Susan Marie Molloy

Life in the Oasis


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Dade Battlefield State Park: Going Home

The afternoon was ending and getting chilly again. We spent the day at the Dade Battlefield State Park to watch the annual Dade Battle reenactment. We took a leisurely walk in the forest, ate lunch in a gazebo, and met some of the Seminole and soldier reenactors.

It was time to leave and return home.

We found the area where the actual battle occurred and walked down King’s Road (which is the road the soldiers used when the battle began).

King’s Road

King’s Road

The state park is keeping this area as it looked in 1835 as best as possible.

I spotted a bridge:

An encampment of soldiers along the way:

Monuments denoting where the officers fell:

We took the back roads to see new country. People raise cattle in this part of Florida:

When we got home, I was thirsty, so I dug into my purse for the ginger ale I saved from lunch. It was a little cold and the carbonation tasted good.

Not a product endorsement.

This is last in the series of my articles, “Dade Battlefield State Park.” I hope you enjoyed this.  To read more about this important battle that led to the Second Seminole Wars in Florida, visit the Dade Battlefield Society website.

Morning Meditation: Fan Palm
Dade Battlefield State Park: Nature
Dade Battlefield State Park: Dade’s Battle!
Dade Battlefield State Park: Up Close with the Seminoles, Soldiers, and Trappers
Dade Battlefield State Park: Outtakes and Updates
Dade Battlefield State Park: Going Home
Morning Meditation: A Trio of Florida Pines

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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Dade Battlefield State Park: Outtakes and Updates

While on our trip to Bushnell, Florida to observe the annual Dade Battle reenactment, it wasn’t without a little humor and surprising observations.

Remember Kilt Man I wrote about in Dade Battlefield: Nature? As you might recall, as my beau and I sat at a picnic table and ate our lunch, we couldn’t help but hear a very loud talking man two tables over. He was regaling and bragging about his encounters and experiences with kilts. The woman to whom he was giving his monologue, kept giggling. My beau, on to Kilt Man’s bravado and time-worn faux tale of old ladies with umbrellas trying to seek a peek under his kilts (such an old, old joke) walked up to his table, and asked:

“I couldn’t help but hearing you, and as a proud Irishman, I’d like to ask you if you know what’s under an Irishman kilt.”

Kilt Man mumbled the time-worn, old punchline to the joke.

“No, sir, it’s the same thing, only bigger,” was my beau’s snappy comeback.

The day’s reenactment activities were all about authenticity and accuracy. I took this photograph, pleased with the setting. When I uploaded it onto my computer, I spotted the 19th century Seminole eating his lunch from a 21st century Styrofoam container:


A white horse hides behind some brush, but the Seminoles are even more hidden:


I walked over to gaze at some real coonskin caps:

I looked at a necklace made from a real racoon paw and one made from an alligator paw. I didn’t take photos of them, but they were interesting nonetheless.

Under one of the gazebos, a lady was playing a dulcimer with wooden spoons, while a man was playing a one-string washtub.


The back of this Seminole’s dress fascinated me. Then I saw his 19th century pistol:


We spoke to this Seminole, and we asked about his tartan cap. He told us that not only did the Seminole trade with the Spanish, English, and French, they also did business with the Scots-Irish: Therefore, tartans caps and other European commodities made their way to Seminole culture and fashion:

We spied this Seminole on horseback holding a rifle:


The afternoon was ending and getting chilly again. It was time to leave and return home.

Tomorrow: Going Home

Articles from the Dade Battlefield State Park by Susan Marie Molloy
Dade Battlefield State Park: Morning Meditation: Fan Palm
Dade Battlefield State Park: Nature
Dade Battlefield State Park: Dade’s Battle!
Dade Battlefield State Park: Up Close with the Seminoles, Soldiers, and Trappers
Dade Battlefield State Park: Outtakes and Updates
Dade Battlefield State Park: Going Home

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Dade Battlefield State Park: Dade’s Battle!

We were almost at the end of our walk in the forest at Dade Battlefield State Park. The air temperature was growing warmer, so the chill was practically gone. As we walked back to civilization, my beau spied a horse’s hoof prints in the dirt path. We remembered that the main reason we were spending our day here was to see a battle reenactment, so we made our way out of the forest and to the field.  We found a good spot to sit, just behind the yellow cord.

Dade’s Battle (also known as The Dade Massacre)

On December 28, 1835, a column of 107 United States soldiers led by Major Francis Langhorne Dade were ambushed by Seminole warriors at the present site of the Dade Battlefield State Park in Bushnell, Florida. The men departed from Fort Brooke (present-day Tampa), and headed up the King Highway military road on a resupply and reinforce mission to Fort King (present-day Ocala).

As my beau and I sat on the grass, the reenactment began. A reenactor who represented the sole survivor of the battle, Ransom Clark, began outlining the government side of the story. On the other end of the field, a reenactor representing the Indians’ leader, Chief Jumper, gave the Indians’ side of the story.

The start of the battle.


The wounded fell. In the following photograph, the man on the left in black with the tall hat and white sash represents the field doctor.


