Relics of Old Florida are getting fewer and farther between. Once the interstate was built, traffic no longer traveled on the old highways, leaving many traveler services to decline and disappear. Despite all the miles I drive around Florida, I’ve found very few tourist courts; a derelict gas station is a real find.
I try to explore back roads as much as possible, looking for reminders of an earlier time when there wasn’t a McDonalds on every corner or a Days Inn at every major highway exit. Signs of such a past are quickly disappearing as we lose ourselves in the questionable comfort of homogeneity.
So what would the traveler on Route 441 heading out of Georgia and into Florida find? Not a lot of convenience. Since we’ve become a society that is growing ever more dependent on convenience and choice, scenes like the one on Route 441 might be a bit alarming. You travel for miles seeing only a handful of single-wide trailers that I don’t suppose were around 50 years ago, and then you see the sign for the Suwannokee Motel. The sign advertises not just the motel but the state of the motel, and it wasn’t clear if the place was still open for business. It seems doubtful, although the old sofas placed outside the rooms seemed to be a somewhat recent addition.
Nearing Lake City, the gas station would probably have been a relief for the long-distance motorist. Although the pumps were functioning at least until the introduction of octane ratings, the building is much older. It’s impossible to date with no information other than the visual, but I’ll guess that it dates at least as far back as the 1940s.
As I closed in on Lake City, a rose-colored bull guarded a place that sold prefab sheds that were styled like barns. I consider this bull, especially in this color, a strike against the tedium of uniformity.