Remembering to Enjoy the “Real Florida,” Ernie Lyons, SLR/IRL

Ernie Lyons speaking, ca.1950 (Photo courtesy of Sandra Thurlow, Thurlow Archives)
Ernie Lyons speaking. Timer Powers (right) and other community leaders in background, ca. 1950. (Photo courtesy of Sandra  Henderson Thurlow, Thurlow Archives.)

Ernest Lyons, known to his friends as “Ernie,” is one of my heroes. You probably know of him, but maybe you don’t. He was a  homegrown-boy become “newspaper man” right here in Martin County. He worked for what evolved into the “Stuart News” from 1931 until late into his life. Lyons won many Florida Press awards for his weekly columns that focused mostly on conservation, but also simply on the poetic natural beauty of our area. The bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island is named for him. He was an avid and talented fisherman.

Lyons Bridge marker. (JTL)
Lyons Bridge marker. (JTL)

I think of Mr Lyons often when I walk the bridge and try to listen to his words floating in the winds and waves, and on the wings of the pelicans flying past. Today I would like to share a few words from his essay “Take Time, Enjoy the Real Florida,” from his book “My Florida.”

Ernest Lyons Bridge as seen from Sewall's Point Park, 2014. (JTL)
Ernest Lyons Bridge as seen from Sewall’s Point Park, 2014. (JTL)

“Millions come to Florida–and never see it. They are like motorized pellets in a glamorized pinball machine, hitting the flashing lights of widely publicized artificial attractions before bounding out of the state and back home…

But the Florida we love who have lived here most of our lives has no admission fee, except the desire to appreciate beauty, the awareness to see it and the time to enjoy it…

The real Florida is a land of beauty and serenity, a place to take time to enjoy dawns and sunsets beyond the river against silhouetted pines. It is a place to hear the wind in the needles of the pines and to remember the dancing wreaths of Spanish moss on live-oaks. Florida is for quiet contemplation on a sea beach, watching pelicans skimming the breakers in singe file like long vanished pterodactyls…

Florida is for amazement, wonder, and delight, and refreshment of the soul. It may take a little more time to hunt out and enjoy the real Florida, but you will be well repaid.”


I find that the “real Florida” is actually very close and hand, in my yard, in the sky, in the water. Yes, even in the destitute and tired river beauty still prevails. Just look when you drive over the bridge. Look and “see.”

Photo by John Whiticar, St Lucie River, 2014.
Photo by John Whiticar, St Lucie River, 2014.


Florida Press, Ernest Lyons: (

Publications of books “My Florida” and “The Last Cracker Barrel,” compilations of Mr Lyons columns from the Stuart News, can be purchased at Stuart Heritage Museum, 161 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart, FL.(

6 thoughts on “Remembering to Enjoy the “Real Florida,” Ernie Lyons, SLR/IRL

  1. Thanks for the post Jacqui. Monday marked the 25th anniversary of my grandfather’s death (4/6/90) and I’ve been thinking about him the last few days. I haven’t been to Stuart since the new bridge was dedicated in 2007. Is the house still there? The last I heard, the good doctor had reduced his asking price for the property in the aftermath of the real estate collapse. With the economy slowly roaring back to life, I expect the property will be developed for mixed use/condos any day.

    1. Dear Matthew, So great to hear from you. A timely post. You grandfather is so special. The house is still there. Not sure is Dr C finally sold it. I think so. Downtown is about the same and I don’t think they will turn it into condos… West they may build a parking garage but the river side has more sacred value. Know his spirit still lives.

    2. I moved to Stuart 7 years ago, and have walked by the Lyons property at least one a week. I love the property, and have tried on several occasions to inquire about the price. Who can I contact? Becky

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