Sanford, Seminole County, Florida.
If one has been watching MSNBC, or I reckon any other cable news channel, then one is familiar with the recent tragic event that occurred in that fine city. Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman. Martin, black; Zimmerman, white. Zimmerman was questioned by the Sanford Police Department and was released without arrest. There is much controversy surrounding this tragedy, which will hopefully be sorted out in the very near future.
My family moved to Seminole County in 1992, the same year that Mark Bellhorn of 2004 Boston Red Sox fame graduated from my alma mater Oviedo High School. At that time, Seminole County was recovering from the devastating Freeze of 1989-1990. Before that destructive winter, Eastern Seminole County was known as the Celery Capital of the World. The fertile muck of Lake Jessup’s shores provided ideal soil for Citrus and Celery. Old folks like to joke that instead of planting new trees and waiting five years for mature groves, it was easier to plant yankees.
If one looks close enough, one can find vestiges of the Old South. Since grammar school, I was a classmate of a direct descendant of General James Longstreet. In senior high school I became classmates with a relative of General Robert E. Lee. I had a teacher whose great-grandfather served in a regiment from Alabama and survived the “Bloody Lane” at the Battle of Sharpsburg. If you want, I can show you the exact gravesite and tombstone location of a member of the Lincoln assassination conspiracy Lewis Powell Payne in the Geneva Cemetery.
With these ties to Dixie and the recent tragic event, I fear it is now easy and convenient to cast Sanford, Fla., in with the likes of Selma and Montgomery, Ala.; Oxford, Miss., and Little Rock, Ark. But I can attest that this is not the case.
I met Daniel Dennis, of the Real Radio 104.1 Monsters of the Morning program while shopping at Flea World off of US Highway 17-92. I have spent many an afternoon in Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium—the same yard that has seen the likes of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Sanford’s own Tim Raines and David Eckstein, OHS and USF alumnus Randy Fontanez, and yours truly all take cuts at the plate. I’m also sure Hall of Famer and Sanford native Red Barber has called a game or two or dozens from that press box.
Sanford is about to get dragged through the very muck that it was built upon by the press in the upcoming weeks and months. We will hear about the “Good Ole Boy” attitude of the Sanford Police Department. There will be allegations of racism and unfair treatment. Please do not let this unfortunate event that has taken place be a permanent mark of shame on the entirety of this fine city and county.