Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Thursday November 8, 2012
Site 81  Salt Springs Recreation Area
Salt Springs, Florida


We started today off with one of David’s wishes, breakfast at the Square Meal just across from Salt Springs.

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It’s a real down home place with a chalkboard menu and a local weekly gab sheet which everyone reads. 


If you click this picture it will make it large enough for you to read the menu and the great sign above it.Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 004


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The waitresses call you by name if you are a regular

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or part of “the breakfast gang” at the Christmas Tree table.  These guys come and go, add and subtract while you watch.

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After a very fine and reasonably priced breakfast, it was my turn.

I’ve been wanting to go see Marjorie Kennan Rawlings State Historic Site every time we end up in Florida and today we were close enough to finally make the time to do it.

So we packed a picnic lunch and arrived just before the 1:00 tour.  Tours are given at 9, 11, 1, 2 and 3 on Thursday-Sunday.  The charge is $3.00 per person for the one hour tour.


Click the photo to enlarge and see the picture of Rawlings.
I forgot to take the ones inside the house.
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My great Aunt Carrie, for whom my daughter is named, had lived in nearby Ocala Florida since the 1930’s, was a huge fan of Ms. Rawlings and visited at her home in the 1940’s.  She loved Rawlings’ books and used recipes from the Cross Creek Cookbook.  So I’ve been hearing about Marjorie Rawlings most of my life.  Rawlings was born in 1896 and was 8 years younger than my aunt.  Both had relocated to central Florida from the North.


Rawlings bought the house in 1928 as a place to retreat to and write.  She and her writer husband Charles moved here where she had her greatest successes as a writer.  He did not fare so well and within a few years returned to New York.  She stayed at the farm and worked the grove and the gardens.  Not as much time for writing as she had hoped.

But she is the author of 30 some short stories and 8 books including the Pulitzer Prize winning The Yearling which was made into a movie with Gregory Peck, and Jane Wyman.  Her second most popular book is the memoire Cross Creek written about her years at her farm and her experiences with the local people.

When Rawlings died in 1953 she willed her property to the University of Florida in Gainesville where she had taught creative writing classes.  They kept the property until 1970 when they deeded it to the State because it was too expensive to maintain.  The state apparently split the acreage with the local county which turned the side of the property next to Orange Lake into a park.   Rawlings land also extends across County Road 325 which in her day was a single lane sand road.


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A portion of the original side entrance path remains and welcomes you with quotes from Rawlings’ writings, mostly from Cross Creek.


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The first thing we saw were the orange trees, the chickens and the barn.
Rawlings’ home is still a small working farm with chickens and ducks, a small orchard and a vegetable garden.


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This picture of the barn shows more clearly the benches under the shed roof where tourists sit to wait for the tour to begin.  Some folks arrived early and try to take up all the room on the benches.

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While we were waiting for the docent we wandered around the side yard which had many orange trees although it was no longer a full grove.

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The trees were definitely heavy laden.


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After a preliminary history of Rawlings’ life before coming to Cross Creek we went around to the front of the house which at Rawlings' time faced a single lane sand road and now faces Country Road 325.  Rawlings’ cracker farmhouse has original furnishings saved when the house was given to the University of Florida.  They were returned by her second husband, Ocala Hotelier Norton Baskin,  when the state purchased the farm for an historic site.  He even came to discuss where the furniture had been placed and how they lived at the farm.


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In addition to many orange trees there were lovely flowers.

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The docent whose name I unfortunately don’t remember was dressed in period 1930’s costume.  Her outfit was very similar to what I remember my Aunt Carrie wearing.  She frequently quoted Rawlings’ works throughout the tour.


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All the porches on the house are screened for obvious reasons.  Rawlings had a table for eating and on which she did her writing on the right side of her entry porch.  The left hand side was a sleeping porch with chairs for social gatherings.   Looked like she spent a great deal of time on this porch in the warm weather.


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Inside the house was a more formal living room which had what Rawlings called her fire box below and her fire water above.

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Rawlings bought the home in 1928 from a family who built it around the turn of the century.   They had another house moved to their side yard to use as bedrooms for their 6 children a few years before Rawlings acquired the property .  After Rawlings sold her first novel, she used the money to build an indoor bathroom which was the first in the area.  The bathroom connected the original house and the bedroom house.

