The Kissimmee train station is a fairly active place. The trains come and go with scheduled regularity. I like that I can clearly hear the whistles and rumbles that announce them from our home a few miles from downtown. Norris was waiting on a bench near the station. Her small suitcase told me she was a traveler; I wondered if she was coming or going. With Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and so many other tourist destinations nearby, one can look at anyone in Kissimmee and wonder pretty much the same thing.
Good journey, Norris. Or perhaps it should be, “Welcome home”.
“Norris” [Click image to expand or shrink its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/4.0 at 1/2500 sec, 85 mm
He had countless stories on his face. He was one of those people who I just knew I could probably sit down and listen to and learn from for hours. Something about him spoke to me of days past; time gone by; a history yellow and fading from memory. He was very friendly, walking along, like me, with a cup of coffee in his hand. When I asked to take his photo he was hesitant but eventually smiled and said, “Sure.” He wished me a good day and turned and went on his way before I could get his name.
Kissimmee, Florida has a rich and interesting history. It was the first town in the US with drinking establishments able to accommodate ranchers on horseback. Kissimmee was literally the end of the line for cowboys during Florida’s early cattle era, which began in the 1860’s. Ranchers would drive their cattle through the open ranges in the area and the sound of their cracking whips would fill the air. This inspired Frederic Remington to derogatorily refer to these men as “Cracker Cowboys” in an 1895 article he wrote for Harper’s New Monthly magazine.
And now you know where the term “Florida Cracker” — a description used for a true Florida Southerner who is not a transplant from another state — comes from. There aren’t too many of us left. And these days, most that are left are herding Walt Disney World and Universal Studios theme park tourists rather than cattle.