March 21, 2022, West Melbourne, FL- The day began and ended with the above comment-from two different motel employees: A handyman in Brunswick and a desk clerk here in West Melbourne. Part of my whole reason for being here in the Southeast is to discern how ordinary people are faring, under the blend of libertarianism and laissez-faire economics that is taking deeper root in this part of the country.
I have no issue with any given practice of government when the average person, across ethnicities and genders, is not made to suffer or be left out of a climate of prosperity. So far, I have seen people in places like Brunswick, Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach and Daytona Beach doing fairly well. I have seen a few people in Cape Canaveral and here in the Melbourne area who are not. Much depends on the local economy, but state and Federal policies also impact us.
My first stop in Florida, this morning, was American Beach, on Amelia Island, Florida, once a vacation place for African-Americans, during the days before desegregation. The country’s first African-American millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, established the beach for just this purpose, in 1935. His work was carried on by his granddaughter, MaVynee Betsch, carried on his work of preserving the beach and its Historic District, until her death in 2005. American Beach remains a National Historic Site.
In between visits with family, my focus is on the broader society. Fernandina Beach, the main community on Amelia Island, is Florida’s northeasternmost town. It was the site of a brief battle between American revolutionaries and British troops, in 1777. The area was then controlled by Britain, as the Territory of East Florida. Although the British retained control of the town, there was significant damage done by the Revolutionaries.
Today, Fernandina is a comfortable, bustling holiday place. It was helped, early, by the establishment of Florida’s first Atlantic to Gulf Railroad, from Fernandina to Cedar Key.
After a gyro (pronounced JY-ro, in these parts) on pita, at 4th Street Deli, it was time to see what was up at Daytona Beach International Raceway- as NASCAR is a good barometer of how mainstream America is faring. The Raceway was closed. It’s not racing season, and it is Monday, to boot. Mainstream America was at Buc-ee’s, though, buying scrumptious brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, and a mix of travel essentials/trinkets. I picked up a brisket sandwich-and some rub-on sunscreen, to compensate for the sunblock I left behind in Arizona.
My last stop of the day, before arriving at my lodging, was the city of Cape Canaveral-now primarily a shipping port. The slowness of the recent supply chain difficulties, themselves partly arising from the Coronavirus Pandemic, seems to have affected the town, though I saw commercial traffic somewhat steady this afternoon. The Kennedy Space Center, west of Cape Canaveral, may be an early morning stop, tomorrow, and may offer a better sense of how the community is faring, given that Canaveral has been intertwined with America’s efforts in the Cosmos.
It’ll certainly be another day in paradise.