On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
Paul in Jacksonville
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings won a Pulitzer Prize in 1939 for her book titled The Yearling. She lived for 25 years in her home in Cross Creek, Florida. The property was a working orange grove at the time. The home is now a national landmark. She authored dozens of short stories and several novels while living there. Her two best known novels, The Yearling (1946) and Cross Creek (1983) were both made into films. Many consider The Yearling to now be a Hollywood classic. The admission price to the grounds is $3 per carload. Private tours of the house are offered at 5 different times throughout the day, and the tour is included in the admission charge. If you ever find yourself in the Gainesville, Florida area, it’s well worth carving out a few hours to visit the house.
Sign just past the entrance gate to the property.
Florida Cracker Houses were typically built above the ground, allowing air to circulate under the floor. Most windows and doors were kept open to capture whatever breezes might be blowing. The house was very comfortable during my visit, with gentle wafts of wind throughout the house.
Her desk, where the action happened. This is the screened in porch visible in the front of the house. The porch was added on to the original home. Lucky Strike was her preferred brand of cigarettes.
She loved to cook. There are seven burners on this stove. Our guide told us this was the first self cleaning oven manufactured. The chamber above was a warming oven. The heat from the stove would rise and keep the food placed in there warm.
One side of the pantry. The opposite side contained a couple of dozen various sizes and shapes of cast iron cookware.
The ice box used 40 to 50 pounds of ice every day to keep perishables from perishing. The ice was placed in the door on the top left side.
Copies of all of her books were displayed in a glass enclosed case. These are her best known.
There were several National Geographic magazines throughout the house. This is the cover of one of them.
There about half a dozen orange trees on the property. This was the largest of the group.
There is a small boat ramp on the property that allows boaters to access Orange Lake, one of the many that dot the central Florida region.
How awesome, she’s been one of my favorites for quite some time. I first learned about her from the film “Cross Creek” with Mary Steenburgen, Rip Torn, Peter Coyote and Alfre Woodard . I’ve wanted to visit and I thank you for the pictures.
She also wrote a cookbook!
I live less than an hour away from Cross Creek and have visited the Rawlings house several times. MKR took a great deal of pride in her culinary skills and published a cookbook called Cross Creek Cookery. I make sure we keep our copy during our periodic book purges* in case there’s an apocalypse that separates me from grocery stores and we have to live off the land.
*Our house is small, so if we didn’t get rid of accumulated books occasionally, we’d be wondering through narrow paths between stacks. I’ve mostly gone to ebooks, but my husband can’t quit print and reads a lot.
@Betty Cracker: She also attended a certain football game!
I can’t believe DeSantis got to you too, BC. No one is safe!
Thanks for the great photos. Funny, I was thinking about The Yearling just a few days ago. I vividly remember reading it (for school, I think). The ending was so sad.
My curiosity is piqued: what was happening in southwest Asia in mid-1952?
Oh! that place is beautiful. It is a gem. It is a soul landscape, a center of the world.
For a surprising number of us, that is the Real Florida.
My uncle was a boy in a quite similar house, in the early 1930s, deep I n what is now the Ocala National Forest. Hand pump in the front yard for well water, no electricity.
I mean, except for Florida thunderstorms.
@raven: And cheered for the Gators!
Rawlings was weirdly sentimental about alligators, which probably confirmed for her Cross Creek neighbors that she wasn’t from around here! ;-)
@Betsy: Word, and more of it is like Cross Creek than is like Miami, WDW, etc. Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone or they’ll destroy it quicker!
@Amir Khalid: $15 on amazon
@Betty Cracker: it’s dangerously full of alligators! And yellow-flies! And the heat is THE WORST. Not to mention the humidity
I got there at an off time, years ago, so only got as far as the porch. There were more orange trees then. Did you eat at Cross Creek restaurant after?
When I was a girl, we would watch The Yearling whenever it came on a cable channel at my granny’s (un-air conditioned, Old-Florida-type) house.
Granny would always have to leave the room for the bad part. We grandchilluns would just cry, and cry.
@Amir Khalid: Well, the political tensions in Iran that would lead to the US-backed coup against Mossadegh the next year were building and making the news. Lots of events in the perennial conflict in Israel-Palestine, lots of other stuff too I’m sure.
But there didn’t necessarily have to be any one big specific event. National Geographic periodically did these sweeping feature articles on a region that provided a pretext for them to include a big fold-out map in the issue. I looked up “southwest Asia 1952” and what came up were a bunch of vendors selling this map.
Your pictures give us a real feel for how life was lived in that time and place.
Marge Rawling’s house is really special, and truly feels like “old” cracker Florida. Cross Creek is still just a spot in the road with the river Styx flowing through. The restaurant has its up and downs. I have had fabulous meals there: fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, redfish, etc. and then some that weren’t really worth the drive from Gainesville. Drive around that area. Evinston is even less of a spot in the road and it is truly going back in time.
Paul in Jacksonville
@Reboot: No I did not. I was at the home mid-morning on a Sunday, and it was not open.
I appear to be an outlier, but The Yearling film traumatized me as a child.
I really don’t understand why we celebrate a writer that killed so many children’s innocence. It could have been just me, but I doubt it.
The photo of the stove brought back memories of the stove in my maternal grandmother’s kitchen in New England.
It, too, had a removable lid at the left of the stove, with an attachable handle that was inserted into a slot near the edge of the lid.
Underneath was a shallow space about 6″ deep, which my grandma used for burning small amounts of trash.
Replacing the lid would put out the flame by starving it of oxygen.
We just toured the property while we were in Gainesville visiting friends, it’s beautiful and peaceful. If you’re a birder be sure to stop at Paynes Prairie, I saw snail kites and a whooping crane there and for lunch stop at Pearls in Micanopy for great BBQ. It’s basically just a c-store on the outside but has terrific pulled pork and greens.
Seeing that old National Geographic cover sure brought back find memories of the hundreds of those I read as a preteen when we inherited a huge collection. It went from around that time, with the all white/text covers and then to a small photo and finally a full sized one. It was such a sad moment for me when Murdoch bought the magazine.
I mostly borrow ‘print’ books from the county library—my preferred choice as well. Since each book I acquire requires sending one to the library donation table… (Albeit when traveling I shift to my iPad_having given up on carting a bunch of ‘analog’ books in my duffle bag.)