Greetings from Mid-century Florida

Does anything else say “FLORIDA” like pink flamingos?

Well, actually, yes: alligators, palm-tree salt and pepper shakers, post cards, souvenir plates, cigarette lighters and tin cans labeled “Florida Sunshine” do the trick.

Especially if you combine, say, gators and lighters.

About 250 of the kitschy souvenirs created by home grown attractions in those years between WWII and the arrival of Disney are on display at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science until September 1, 2018.


The emphasis on wildlife, exotic scenery and even an attraction’s physical location on the map all show how, as recently as 60 years ago, Florida was a remote and unknown place for many Americans.

Most items on display are from long-time collector Sandy Barns. In addition to the better-known destinations, such as Cypress Gardens and Marineland, there are items from some obscure, not to say forgotten, attractions such as “Marco Polo Land” (once near Bunnell between Jacksonville and Daytona) that recreated the adventurer’s travels.  Now, it is a golf course.


One item from the museum’s own collection is that can of sunshine. The message on the back of the label says don’t give it to “northerners”, they will become jealous and depressed.

The display has interactive elements. A plate decorating station lets guests exercise their creativity and design their own plates. At another table folks are asked to drop marbles into jars to indicate which locations they have visited. (So far, St. Augustine is leading)

And the museum is collecting answers to the question “What is your first Florida memory?” Answers range from “rain” and “my grandparents” to “getting orange juice at the Florida border.”

Anyone can contribute to that collection by posting an answer on the museum’s Facebook page: