Monthly Archives: March, 2012

A Farewell to Winter

a slightly overdressed William Allen McRae, 1870-1943 (photo courtesy of Florida Memory)

Below is a timely reminder at the edge of winter from Florida Commissioner of Agriculture W.A. McRae, waxing more promotional than agricultural (his son, as it happens, later served as Chief Justice of the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Florida, appointed to the bench by President Kennedy):

When the North is wrapt in snow and ice, the ground frozen rough and jagged, the howling winds sweep across the plains and pour through the crevices of the house with a shivering moan, when stock must be housed and fed to keep them from freezing and clothes of an oppressive weight must be worn to keep warm, it is pleasant to dwell where summer-weight clothes suffice and the tepid sea waves invite the pleasant ablution.

When food in the North must be bacon, dried and canned fruits and vegetables, it is pleasant to have fresh fruit from the tree. When in the North trees are bare and vegetation has left no trace behind of its presence or intention of return, it is pleasant to recline in a hammock beneath live oak, palm and pine draped as a bride on nuptial day and drink in the beauties of tropical verdure, while fanned by balmy breezes from the bosom of the Gulf Stream.

c. 1921

Sho’ nuff. It’s been pretty mild in a lot of northern climes this year but let’s face it — they ain’t going to the beach in Delaware yet and if they do, I dare ’em to get in the water. So change out those light sweaters and shorts for t-shirts and swim trunks, ’cause spring’s a-springin’ baby, and there’s nothing the snowbirds can do about it except go home. I can already feel the roads de-congesting and my sinuses re-congesting!

Au revoir wintertime, we hardly knew ye.

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(Heart)breaking News: Gallagher has a coronary

I just now came across this news item important for those of us post-orthodontic souls who grew up in South Tampa. It seems that Gallagher, Plant High alum and serial torturer of melons and mayonnaise, has had his third heart attack moments before he was to take the stage at Hat Tricks, a comedy club in Lewisville, Texas. In 2011, he collapsed on stage in Minnesota as a result of his second heart attack. Performances scheduled for next week in Oregon and Oklahoma have been postponed indefinitely.

The comedian at the nadir of his stroke, but the zenith of his powers

It’s been a rough time these past few years for ol’ Gallagher, but then so has it been for his home state too. Best known for his blend of trenchant social critique and puzzling smashing of fruits and vegetables all over the place with his giant “Sledge-o-matic” hammer, he always had a peculiarly Floridian political bent: cynical, paranoid, not quite right- or left-wing, but almost always convinced that it was all bullshit. He mostly just sounded like a dude who had braved a lot of 98 degree summers and was sick and tired of everything. I can respect that.

Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. in the 1964 PHS yearbook

I’ll leave you for now with a few words from the Bard of El Prado Boulevard. From a 2005 email he sent to a fan website:

I haven’t been married since 1990.¬†I have two ex-wives and one child by each. I had to sue one of my brothers in Federal court in 2000. My mother lives¬†somewhere in Florida. I was arrested in 1968 for marijuana also and that is what kept me out of the draft until the end of the war. I was Kenny Rogers opening act for 100 dates in 1981 and my manager was Ken Kragen the guy who made everyone hold hands across America. My video tapes have recently been bought to be re-released by Anchor Bay over 20 years after I made them and they are still entertaining.

I think I’m the most famous person from Tampa.


Get well soon, Leo.