A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Ray Charles’

Greenville, Florida

Posted by graywacke on October 1, 2015

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Landing number 2215; A Landing A Day blog post number 643.

Dan:  For the fourth time in the last 24 landings, I’ve landed in this USer . . . FL; 35/48; 5/10; 1; 149.5.

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

You can see the nearby Econfina River on the above map, so I’ll jump right in to my watershed analysis, which is very simple:

landing 3

As you can see, I landed in the watershed of the Econfina River (1st hit ever!) which discharges to the Gulf.  Econfina?  What a strange name.  It almost sounds like one of those phony-sounding corporate names.  But there’s nothing phony about the origin of the name Econfina.  From Wiki:

The name “Econfina” derives from the Creek ekana, which means “earthy”, and feno, which means “bridge”.

The “bridge” (which is apparently not around anymore) was likely something similar to a “natural bridge” over the nearby Chipola River.  It just so happens I wrote about the Chipola River natural bridge in my Marianna Florida post from June of 2014.  From that post:

There is a feature of particular interest in the Park [the Florida Caverns State Park]:  the natural bridge over the Chipola River.  When we hear “natural bridge”, we likely imagine something that might look like this:

ayres_natural_bridge_park_wyoming

The above photo is a Wiki shot of Ayres Natural Bridge in Wyoming.  Really cool spot!

But hey, that’s Wyoming, and this is Florida.  In case you’ve forgotten, Florida is flat.  So, instead of the bridge raised above the river like the photo, in Florida, the “bridge” is at the same elevation as the surrounding land.  The river dips down below the ground (in an underground channel).  So when you come upon it, there really isn’t much to see.

Here’s a picture (from the Explore Southern History website) of where the Chipola River appears to end (it’s flowing away from the photographer).  Of course, it’s really just briefly disappearing into the subsurface, under the “natural bridge.”

eplore-southern-history-bridge

Here’s a little write-up from the Florida Caverns website:

In 1818, Andrew Jackson’s army crossed the Natural Bridge of the Chipola during the First Seminole War. Captain Hugh Young, a topographer assigned to the army, wrote:

“The Natural Bridge is in the center of a large swamp and appears to be a deposit of earth on a raft or some similar obstruction. The passage is narrow and the creek, with a rapid current is visible both above and below.”

Captain Young was wrong, of course, about the nature of the bridge. It actually is formed by the unique karst topography of the area. The river flows down into a sink, travels under the ground for a short distance and then rises back to the surface.

So I figure that there used to be a natural bridge on the Econfina, which collapsed long ago (likely prehistorically) and is no more.  But while it was around, the Indians called it ekana fino, or earthy bridge.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight in to the eastern end of the Florida Panhandle (click on the link and hit the back button after viewing):

//screencast-o-matic.com/embed?sc=cojh20fyUu&w=820&v=3

As I mentioned above, I’ve been landing in Florida quite frequently.  Here’s a shot of Florida and surrounding states showing my landings since January 2013. 

GE 1

Note the 7 landings in Florida vs. zero in Alabama and one or two in the surrounding states.  That’s just how the cookie crumbles and the Landing God operates . . .

I landed in the woods about a half mile from a road with Street View coverage:

GE SV map

And here’s what the orange dude sees:

GE SV landing

I love it!  The sign says KEEP OUT    CAMERA ON.  So the Google Cam and the security cam were going lens to lens.

I also found a nearby SV shot of the Econfina:

GE SV map river

It ain’t much, but here’s the not-so-mighty Econfina:

GE SV river

So . . . . looking back up at my local landing, you can see numerous small “towns” in the vicinity of my landing:  Shady Grove, Lake Bird, Sirmans and Eridu.  In spite of some interesting names, these towns are:

aa-hookless

So that leaves Greenville (pop 843).  It, too, is pretty much hookless, but I did note a hook-worthy native son:  Ray Charles.  In fact, the town has a great Ray Charles statue in Haffye Hayes park.  Here’s a picture from the FloridaZone Blogspot:

raycharles

 

So what’s the connection, one might ask, between Ray Charles and the sleepy little town of Greenville?  From the Ray Charles Wiki write-up:

Ray Charles Robinson (1930 – 2004) was the son of Aretha Robinson, a sharecropper, and Bailey Robinson, a railroad repair man, mechanic, and handyman.  When Ray was an infant, his family moved from his birthplace in Albany, Georgia to his mother’s hometown of Greenville, Florida.

I’ll just pick and choose some snippets of his fascinating life story from Wiki:

. . . his musical curiosity was sparked at Mr. Wylie Pitman’s Red Wing Cafe, when Pitman played boogie woogie on an old upright piano; Pitman subsequently taught Ray how to play piano himself . . .

…  Ray’s brother George drowned in Aretha’s laundry tub when he was four years old, and Ray was five . . .

. . . Ray started to lose his sight at the age of four and was completely blind by the age of seven, apparently as a result of glaucoma . . .

. . . Aretha used her connections in the local community to find a school that would accept blind African American students. Despite his initial protest, Ray would attend school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine from 1937 to 1945 …

. . . Ray began to develop his musical talent at school and was taught to play the classical piano music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven . . .

. . . his teacher Mrs. Lawrence taught him how to read music using braille, a difficult process that requires learning the left hand movements by reading braille with the right hand and learning the right hand movements by reading braille with the left hand, and then synthesizing the two parts . . .

. . . while Charles was happy to play the piano, he was more interested in the jazz and blues music he heard on the family radio than classical music . . .

. . . he established “RC Robinson and the Shop Boys” and sang his own arrangements at the school . . .

. . . Aretha died in the spring of 1945, when Charles was 14 years old. Her death came as a shock to Ray, who would later consider the deaths of his brother and mother to be “the two great tragedies” of his life. Charles returned to school after the funeral, but was then expelled in October for playing a prank on his teacher. . .

. . . after leaving school, Charles moved to Jacksonville with a couple who were friends of his mother. He played the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla for over a year, earning $4 a night…

. . . he decided to leave Jacksonville and move to a bigger city with more opportunities . . .

. . . at age 16, Charles moved to Orlando, where he lived in borderline poverty and went without food for days . . .

. . . in 1947 (at age 17) Charles moved to Tampa, where he had two jobs: one as a pianist for Charlie Brantley’s Honeydippers, a seven-piece band; and another as a member of a white country band called The Florida Playboys. This is where he began his habit of always wearing sunglasses. . .

(He moved to Seattle, hooked up with some other musicians, began touring; formed his own group, and finally started to make it.)

. . . in April 1949, Ray and his band recorded “Confession Blues”, which became his first national hit, soaring to the second spot on the Billboard R&B chart . . .

He began to cross over from the R&B chart to the Pop chart and the rest, as they say, is history.

I must do a couple of You Tube videos.  I’ll start with one of his older hits, “What’d I Say.”  Here’s a great live version from Sao Paulo Brazil in 1963:

 

And, of course, I absolutely must do “Hit the Road, Jack,” performed by an older Ray (1996, at age 66) on Saturday Night Live:

 

I’ll get back briefly to the Econfina.  It empties into the Gulf, not cutting through a sandy beach, but instead making it’s way through an extensive wetland zone.  Here’s a GE shot:

GE 2

And a Pano shot (by kcureton) of what it looks like along the river:

pano joec

And another (by a full-blooded Italian from Rome, Stefano Gramitti Ricci) of a house just a couple miles upstream:

pano stefano gramitto ricci

I’ll close with a couple of Pano shots much closer to my landing (with a couple of miles), both by Ken Badgley.  First, a barn:

pano ken badgley

And then, this great old 30s-vintage car:

pano ken badgley 2

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

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