Every morning while I was in Florida, after breakfast and 30 minutes of Fox News, my Granddad would say, “Well Krista. Get your shoes on and come take a ride with me in the golf cart to go get the paper.” I, of course, did as I was told and we would drive around the property, picking up any debris that had fallen from the trees, inspecting the grounds, checking on the neighbors, and talking.
He was a 30-something businessman–an entrepreneur, if you will–and he’d just purchased a Shanty Boat called the Lazy Bones in Florida. And so, he packed up his family (my grandmother and their two boys, one of whom was my dad) and moved them from Pennsylvania to Fort Myers in the late 60s.
One day he saw a sign for “virgin Florida jungle” right on the Orange River. The price tag? $30,000 with $5,000 down. Always a risk taker, he decided to buy the 20+ undeveloped acres even though he wasn’t sure how he was going to make the first payment. A few weeks passed and the deadline was coming up. He still didn’t have the money, so he called his realtor and told him he might need to sell some of it off. He then chose the choicest 10 acres and put the rest up for sale.
Within a couple days the realtor called back with the news that he had sold the 13 acres for $34,000. He, the realtor, would keep $4,000 for his commission and Granddad would get the other $30,000–essentially getting his property for free.
My dad helped clear the land. I always think about that when I wander around through the trees and brush. And this is where he grew up–on a river in the Florida “jungle,” taking tourists on cruises through the Everglades.