I sat around a table this evening, celebrating a big new change for a work friend, and found myself talking about "St. Augustine sounds like a pretty cool place" to an interested audience. Tyrone, typically astute, said, "I don't think I've ever lived any one place long enough to understand that," and there it was. It's the living in one place, the putting down of roots, and the time invested in allowing those roots to intermingle and become inseparable...that's a key part of the coolness factor. There are other factors, hard to pin down, but constancy is part of the magic.
Here's another glimpse.
Long ago, there were only a few doctors, really, in St. Augustine. There was Dr. Norris, who delivered, as far as I can tell, just about every baby in town until we had more docs and for a wonderful moment, a real midwife. (I'll tell you more about this if you ask me.) And there was Dr. Langston, who knew everybody and again, as nearly as I can tell, was the guy people went to when they needed something to make them sleep or lose weight or calm down or whatever. And there was Dr. Devito, and here again, we are relying on my sketchy memory but I think he might have been the only cardiologist in St. Augustine. For a LONG time. He was married to Catherine, and the father of Jimmy. There might be more familial history but I only need to tell you about Catherine, who sang in the Cathedral choir, and Jimmy, who's connected to me through Big Pineapple Music (although he probably doesn't know me at all).
Catherine Devito Dixon is the only person I've known personally who had what's commonly called "perfect pitch". You could ask her for an A, the note to which orchestras typically tune, and she could open her mouth and sing one. When I was a young singer, she was probably in middle age, but she still had the gift of pitch and a fine voice, and was kind to the younger, more ignorant singers, like me. But it's the perfect pitch I will always remember.
Years went by, and I fell into the orbit of my now much-treasured friend (for the love of GOD, do NOT tell him I said that) Rocky Blaze, which took me into the orbit of Catherine's son Jimmy. Stay with me, here. Rocky is a sort of local legend, a fine designer, creative director and musician who has contributed quietly to countless bands and recording projects born in St. Augustine as a performer and a creative director. (Some sort of bell rang in the back of my head, my dears, but that is a story on its own, and I promise to tell you later.) For now suffice it to say that Rocky would once in awhile ask me to proofread CD artwork that he'd created. Over time, I put the pieces together and realized that the guy who owned the recording studio for which Rocky was creating art was Jimmy Devito, who was - guess what? - the son of my old, pitch-perfect friend, Catherine Devito Dixon. Only in St. Augustine, right?
Rocky plays now in a HIGHLY cool band called Big Pineapple, a band almost guaranteed to add years to your life when you listen. (Note to self: add footnotes referring to "some restrictions" and "qualified buyers" and "I was out of my mind" and possibly "non compos mentis", etc.) As far as I know, he still works with Jimmy on recording and engineering projects.
There's a strong voice coming from this place, dear ones. Lots of recording musicians are working with Gatorbone Studios (which I'm sure you all know and love already...I promise to tell you the story of the MadriGalz Most Excellent Recording Adventure one of these days, my loves). Many also work with Eclipse Recording Studio, home of our pal Jim Stafford. If we played Seven Degrees of Separation, Jim would be one degree from Gamble Rogers. Maybe even less, if we did fractions, which at Eat Here we SO DO NOT. Either way, Jim is one of the true Good Guys of the world; Eclipse does more good than I could begin to tell you.
But good guys or bad guys: here in St. Augustine we're all connected to each other. Sometimes we have to scratch the surface to find the connections but they always turn out to be there. I count my blessings, and head for sleep.