Posted by: facetothewind | April 13, 2008

Wicked Little Town

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Fort Myers, Florida…my hometown. Named after Colonel Abraham Myers in 1850, the town was an outpost in a long, bloody and tragic war waged on the Seminole Indians. Chief Billy Bowlegs surrendered his warriors for cash from the US government and moved to the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). He became a prominent landholder and slave owner.

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Now Fort Myers is a place where aging white folk sit under aluminum umbrellas sipping cocktails in their Bermuda shorts with golf shirts tucked over their beachball-sized bellies. A place where people still paint their houses pink and seafoam. A place where mockingbirds screech and crows squawk over the spoils of an old downtown. Where elegant old theaters have been turned into law firms. Where the courthouse still has two drinking fountains…once used for segregated drinking.

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Fort Myers is a place that bulldozes its checkered past, making way for the new high rise waterfront condos that will sit unoccupied, ensuring a checkered future. It is the winter home of Nazi sympathizer Henry Ford. And Thomas Edison who lighted our lives. It is a place where about every 5th house is for sale – dumped on the market as the real estate market crashes to the ground like the Hindenburg. The county leads the nation in home foreclosures. And in typical Floridian get-rich-quick fashion, a rash of websites has sprung up for those wanting to swoop in and buy up foreclosures.

I was struck by how empty the place was as I biked around town. (I was the ONLY one on a bike.) Where was everyone? It felt like Planet of the Apes and I was Charleton Heston trying to find a live person amid the ruins. Why are they letting this cute little town be destroyed? One giant, MASSIVE condo with four big adjoing towers now looms over the downtown. At night I counted only 10 units with lights on.

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Ah Florida. It will all be under water in a couple decades. Better buy a high floor in one of those condos or sleep with your water wings securely fastened.

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