More fighting, more cannon fire, and before long, all soldiers were dead, but a couple. The Seminoles lost a handful of men.

Seminole Indians, after the battle:

Afterwards, Private Ransom Clarke and Private Edward Decourcey were able to start walking towards Fort Brooke, but a Seminole found Decourcey and shot him dead. Clarke, hiding in the palmetto fronds, wasn’t found and survived. Another soldier, Private Joseph Sprague, survived but died shortly after; he provided no account of the battle, as Clarke did.

In sum, the Federal government was trying to remove the Seminoles to Indian Territory. The Seminoles were peaceful and wanted to live in harmony with settlers, but the Federal government had other ideas.  This battle in Bushnell began the Second Seminole War which lasted almost seven years(1835-42). To read more about this, here’s the link to Dade Battlefield.

Thursday: Up Close with the Seminoles, Soldiers, and Trappers

Previous articles in the Dade Battlefield State Park series by Susan Marie Molloy
Dade Battlefield State Park: Morning Meditation: Fan Palm
Dade Battlefield State Park: Nature
Dade Battlefield State Park: Dade’s Battle!
Dade Battlefield State Park: Up Close with the Seminoles, Soldiers, and Trappers
Dade Battlefield State Park: Outtakes and Updates
Dade Battlefield State Park: Going Home

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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The Visit (A Ghost Story)

The blue skies that day had not a billowy cloud, nor a wisp of one. In fact, it was the kind of day in winter that I most disliked, when cloudless skies meant nothing was holding in the heat. The high that day was 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the low was a biting 17 degrees. I walked to school every day, and in that kind of Chicago weather, that meant a heavy coat, a knit hat pulled down to my eyebrows, and a long wool scarf wrapped around my nose, chin, and neck. My grey rabbit fur gloves and black zip-up boots completed my ensemble.

I was in high school. It was Friday, and school was back in session for the fourth day after Christmas vacation. There was a new class schedule, a new class or two with new teachers to get used to, and the year-long classes resumed with the same teachers.

That day was like most of my high school days: looking forward to lunching with my girlfriends, passing notes with them through the vents in our lockers, getting as much homework done during study hall, and b-o-r-i-n-g gym class. I only liked gym class when we had sports I liked: fencing, tennis, cross country skiing, dance, softball, and the like.

The beginning of that semester found me in trampoline class, around noon. I disliked it immensely, with all that bouncing up, down, around, falling, bouncing up, down— I didn’t see the point.

I was wearing a silver charm bracelet my uncle gave me. It had whale, dog, cat, horse, and bird charms. Sometime during that bouncing up, down, around, falling, I lost the whale charm. I couldn’t find it anywhere in the gym. I was sad about it and hoped someone would find it.

The rest of the school day was nothing special, and before I knew it, I was plodding my way back home in the biting cold, worried about the lost whale charm.

That night, while I was in bed, something caused me to wake up. My bed was directly across the closet. I saw someone – a man, and not my dad – standing there, in dark trousers and a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. It looked like my uncle. It was my uncle. I smiled, then laid down with the blanket over my head.

The next morning, my parents were already up and in the kitchen. I went down the stairs, and I heard my brother telling our mom that during the night our uncle was in my brothers’ bedroom by their closet, in dark trousers and in his white shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows, just like he usually wore his dress shirts.

I didn’t imagine it!

I told my mom the same story as my brother. She told us to say a prayer.

You see, the day before when I was in trampoline class and lost the whale charm off the silver bracelet my uncle gave me, I lost it at exactly the time he passed away. I learned that he passed away when I came home from school, and Mom told me.

Today, it’s 45 years since my uncle passed away. He was 51. And he stopped by the night of the day he passed away to say, “So long.”

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Winter – A Haiku to Gently Ease into 2018

Ringing in the New Year was fun, and I got to dress up in my basic black and sparkly rhinestone dress. My beau wore his zoot suit jacket and top hat, and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to take pictures. The cover of my poetry chapbook, Gallery Night, is of my beau wearing the same outfit a couple years ago (close enough, but no cigar this year):Returning to last night, there were hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, the tinkling of high ball glasses mixed nicely with the soft music in the background, and story-telling and laughter heightened the party’s gaiety. It wasn’t the wildest party, but it wasn’t the most boring, either.

I got up early this morning – it was more of a nap I took, really – and as I am sitting down and writing this quick blog while the tea kettle is heating up, I came across a bunch of poems I wrote either last year or the year before. Here’s one of my favorites:

Winter

The snow comes softly
Cold and wet and silently,
Lingering for months.

It reminds of a New Year’s Eve around 1975-76-77, where it actually snowed that night in Chicago, and it was slushy. And being the fashion icon I was back in those days, I went out without boots. I wore black high heel suede sandals. Imagine the slipping around I did. Imagine my wet and frozen feet.  Imagine me, young and foolish. Right?

I hope your New Year’s Eve was nice and enjoyable, no matter if you celebrated wildly, slept through it, or completely forgot about it.

Happy New Year!

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.