For all intents and purposes, Springfield was the last stop on our 2013 Journey. We had gotten off to a rough start, having lost our dear Gracie and experienced so many problems with the Big Horn. But it settled down to a relatively carefree trip after that. We took plenty of time to bring Melody into the fold, and she responded and acclimated well. We got to spend time with some very good friends that we don’t see very often. We re-visited our favorite city. And we found a treasure trove of new stops to share with you.
We were running a bit longer than expected and were anxious to find our way to winter quarters. Our final destination was Sandy Oaks RV Resort for our second annual stay — this time a full six months. So three whistle stops later, in Paducah, KY, Chattanooga, TN and Tifton, GA, we pulled in to a warm welcome and found the same site waiting for us.
The heating system continued its funky ways, but we now had adequate warmth to postpone getting it fixed before the Florida winter settled in.
Another attraction in Homosassa is the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins. David Yulee (1810-1886) was a Florida businessman and politician. He was born David Levy on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, of Sephardic Jewish parents and later officially adopted Yulee, his father’s Sephardic surname. He served four years in the House of Representatives as a representative of the Florida Territory and when statehood was granted, he became the Senate’s first Jewish member in 1845. When Florida seceded, he joined the Congress of the Confederacy and, after the war, he was imprisoned in Fort Pulaski for 9 months for his “transgression.”
In 1853, he purchased a 5,000 acre sugar plantation along the River and operated it with slave labor. It was destroyed during the War, and the ruins are now a state historic site. David went on to build the Florida State Railroad, running from Cedar Key on the Gulf to Amelia Island on the Ocean. Also damaged by the War, he rebuilt it and subsequently became the president of four Florida lines, earning the appellation “Father of Florida Railroads. David and his family retired in 1880 to Washington, DC, his wife’s original area.
Soon after I first arrived at Sandy Oaks, I offered to teach a 15 hour beginner’s class in Nantucket Lightship basketmaking. Initial reception was not the best, because most people share their skills without charge. I pointed out that all the funds over and above the cost of materials and supplies was sent to Schipperke Rescue. I taught five students in two sessions. A man from New Hampshire made two additional baskets while there, bought a mold and lots of supplies, and engaged his son, a furniture maker, to produce more molds for his use. And a number of people approached me before we left to sign up for the next season.
One of my J.C. Campbell students, 50 miles away in Gainesville, was aching to make a Reyes Friendship Basket, and she enlisted a friend to join her. The two worked partially at home and partially at the campground, staying down here long enough to get through the difficult parts.
This is really a win-win for me. I love passing this classic craft on to others, and I am happy to help enrich Schip rescue efforts with much needed cash.
Looking toward the future . . . we attended the Florida Tropical Weavers’ Guild conference in March at the invitation of my new dear friend, Myra Hudson. Myra, a skilled artisan in loom weaving and numerous other crafts, was the former student from Gainesville who made one of the purses this winter. Myra lured me there to introduce me to Pat Iverson, their director, hoping that Pat would consider me for a teaching gig at a future conference, and I’ve been contracted for March, 2015.