Signs of the Times, SLR, IRL

When I was a kid, many of Stuart’s older restaurants had signs. Some locals may recall Jake’s on US1, or still today, Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound. There are certainly others, nevertheless, there seem to be fewer restaurants with funny signs hanging on the walls than when I was a kid.

Thus it was awfully refreshing when Ed and I were at Lake Okeechobee this past Monday and I forced him to drive north, close to the rim, on the Old Conners’ Highway to J&S Fish Camp. He was hemming and hawing the whole way, thinking I didn’t know where I was going, but I did. When we finally got there, after driving about four miles north of Port Mayaca, we had a beer in the Tiki Bar, read the collection of signs, listened to an awesome old jukebox playing our favorite songs, and laughed so hard we felt like we were young again.

With all of the development in Florida right now, and 26,000,000 people expected to live here by 2030, places like this become even more wonderful.

That they are “one in a million” is just a sign of the times….

Connors Hwy:

J&S Fish Camp:

The following excerpt is from the Visit Florida website and tells the story the wonderful J&S Fish Camp and some of the others.

Camped Out

Campgrounds outnumber lodgings along Lake Okeechobee, drawing visitors outdoors. Wayne McSwain, who was raised in Belle Glade, remembers camping along the shoreline of Lake Okeechobee. “You camped along this canal, because there were a lot of trees here,” he said, pointing down from his perch atop the Herbert Hoover Dike, “and you came out here and swam every day, and water-skied… and you didn’t worry about the alligators at all.”

McSwain’s father ran the grocery store on the road to Torry Island, along the way to Slim’s Fish Camp. “It was (started by) the Corbins,” McSwain said. “A lot of people from out of town came over here for fishing.” To get to Slim’s, you cross one of the last remaining manually operated swing bridges in the United States. “I was 14 or 15 when Slim let me turn the rod to make the bridge pivot out of the way,” McSwain said. “It was fun for me, and I bet he got paid for it, too.”

Camping along Lake Okeechobee has changed since McSwain’s youth. With construction of the dike, a key protective barrier given the seasonal threat of water-intensive hurricanes, away went the views and the easy access. Still, the lake draws campers all year. They settle into fish camps, bring RVs for the winter to the campgrounds lining the eastern shore and hike into primitive campsites along the Florida Trail. The one campground with a view of the blue horizon was briefly known as Pahokee State Park. “The land still belongs to the state,” said McSwain, “but they’ve leased it out to campground operators for the past 30 years or so.” It’s now Lake Okeechobee Outpost KOA with a lakefront pool and restaurant.

At J&S Fish Camp, regulars crowd the bar at 10 a.m. “We know we’re the oldest fish camp around the lake,” said manager Ted Miller. “The cabins were built for the people who worked building the dike.” For the price of “a beer and a stay in a cabin,” the murals of alligators and lakeshore came from an artist’s brush, and the 1930s cabins took on tropical hues. Lake levels affect business dramatically. “When the locks are open,” said Miller, “we have fishermen come in for boiled peanuts and a beer and to have a look.”

15 thoughts on “Signs of the Times, SLR, IRL

  1. A personal storey about “Francis Langford” A movie star with several movie credits in her name. This is a storey of a meeting with Francis in Florida while my family and I were there vacationing for one year. “The Langford meeting” It was a sunday afternoon. I put the 5 children in my car and as a family went to her Dinner Club that was advertised in the Stuart area paper as a place that had a 4 piece live band playing good quality dance music during dinner hours. We were given a circular table round which we placed our children. During the next 3 or 4 hours Olga and I danced . During this time we noticed in the same area a large long table with many guests around it. On one end there was a very beautiful lady. We did not know who it was at the time. At the other end a very big bald headed man.

    During an intermisson of the band the bald man came over and asked me if I would be so kind as to have one Rumba dance with Francis. Who I then realized who she was. I got the OK from Olga to dance with her and of course had a very good dance. She evidently watched how well we danced to the music and decided to dance with me as well. It was then and only then that we realized who this beautiful lady was. YOU now know how we met FRANCIS LANGFORD. I have saved most of her movies and these memories of course are all very important to me in my life.

  2. Good for you both! If I could send you an emoji instead it would be :-).

    As for the Sign. Another way I’ve seen this expressed is:
    “If you have to lie, tell it with a slant.”

  3. Jacqui, I certainly remember Jakes! From 1986-2002 I lived at 700 St. Lucie Crescent and frequented Jake”s until he closed and moved out to the Palm City Grilll for a time.

  4. Having lived in many places I have come to realize when government is based on treating others the way you would like to be treated it can be a beautifull thing. But when every word is a lie it will be a real nightmare.

  5. When i take my boat into Crane Creek in Melbourne there is a 30 foot sign on the sea wall. It says—Ralf Evenrude— Billions have been wasted to fix your lagoon when a few dump trucks of shells on the shore would have done the job. Meanwhile Stuarts greatest historic treasure was plowed over to make condos. The Ralf Evenrude house should have been made a museam telling the story of the success and failures in the evolution of the Evenrude outboard motor A state Ralf Evenrude museam sign on I-95 would have brought thousands of visitors a day in.

  6. Sounds like a great little adventure. I hope those spots stay with us forever. Great memories. Thanks for sharing your travels.

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