She actually had a party to celebrate the bathroom.  Its story is one of many in her memoire Cross Creek.


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The guest bedroom housed many famous writers including Robert Frost, Margaret Mitchell and Zora Neale Hurston.  Gregory Peck also stayed there.

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I loved the hand embroidered linens which I remember well from staying in my Aunt Carrie’s extra bedroom over the years.  Hers were always beautiful, starched and ironed.

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This was Rawlings bedroom and once she had won the Pulitzer Price for her book The Yearling, she added a second bath onto it at the end of the “bedroom wing”.  Her bedroom had a door to the front and one out the back.  Windows on both walls making for very nice cool breezes.


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From there we went back into the main house to the formal dining room where Rawlings loved to host her guests for lively discourse.  She did all the cooking for them herself in the adjoining kitchen.   Notice the window behind the docent.  I’ll get back to it in a minute

I again recognized the hand crocheted table cloth as something I had seen many times at my Aunt’s house.  I really love all this beautiful hand work.  I wonder if women do this sort of thing any more.  I know when I am ever restricted to being indoors or not mobile, I would love to do such lovely artistic creations.


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Back to that dining room window.  Rawlings always sat herself in the chair which looked out that window as the view was directly of the out house which only had a screened door on which someone had painted a zigzag pattern to give the occupant at least a modicum of privacy


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Love this kitchen  It reminds me so much of our farm kitchen.

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The woodstove was working today and the docent had made her lunch on it.

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Did your grandmother ever use the “Laundry Detergent glasses”?

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We still use these very same ones  which Aunt Carrie gave to me.

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Anyone ever had Postum?  Very popular coffee substitute during the depression.  The detail of daily life in the Rawlings’ house is amazing.

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And look at these beauties.  A full set of gleaming well seasoned cast iron cookware.  We do cook in our cast iron skillets to this day.

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After checking out the pantry, our tour was nearly finished.  The ice box is on the side porch and we stopped to see it on our way out of the house.

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We’d gone in the front door, gone through the bathroom connection into the bedroom wing, back to the main house and out through the screened in side porch.

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We walked around the end of the house to see the back.  We passed the laundry tubs behind the second pantry.

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Here is the back door to Rawlings’ bedroom and shows on the left the add on bathroom The Yearling provided.   The first indoor bathroom is on the right connecting the “bedroom” house to the main house.

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Another view of the connection and the dining window with the outhouse view.

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We wandered through the orange trees.  Where I saw a great fruit picking ladder that I wish we’d had for our trees at the farm.  What a clever design.


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We then wandered down the path to the tenant house and mistakenly took the right rather than the left fork.  We were apprehended before I could take some pictures of the full hook ups for the Work Campers due in early December which were at the end of our fork mistake.


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We made it to the tenant house where grove workers lived.

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Time to retrace our footsteps down the path and out of this world beloved of Marjorie Kennan Rawlings.  Rawlings lived the rest of her life here and wrote her major works about this area and its people.

She ends her book Cross Creek with these words.
“It seems to me that the Earth may be borrowed but not bought.  It may be used but not owned.  It gives itself in response to love and tending, offers its seasonal flowering and fruiting.  But we are tenants and not possessors, lovers and not masters.  Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the secrecy of seed and beyond all, to time”.


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We enjoyed the house and Rawlings philosophy and quotations so much that we bought a second copy of Cross Creek to be our nightly reading which it now is.  David does the dishes and I read aloud.  We recommend it to you!



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  1. Cross Creek sounds like a book I would like to read. Maybe the chickens are the "welcoming" committee.

  2. The Yearling was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. Thanks for the wonderful tour, and I'll have to put it on my list of things to do. It sounds as if you're in a little better place the past couple of days :-).

  3. Thank-you for the tour. This is someplace I would never have known about, and since I'm on the West coast never visited. I'm glad some of our past is saved here and there.

  4. Thank you for sharing this with us. I love The Yearling, and Cross Creek. I would love to see this place.

  5. what a great visit..I would love to tour this place..

  6. What a magnificent journey you took me on as I read this blog. We will be in that area in December and would love to have a breakfast at the Square Meal followed by a tour of the Rawlings farm. You made me yearn to live in a simpler time and believe it is possible with the right imagination.

