FLORIDA

State Information

Nickname(s):         The Sunshine State

Motto(s):                  In God We Trust

State song(s):          Old Folks at Home

Capital:                     Tallahassee

Largest City:            Jacksonville

Admitted to US:      3/27/1845                 27th State

Brief History

Ponce de Leon explored Florida looking for the Fountain of Youth.  The Spanish settled Florida but lost it to England in 1763. During the Revolutionary War, the Spanish reclaimed the area.  But, in 1814 the Americans took control. 

Here are a few interesting facts about Florida:

  • The first scheduled commercial airline flight occurred in 1914 between Tampa and St Petersburg. 

  • Florida is a leading producer of oranges, grapefruits, and limes.  

  • Some famous people born in Florida include Burt Reynolds (actor), Sidney Poitier (actor), Deacon Jones (football), Emmitt Smith (football), and many others.

Interesting Stories

Philip Don Estridge was born in Jacksonville just as the Great Depression was ending.  He was tenacious, loyal and a little moody.  IBM hired him to come up with a mini-computer.  When it flopped, he talked his boss into giving him another try.  That too flopped, ending the research.  When Apple began marketing a personal computer, IBM turned to Philip.  There’s nothing like competition to invigorate management.  The IBM PC was born.  It was so successful that Steve Jobs offered Philip to take over as president of Apple.  Perseverance and competition inspire success. 

Sara Blakely was born in Clearwater, Florida.  She invented Spanx and became the youngest female self-made billionaire in America.  However, she did not start out rich.  Sara sold fax machines door-to-door in the hot, sweaty Florida heat.  It was what gave her the idea of a seamless panty liner.  She saved up her money, went to a patent attorney, and began a quest to find a company to make and market her product.  One of her favorite quotes is “Trust your gut.”  That guided her to her success even after countless rejections. 

Pat Boone was born in Jacksonville.  His father was a contractor and his mother a nurse. Both were staunchly religious.  When he was 19, Pat married Shirley Foley, and the two of them began his songwriting and singing career.  He sold more records in the 1950’s than any other male singer.  Pat said that he once had Elvis open for him at a concert.  At that time, Elvis was not well-known, and Pat thought he was too shy.  After Elvis went on stage and started gyrating, the crowd when nuts.  Pat said he will never have Elvis open for him again.  Pat and Elvis remained very close friends until Elvis’ death.

Abraham Lincoln Lewis was born in Madison, Florida.  Respect for God laid the foundation for his core values.  The family was exceptionally poor and had difficulty putting food on the table.  He was forced to work in a local lumber mill as a water-boy rather than attend school.  His never-give-up attitude and hard work led him to become indispensable to the mill.  Abraham saved his money and invested in businesses.  In the next 28 years he became the first African American millionaire in Florida.  This was all done without a high school degree.  Work ethic, reliability, grit and willingness to take a little risk define success.  Abraham Lincoln Lewis is the essence of the American dream.

Steve “Lefty” Carlton was born and raised in Miami.  He was drafted by the St Lewis Cardinals and took them to the World Series.  He was the first pitcher to win four Cy Young Awards.  The media hated him.  They questioned his training techniques, called him a bigot, an anti-Semitic and everything else they could make up.  In 1976 he severed all ties with the media and refused to answer their questions, leading the media to allege that Steve did not speak English.  But that didn’t stop him.  In his career, he struck out 4136 batters and set many records, including the record for the most pick-offs.  

Charles E Merrill was born in the small community of Green Cove Springs.  This town, with its sulfur aroma, was thought to be the original Fountain of Youth.  Charles played semiprofessional baseball and had the nickname “Good Time Charlie.”  He moved to New York to work for a textile company where he met Edmund Lynch.  The two met while looking for a place to rent. From there, they became close friends and formed Merrill Lynch.  Charles orchestrated the merger to form Safeway and became its major stockholder.  Anticipating the stock market crash, he advised his customers to sell.  The crash occurred a year later.  Merrill was the most successful stockbroker in American History. He made investing commonplace among the middle class.

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