Friday, October 21, 2011

George Mindling Column 4-8-2005

People Here Not From Around Here


My wife didn’t think much of my idea of hanging an old license plate from the bottom of our mailbox. She really isn’t used to having a mailbox out on the street as it is, having always had a mailbox mounted just outside our front door wherever we lived before.

“Perhaps you should get a hobby and meet people!” she cheerfully suggested, “Just leave the mailbox alone.”

Hanging on to old identities to create a comfort level in a strange, new land sometimes takes strange twists. Looking for commonality among strangers is reminiscent of being in the Armed Services stationed overseas. Every American is your immediate buddy simply because of the common bond of citizenship and language. Where in the states someone is from is immaterial, at least you have something in common with somebody! Listening for a familiar accent or someone who knows the history of your hometown is always a challenge in Port Charlotte. Every neighbor is from somewhere else, quite a melting pot of ethnic backgrounds and traditions.

Some newly retired couples seem to go through phases of adjustment before moving toward reality and away from the fantasy of constant partying. Not golfing is the one and only trait I share with H. Ross Perot. Tennis? I never seemed to have the time to learn. We do love to dance, though. We really miss the passing of the dance floor at the Best Western. It unfortunately died a strange, grotesque death well before Hurricane Charley, turning into a vast one-table pool hall while everyone wondered where the music went. Fishing? Well, with the price of gas headed toward the stratosphere, it looks like the old kayak is going to get a live well. Well, a bait bucket, anyway.

Staying busy isn’t hard to do here. Retirement takes on new meaning for many people after getting through the often-tumultuous first year. Volunteering or serving in service groups is what many people turn to once the initial culture shock of retirement wears off. If you join a volunteer group here, you soon notice the Boston accents mix with the mid-west chatter and Georgia cracker drawl as Port Charlotte evolves into a new kind of community.

It is also becoming a younger community. According to Sperling’s Bestplaces, the median age of our area here in Northwest Port Charlotte (zip code 33953) is 48.2. Obviously, not everyone here is a retiree, but many new younger families are from areas other than southwest Florida. Still, we long to carry on a conversation with people familiar with our hometown. There doesn’t seem to be any one, single focal point in our adopted little paradise.

Even though we seem to have more people rooting for New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers than for the Tampa Bay Bucs or the Miami Dolphins, I’m glad we picked Port Charlotte as a place to live, not just retire.

Even if we do have a hard time finding anybody else from Florida.

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