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“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me. ”
Fred Rogers

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If you time it right next Tuesday you can’t catch the unusual double feature of Mr. Rogers  (Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Full Metal Jacket at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Florida.  Catch the documentary on Fred Rogers at 6:30, grab a food and a drink at Eden Bar, and then catch the Stanley Kubrick war classic at 9:30. (Therapy afterward optional.)

How many times will you get to do that in your life?

I had the opportunity to cross paths with Fred Rogers twice in my life. The first time was in 1997 when my wife was playing a piano duet in the music building at Rollins College.  As my wife and I were talking after the recital Mr. Rogers came up and said to my wide in his super nice and friendly manner, “I really enjoyed your music.”

Mr. Rogers also played the piano and went to Rollins College where he met his musician wife. She later received a book from him with a nice note.

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My second Mr. Rogers encounter was when I was taking photos at the Rollins Chapel carrying equipment and he opened the door for me. It was like having Forrest Gump open the door for you. (Speaking of…Tom Hanks will be playing Mr. Rogers in the movie You Are My Friend coming out next year from a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and  Noah Harpster. )

Fred Rogers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998 and may have taken one of the more unusual routes to Hollywood Blvd. He born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (where golfing legend Arnold Palmer was born) and after Rollins attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and became an ordained Presbyterian minister before launching his TV class show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. 

Here’s a little Mr. Rogers inspiration for you today.

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P.S. In the early 60s (1961/1962) author and theologian R.C. Sproul was starting his training at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary just as Fred Rogers was finishing his education there. In 1971 Sproul started the Ligonier Valley Study Center in Stahlstown, PA. (Stahstown, Ligonier, and Latrobe are all neighboring towns within a ten-mile radius of each other.)

Sproul later moved to Orlando and in the 90s when I was just a few years out of film school and looking for “Hollywood East” I produced many videos and a radio program with Sproul and he told me he had gone to seminary with Fred Rogers.

Proving once again that it’s a small, small world with many surprising twists and turns.

P.P.S.

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Won’t you be my neighbor? (“Full Metal Jacket” version.)

Related post:
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Hollywood East (written after R.C. Sproul died last year)

Scott W. Smith

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“Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.”
Anthony Bourdain

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Saturday night I had an enjoyable meal at Isabelle’s located at The Historic Peninsula Inn in Gulfport, Florida. I took this photo the next morning because I knew it’d be bathed in the early morning light. (The blue sky was a bonus.)

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I thought a lot about Anthony Bourdain over the last few days since hearing about this death. I enjoyed his shows and how he balanced talking about food, travel, movies, and culture. While I have traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and overseas on various productions, my entire career probably looks like a slow year for Bourdain. One article I read said he was sometimes on the road 250 days a year.

No need for me to read into his death, but I’ll miss seeing him explore far (and near) places. His work continued a thread in my life that started when I grew up listening to Jimmy Buffett’s music. A desire to see the far side of the world. And sometimes just the far side of the United States that are sometimes in our own backyards.

So when I pulled into the small art town of Gulfport (next to St. Petersburg) there was a spirit of discovery there that just made my short trip enjoyable.

Related posts;

Parts Unknown Part 1

Parts Unknown Part 2

Parts Unknown Part 3

Parts Unknown Part 4

Parts Unknown Part 5

Parts Unknown Part 6

Parts Unknown Part 7

Parts Unknown Part 8

Parts Unknown Part 9

Parts Unknown Part 10

Scott W. Smith

 

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Many know of Gainesville, Florida simple because it’s the home to the Florida Gators football team. Lesser known is the name at the top of the University of Florida football stadium that reads Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.* Griffin was a former UF  who became an orange grove baron in Frostproof, Fla. with an estate worth an estimated hundreds of millions when he died in 1990. He and his family have been significant donors to the school over the years.

Years ago I once produced a video for his extended family and came across footage of an old interview with Griffin that’s always been one of my favorites. Since he started with just 10-acres of oranges he was asked what was the secret of his immense financial success. He smiled and said, “Now I don’t know if I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded, it’s just that my successes have outshone my failures.”

I imagine any honest biography would echo that thought. And may it be true of us as well.

In the bottom left corner of the photo I took yesterday are three top Gator players (Danny Wuerffel, Steve Spurrier, and Tim Tebow) who each had their share of successes and failures, but are best known for being Heisman Trophy quarterbacks who also were on national championship teams as a player or coach at Florida.

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*The full name of football stadium is now “Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.” But that’s a mouthful so many just call it by its nickname—”The Swamp.”

Scott W. Smith

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Well it was kinda cold that night
She stood alone on her balcony
Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by
Out on 441 like waves crashin’ on the beach
American Girl/Tom Petty

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This sign for The Florida Motel is the kind of timeless Florida tourism that I love photographing—as I did today.  This weathered sign is located on Highway 441 in Gainesville, Florida not far from the University of Florida campus.

In ten years this sign will probably end up in a Manhatten museum— or a bar in Brooklyn.

Scott W. Smith

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It’s not a hippy hill now—it’s actually a nice bed and breakfast area in Gainesville, Florida. But back in the ’60s and ’70s it got the nickname of the hippy hill because hippies lived in mass quantities in the then run-down Victorian homes on 7th Street.

In the home I photographed above upwards of 30 hippies called this home at one time. Legend has it that Tom Petty lived (crashed?) here for a while in the early days of his musical career when he made his living playing in the college town that’s home to the University of Florida.

Tonight I’m actually staying in a cottage next door that’s part of a different bed and breakfast and that’s where I first heard about Petty’s connection. Two doors down from this B&B is The Magnolia Plantation (photograph below) which before it was restored in 1990 their literature says, “Hippies and college students had inhabited it for 30 years. It was more like Animal House than a Victorian mansion.” They pulled out 20 mattresses and seven couches from this house before the restoration began.

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I don’t know if any former hippies own any of these bed and breakfasts in 2018, but that would make for a pretty interesting story.

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Related article: Gainesville: Where Tom Petty’s Dreams Began by Marty Jourard

Scott W. Smith

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I took this photo in an alley (complete with trash bins) while in St. Petersburg, Florida this week. There are dozens of large murals on buildings throughout the greater downtown area. This one by Derek Donnelly is located in the Northside Alley in the 500 Block of Central Ave. Here’s an interactive map showing where all of the murals are located and the artists who painted them.

Scott W. Smith

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I’ll continue my run of posts on writer/director Greta Gerwig tomorrow but wanted to share a photo I took yesterday of a nicer than average Florida sunset.

As I driving east toward downtown Orlando I saw a man looking to the west with his camera pointed at the sky. “What’s that dude taking pictures of?” I wondered. When I looked into my review mirror I saw the sunset.

Knowing that sunsets fade quickly and that I needed something in the foreground. I drove about 100 yards and just stopped my car in the middle of the street by the Orlando City Stadium and got this shot with my iPhone.

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Scott W. Smith

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