Joy Wallace Dickinson

Joy Wallace Dickinson

Florida Flashback

Hurston's life fascinates as much as her fiction

January 25, 2015

Just after sundown on a January evening 55 years ago — Jan. 29, 1960, to be exact — Zora Neale Hurston died at the segregated St. Lucie County nursing home where she had been transferred in late October after suffering the first of two strokes.

  • 'Wish you were here' postcards enrich record of Florida's past

    January 18, 2015

    January is a big month for postcards in Florida, as dealers from the North arrive to offer their wares to postcard collectors at various shows around the state. On Jan. 30 and 31, for example, the Sunshine Postcard Club presents its winter show in Tampa at the Holiday Inn Express, Lakeside Ballroom, 4750 N. Dale Mabry Highway. (Details are on the club's Facebook page).

  • Vanishing Mount Vernon Inn mirrored national roadside style

    January 11, 2015

    In car trips along southern highways, I've become a seasoned road warrior when it comes to motels — even motels where my fellow travelers come to the free breakfast bar in pajamas and bare feet. I witnessed that during recent holiday travels.

  • Hospital shines light on past, searches for historic lanterns

    January 4, 2015

    At Orlando Regional Medical Center's rooftop heliport, the scene looks like something out of Star Wars. Helicopters land and depart bearing Air Care crews dressed in red jumpsuits and smooth helmets — trauma medicine at its most modern.

  • Time machine's bubbling for 1940s New Year's Eve

    December 28, 2014

    This week, the Flashback time machine hums with a big-band tune to warm up for New Year's Eve. We're heading back to the 1940s, and we simply must book a table at the Coliseum.

  • Take holiday visitors along to sites of history, beauty

    December 21, 2014

    If you've lived in these parts for any length of time, you know that sooner rather than later, company will be coming, often around the winter holidays.

  • Lost Langford Hotel lives on in icon votes, video history

    December 14, 2014

    Judging from the voting for Orlando's most-loved "icons" for 1960-1985, plenty of Central Floridians wish they could still pop into the Langford Hotel's Empire Room this holiday season, or any time. When the Historic Icons of Orlando project began releasing voting results last month, the Langford made the top 100 at No. 73.

  • Starry icon hails from days of neon-adorned retail bustle

    December 7, 2014

    The Beacham was a busy movie theater, diners packed Morrison's Cafeteria on Central, and most Orlandoans did their holiday shopping downtown when the city's big star came out to shine in 1955.

  • Mix history, gift-gathering at Cracker Christmas fest

    November 30, 2014

    Most of the year, tranquility marks the east Orange community of Christmas, where the pines are tall and the history runs deep. But on the first weekend in December — this year, Dec. 6 and 7 — it's another scene altogether, as crowds descend on Fort Christmas Historical Park to munch old-time food, listen to fiddle music, and shop for crafty gifts. This year marks the 37th Cracker Christmas.

  • Hey, Pilgrims: Too bad you didn't visit Florida

    November 23, 2014

    Thanksgiving, the homegrown American celebration of gratitude inspired by a 1621 harvest feast in Plymouth Colony, marks a rare nod on the calendar to U.S. colonial history.

  • Merita, curvy roadside icon, finds home at Morse Museum

    November 16, 2014

    When news broke in late 2012 that Orlando's venerable Merita Bread Bakery would close, reaction ranged from concern for workers losing their jobs to questions about the fate of the huge Merita sign overlooking Interstate 4 — a Central Florida icon since the 1960s.

  • After decades, Orlando family learns truth about WWII death

    November 9, 2014

    The young men photographed by a plane dubbed "Thunder Mug" are handsome enough to be the cast of a World War II movie, but they're the real thing: part of the 451st Bombardment Group, Fifteenth Air Force, U.S. Army Air Corps, on July 18, 1944.

  • As Dr. Phillips Center debuts, listen to fascinating family saga

    November 2, 2014

    It's only a short walk from the grand home where the Phillips family long lived on Orlando's Lake Lucerne to the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which celebrates its ribbon-cutting Nov. 6.

  • Spirit of America's past lines streets of Cassadaga

    October 26, 2014

    At Halloween or any time, ghosts seem to be big business. Walking tours follow Florida's spirits from Pensacola to Key West, and volumes of spooky legends abound. In one, Jack Powell's "Haunting Sunshine," I read that Arthur, the spirit of an Irish tenor, is said to frequent the Cassadaga Hotel, leaving behind aromatic traces of gin and cigars.

  • Readers illuminate black lights, Depression reunion, Trail's past

    October 19, 2014

    A dip into the Flashback mailbag finds letters about the Orlando Youth Center, the 1935 Labor Day hurricane (and some good that came from it for one Orlando family), and the mom-and-pop motel days of the Orange Blossom Trail.

  • Gather your family stories: It's a gift for generations

    October 12, 2014

    It's not even mid-October, but these days Halloween seems to begin in August, and Christmas starts soon after. Thanksgiving is in danger of become "the day before Black Friday."

  • Haunted tales open doors to old St. Augustine's past

    October 27, 2013

    We're moved into prime day-trip weather, when cooler temperatures brighten the prospect of strolling historic streets, and none are more historic than St. Augustine's.

  • Mennello reveals lost worlds of 'Real Florida' through art

    September 22, 2013

    I skipped the recent "Lone Ranger" movie, even though nothing thrilled me more in childhood than the cry of "Hi Ho Silver" on the radio. I'm fascinated by the idea of Johnny Depp as Tonto — and that crow on his head. But these days, I'm fascinated even more by the historical headgear of Florida's Seminoles — those exotic fabric turbans — and by so much more about our state's Native American heritage.

  • Visit to great Ybor City inspires visions of old dark deeds among the 'Goodfellas'

    April 14, 2012

    Strolling behind tour leader Scott Deitche through Tampa's Ybor City on a spring evening, I found my feet in the present but my brain back in a dark past — say, Nov. 10, 1936.

  • Resolved for 2012: A renewed appreciation of places that matter

    December 30, 2011

    Residents of tourism meccas often trade stories of the surprising things visitors can do or say.

  • Holiday of snowmen and Santa inspires that ol' smarty-pants style down South

    December 26, 2011

    "The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees sway." We may seldom hear those introductory lines to Irving Berlin's holiday anthem "White Christmas," but that's how the song begins.

  • Walt Disney's ties to Central Florida reach back far beyond debut of Magic Kingdom 40 years ago

    October 28, 2011

    Folks who write or talk about Central Florida's past have often quipped that our area has a fascinating history "B.D."—Before Disney.

  • Maitland Art Center: Meet the enigmatic, authentic Seminoles

    March 29, 2009

    Seminole: The word is everywhere in Florida, from college jerseys to gambling casinos.

  • Over the river, through the woods, to that town of the spirits we go

    October 28, 2007

    For decades, Orlando-area folks have taken a drive to visit the remarkable Volusia County community of Cassadaga, which scholars deem the oldest active religious community of its kind in the Southeast.

  • 'The heart of Maitland'

    October 7, 2007

    Folks "seeking health and wealth" couldn't find a better home than Maitland, Florida, an enterprising copywriter wrote about 1890.

  • Jewish pioneers gathered at family grove for High Holy Days

    September 16, 2007

    Last week, we started a fresh year on the Jewish calendar, when the HighHoly Days started at sundown Wednesday with Rosh Hashana, the New Year of5768.

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