Well, it turned out to be a very interesting year for me and my Land Lines column.
In March I was happy to report the dedication of the new Ormond Garage replica that our group had worked on for so long. The Motor Racing Heritage Association was proud to present Mayor Ed Kelley with the symbolic key after four years of hard work. It is not often citizens present a city with a $30,000 gift.
In June I told you about Joy Rainey who had driven her 1904 Olds cross-country. Her trip began in Santa Monica, Calif., and ended at the same Ormond Garage, taking exactly one month. Until Joy arrived, I had no idea she was a little person. What grit for anyone to drive an open one cylinder car from coast to coast. I will never forget her.
Of course, the big story this year was the one I wrote following the George Zimmerman trial. Over the years I have written several columns that have evoked passion and response but nothing like that. I did that piece because it made me mad when civil rights activists from out of state came to Central Florida attempting to interfere with our justice system. I understood their rage but ours is the best system of jurisprudence in the world and it should not be circumvented.
The sheriff and prosecutor in Seminole County got it right when they did not bring charges against Zimmerman, but Gov. Rick Scott was forced into assigning a prosecutor from out of the area. The trial was a predictable sham of justice. Next the protesters tried to force federal charges for civil rights violations. To me that is just another attempt at undermining the courts.
When I said that in print my phone and e-mail caused my wife and I to become very busy. We had 56 messages in support of my stance and only six opposed but a couple of those really let me have it. Actually some of my supporters were the scariest. Apparently my column was forwarded all across the nation and I heard from a lot of people thanking me for what I had done. Some who called managed to get so worked up they lost their voices. Inadvertently I had become some sort of hero to extreme right wingers. When I wrote that column I never intended for that to happen.
A lot of you enjoyed the Land Lines about the 1930 Pierce Arrow racecar that had appeared on American Pickers. It was a lot of fun trying to figure out the history of the car, but I am still disappointed I was not the one who bought it. Eventually the owner and I learned the car was probably built by Preston Tucker to run at Bonneville. How it came to be in Ormond Beach and then Orange City is still under review.
Right after that I wrote another historical piece about the Hotchkiss House in Daytona Beach. In that one I tied together a family tree of arms makers, car builders and stapler inventers. That was a great history mystery and an interesting challenge.
At Halloween my column about being spooked at Matanzas Inlet was well received. Some even wrote to tell me they had gone there to search for the ghosts of the French who were killed. History buffs also liked my story about the Declaration Of Independence. In that one, I surprised some folks by labeling the patriots as criminals and reminded everyone the original concept was for each state to run independent of the federal government.
My column in support of marijuana legalization also surprised some of you. While I am now a conservative old guy, I took a lot of different roads to get here. From time to time, I like to offer my thoughts on beautifying the area and this year I did one story on painting everything in pastels and one on planting citrus in the medians of roadways. As usual I did one column on random thoughts and most liked the line I used urging politicians to wear NASCAR style racing suits so we could all see their corporate sponsors.
I thank all of you for your input and staying with me throughout 2013. I do hope you enjoy my efforts for 2014, though right now I have no clue what they might be. Happy New Year!
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, "The World's Greatest Beach" and "I Swear the Snook Drowned." Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (386) 441-7793.