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A Life in the Everglades
Foreword by Peter Matthiessen
"Totch Browns memoirs of vanished days in the Ten Thousand Islands and the Evergladesthe last real frontier in Florida, and even today the greatest roadless wilderness in the United Statesare invaluable as well as vivid and entertaining. Totch is a natural-born story-teller, and his accounts of fishing and gator hunting as well as his life beyond the law as a gator poacher and drug runner are evocative and colorful, fresh and exciting."from the Foreword by Peter Matthiessen
In the mysterious wilderness of swamps, marshes, and rivers that conceals life in the Florida Everglades, Totch Brown hung up his career as alligator hunter and commercial fisherman to become a self-confessed pot smuggler. Before the marijuana money rolled in, he survived excruciating poverty in one of the most primitive and beautiful spots on earth, Chokoloskee Island, in the mangrove keys known as the Ten Thousand Islands, located at the western gateway to the Everglades National Park.
Until he wrote this memoirrecollections from his childhood in the twenties that merge with reflections on a way of life dying at the hands of progress in the ninetiesTotch had never read a book in his life. Still, his writing conveys the tension he experienced from trying to live off the land and within the laws of the land.
Told with energy and authenticity, his story begins with the handful of souls who came to the area a hundred years ago to homestead on the high ground formed from oyster mounds built and left by the Calusa Indians. They lived close to nature in shacks built of tin or palmetto fans; they ate wild meat, Chokoloskee chicken (white ibis), swamp cabbage, evenwhen they were desperatemanatee; and they weathered all manner of natural disaster from hurricanes to swarms of "swamp angels" (mosquitoes). In his grandpas day, Totch writes, outlaws and cutthroats would "shoot a man down just as quick as theyd knock down an egret, especially if he came between them and the plume birds."
320 pp. 6 X 9. Map, 50 photographs, index.
ISBN 0813012287 Paper, $17.95
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