All sizes in this Bible Belt town
Favorite thing: Tallahassee and north Florida is situated right in what many would call "the bible belt". A great majority of the Tallahassee population would consider themselves to be members and regular church and worship attendees. This group does not include yours truly, but I have nothing against my church-attending brethren in town.
There are all types and sizes of churches available in town, and most are more than happy to welcome visitors. In my humble opinion, the smaller country churches have a lot more of what would bring one "peace", so to speak. But, don't let that stop you from going to one of our "mega Churches" in town.
Tallahassee has recently seen several of these "monster churches" sprouting, places where congregations and service attendances routinely top one thousand. Some of these churches are actually part of shopping malls, and quite honestly they seem to have the feel and ambience of a JC Penney's store. (Please see the attached photos to see what I mean)
If you're really into church and want to visit a service on Sunday when you're in Tallahassee, why not come out to either Indian Springs Baptist or Miccosukee Methodist church out near my house? Then, you could swing by for some "Miccosukee Iced Tea" during a Sunday afternoon VT meet?" text="The "church" parking lot. Nice and intimate.
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Liberal in some ways, NOT in others
Favorite thing: As far as the south and the state of Florida goes, the city of Tallahassee is pretty liberal. We Republicans (I'm more conservative) call it "The Peoples' Republic of Tallahassee". Part of the reason is that Tallahassee is a "company town" for government, being the state capital. Government workers, and there are a bunch of them here, tend to support liberal initiatives that lead to...you guessed it...even bigger government and more government workers. So, Tallahassee isn't the same sort of town as, say.... Macon, Savannah, Charleston, Birmingham or any other southern city of any size.
But in some ways, we ARE still southerners. One of the bigger events of each year in Tallahassee is the annual "North Florida Gun and Knife Show". No kidding. They fill up our civic center with all sorts of firearms vendors and such, and gun lovers flock to buy, sell and trade. I've never actually been there myself... I do have a couple of guns, but they're small shotguns for keeping the local rattlesnakes at bay. I'm not in the market for an AK-47, which you could certainly find at the gun show.
So, if you're a gun person, the annual North Florida Gun and Knife Show would be just your caliber. ;)
Fondest memory: One of the best commercials that appears annually on our local TV stations is the one FOR the North Florida Gun and Knife Show. It starts with a pretty young girl named "Heather". She's wearing a midrift top and a pair of very tight blue jeans. She also has a pump shotgun and she cocks the thing and announces "I'm Heather and I'll be at the North Florida Gun and Knife Show. Sure as shootin', I'll see you there". Say it with a heavy southern accent, and you get the picture.
Old and new in downtown Tallahassee
Favorite thing: Tallahassee is a very pleasant mix of old and new. Over the past thirty years, the downtown improvement folks have done a great job of eliminating old and decrepit building having NO aesthetic or perservation value, while maintaining and renovating some historical gems. And, they've allowed new buildings that are beautiful, functional and complimentary to the downtown ambience.
In fact, we actually have TWO capitol buildings. We have the old historic capitol and dome, beautifully renovated in the mid-1970s to a 1902 form. (Some folks tried to tear it down, but Secretary of State Bruce Smathers REFUSED to move his office from the old building, drawing enough support and attention to save the old capitol. Good move, Bruce.) And while the old capitol is beautiful and has a stylish southern grace, it was absolutely not adequate for modern state government needs. So right behind the old capitol, the state built a modern 22 story state capitol tower, with round-cupola rooved houses of legislature (senate and house of representative) on either side. The new capitol is stylish, and the 22nd floor observatory (where you can easily see the Gulf of Mexico, as well as many miles north into Georgia) has become a popular spot for weddings. There's a porn side to things, though. Many folks have noted that the ramrod straight and high capitol, flanked by the two round rooves for the senate and house are the "official state phallic symbol". And when you look at it all from Apalachee Parkway, it's hard to disagree. (should I have chosen my words more carefully in that last sentence?) Maybe Florida should proclaim Viagra the OFFICIAL state prescription. With those millions of old guys down south, it would make sense in so many ways. :)
But, give them credit. Although it's rare, in THIS instance, our city government seems to be functioning well. Trust me, that's RARE praise from me. Usually, they're as bad and ineffective as any politicians you may have in YOUR world. :)
Fondest memory: In the photo above, we see a restored historic building on the corner of College and Adams Streets, one block from the state capitol building(s). And in the background, one can see the downtown Doubletree Hotel and office complexes, all new buildings in central downtown.
Beer and the Bible...many sides to Tallahassee
Favorite thing: Tallahassee is (a) a college town, (b) a capital city in the deep south, (c) full of legislators and governmental support staff and (d) packed with what you'd simply call "rednecks". (No disrepect intended, some of my best friends are rednecks) So, you end up with some really interesting parings and ironic situations.
