County Road 197

by Vic Campbell


Vic Campbell takes us from Junction 197 out into the highways of our lives. We are grateful for permission to publish his book. More Sections coming soon!

Vita: Vic Campbell

  Section Page
  Acknowledgments vii
  Introduction ix
  Preface xi
1 As It Was in the Beginning 1
2 The Military and Me 47
3 Meet Some of the Folks 79
4 Someplace Else 121
5 The Real World 145
6 The Class Reunion 171
7 A Global View 179
8 The Bureaucracy of Business 199
9 Tis the Season 217
10 Another View 229
11 Epilogue 251


This book is a collection of columns that appeared in The Press Gazette, the premier news media for all of Santa Rosa County, Florida. Most were written and published between 1985 and 1989. I am thankful to the people at The Press Gazette—Wanda Lockett for encouraging my writing for the newspaper column and Rich Barrett for allowing it to run right up front on the "Op Ed" page.

Grateful thanks to my editor, Jean Rabe, whose work, under the name "Red Pen," is normally editing of a more technical nature. Jean also took on the task of setting the type and graphics for this book, a contribution that deserves not only thanks, but a large measure of praise.

Thanks to family and friends who encouraged and assisted with ideas and especially to my wife, Karen, for allowing me to test her good nature. A special appreciation to my sister Wanda Roberts and my brother Jim for lifelong friendships. If someone else had been my brother and sister, I would have grown up with complete strangers. An added measure of love to my mother and father, who helped me to make memories; to grandparents who helped me appreciate them; to aunts and uncles who brightened them; and to cousins who shared them with my brother and sister and me.

Many of the people who helped build the memories that colored this book—and whose names are enscribed here—are now gone. I am grateful for having known them.
Special thanks to the following people who contributed historical accuracies and vintage photographs: Beverly and Cynthia Campbell, Joyce Hatfield, the family of Roy and Velvie Hatfield, Voncille Burgess, C. G. Wade, Bernadine Howard, Elizabeth Matthews, Robert Jones, John S. Brown, and posthumously to "Rusty" Grundin. Additional photographs came from family archives.

Computer transfers were accomplished by Joy Britt and Sharon Karnick. Their work is appreciated. Production and graphics were largely inspired by L. Bart Ruggiero. His advice was invaluable.

The illustrations by Nancy Akin and the contributions of Dianne Hatfield Cummings and Coleman (Junior) Wade add a depth I could not have achieved alone. Dianne and "Junior" wrote the next-to-last section of the book.

Thanks also to Tom Carter for the cover photo and my portrait. My sense of style was greatly enhanced by my Aunt Frances, who loaned me Uncle Duke's wool shirt for the photograph that Tom took of me. About the cover photo: Carnley's Store at Chumuckla Crossroads, Autumn 1991, is owned by Andy and Leigh Ann Carnley. The truck is a 1987 Chevrolet Silverado with a stock 350 V-8 engine. It is owned and piloted by "Rusty" Pierce (Bull's Woodshop in Jay). It is for sale.

And finally, I thank Dr. Bill Coker for guidance on publishing and my Uncle, E. W. Carswell, who set an example of authorship—and kept me from being killed at a World War II Army veteran's reunion in North Carolina, where I wore my Navy ball cap and suggested that the Navy was a snappier branch of service!


E. W. Carswell

Vic Campbell has illuminated the map of Chumuckla. Just about everyone who has read his newspaper columns, wherever they may be--East Texas, Northern New Jersey, West Florida, or West Germany--knows that Chumuckla is (or was) the home of Pug Carnley's Grocery and Gas Station.

Newspapers no longer need mention that Chumuckla is in Florida. They must assume that Chumuckla&emdash;like Chicago, Harlem, Chappaquiddick, Chicamauga, Berrydale Crossroads, and Atlanta--is too well known to need further identification. So, they don't explain that the Creek Indian word "Chumuklita, " which is said to mean "to bow the head to the ground," implies the existence of an early place to worship.

To the Indians, then, Chumuckla must have been some sort of a holy place (local tradition favors a translation of "Healing Waters"). It still may be for the Campbells and their kin. Hundreds live near Chumuckla, including Coon Hill, Brownsdale, Ward's Store, Allentown, Three Hollows Branch, Floridatown, and Mulat communities. They are all Vic's cousins to some degree. And, he has written about all of them. He has hundreds of cousins--in other parts of West Florida and in Alabama; and he has written about some of them.

You'll meet some of his cousins and other neighbors in this book, in which many of them are mentioned. They seem to be as well-known to some of Vic's readers in New Jersey as they are to his former neighbors in West Florida and places in between and beyond.

They're also familiar with Pond Creek, Parker Island, the Jay Livestock Market, and Two-Toed Tom--that awesome alligator in Esto's Sand Hammock Lake. Vic heard the legend of Two-Toed Tom from his Uncle "Tobe," whose home--along with those of a lot of Vic's other maternal kinsmen--was once beside Sand Hammock Lake.

Vic has an unusual--some say weird--sense of humor. But he is not afraid to laugh at himself. Some of his readers say his brand of humor is an antidote to so much drab, dreary, dismally depressing and scary news. For some, on the other hand, his humor takes awhile getting used to. He and his Uncle "Tobe" found that out at a veteran's convention once at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But that episode is not in this book.


This is not a history. That sort of work can be left to my uncle, E. W. Carswell, who has chronicled the history of the Florida Panhandle.

He and people like Dr. Bill Coker at the University of West Florida, Dr. Brian Rucker, Earle Bowden of the Pensacola News Journal and the late M. L. King are historians. Warren Weeks is an important local historian. They care a great deal about the exactness of time and place. I commend them for it.

Some readers felt I might be a qualified historian because I mention real people and real events. Too often, although the events are real enough, they are warped beyond recognition when electronically recorded from the cerebral cortex of an individual with unlicensed imagination.

The names often belong to very real people-even though it is not unusual that they, themselves, do not recognize the incidents in which I have placed them. That explains why I cannot be taken seriously as a historical reference.

It is the "flavor" of the times as I saw them-sometimes funny, very funny-sometimes not at all funny. Somewhere, between the laughter and the tears, there is a real world. We live it every day. In time, the real events in a real world fade into an unsure memory. It is only the flavor of an unsure memory that you will capture from this book.

Some years ago, I began to write as an outlet for the frustrations of a corporate cowboy. A friend encouraged my hometown newspaper, The Press Gazette to carry a weekly column. Over time, the writing became a weekly vacation for my mind-a chance to be a little closer to home, to rekindle old friendships and to express my own inner thoughts.

Sooner than I could think about it, there were enough columns for a book -- the first collection.



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