#2 : The Adventure to great soap & how to find it : Running Free
Updated: Jan 28, 2020
So, if you remember in the last post I mentioned growing up a bit "wild" by some people's standards ? Let's talk more about that.
I grew up on a dirt road in a small old style "Florida Home". Florida Homes are poured block, meaning they were block filled with concrete. The house was hotter than hot in the summer & colder than cold in the winter. I spent most of my days barefoot, roaming the woods that were across from most of the houses where I lived. We headed out to play soon after sunrise, and didn't come home until we could hear a distinct whistle. My father and the father of the girls next door would whistle, and if we were close enough to hear it, it meant "Home, now!" Those were 2 whistles you didn't ignore. We loved our freedoms, so we knew not to chance it.
Between my house and next-door was a common ground it seemed. It was a meeting place to whoever dropped by. It was a gathering place that seemed sacred to many, and to me, it definitely still feels that way. The people living in the 2 houses on either of this common ground I'm sure are unaware of it's history. I wish the land could talk, I would love to hear it's memories. Anyway, On Friday and Saturday nights, more often than not, it was a time when the "Who's who" of the neighborhood and the close friends of our parents would cut loose and enjoy their time together. These kind of evenings we "raised a lil hell" ourselves to the best of our ability at our young ages. These nights we learned to cuss and fight, We learned to dance, we learned what kind of music was out there. Looking back it's almost comical. A bunch of southern kids, less than 10 years old belting out George Jones songs, or preforming gratuitous air guitar solos & singing along to Hotel California by the Eagles. We always got in hot water over our fire building contests. It was always boys against girls, and oddly enough the girls always won.
Thinking about some of the people who were staples in our lives during this time are lost somewhere in the memories. Not all of them have made it this far, and I hope that I am not the only one that thinks of them every so often and smiles. My mother played the guitar enough to make listening to her enjoyable. I can honestly say that there is 1 time left in my memory that I remember her playing. This single time that I can recall was one of the nights on the common ground. All the adults had a friend they called Frog. Frog and my Mom played "Puff the magic dragon" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane". It added to the evenings magic.
Many days & night swere spent enjoying "Free Entertainment". Growing up the Englewood area offered alot of outdoors activities that cannot be enjoyed today.
Camping on the beach was one of these things. We spent uncountable hours on the local beaches, some only accessible by boat. My dad had a small boat, he always wanted to name her "cool change" after the Little River Band song. It was always so exciting to jump off the school bus on a Friday afternoon & race home with the neighborhood kids to find my dad loading the boat and truck. This, more often than not, meant a weekend on the water. Both Dad and I lived for weekends like this! Most of the time the "who's who" that I spoke about earlier would be going as well. From tip to tip we camped all along Manasota Key. Ski Alley was the place to be in my mind. I always enjoyed the rope swings tied into Australia Pines that choked the South tip of the key. It was a great stopping point to have lunch, or simply enjoy a day of fishing. The Australian Pines are no longer there sadly. Between the Hurricanes and the county they were removed. It's definitely not the same, but the current still races, and on most days the water is just as blue.
Another section of Englewood we roamed freely sits just behind the WENG radio station out on River Road. The land belonged to a guy I only knew as "Chief". Chief was a Cherokee Indian. He allowed a few families to have free run of his land. If we weren't on the water or the beach we were at Chiefs. Chief's land taught me all I know about camping, hunting & wilderness survival. Looking back, we were very lucky to have a family friend who offered us the opportunity to explore and learn for next to nothing. Once you entered the property, the rest of the world fell away. We ran around in the summers barefooted in bikinis as we proclaimed ourselves Indian Princesses destined to protect the land at any cost. (A real comical riot we were) It was on this land that we enjoyed Southern delicacies such as wild hog, Rattlesnake and the like. As an adult, I can honestly say that the experiences I had as a kid helped mold me for the adventures and goals I would have later in life. What I've given you are just a couple mild examples. Families dont need to spend alot to show their kids a good time & teach them something as well.
The House I grew up in.....
The house has a few changes to it since I was there last, but it widely remains unchanged. If you look to the far left of the photo, you see the fence. That fence runs right down the center of the meeting grounds. There used to be a massive Pine almost at the corner of the house as well. If I remember correctly, this house was built in 1950. It came complete with an Asbestos roof. I learned about the roof years and years later when I seriously looked into purchasing it. Needless to say, I passed for that reason. No-one would replace the roof.