We are clearly the bible belt, and a great percentage of our population can be found in church on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and numerous other times. (not me, by the way...not a church guy myself) This is a town that still cares what church candidates running for office attend. (Note to Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney... good luck down here, Mitt. You're gonna need it!)
Yep, lots of religions folks here... and yet, you'll very possibly find those same folks out on Friday and Saturday night tying one on bigtime at a bar, partying their God-fearing hearts out. (not me...not a big party guy myself) So, Tallahassee is absolutely a town of contradictions in behavior, with a wide range in behaviors exhibited in the short time between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Tallahassee and Leon County was actually DRY (NO liquor sales, period) until the late 1960s. Now, we're big city on alcohol sales...supermarkets, etc. You can buy what you want pretty much 24/7. Surrounding counties and smaller towns all allow liquor sales now, but most ARE still officially DRY on Sundays. There's that bible belt influence.
North Florida, home of both the Friday night "belt" and the Sunday bible belt. :)
Fondest memory: The scene photographed above was a perfect statement. Here is First Baptist Church, the city's largest, and literally a city unto itself. This place has a parking lot almost as big as the local airport! And parked right out front, a huge Budweiser truck.
Now before you plan to attend Sunday service at FBC, the truck was actually making a delivery at a club (Paradigm) across the street. Members at First Baptist may like their on days other than Sunday, but they don't have coolers in the Church basement. :)
His honor, the Mayor of Tallahassee
Favorite thing: Thought you might like to meet our mayor, Mr. John Marks. John was elected a couple of years ago, and he is a marked improvement over the last person who held the office.
Mayoral and city elections in Tallahassee are all non-partisan, meaning that we do not have Democratic and Republican party primaries. Now, the candidates can and do make it known what their political affiliations are in most cases. John is kind of a slightly left of center Democrat, which should put him at odds politically with me. But, I've met John on several occasions, and have found him a warm and friendly guy, with a determined notion to find concensus. : )
So politics aside, I think he's doing a fairly decent job at City Hall. I didn't vote for him, but that means nothing..... I am a county resident, residing BEYOND the city limits of Tallahassee. So, I couldn't vote for anyone in the mayoral race.
Fondest memory: The last guy who was mayor, the nauseating Scott Maddox, quit to become chairman of the Democratic Party in the state of Florida. He has now left that position, having done such a great job in the last election. (Democrats lost every single statewide election.... nice job, Scottie) The nitwit then ran for governor in 2006 and was beaten like a drum. He actually didn't make it out of the party primaries. Once again, I was denied the opportunity to vote against ol' Scottie.
But, I did enjoy his concession speech on primary night. : )
We have a great library!
Favorite thing: When I first moved to Tallahassee in 1969, we were a small city. With about 35,000 residents at the time, we had a library that was, in reality, inadequate even for that small town population. In the following years, it seemed that every part of Tallahassee become more of a big city than small town...except for the library. During that time frame, the Leon County library had a variety of architectural homes, including a downstairs floor at an abandoned shopping mall. It seemed that we'd never have a top-notch library.
Finally, in the mid to late 1980s, all the stars aligned, funding occurred and we produced the present-day building that houses the Leon County Library. The library itself was officially dedicated, upon opening, to former Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, a progressive Democrat who, back in the 1950s, had the audacity to support the notion that all peoples are equal with regard to their race. Governor Collins' stand made him a one-term governor, and earned him quite a few nasty nicknames at the time.
Thankfully, time showed that the guv was ahead of his time, and basically a very decent guy. Committed, among many other things, to reading and education, LeRoy Collins is an excellent person after whom to name our capital city library.
A footnote, I was...in my former healthcare position...able to meet former Governor Collins in the final years of his life. I spent about ten minutes talking with him in his hospital room one evening, and found him to be an infinitely compassionate and articulate fellow. I'm glad I had the chance to meet him.
Fondest memory: It was a great day when I first visited our brand new library building. It's truly a specatular edifice, featuring light woods and lots of Florida sunshine pouring in from windows everywhere. There are three floors and huge collections of all types of library materials. Additionally, the library offers free highspeed WiFi connectivity throughout the structure. I personally take advantage of this 3-4 times per week, working with my laptop at the library. The place I generally work (photo accompanies this tip) has a wonderful view of the Chamber of Commerce building next door. The COC is housed in an antebellum mansion called "The Columns", which dates to the 1850s.
Please enjoy our library when you visit. It's located downtown, bordered by Call Street on the north, Duval street on the east, Bronough on the west and Park Avenue on the north. And if you get there early, before opening, be advised that the free WiFi will work in the beautiful city park on Park Avenue right across from the library. It's weaker, but it works.
The slogan emblazoned on the library's front inside foyer wall sums it all up:
Good libraries are made by government. Great libraries are made by people.
Pedestrian friendly, and still accessible by car
Favorite thing: One of the best things I can say about the downtown restoration and improvement efforts of the past 25 years is that they've NOT fallen victim to the "get rid of car traffic" mentality. Instead, they've incorporated both pedestrian needs with the reality of traffic via a two-pronged effort.
