I visited the Showmen’s Museum in Gibsonton, Florida recently and it was awesome. It isn’t quite as good as the real thing, but with the lights blinking and the music playing it has that fair atmosphere that I miss. It even has a working Ferris wheel indoors. By the time I left, I was almost skipping down the stairs. In the days before television, movies, and video games, traveling fairs and circuses were prime entertainment. People would wait all year or longer for them. Like trains and bookstores, they hold a special place in our cultural history that will likely persist in some form forever. They kept employed many in society that would likely have had a rough time otherwise, such as midgets, giants, and those with extra limbs. They worked, lived, and travelled together. They really understood what made true entertainment in the old days. Before there were internet cat videos, people put monkeys in tiny cars and rolled them down tracks. Now that’s real entertainment!
I’ve always liked history. I don’t know why. The museum is full of it. They have a machine used to pull up the giant tent spikes when it sadly came time to leave one town for the next. It’s basically a large lever on wheels. The chains at the end were attached to the spikes and the lever pulled down. The museum also has a set of cameras from the original photo booths of the nineteenth century. There is an exhibit on a man who joined the circus in order to travel the country and spread the gospel. There is a reference library onsite and a history blog online. They cover all kinds of subjects, from food to the history of the carousel to the trucks used to transport the equipment across the country.
As chance would have it, I arrived the same time as a man who used to work in the industry back in the seventies. He had driven a long ways to check it out. He told me how he used to set up Ferris wheels without hydraulics and explained how many of the games of skill and chance worked. The place brought back many memories for him. I know how he feels. I can imagine I would feel the same way if someone were to open a fast food museum. When you learn every quirk of the equipment and how to work around the fry vat button that sticks or the freezer door that won’t close, it starts to mean something to you. This is the real good the place does, not just as a location to spend a fun afternoon, but a place that keeps alive the stories of those who worked hard to keep the show going, the dreams of every child visiting a fair for the first time, and the rich and interwoven history of an entire industry.
6938 Riverview Drive, Riverview, Florida
Written By Daniel Noe, InkDoodler.com
I had for well over a year heard from many people of a fantastic Mexican place just north of Big Bend on 301. I finally found it just a little bit further north in the Marathon gas station lot next to Hot Rod Barbeque where it had recently moved to mere months ago. I ordered a chicken quesadilla with grapefruit soda and sat outside (there is only outdoor seating). It was great. It was well-toasted, very cheesy, and came with fresh onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro on the side. Unable to decide between the green and red hot sauces, I used both. For those with more well-rounded tastes, they offer several types of meat in their products, including cow tongue and intestines. I stuck with the chicken that time, but if I pass that way again I might expand my experience.
12859 Hwy 301, Riverview, Florida
Recently taking the place of a Mexican restaurant about a year ago, Papi’s Cuban Kitchen is already getting noticed by those in the Brandon-Riverview area. The owners aim to bring to Boyette Road real Cuban cuisine of the kind they grew up with. I visited just before lunch and picked up some fried mashed-potato balls and café con leche. They were good – especially after I dipped them in the hot sauce. They offer both dine-in and take-out. They even have a customer loyalty program. Once one becomes a regular, one can sign up to receive discounts and specials by text.
13206 Boyette Road, Riverview, Florida
The pharmacists at Live And Learn Pharmacy are masters (wizards?) of customization. They are able to provide medication, vitamins, or other supplements in precisely the dosage desired so one does not have to choose between too high and too low among the mass-produced versions. It’s a local treasure Goldilocks would approve of. They are also capable of making the tiny doses needed for pets and children or of making liquid or flavored products for ease of swallowing. They can customize for people the inactive ingredients, leaving out the dyes or fillers if the people have an allergy or sensitivity to one of them. They are even capable of producing bio-identical hormone molecules, as opposed to the often slightly-different artificially-created hormone molecules that are mass produced elsewhere. Apparently, they can do anything except make love potions (as far as I know).
Live And Learn Pharmacy will even host events and classes to learn more about common problems, living healthy, and the benefits of various vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, and more. More information can be found at the website.
13224 Boyette Road, Riverview, Florida
Last week I took my family to Goodson Farms for Cuban sandwiches and strawberry shortcakes. Every year we feel pulled back to the place. Almost every time we see some of our neighbors there also. The food is so good and sharing it with loved ones makes it even more special. Goodson Farms is a real local treasure. I took a few pictures to share with you.
Goodson Farms is located at 12405 Balm Rd in Balm, Florida. Balm is an unincorporated town in Hillsboro county just south of Riverview. To drive there go east at the intersection of Hwy 301 and Balm Rd.
Written by: Tom Noe
LOCAL TAMPA BAY