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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #239  (Vol. 5, No. 43)  This edition is for the week of October 18--24, 2004.

Origin of Names of Florida’s Towns and Counties L to M....The Prodigal Son Returns to the Stars
 by Will Moriaty
"The Grudge"
 by Mike Smith
“Crazed Fans”, a New Reality Series Starring Crazedfanboy, Lalin80’s, Branded, Cthulhu, Arbormor, and Couchpotato.
  by Vinnie Blesi
The People vs Crazed Fanboy....Marc Almond Victim In Crash
 by Andy Lalino
 by Matt Drinnenberg
The Curse Is Over (Almost)....Movie Notes....Love Those Canucks....A Genuine Honor....Meet The Beatles, Part 39
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
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Archives 2001
Archives 2000
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What’s In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida’s Towns and Counties L to M

"La Floridiana" continues its tireless mission to provide to you, our valued reader, just what those Florida town and county names mean...

LA BELLE (Town of): The county seat of Hendry County, this was named by Captain Francis Asbury Hendry for his two daughters, Laura and Belle.

LA CROSSE (Town of): Located in Alachua County, this town was named by settlers who came there prior to 1855 from La Crosse, Wisconsin.

LAKE (Town of): Originally known as Slighville, this Lake County town was named by the Indians because of an unknown white woman that they had found drowned in it. When the railroad came through in 1884, authorities wanted to call the town Cooper, but the settlers preferred the more picturesque Indian name.

LAFAYETTE (County of): Florida's thirty-third county was established on December 23, 1856. It was named in honor of Revolutionary War figure Marquis de Lafayette, who was also responsible for the settlement of French families outside of Tallahassee.

LAKE (County of): Established May 27, 1887, this forty-third county was named after the numerous lakes within its boundaries.

LAKE ALFRED (Town of): Names that were tried and discarded for this Polk County town were Fargo, Chubb and Bartow Junction. The name that stuck was Lake Alfred, in honor of an early settler named Alfred Parslow whose estate was nearby a large lake that also bears his first name.

LAKE HELEN (Town of): Both the town and the lake, located in Volusia County, were named by New York baking powder magnate Henry DeLand (see DeLand) for his daughter. The town was incorporated in 1891.

LAKELAND (Town of): Located in Polk County, the town was named by its citizenry on December 15, 1883. Home to nineteen lakes, the town was incorporated on January 1, 1885.

LAKE PLACID (Town of): This town, located in Highlands County, was named by the Lake Placid Club in honor of their namesake Lake in upper New York state. This location was the club's semi-tropical branch. Founded in 1924, the site was originally known as Lake Strearns.

LAKE WALES (Town of): Platted in 1911 by civil engineer and surveyor A.C. Nydegger, this Polk County town was named in honor of a family named Waels who once lived near there.

LANTANA (Town of): Incorporated in 1921, this Palm Beach County town was named after the profusion of Lantana blooming in the nearby vicinity.

LARGO (Town of): Located in Pinellas County, this town was originally named after nearby Lake Largo. An associate of Philadelphia saw manufacturer Hamilton Disston who purchased 4,000,000 acres of land from the State in 1881 named the lake. "Largo" is Spanish for "long" or "big" The lake in question was known by the settlers as "Big Lake" and the community was originally known as Luluville, in honor of the daughter of pioneer Gideon Blitch.

LEE (Town /County of): The town of Lee is located in Madison County, and the county, Florida's forty-first, established on May 13, 1887, are both named after Confederate States Army General Robert E. Lee.

LEON (County of): Established on December 29, 1824, Florida's seventh county was named after Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who discovered and named Florida.

LEVY (County of): Named for David Yulee Levy (1811-1886), territorial delegate to Congress for Florida (1841-1845) and United States Senator for Florida (1845-1851), this county was the state's twenty-sixth, and established on March 10, 1845.

LIBERTY (County of); Named in honor on one of the tenets that we as a people in the United States cherish, this was the state's thirty-second county and established on December 15, 1855.

