Welcome to my "Florida" blog

Being a third generation Florida native, I'm completely enamored with the diverse beauty of this gorgeous peninsula. For most of the year the weather is divine which makes exploring its unlimited nooks and crannies fun and easy.

Wherever I go I appreciate nature and the world around me. Come along with me as I share the places I visit and perhaps a few other amusements I find interesting along the way.

(FYI: Every post prior to January 1, 2009 was previously published and imported from my garden blog)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Tea Room and A Graveyard

When one gets the inkling to look into graveyards, grave sites, and such it might actually be necessary to travel a wee bit to do some digging. Not literal digging but record digging.

With all my extra hobbies and interests taking up loads of my time it's a good thing I haven't yet been bitten by the genealogy bug. Although I do find it all very fascinating mind you. My mom, however, has decided to put some pieces of the family puzzle together on her side of the tree.

So off we went to the town of Sanford, FL. last week to do some ancestral sleuthing.

Girls have to make some fun out of hunting down ancestry. No day trip can just be about grave markers, plot numbers, and old records in museums. Those are all fine and dandy but there's more to "life" than the final resting place.
On one of our typically beautiful Florida spring days we opted to eat in the garden courtyard of the Hart Sisters Tea Room. The sweet scent of wisteria was the first thing that caught my attention as we walked toward the restaurant from the car.
Behind the pretty iron gates a fountain trickling soothing sounds of water. The calm breezes blew through the palm trees and we relaxed over a very satisfying lunch.
Mom had chicken salad, I ordered the quiche of the day. The cheese biscuits and scones were excellent - oh, how I love me some good carbs. I give the meal an 8 on a scale of 10. The service and friendliness of our server, however, rates a solid 10. It is definitely worth the visit and I would go there again if ever in the area.
Inside, the tables are all appointed in the usual tea room style of mismatched china cups and dinnerware.
The shelves in the entry way all full of the attractions girls love to oogle over.
A few of the items for sale and some just for pretty. Every one accompanied with frilly and lacy accents. Exactly what one would expect to make every guest feel welcome and warm.

We took our time eating and then it was time for digging up some bones at the museum located in the historical downtown section of town.
Mom found the historians and researchers there to be extremely helpful. She had spent quite a bit of time with them over the phone in the days previous to our arrival. We were allowed to look through some very old handwritten city records. No photos please. Darn. You know how that goes with flashes and preserving those antique pages.

We got what we needed to make our way to the cemetery. But first we walked around to the back of the museum to check out Lake Monroe which is part of the St. Johns River. It was beautiful. So refreshing to sit by the water and watch the birds.

Sanford's River Walk meanders along the lake shore on both sides of the The Monroe Harbour Marina. All of this bordering the historical part of Sanford. That flag flying in the distance is the first thing you see when coming down the main street to the historical section. I LOVE to see the American flag flying large and boldly... anywhere!
The city has done a very nice job of modernizing the river walk without losing the feel of the original area. It looked as though the town folk were making good use of the park with lots of walkers, joggers, and bikers.

It was a peaceful place that brought thoughts of an earlier time in Florida's history when things were probably a little slower and not so congested. Surprisingly, Florida is made up of many smaller towns like this one. I personally tend to forget that since I'm from the Tampa Bay Area where everything is crowded. That's one reason why I take the backroads getting around to Florida towns. Thanks for the navigation skills, Mom.

It's always a joy to see the gulls and the Caspian terns chilling out on the shoreline. Actually this was a little sand island off from the seawall but I think they thought it was a shoreline. Or maybe they would say, "no, lady we know what we're standing on -- it's you that is confused."
*** Click to enlarge***
An Osprey dove down with its talons and plucked out some unsuspecting supper. Can you see the fish he's holding? He flew over my head with the fish stuck in his grasp to the safety of a covered, high limb. No one to disturb I suppose.

He was patient about it. I'm not sure how long he was planning to stand guard before eating because I came over to him a few minutes later hoping to catch him eating. No, not yet... still holding on tight.

The old buildings in the downtown area were marvelous. There is an historical walking tour available that leads to all the buildings and teaches the history of each one.

We didn't have time for the tour but we poked around in a few of the antique stores. The mosaic in the cement wall outside of the art store was fascinating. All manor of trinkets were poking out from the wall ---even an old cell phone. That's the fun of mosaic... there really are no rules.

Now what was that we were driving 2.5 hours to see? Oh, yeah, great grandpa. Not him exactly. We wanted to see his gravestone and connect the dots to his daughter and so on.

Now that we know which section he's buried in and what lot number we should be able to walk right to him and the rest of the family hanging out there too.

There he is. After two wives and two divorces he was buried alone. Other than his daughter and her husband next to them. How sad.If only graves could talk. We might find out some why's and wherefore's, some regrets and some victories. Or we could just have filling in the blanks ourselves.
Pretty good sleuthing, Mom. I think we are getting these day trips figured out!


Brenda@View From The Pines said...

Sadly, I never knew much about my family. At 52, I know I am likely destined to never know. I knew of a few of my mother's family. But none of my fathers. His side remains a mystery. I too am enthralled with old cemetaries.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Isn't it funny how when we get older we feel the need to know where we come from? I find that is true with me and oh how I wish I had asked more questions of my mother when I was younger.When I ask my dad he just wonders why I want to know.Because I want to know!

gigi said...

i've been looking forward to this post - having shared the adventure of discovering my grandfather's (your great-grandfather) gravesite at this late date in my life! but life had to taken care of as it unfolded, and it has been a very busy time for me until recently when i was able to retire.
it does take some motivation to begin the process of 'digging' up old records for information. it was spurred by receiving a geneology of my father's family last fall, done by a total stranger who had contacted my brother about his (our dad's) last name. when i found out my fraternal grandfather was buried in a nearby town, i began the quest to locate his grave. i also found he had a second family, and his second daughter & her spouse were in the same burial plot next to him. my dad had never mentioned a half-sister or brother. so there is more ahead to the story, if i can find any surviving offspring of my aunt's family. are you game for more adventure?

Leedra said...

Sounds like a good long day with your Mother. Of the photos the Wisteria (ah, the smell is heavenly) and Osprey are my favorite.

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Pat said...

This sounds like a really fun day Meems but I truly think that Blue and White Tea pot should have come home to ME!!
Maybe we could try for a day soon!!

Meems said...

I guess every family needs at least one historian to keep track of all the records. I know I haven't thought too much about any of it until lately.

You are so fortunate to have your dad around still. He probably has some great stories to tell.

It was indeed a fun adventure and yes, I think you should figure out the rest of it for the rest of us... we can definitely do it some more... but we must have lunch in a tea room (or visit a nursery or some such) before traipsing around the graveyard!

I'm thankful my mom is here and we can take days together to explore. That wisteria was heavenly.

Let's do keep trying.