Edith Torrey in Sunny Florida

Miss Edith Torrey’s letter to the Skidmore Standard, as published in the May 26, 1903 edition:

From the Sunny South.

Miss Edith Torrey Writes an Interesting Letter of Her Southern Trip.

Pensacola, Fla., May 18.

Skidmore Standard.


Fully appreciating the fact that my pleasant trip to Florida is due to the kindness of my many friends in Skidmore, I thought perhaps they would enjoy hearing a little about my trip:


We have been in Pensacola since last Tuesday.  it is a very pretty little place — quite a city, and yet it hasn’t the hustling, bustling, appearance of the northern cities.  The most interesting part of it, to us, is the bay.  The view is lovely, looking out over the water, and there are a great many vessels at anchor most of the time.  There are a great many fish brought in here every day.  We have spent a good part of time at the wharf watching them unload the fish.  We saw one about five feet long — a sturgeon.  Miss Kaull and I went fishing one afternoon and had splendid luck, each of us catching one fish.  Yesterday we visited the fort and this afternoon we are going to the navy yard to see one of the ships which was captured by Dewey.


We spent several days in Memphis, Tenn.  It is a very pretty place.  We saw a magnolia tree in bloom, while there; of course the farther south we get the more of them we see.  The Cumberland mountains were beautiful.  We also passed Mammoth Spring, Arkansas — the largest single spring in the world.  We see a great many darkies hauling cotton and many other things that look very strange to us.


Jacksonville, May 21:

We are now in Jacksonville. It is a very pretty city and more like our northern cities.  Of course St. Joseph is considered quite a northern city down here, and people, after talking with us, ask us if we are not from the north.


We found Fort Barrancas very interesting.  There are three forts which we could see as we looked out toward the gulf — one on each side of the entrance and one on the bay.  Today we saw what is claimed to be the largest living alligator ever captured in Florida.  It is 14 feet long and the keeper said they fed it about 30 pounds of beef once a week during the summer, it eats nothing during the winter.  It was worth all of my work in the contest just to see it.


We visited St. Augustine yesterday.  I will not try to describe it, in fact it is beyond my power. It is simply grand.  It is the most beautiful city I ever saw.  it was not so large — only about five thousand permanent inhabitants — but the large hotels are so beautiful.  The Ponce de Leon is one of the finest in the U.S.


I don’t wonder that Florida is called the land of flowers.  We saw a great many palm trees as tall as the average dwelling house.  We had a darkey drive us over to the coast — almost two miles.  We gathered shells and visited the light house.  It is 165 feet high.  We saw the oldest house in St. Augustine, also the oldest cathedral in the U.S.  We visited the old slave market and had quite an interesting talk with an old darkey man.  He said he used to be a slave and I asked him if he was glad when he was freed, and he said:  “Law! yes.  I was so glad, I was willing to eat sand for my living.”


We are going to Bablo beach tomorrow.   We expect to start home in about a week.


We have had a splendid time but Skidmore will seem more like home.

Edith Torrey.