This book is a collection of columns that appeared in The
Press Gazette, the premier news media for all of Santa Rosa County, Florida.
Most were written and published between 1985 and 1989. I am thankful
to the people at The Press Gazette—Wanda Lockett for encouraging
my writing for the newspaper column and Rich Barrett for allowing it
to run right up front on the "Op Ed" page.
Grateful thanks to my editor, Jean Rabe, whose work, under the name "Red
Pen," is normally editing of a more technical nature. Jean also took
on the task of setting the type and graphics for this book, a contribution
deserves not only thanks, but a large measure of praise.
Thanks to family and friends who encouraged and assisted with ideas and especially
to my wife, Karen, for allowing me to test her good nature. A special appreciation
to my sister Wanda Roberts and my brother Jim for lifelong friendships. If
someone else had been my brother and sister, I would have grown up with complete
strangers. An added measure of love to my mother and father, who helped me
to make memories; to grandparents who helped me appreciate them; to aunts
and uncles who brightened them; and to cousins who shared them with my brother
and sister and me.
Many of the people who helped build the memories that colored this book—and
whose names are enscribed here—are now gone. I am grateful for having
Special thanks to the following people who contributed historical accuracies
and vintage photographs: Beverly and Cynthia Campbell, Joyce Hatfield, the
family of Roy and Velvie Hatfield, Voncille Burgess, C. G. Wade, Bernadine
Howard, Elizabeth Matthews, Robert Jones, John S. Brown, and posthumously
to "Rusty" Grundin.
Additional photographs came from family archives.
Computer transfers were accomplished by Joy Britt and Sharon Karnick. Their
work is appreciated. Production and graphics were largely inspired by L.
Bart Ruggiero. His advice was invaluable.
The illustrations by Nancy Akin and the contributions of Dianne Hatfield
Cummings and Coleman (Junior) Wade add a depth I could not have achieved
and "Junior" wrote the next-to-last section of the book.
Thanks also to Tom Carter for the cover photo and my portrait. My sense of
style was greatly enhanced by my Aunt Frances, who loaned me Uncle Duke's
wool shirt for the photograph that Tom took of me. About the cover photo:
Store at Chumuckla Crossroads, Autumn 1991, is owned by Andy and Leigh Ann
Carnley. The truck is a 1987 Chevrolet Silverado with a stock 350 V-8 engine.
It is owned and piloted by "Rusty" Pierce (Bull's Woodshop in Jay).
It is for sale.
And finally, I thank Dr. Bill Coker for guidance on publishing and my Uncle,
E. W. Carswell, who set an example of authorship—and kept me from being
killed at a World War II Army veteran's reunion in North Carolina, where
I wore my Navy ball cap and suggested that the Navy was a snappier branch
E. W. Carswell
Vic Campbell has illuminated the map of Chumuckla. Just
about everyone who has read his newspaper columns, wherever they may
be--East Texas, Northern New Jersey, West Florida, or West Germany--knows
that Chumuckla is (or was) the home of Pug Carnley's Grocery and Gas
Newspapers no longer need mention that Chumuckla is in
Florida. They must assume that Chumuckla&emdash;like Chicago, Harlem,
Chappaquiddick, Chicamauga, Berrydale Crossroads, and Atlanta--is too
well known to need further identification. So, they don't explain that
the Creek Indian word "Chumuklita, " which is said to mean "to bow the
head to the ground," implies the existence of an early place to worship.
To the Indians, then, Chumuckla must have been some sort
of a holy place (local tradition favors a translation of "Healing Waters").
It still may be for the Campbells and their kin. Hundreds live near Chumuckla,
including Coon Hill, Brownsdale, Ward's Store, Allentown, Three Hollows
Branch, Floridatown, and Mulat communities. They are all Vic's cousins
to some degree. And, he has written about all of them. He has hundreds
of cousins--in other parts of West Florida and in Alabama; and he has
written about some of them.
You'll meet some of his cousins and other neighbors in
this book, in which many of them are mentioned. They seem to be as well-known
to some of Vic's readers in New Jersey as they are to his former neighbors
in West Florida and places in between and beyond.
They're also familiar with Pond Creek, Parker Island, the
Jay Livestock Market, and Two-Toed Tom--that awesome alligator in Esto's
Sand Hammock Lake. Vic heard the legend of Two-Toed Tom from his Uncle "Tobe," whose
home--along with those of a lot of Vic's other maternal kinsmen--was
once beside Sand Hammock Lake.
Vic has an unusual--some say weird--sense of humor. But
he is not afraid to laugh at himself. Some of his readers say his brand
of humor is an antidote to so much drab, dreary, dismally depressing
and scary news. For some, on the other hand, his humor takes awhile getting
used to. He and his Uncle "Tobe" found that out at a veteran's convention
once at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But that episode is not in this book.
This is not a history. That sort of work can be left to my uncle, E.
W. Carswell, who has chronicled the history of the Florida Panhandle.
He and people like Dr. Bill Coker at the University of West Florida,
Dr. Brian Rucker, Earle Bowden of the Pensacola News Journal and
the late M.
L. King are historians. Warren Weeks is an important local historian.
They care a great deal about the exactness of time and place. I commend
Some readers felt I might be a qualified historian because I mention
real people and real events. Too often, although the events are real
they are warped beyond recognition when electronically recorded from
the cerebral cortex of an individual with unlicensed imagination.
The names often belong to very real people-even though it is not unusual
that they, themselves, do not recognize the incidents in which I have
placed them. That explains why I cannot be taken seriously as a historical
It is the "flavor" of the times as I saw them-sometimes funny,
very funny-sometimes not at all funny. Somewhere, between the laughter
and the tears, there is a real world. We live it every day. In time,
the real events in a real world fade into an unsure memory. It is only
flavor of an unsure memory that you will capture from this book.
Some years ago, I began to write as an outlet for the frustrations
of a corporate cowboy. A friend encouraged my hometown newspaper, The
Gazette to carry a weekly column. Over time, the writing became a weekly
vacation for my mind-a chance to be a little closer to home, to rekindle
old friendships and to express my own inner thoughts.
Sooner than I could think about it, there were enough columns for a
book -- the first collection.