“Alligators in B-Flat” is the title story of my latest book and also the name of the first video Maurice Rivenbark and I did together. This work was inspired by a 2007 National Public Radio Story about “B-Flat — nature’s favorite musical note.’’ I convinced Bill Mickelsen, the principal tuba player from Tampa Bay’s Florida Orchestra, to drive with me in Gatorland in Orlando to try an experiment. You’ll have to read the story and watch this famous video to find out what happened!
Bradley’s Country Store, located on a lonely two-lane canopy road north of Tallahassee, is among Florida’s magical places. Frank Bradley’s grandmother, Mary Bradley, began selling sausage out her back window in 1910. By 1927 her son L.E. Bradley had added the gristmill and store. Bradley’s Country Store is still going strong. As I write this, Frank is still grinding corn, slaughtering hogs and selling sausage on the premises. His daughter, known as Miss Jan to everyone in the community, runs the old-fashioned store. Don’t visit without an appetite and an ice-chest to haul your edibles home. My longtime friend Maurice Rivenbark shot and produced this video when we were both working for the Tampa Bay Times. The story is in “Alligators in B-Flat.’’
My dad loved fishing for bream and for bass in the Everglades. We often visited Mack’s Fish Camp when I was growing up. Years later, as an adult, I’d stop by to chat with the colorful Grandma Nelle Jones about what was biting. Imagine my surprise when I found out her twin grandsons — tough Gladesmen — were still running the Old-Florida show. My story about this Everglades institution is in the book “Alligators in B-Flat.’’ I consider this video one of Maurice Rivenbark’s best.
For years, when I rode with the bike club in St. Petersburg, I pedaled next to Bill Hansbury, a friendly but profane senior athlete, who always seemed interesting yet intimidating. Bill’s tragedy, which I document in “Alligators in B-Flat,’’ turned out not to be a tragedy. It turned out to be blessing, not only to Bill but to a hurting little boy. I still can’t watch Maurice Rivenbark’s video with dry eyes.
I like to think Florida is a magical place — and here’s more evidence. This story about Gary Revell and how he harvests earthworms for his bait business is in my book “Alligators in B-Flat.’’ And here’s Maurice Rivenbark’s wonderful video that went along with it.