If you follow the crepe myrtles along US-90 leading east outside of Tallahassee they will lead you to the small town of Monticello, FL. Spanish moss covers the oak trees that line it’s streets and it is literally dripping with southern heritage. Monticello was established in 1827, that’s 18 years before Florida even became a state! Unfortunately like many small towns in the south it is struggling to survive in a world that no longer seems to value it’s importance. Also, like most small towns our courthouse is the center of our town. But it literally is in the center, it sits at the intersection of US19 and US90. And this round about and has seen it’s fair share of fender benders. Somehow quite a few of the accidents have been caused by the women in my family, myself included, but not as you might expect.
The first accident occurred back in the mid to late 1940′s. My great-grandmother Georgia Luceal Roe, known to everyone as Lucy but to us as Ranny, was behind the wheel and driving around the courthouse. It just so happened that at the same time Judge Bird was talking to some other gentleman on the side walk and not paying attention. He stepped off the curb just as my Ranny was driving by. Luckily she didn’t run him completely over, but still hit him hard enough to knock him down.
Now Ranny was probably the sweetest woman you would ever be lucky enough to meet, and even with all the trouble my granddaddy gave her she had the patience of a saint! She stopped the car in the middle of the road and jumped out to see if the Judge was OK. She said he got up madder than you know where and was “dog cussin’ her” to use her exact wording and ranting and raving how women shouldn’t be allowed to drive. She was so frightened from having hit him with her car, and then upset for him having yelled at her that she just left her car in the middle of the road and started walking home. In all the commotion it took everyone awhile to figure out where she had gone and by then she was half way home. My grandaddy and great granddaddy had to go pick up the car and Ranny never drove again. When my mom asked her much later in life, she lived to be 93, why she never drove again her response was “When you start mowin’ em down in the streets it’s time to quit.”
Having lived for some time in south Florida there are many, many people who should heed her advice.
And don’t worry I will share with y’all how both my mother and I caused accidents, even though neither of us was driving, at this same place! But, that’s a different story for a different day.