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Ex libris Florida

By THEODORA AGGELES

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000


FLORIDA FLY BOYS: Unless you shared a brew with the Yankees during their early spring training years in St. Petersburg, there is no better way to learn about the myths and the men than through St. Petersburg author Peter Golenbock's Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964 (Contemporary Books, $16.95). Even those who have only heard the names Berra, DiMaggio and Mantle will be yanked into this nonfiction book that reads like a novel. From the first lines, readers are transported back to the field and locker rooms of 1949 to listen to the reflections of players, coaches, managers and sports writers. Golenbock's attention to detail, smooth style and compassion for the human spirit transform this sports book into literature.

HITTING THE BIG LEAGUE: It took years, but St. Petersburg now has its own major-league baseball team and also a page in the second edition of Baseball Vacations (Fodor's, $18), a guide to planning vacations around baseball games. Never mind that the authors, Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel, call Tropicana Field "a monstrosity," claiming that it is "as hideous a piece of sports architecture as you can imagine." At least they mention the Kids 'n Kubs senior-citizen league and offer good advice on lodging, dining and nearby family entertainment.

PRAIRIE PASSION: It's 1889 and Kate Chandler is pregnant and running from a painful past. She's hoping to begin life anew in Oklahoma, by participating in a land run. Bounty hunter Cole Youngblood arrives too, saddled with his late sister's three orphaned children and itching to begin his search for a "female fugitive." After the two meet, they strike a deal. He will race for the land, if she plays mother to the children. Tampa author Cheryl Anne Porter's page-turning historical romance, Prairie Song (St. Martin's Paperback, $5.99), pits the power of love against internal and external dangers lurking in the Wild West.

PICTURING FLORIDA PAST: Remember when place mats in Florida diners sported state maps? Catch glimpses of those days and beyond by looking at Greetings from Florida: Early Views and History in Picture Postcards (Camelot Publishing Company, $34.96) by Donald D. Spencer of Ormond Beach. Spencer has collected postcards since childhood and now has self-published a book containing more than 490 (listed alphabetically), which cover the state. From African-American workers picking lettuce in Sanford to a circa 1900 Zephyrhills streetcar scene, Florida's history is presented in black and white and color. The book can be ordered at (904) 672-3830.

EASING INTO THE EVERGLADES: Navigating the 1,500,000-acre Everglades National Park just got easier. Whether forging uncharted territory or slipping along the marked canoe trails, author Johnny Molloy's A Paddler's Guide to Everglades National Park (University Press of Florida, $16.95) helps in the planning. From lists of necessary tools for a safe, dry and successful adventure to locating ground and beach campsites for weary campers to rest their oars, the guide works.

SOUTHERN SECRETS: In Marvelous Secrets (SouthLore Press, $16.96) former St. Petersburg resident Marian Coe, who lives in North Carolina, offers a collection of 13 short stories depicting Southern women whose lives change once they open their hearts, minds and mouths. Whether they struggle in a Florida trailer park or stride through country club doors, most are surviving "one post at a time." Coe tugs at reader's emotions while exposing those of her characters.

TAKING CHARGE: Change Your Life in 28 Days ($10), a self-published handbook by Indian Shores author and psychotherapist David C. Rogers, encourages inner reflection and personal awareness with its one-day-at-a-time approach to constructive change. Also available is a companion workbook ($10) which suggests daily exercises. Both books can be purchased by calling (727) 593-2526.

Theodora Aggeles, a native of Florida, is a writer who lives in St. Petersburg.

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