First, there are only four main streets in the downtown area with two-way traffic. These are Monroe, Adams, College and Tennessee. Park Avenue is actually a divided street, with east and westbound lanes separated by a wide streak of city parks. All other traffic ways are one way affairs, which tends to keep traffic moving. And, for the area very near to the state capitol complex, they've done traffic calming, via bricking the road (Adams) and making it a winding path. Additionally, all of the streets in the most heavily pedestrian areas of town are four-way stops, which keep traffic much calmer. The other streets have well-timed lights that keep the traffic moving and unobtrusive.
Walking around in the city park string of Park Avenue, or down the Adams street common area is most relaxing and enjoyable, and features many of the area's most beautiful edifice restoration examples.
Fondest memory: I enjoy visiting the weekend street markets that are held in the "string of parks" along Park Avenue.
For anyone staying at the downtown Doubletree Hotel, access to the string of parks and all of downtown is literally a breeze. :)
Historical Preservation...good news/bad news
Favorite thing: One of the best things about what's happened in downtown Tallahassee over the last 25 years is the loving restoration many historical homes and businesses. Whereas the downtown Tallahassee of 1965 was nothing to be particular proud of, today's main part of downtown has a lovely turn of the century, and before, charm.
When you see all of these stately downtown homes, one is drawn to the old saying, "they don't build them like that anymore". Comparing some of yesteryear's dwellings to many of today, I'd say the missing ingredient is character. These houses seem to have a dignity about them, and walking around the center of Tallahassee is a most pleasing activity because of the wonderful restoration that's been done and is being done.
And, I was just joking...there really isn't any bad news. I was going to say that the bad news is that most of these lovely homes are now occupied by lawyers' offices. But considering that I have friends who are lawyers, I can't condemn the entire species. ;)
Connecting with America before we were Americans
Favorite thing: Although Tallahassee is much more clearly associated with the American Civil War, we also had resident veterans of the American Revolution. A local downtown plaque lists the names of several local Revolution veterans who applied for federal pensions in 1832. So, Floridians were involved in our war of independence with Great Britain.
Many non-Americans (and even Americans) may not realize that Florida wasn't one of the original 13 colonies, entering the union some 40 years later.
Fondest memory: The war vets listed on our downtown plaque are:
Zachariah Gherkins (1757-1845)
A private in the North Carolina regiment
Moses Munson (1763-1835)
A private serving with Connecticut state troops
Rhesa Oliver (1756-1841)
A private in the North Carolina regiment
Joseph Singletary (1761-1846)
A private in the North Carolina regiment
Ansell Ferrell (1762-1746)
Served in the North Carolina militia
BIRDS ! Bonnie and Sara's secret suet recipe
Favorite thing: Want to operate the best bird restaurant anywhere? Here's the secret menu item to pack 'em in.....
My wife and daughter are avid birders. We have soooooo many birds all around our house, and we believe the secret is our homemade crumbly suet. Our feathered pals far and away prefer our home-cooking to any store conconction we've ever brought home. Seeds? They like our suet better? Honest.
Fondest memory: OK, here is the secret recipe....just mix it up into a crumbly mess and put it out for the birds. And look out, you may need security guards to hold back the crowds!
4 cups plain yellow corn meal
1 cup shortening (like Crisco)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
How to KNOW if it's going to be GOOD barbecue
Favorite thing: Tallahassee, like most of the south, loves her barbecue. There are no shortage of barbecue eateries, from full-blown restaurants down to simple little "joints". If you want barbecue in Tallahassee, you'll find somewhere to get your fix.
Truly good barbecue usually ends up being eaten with one's fingers, especially if you're talking baby back ribs and such. When you sit down at a restaurant and see a huge pile of napkins set aside at your table, it's always a good sign that you're in for some good eatin'.
Plastic squeeze bottles with several different types of homemade barbecue sauces at each table is also another good sign that you've found the genuine thing. Deep south barbecue. It's soooo good.
You would have to go see the...
Favorite thing: You would have to go see the Museum of Florida History. It shows things and events from back in pre civil war.
Fondest memory: I missed the Florida State football games. Doak Campbell stadium has really changed in the last 15 years, the most recent change has been the stadium and parking lot themselves.
We made a one-day excursion to...
Favorite thing: We made a one-day excursion to the capital of Florida, but it actually was not worth it. If you intend to go there, just because you believe you should have been in Thallahassee don't do it. It's a lost day, there so many places much better than this in Florida
really all there is in...
Favorite thing: really all there is in Tallahassee is nothing but beautiful flat land.also there is a place where they have aligators that are so used to people they will almost come right up to the car with out attacking
Fondest memory: the whole beautiful city
Favorite thing: Make a visit to The Capitol! One of the 5 tower Capitol in U.S. features panoramic view from 22-floor observatory / art gallery, House and Senate viewing galleries.
Adress: Downtown, S. Duval St.