LONGWOOD (Town of): Located in Seminole County, this town was named by native Bostonian E.W. Henck after a district of that city. Henck was instrumental in promoting construction of the South Florida Railroad from Sanford to Orlando, and the town was established prior to 1885.

MADEIRA BEACH (Town of): A coastal community in Pinellas County, Madeira Beach derived its name from Madeira, Portugal's wine producing island off the coast of Africa. A.B. "Bert" Archibald is credited with adopting the name.

MADISON (Town/County of): Florida's fourteenth county was established on December 26, 1827. It, and the town which serves as its county seat, was named after James Madison, the fourth President of the United States.

MAITLAND (Town of): Located in Orange County, Fort Maitland was built here in 1838 and the town later named itself after the Fort.

MANATEE(County of): Florida's thirty-first county was established on January 9, 1855 and named in honor of the manatee or sea cow.

MARION (County of): Established March 14, 1844, this is Florida's twenty-fourth county. Named after General Francis Marion, the Revolutionary War's "Swamp Fox".

MARTIN (County of): Florida's sixty-fourth county was established on May 30, 1925 and named after John Martin, Governor of Florida from 1925-1929.

MATECUMBE (Town of): Located in the Florida Keys portion of Monroe County, the community is a corruption of the Spanish words "Mater Hombre", which means "to kill a man". At this location, crews of shipwrecked vessels were killed or enslaved by the Indians.

MEDLEY (Town of): This town, located in Miami-Dade County, was named after Sylvester Medley, who settled there in 1905, and farmed there until his death in 1950.

MELBOURNE (Town of): Located in Brevard County, Melbourne gets its name after Melbourne, Australia.

MIAMI (Town/County of): Although the origin is not entirely certain, most think that Miami is an Indian word meaning "sweet water". Strangely, the Seminole Indians have no such word in their language. Another possible origin is "big water", which is said to refer to Lake Okeechobee, which is an origin point of the Miami River. The Miami Herald's John Pennekamp forwarded one of the more exotic name origins - - he believed that the Chippewas possibly established trade routes with indigenous Florida Indians, an Indian tribe from the Midwest United States. The Chippewas allegedly brought the word with them and it meant "people who live on a point". Their word is the origin of Miami, Ohio. In any event, Miami is the county seat of what is now known as Miami-Dade (formerly Dade County) County.

MONROE (County of): Established July 3, 1823 and was named in honor of James Monroe, President of the United States when the country was formed. Monroe is Florida's sixth county.

MONTICELLO (Town of): The county seat of Jefferson County, Monticello was named after Thomas Jefferson's historic Virginia home. Named in 1827, the Spanish mission of La Concepcion de Ayabuli originally resided nearby.

The Prodigal Son Returns to the Stars
In last week's column I did a review of the book "The Florida Night Sky" by Elinor De Wire. In the review I discussed how much I cherished the memories of visiting the St. Petersburg Junior College's Planetarium shows which were open to the public on Friday evenings during school sessions.

As I have been attempting to recover from two years of unprecedented monetary loss and betrayal at the highest and most insidious levels, I thought it was time for some serious soul searching and reconnection with what I once was but lost , particularly over those contentious two years. I needed to return to being a loving and trusting soul with wonderful expectations and belief in the future and my fellow human- - belief that has been shaken to its very core in these past two years.

So I decided it couldn't hurt to return to that part of my past that I treasured.

Regardless of what fads and fancy come and go through our existence, the stars, those heavenly diamonds of the night sky, remain one of the few constants throughout our life. The night sky speaks of eternity and of Creation that is unspeakably magnificent to behold.

Typically I spend my Friday evenings having dinner with the Nolemeister (the publisher of this e-zine), but I thought that this time, on Friday October 15, 2004, I would spend it on my recovery and reconnection program. After a blustery and rainy morning, the skies cleared, the temperature dropped, and the Good Lord blessed us with what I can only describe as a glorious clear blue day.

