Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Lifestyles

May 12, 2014

Lee Ward: Quirky Florida is more and more appealing: 5/11/14

ASHLAND — My sister who lives in Florida likes to flaunt the weather in the faces of my sister who lives in Bluefield and me. At least it seems like she’s flaunting it when we have the kind of winters we have.

In case you didn’t know, Bluefield’s nickname is The Air-Conditioned City. Because of its elevation, Bluefield has more snow than most parts of West Virginia and it’s usually at least cool and breezy in the summer. The city has a policy: When the temperature breaks 100 degrees, they give free lemonade to anyone who wants it. I can only remember one time that happened.

Tammy doesn’t live in Bluefield proper, but she lives in the area and share the cool weather. Brenda grew up there, but desperately wanted to get into the warm weather and she moved there when she was about 20 and never left.

There is plenty to gripe about when it comes to Florida. There are alligators and swamps and insects nearly big enough to ride. They get hurricanes. They’re the center of embarrassing election scandals. They deal with “snow birds,” people who come to Florida during the winter to escape their wretched winter lives in places like Minnesota and Delaware and they apparently don’t fit into the Florida lifestyle somehow. I would like to be a snowbird someday and I don’t care who that annoys.

My Florida sister recently sent me a column written by a Florida journalist enumerating the many quirks of the state, including being the home to the country’s smallest post office and having an elderly resident who, after losing his wife, became a nudist.

I don’t really mind the weirdness. I would be proud of that, too. I like the weather, but if I had to go out and work every day whether there was sweltering heat or an Alberta Clipper that required me to wear a light weather, I would probably have second thoughts. And the gators and insects, I don’t know if I really could bear it.

I discovered another weird story in Florida that my sister’s column didn’t include.

United Press International reported a man was brought into court on drug charges; his name was Edward Cocaine.

The shocked judge actually said, “What? You know, I’d thought I’d seen it all.” I guess he had thought that, being a judge in Florida.

Cocaine explained his great-grandparents came to the United States in the 1920s and their name was changed to Cocaine. I believe that. My great-grandfather came from Italy in the 1860s and, because he was leaving for political reasons, his name was changed from “Sauro” to “Saul.” Still, what a weird choice for a last name, even if it was chosen for them.

Ironically, he wasn’t in possession of cocaine; he had Xanax.

All that weirdness. I guess that, and alligators, and general embarrassment, are the price you pay for, uh, well, let me think about that.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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