As I have stated in the past, Florida is not the same state I left over ten years ago. I miss the true cracker culture of my childhood.
In those days, beaches did not have condos on every inch of sand. Goofy Golf reigned supreme and tacky tourist traps had charm. There were also about 1/3 of the people there are now. Plus, gators were not a nuisance, just one of those things you avoided.
I was with a friend of mine from Boston last week. He pointed out that his wife (from FL) and I had similar thought patterns that were different than those of today's Floridians as well as those from other parts of the country.
I have thought about this and think that being raised in a southern culture during the 60s through 80s caused people to have to make very conscience decisions regarding race, culture, religion, politics, etc. When I was a child I had to decide my personal feelings about race.
Would I choose to go along with the normal "southern man" approach or actually think that whites and blacks were equal? Would I choose to join in my friends racist jokes or stand against those jokes? I had to make those choices. And, I think I chose right. I also think that choice (which I did not consider a big deal) caused a chain reaction in my life that many of my southern friends chose.
By thinking that all people were created equal and choosing to be friends with those of other races, I could no longer engage in the thought pratterns of many of my friends and family. I had to think about everything else I had been spoon-fed as a young Florida Cracker.
For that I thank a few young black men who chose to make sure a skinny white kid did not get beat up by some older white kids when I was 13. It changed my life.
I just wish I could find that Florida again in the midst of strip malls (and strip clubs), golf courses , amusement parks and right wing militarism.