September 2, 2007

Chiles and His Florida: Gretna

As of 2004, the population of Gretna was about 1,700. The town is about 88% black. In 2000, a third of families lived below the poverty line. The per capita income for the city was $9,062. When I pulled into the convenience store to pick up a Gatorade, I felt farther away from Disney than on any trip in Florida so far.

It's only about a mile west of Quincy, so close that I wonder if the towns are related in their origins. Maybe Gretna was a black neighborhood that segregation-era white Quincy officials didn't want to include in the city limits for some reason. Who knows. Tough to say because I can't find any information on the town other than Wikipedia. It doesn't have a town manager or town hall. It must be "managed" by the county. I assume Quincy fire and police cover Gretna.

I doubt things were much better in 1970 when Chiles walked through. I'm glad it was on the trail. When Chiles retired from the U.S. Senate in 1988 and came to work in Gadsden County on health care issues, I'm sure he remembered all of the county's walk: Quincy, Havana, and Gretna.

The AME church in Gretna, with a van. I assume it doubles as a polling location, as many churches do in rural areas.
One of several run-down businesses.
Definitely the main hang-out. The "Seminole" convenience store.
There is a really quiet, cool, green walking path between the two sections of Gretna.
Walkin' Gretna.
Another local hang-out. The tire shop.

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