glenn Geist Reply

    November 25, 2018 at 11:43 am

    I’ve been next to the St Lucie River estuary for 17 years and have seen it go from the most bio-diverse estuary anywhere and the same blue you see in the Bahamas to s sewer that you can almost walk across on the toxic algae. There are now signs telling you not to walk your dog along the river because some have died of liver failure from exposure to the algae.

    But i live in a country where people are very concerned with the environment. It’s worse elsewhere.

    But Florida isn’t owned by FLoridians. The developers and Universal Studios and Disney are out of state and don’e give a damn and the flood of newcomers, anxious for a phony paradise with shoppes keep coming and they’re oblivious.

    So many of us try to fight it with a passion but there’s really no point(e). Florida as here to be exploited and disposed of.

  3. Holte Ender Reply

    November 25, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    I’ve lived in southeast Georgia for 17 years. In that time numerous swamps have been drained to make way for housing and commercial building projects. Our average rainfall is about 50 inches per year, a few years back we had 76 inches, a lot of people became very nervous, the water had nowhere to go but people’s yards and the city streets. When they build, small water collection areas are left, “small” being the operative word. If we ever have an exceptionally wet year, which realistically could happen, it would be a disaster. 50 miles east, Savannah streets flood without biblical rains.

  4. Bill Formby Reply

    November 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Glenn, growing up my grand father lived in Destin which was then known as the Best little Fishing Village on the Gulf Coast. That was in the 1950’s. It was uniquely small to the point that there were less than 30 rooms total to rent in the whole town. Most people had to stay in Fort Walton to come there to fish because it was a very popular place to come and go deep sea fishing. I spent a lot of summers there “working” (ha ha) on the boats my grand father would take people out on. Most notably was the beauty of the place. Once one got past the one mile stretch that was Destin was about sixty miles of sugar white beach going almost to Panama City Beach. It was wide open for people and families to spread their blankets and enjoy the crystal clear water of the gulf. The town was primarily made up of locals though a few homes were owned by people from Georgia and Alabama. It stayed a secret for a while. Now it is just another over run area with hotels and restaurants seeking the almighty dollar. The wide open beaches have been taken over and even find a place to fish is difficult these days. Where I used to love to go to Florida, the magic is gone,

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      November 25, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      I used to go to Destin every year on vacation, and I loved it, but that was back in the ’70s. Now, it, like Panama City, is made up of strip malls, t-shirt shops, and hotels on the beach. It lost its charm.

  5. Glenn Geist Reply

    November 26, 2018 at 8:52 am

    I wonder, do T-shirt shops charge less than T-shirt shoppes? 🙂

    • Caroline Taylor Reply

      November 26, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Oh they certainly do charge more, and it’s because they’re French don’t you know 🙂

      • Bill Formby Reply

        November 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm

        I don’t like the French T shirt shoppes. They suck.

  6. Pingback: Once Beautiful Florida — A Unique, But Buried Environment – FairAndUNbalanced.com

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