August 14, 2007

Return to Munn Park

Since Munn Park was remodeled and beautified in 1989 to give it more of the old-fashioned town square look, there isn't much these days in terms of actual culture to remind you of what the Park must have been like in its heyday when it was genuinely the bustling center of town. I like to think of this hot dog stand as the heart and soul of present-day Munn Park. This guy could sell you a hot dog morning, noon and night. "Hot dog, chili dog, whoo!" I was looking around for a place to eat when I visited, killing time before an interview. The hot dog man put so much moxie into his crew call that I had to stop. As he put the onions on mine and other dogs, he reassured us "mmm-mmm, this goin' be good, mmm-hmmm." He wasn't wrong. Nice price, too.

The Confederate battle statue erected in 1910 in tribute to the war dead. Florida was one of the first states to secede after South Carolina. Tallahassee also boasts the title of the only Southern capital not to fall to Union forces. Very little happened of strategic importance in Civil War Florida, but the lore is still rich. A quick drive south from Tallahassee takes you to the Battle of Natural Bridge site. It was little more than a skirmish between a few hundred Union regulars and a small band of Confederate teenagers from what is now Woodville. The boys held their ground and Tally was never taken.

By the Battle of Natural Bridge in March 1865, Union forces had already won at Gettysburg and Vicksburg and conquered most of the South. A month after defending Tallahassee, Confederate forces in Florida, the Carolinas, and Georgia surrendered to William Sherman. Robert E. Lee then surrendered and the war ended.
Lawton's father, Lawton M. Chiles Sr., was a railroad conductor at the local railroad station. He could have walked to work, and probably never really left work since the station is close enough he probably could have heard the trains come and go all hours. Still not sure if his father's job had any marked influence on Lawton Jr.'s career ambitions.

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