May. 16, 2016

Text

     "The Melbourne I grew up in however was a different place from what it was in the boom days of the 1920s. The 20th century saw the small town growing steadily and acquiring some of the style and grace it had been so sorely lacking for so long.  A comfortable middle class had emerged that educated its kids in an upwardly mobile fashion, played golf, bred show horses, rode surfboards and read Shakespeare. The city no doubt outgrew the most overt manifestations of this lowest common denominator of white southern culture, embodied by the shotgun tot’n, gator shoot'n, tobacco chew’n barefoot Cracker of Old Florida. Without the influx of an army of new comers armed with engineering degrees and slide rules, up the coast on Cape Canaveral  this change indeed may never have transpired to the degree that it did. But this newfound influence was for whites only. One look at south Melbourne, the African American part of town, would tell you that.

     The old Florida Cracker of Melbourne, although marginalized by the liberal college educated newcomers, had nonetheless set the undertone for the waves of development, change, and growth that would transform the remote Civil War training post of the 19th century, into an affluent mid- sized American city fully participating in the Space Age. Although he did not have the soapbox he once had, nor everyone’s ear and sympathy by the time I came along, his smug, arrogant, ignorant, hair lipped snarl could be heard around town anywhere at any moment. He could  pop up among a lineup of surfers bobbing in the waves off Melbourne Beach, make an appearance in a conversation in front of a feed store, show up uninvited at a church social, or maybe be spotted on one of the manicured greens at one the area’s golf courses.

      He was always lurking, and ever so gently, ever so subtlety, nudging the town towards the abyss of bigotry and injustice. To be sure,not all were not swept into his hateful vortex, but he cast a fine, wide net nonetheless.

      He was a wily one that old redneck, you certainly had to give The Cracker that.

      So, it was in this shadow of the morally obtuse world of the cantankerous old Florida Cracker, with no sense of history or time for letters, always looking for the next piece of swampland to flip, and as Melbourne was closing in fast on the 21st century, that I decided to leave the town of my birth, and get the fuck out."