"Remarkable. . . should have strong, immediate interest for the ecologists engaged in efforts to restore the Everglades."--William B. Robertson, research biologist for Everglades National ParkFrom the book--Pa built our house out of rough lumber that they got from Frazier’s sawmill . . . a one-room house about 16 to 18 feet long and 12 feet wide. We all slept on cots and s"Remarkable. . . should have strong, immediate interest for the ecologists engaged in efforts to restore the Everglades."--William B. Robertson, research biologist for Everglades National ParkFrom the book--Pa built our house out of rough lumber that they got from Frazier’s sawmill . . . a one-room house about 16 to 18 feet long and 12 feet wide. We all slept on cots and sat on boxes or a trunk. The kitchen was in the corner, and Ma cooked on a four-hole stove, which cost six dollars. Me and my middle brother, Alvin, sat on a trunk to eat at the table. That trunk had some long cracks in it. My brother knew just how to move so the crack would pinch . . . .Years before the Park was established, when all the land and marsh seemed to belong to me, we would help ourselves to whatever we could see or trade for survival. Mostly we would sell gator and otter hides. . . . On this particular trip, after grunting awhile at the gator hole, I gave up and made tracks to the camp since I wanted to return by dark. . . . I was lying under my skeeter bar with a small tarp stretched between two cabbage palms. About midnight, I heard the dried cabbage fronds breaking in the path toward my camp. The night was pitch black . . .Few people today can claim a living memory of Florida's frontier Everglades. Glen Simmons, who has hunted alligators, camped on hammock-covered islands, and poled his skiff through the mangrove swamps of the glades since the 1920s, is one who can. Together with Laura Ogden, he tells the story of backcountry life in the southern Everglades from his youth until the establishment of the Everglades National Park in 1947. During the economic bust of the late ‘20s, when many natives turned to the land to survive, Simmons began accompanying older local men into Everglades backcountry, the inhospitable prairie of soft muck and mosquitoes, of outlaws and moonshiners, that rings the southern part of the state. As Simmons recalls life in this community with humor and nostalgia, he also documents the forgotten lifestyles of south Florida gladesmen. By necessity, they understood the natural features of the Everglades ecosystem. They observed the seasonal fluctuations of wildlife, fire, and water levels. Their knowledge of the mostly unmapped labyrinth of grassy water enabled them to serve as guides for visiting naturalists and scientists. Simmons reconstructs this world, providing not only fascinating stories of individual personalities, places, and events, but an account that is accurate, both scientifically and historically, of one of the least known and longest surviving portions of the American frontier.Glen Simmons has lived in the south Florida Everglades since his birth in 1916 in Homestead. In 1995 he was awarded a State of Florida Heritage Award for his unique contribution to Florida's history and folk culture. He has demonstrated and taught glades skiff building for the Florida Department of State, Bureau of Folklife, and the South Florida Historical Society; his boats are on permanent display at the Florida Folklife Museum in White Springs, Florida, and at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Miami.Laura Ogden, also born in Homestead and a life-long friend of Glen Simmons, is assistant professor of anthropology at Florida International University....
|Title||:||Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers|
|Number of Pages||:||224 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers Reviews
An amazing book, particularly so for anyone currently living in Florida, that looks back on what life was like for those who eked out a living in and around the Everglades back in the 1920s through 1940s. Glen Simmons was a Gladesman, a man who could move quietly through the River of Grass, stalk and kill an alligator and then skin it on the spot. He built his own skiffs for maneuvering through the mangroves and sawgrass, and knew both how to camp out on the tree islands amid clouds of mosquitoes and how to trap and skin otters. He also knew how to keep his mouth shut. For at least part of the time he was plying his trade as a trapper, the law regarded Simmons as a poacher, violating the laws designed to protect the dwindling number of alligators. So he built a hidden compartment in his Ford to hide his skins, or sank them underwater to keep them away from the game wardens. He was frequently harassed by prohibition agents, aka "prohis," who were looking for moonshiners -- and from time to time he ran across suspicious moonshiners who thought he might be working with the prohis. So that taught him to keep his own counsel and not say much.Fortunately, anthropologist Laura A. Ogden persuaded him to open up and tell some of what he knew and saw and experienced. Ogden opens each chapter with a brief introduction to set the stage for Simmons, and then he begins spinning his tales. The story he tells is episodic and jumps around a bit, but that makes it more like sitting around a campfire listening to yarns about the old days. Some of them are quite funny, such as the one about the boat that he and a hunting partner named after a woman they knew who had what he called "an extended behind" because the boat did too. Frequently Simmons makes himself the butt of the joke, and that's true in this case too.Simmons does not sugar-coat what life was like back then. He talks about awful roads, insect pests, rotten weather and plain old bad luck. There's no nostalgic haze about how much nicer everyone was in the old days, either. He repeatedly uses the word "hellish" to describe the behavior of his colleagues and competitors, people who would drain your car's gas tank, swipe your clothes, sic the law on you or carry away your hard-earned gator skins if you weren't careful. He mentions a few good souls who would help a man or woman in need, but they were clearly in the minority. Simmons seems particularly disgusted by "sportsmen" who shot gators for fun, leaving the carcasses to rot in the sun. And in one telling anecdote he recounts with palpable dismay how some "city boys" had come out and "dynamited a sea cow that had come up one of the canals" even though, as he points out, "they didn't need the meat."Throughout Simmons' narrative is a tone of melancholy as he recounts the ways the landscape he grew up with has changed so drastically -- first when Everglades National Park was established in 1947 and put much of his old hunting grounds off limits, and then as development pushed further and further out from South Florida's urban core even as a rising sea level turned freshwater haunts into brackish ones. At one point near the end, he says, "I had hopes years ago...that the skeeters and hurricanes would run the Yankees out of here, but it just about happened the other way around."
Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers by Glen Simmons and Laura Ogden (University Press of Florida 1998)(975.939) is the memoir of Glen Simmons who lived in the Everglades in the early twentieth century until the formation of Everglades National Park forced the gladespeople out of the park and off their land. This is a story of true subsistence living; these folks were true hunters and gatherers. The stories are fascinating, and this way of life is gone for good from North America. My rating: 6.5/10, finished 2/6/2014.
I am currently working for the Park Service at Flamingo, in Everglades National Park. This is such a beautiful place and one of the best canoe and kayak areas in the USA. This book gives a great insight about the area before the Park was established. A good read for anyone visiting the area. anomad
Excellent book. Not only depicts the life of a Florida gator hunter in the 1940's, but also gives his thoughts and feelings.
Important Florida history.