"FISHES" is an early Christmas present from Robin Hoffman's daughter and her family who made and painted the block
Ripped straight from a Carl Hiaasen novel, Horseshoe Beach is an island located on the Gulf, about two hours south of Tallahassee. It's coined as "Florida's Last Frontier," a motto that holds true.
There are no police officers, no traffic lights and everyone gets around in golf carts, occasionally stopping in the road to wave to neighbors and chit chat about their daily goings-on. Like a postcard, the small fishing town is wrapped by the gulf and the fishermen make their way through the channels and various canals that cut through people's backyards. The marina, Horseshoe Beach's epicenter, sits in the center of the town next to the mayor's bright blue dwellings, connected to the Gulf by a series of aforementioned water channels. Boats bob up and down by their docks and pelicans fly overhead and dive in the shimmering blue water for food.
The good majority of the town's inhabitants don't live there permanently. A lot of land and residences are rented out to the hard working people of Cross City, Lake City and Gainesville. There are mansions that are worth millions of dollars towering over their neighbors in trailer homes. But in Horseshoe Beach, these classes don't matter. For at Jake's Pub, looking over the sunset in the Gulf, they're all fishermen and lovers of the sea. Even Japanese fishermen come from the east to set up shrimp trades.It's clear that the Horseshoe Beach lifestyle crosses race, countries, and even language barriers.
There's a man in town named Tom Cushman. He works out of Lake City and tries to spend about three weekends a month there in Horseshoe Beach. Like everyone else, he loves fishing, loves the community, and needs to get away. He says Horseshoe is the "last of the small towns" in Florida and that "without Horseshoe, he'd quit his job." He goes there for an escape, to recharge, to rebuild his mental fortitude. He's an honest-to-God, blue collared worker and he needs a break. Everyone in this town is, in some way, a Tom Cushman.
The town is a living, breathing character. Completely void of any commercial stores, chains or franchises, it is humbly built off the back of the residents. There is one diner with a colossal turkey club that everyone loves and one pub that locals like to get rowdy in; everything has a Mom-and-Pop feel. The town's residents love to talk about their amenities and they love to share. There are a beautiful array of kayaks open to the public. Parking is free. Docking is free. WiFi is free. Lowering your trailer into the salt water is a rookie mistake in the eyes of the locals but they'll let you do it – you guessed it – for free. They'll even help you repair it when it rusts, judgment free.
Never before has there been a town more homegrown and in sync with each other. Remember that nonsense they feed at your workplace about synergy? That's real in this town. Everyone works on the same laid back and friendly frequency. And on the off chance that disaster strikes like a fire or a death or the infamous storm of 1993, then everyone comes together and helps out. Even in my own exploration of the town, I was using Cushman's golf cart. And when I drained the battery, others helped me push it back to his front lawn where he laughed it off and recharged it.
If this isn't a place communities should be modeled after, then today's society has stopped making sense. Put aside your portfolios, your essays, your daily grind and go down and experience a real community, a real sense of being welcomed. And hey, while you're at it, cast a reel and catch your dinner.