I knew this was the right time to make my leap into a past to pave the way to a new future.

At 6:15 P.M., I pulled the t-tops off of my Pontiac Trans Am, left the parking lot of my employer, hopped on I-275 southbound at Busch Boulevard in Tampa and pointed my nose toward the St. Petersburg College Planetarium.

The sun set over Old Tampa Bay was particularly magnificent as I crossed the Howard Frankland Bridge. The water was alive as the harsh chop from the cool northern glimmered and scintillated the dying rays of the sinking sun . I exited at 5th Avenue North and headed westward toward 66th Street, not entirely sure where the campus was in relationship to the road, or if the planetarium even still existed - - that really didn't matter though, my personal quest did, regardless of the outcome.

To my delight, the campus was right at the corner of 5th Avenue North and 66th Street North. I pulled into the very western portion of the parking area but noticed allot of building and addition to the campus since I last visited in the early 1990's. I asked a security guard if the planetarium still existed and he answered in the affirmative, giving me directions on how to get there. I walked amidst buildings glowing pink and orange from the last light cast from our nearest sun as it bid adieu to October 15, 2004.

After an almost two decade absence, the prodigal son once again walked the hallowed halls of the Natural Sciences wing to that magical sky theater.

Upon entering the door I could hardly believe my eyes. Longtime planetarium volunteer and St. Petersburg Astronomy Club member Bob Nizolek greeted me at the door. With God as I my witness, I swear he looked no older than when I first met him as long ago as the 1970's. He was kind enough to escort me with his red flashlight, into the darkened sky theater, where the show had just begun. After about ten minutes my eyes acclimating to the darkness, and I found myself at home and at peace once again marveling at a miniaturized version of one God's most magnificent creations.

Although the planetarium director I remembered and loved in the 1980's was no longer there, the current director, Mr. Craig Joseph, did an outstanding job, peppering his dissertation with humor and absolutely mind boggling facts about our night sky. One thing that the 80's did not have going for it was the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the images that were shown on the planetarium walls that this spacecraft took were breathtaking.

Here's a mindblower for you:

Most galaxies (such as our own Milky Way) are comprised of up to 20,000,000,000 stars. To understand the enormity of this, purchase a canister of salt. Pour the contents out. Most canisters of salt contain 1,000,000 grains of salt. In order to equal the amount of stars found in one galaxy, you would need to purchase 20,000 canisters of salt!

Now, add this to the galactic inventory. The HST has now discovered and cataloged up to 20,000,000,000 galaxies - - kinda gives ya chill bumps don't it?

In his wisdom, He has created them all!

After the show I thanked Mr. Nizolek and Mr. Joseph for the "stellar" performance, and had to ask the question "Who was the planetarium director back in the 80's and is he still alive?"

"Ken Perkins!"

Of course! Shame on me for forgetting the man who taught me what the celestial equator, celestial meridian and ecliptic are. And best yet, he is still alive, retired, and living only a few blocks north of the campus.

God Bless you Ken Perkins!

A large part of me reconnected that night. In the near future I will probably spend a little less time with the Nolester and more time being enlightened and thrilled by the stars (still love ya tho ya big lug!).

Side bar - - Did you know that the word "disaster" has part of its origin from being "starless"? Yep!

I roamed back to the parking lot a contented man. I removed the t-tops to prowl in the Nightstalker down the chilly night streets of St. Petersburg to another place of fond memories, the Biff Burger. To my surprise and delight, I ran into Tampa Indies filmmaker and Florida Folk Hero Mark Nash!

The memorable evening was capped with my safe return to Plant City and home where the night skies shimmered bright and glorious above.

The St. Petersburg College Planetarium offers free shows to the public on Friday nights at 7:00 P.M. and 8:15 P.M. Its observatory is under renovation and expected to be completed this upcoming spring. For more information, call (727) 341-4320, or (727) 341-4306.

"La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.