My last time in Florida must have been about thirty years ago, although some things don't change, such as the wonderful blanket of heat: it's winter here and the temperature is constantly above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn't spend much time here on my previous visit, mainly centering on Miami before traveling on to the Caribbean and Central America. Time to visit other parts of the state.
Okeechobee – which different people pronounce differently so I won't bother to transliterate – is very close to the huge Lake Okeechobee, which has a vaguely ovoid shape (little at the north or south) and I drove round the eastern edge today before hitting Florida City, the 'Entrance to the Keys' (of which much more in further posts).
I wrote earlier about Zora Neale Hurston writing of her protagonist in Their Eyes Were Watching God working the rich soil around Lake Okeechobee. I believe she said nothing of Okeechobee itself, although I post above one of the many murals in the town, this one being on the main road through the town, North Parrott Avenue. This plaque is at the side of it.
'THE RAILROAD ARRIVES – 1915
BRINGING NEW POSSIBILITIES TO OKEECHOBEE
OKEECHOBIE MAIN STRET, INC
SECOND MURAL PROJECT
OKEECKOBEE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
MURAL DESIGNER AND DESIGNER
THE FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILROAD WAS COMPLETED
AND THE FIRST TRAIN ARRIVED IN OKEECHOBEE IN
1915. WITH THE COMPLETION OF THE ICE PLANT IN
1918, SHIPMENT OF PERISHABLE GOODS TO THE
NORTHERN MARKETS WAS NOW POSSIBLE AND
OKEECHOBEE FLOURISHED. THE MAJOR PRODUCTS
WERE CATFISH FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE, TURPENTINE
AND TIMBER FROM THE PINE WOODS, AND FRESH
PRODUCE INCLUDING CITRUS. IN ADDITION, CATTLE
COULD NOW BE MARKETED TO DISTANT POINTS WITH
EASE AND WERE LOADED WITHIN HOLDING PENS
JUST WEST OF TOWN.'
I imagine vegetarians were looked upon as freaks in those days.