Sunday, May 23, 2010

St. Augustine sounds like a very cool place

Because of a comment Michelle made on a post here ("St. Augustine sounds like a VERY cool place..."), I'm inspired to offer a view using points of intersection I can actually describe, many of them connected by threads of music and family history and, for me especially, Sister Patricia Eileen, the Cathedral, and the Booksmith. So: a couple of glimpses into the coolness of the place.

It's fair to say that Gamble Rogers was in many ways the godfather of modern folk music in this region. He used to come into the Booksmith, turn toward the counter where I was usually perched, incline his head and acknowledge me and visit for a bit, usually ending up with a copy of Wooden Boat magazine. He lost his life in an effort to save a swimmer in trouble off one of the St. Augustine beaches and sometimes I think this heroism sometimes allows his accomplishments as a musician and storyteller and the definitive Florida troubadour of his generation, to be obscured in shadow. But I can tell you for sure that he is the teacher to whom many current musicians in and around St. Augustine refer with affection and credit with inspiration. His wife Nancy once honored me by asking me to help her learn to sing. That ties the tale back to SPE, and my invaluable voice lessons with her. Perhaps it also manages to show you a tiny glimpse of what a cool place it is, really. For there are so many, MANY times friends and acquaintances look at each other and say, "Only in St. Augustine..."

There is a middle school here named in Gamble's honor, and for many years they've sponsored a folk festival which also bears his name. If you look at the site for the Festival, you'll see the graphic art of Joe Mark featured, Joe, who along with his wife Patty, has been a stalwart musician for many years at the all just keeps turning in on itself, you see, and is one of the million tiny reasons St. Augustine IS a very cool place. There's so much more to tell you, my little ones, but it's and endless joyful task, like trying to describe the colors of glass refracted in a kaleidoscope. Stay with me, though. We'll look at them all sooner or later.


  1. St. Augustine does sound fascinating, and to think you have so many ties to famous people. I can't wait to hear more!

  2. Michelle,
    Thank you (again!) for reading. There are the ties to the famous (or once-famous, or almost-famous) and then there are the ties to current lives and past lives...there's a LOT. And your encouragement helps me think it's worth putting into writing, as long as I can keep it from being too "local" or (heaven forbid!) boring.
    Stay tuned! Love,

  3. Please do tell more. I love hearing about folk's special places that they love.

  4. Suldog, in addition to being fine writers, both you and Michelle H. are kind readers. I wasn't sure whether this would be dull to someone who doesn't live here, but am so glad you guys enjoyed it. I have lots of other St. Augustine stories...probably some of my readers do, too, so share up, everybody!


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