  7. What a lovely post!!! My grandma's looked and dressed just like the docent! I crochet, also do the 'white' crochet. It is a puzzle & very satisfying to complete. "here is the mystic lovliness of nostalgia, here is home" that is the way i feel about living in Redmond, i went to High School here, lived with my family on a farm and in town for a year, where i came home on leave, where my cousin & i 'dragged the gut' in his Corvette :) good, good memories.... love the gate picture, love those gates!!!

  8. Did glasses come in boxes of Duz? Or, were those the towels?

  9. I'll start with the chocolate cake followed by the catfish platter with collards. Gotta' love that down south cookin'.

    Having a docent lead tour puts so much life into this story. I recognize many things from my grandmother's cabin in WI.

    What a lovely day and way to fulfill wishes.

  10. An excellent tour, you could get a workkamping gig here. It's obvious this place touched your heart and brought back treasured memories. Thank goodness this home was preserved as a tribute to its owner.

    We got rid of all our cast iron pans when we sold our house, except for one. We don't cook with it, Marti just hangs on to it to keep me in line...

  11. This was a wonderful blog Sherry. This is the very reason I started blogging. you are showing me places through your eyes that I otherwise will probably never get to see. I am going to go to the library and and get Cross Creek to read until I can get it for my Nook. I read the Yearling as a kid, but don't remember much about it. Thank you again for a wonderful read.

  12. Great post...felt like we were there!!

  13. Enjoyed the tour; I'll have to look into Rawlings' books.

  14. Thanks for the tour. We've seen the place in passing many times, but never have gotten there. The restaurant looks like they had a lot of yummy things on their menu. Did you notice the fried pickles? Love those!

  15. So many beautiful items to make that home a true work of old time charm! Totally enjoyed the tour! As for breakfast, I might have had to have the peach cobbler :O)

  16. Can't believe you ate at the greezy spoon. Bet it was tasty.-

  17. Great tour, and it seems a great docent. I don't think I'd like to dress up like that, but I remember my aunts looking similar. :)

  18. THANK YOU so much for sharing this! It took me back to MY childhood and my grandmother's home and her belongings.

  19. Wow, Sherry, I felt as though I was on the tour with you and David. HOW do you remember details the way you do. Do you take notes for the blog? I could actually hear the sand underneath my feet as I read. You have a gift. You have given me a destination, too. When I can walk, again, I am going to head down to the sandy trails of south Georgia and Florida. On the list is where "The Yearling" was written. It was my favorite book as a kid.

    Love that you still read to David. There's just something so sweet about that. Glad you're enjoying the best time to be in Flordia.

  20. Thank You so much for sharing this with us. I love visiting these kinds of historic places.
    What a wonderful day you had I'm sure.

  21. Interesting tour. I can understand why she'd throw a party to celebrate the addition of her bathroom. Boy, the modern conveniences that we take for granted.

  22. Your post brings back some beautiful memories - when I was a child I think every pillowcase in our house was embroidered, as were the "dresser scarves" that were on top of most furniture. The cast iron is gorgeous! Very interesting tour.

  23. So glad that you were finally able to so and see this historical site. Looks like a beautiful spot. Nice to be able to make a connection with somewhere that your great aunt had visited and the area that she grew up in. So happy you both had such a wonderful day.

    Kevin and Ruth

  24. ah, Sherry, another one of my favorite spots in Florida. I have never actually taken the tour, although I love the house and the chickens and the trails. It was great to see all your photos. I have a photo of a great yellow cat that used to live there and was on the bed when I was there. So so glad you got to go. It is a very special spot and Cross Creek is a great book. Makes me hungry for some really sweet Florida oranges!

  25. Glad to find a new post to welcome me home. I would welcome the opportunity to recharge my batteries in that guest room. Would someone please draw me a bath in the clawfoot tub? My soul seems to vacillate between longing to wonder and the comforting of belonging. You indeed captured the belonging!

  26. Spectacular post! I wish I could have been there - I'd have loved it. The house is beautiful - simple and yet full of remarkable detail. I recognized those glasses instantly - how neat! You gave us quite a tour with all those photographs and helpful commentary that brought back memories of Aunt Carrie. I like that Rawlings second husband had the first name Ocala - we know where his family was from... I'm so glad Florida has kept the special place to keep Rawlings' story and writing alive - what a talented woman!

  27. Just took the tour myself a few days ago. Great summary -- I would go back, if I am ever in the area. And I plan to read Cross Creek again!


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