Jim Dodson was born in Sanford, on the St. Johns River, just north of Orlando. It was a typical small, southern town in the 50s and 60s. He was raised in the same home, without air-conditioning, his parents bought soon after they married. Jim's Dad worked for the same company all those years. His family had all they needed but was certainly not affluent. He walked or rode his bike to each school he attended until high school. He always had some type of boat and built his first one in the garage when he was 12 years old. Jim had the freedom to be on his own “up the river” whenever he wanted, often overnight. He was allowed to make mistakes and fortunate to have survived them.
Long before ten speed bikes became popular, a friend had an expensive coaster bike that Jim convinced him to sell. Jim rode it all over town, without a helmet. His Mother had a general idea where he was but would have been hard-pressed to actually find him if he was needed. He knew he just had to be home for dinner. If Jim did something wrong around town it would be immediately reported to his parents, not to the police. Times have changed!
Sundays were church and “Sunday supper” complete with white tablecloth followed by an afternoon “visit” to a relative’s home. When Jim got his driver's license, Sanford began to seem like too much of a small town. He couldn’t wait to leave, which happened when he went off to college at FSU.
Since that time, Jim's parents have gone and he had little contact with “home” over the past 20 years. Then a funny thing happened. Jim's wife’s two brothers moved to Sanford and a few years later, her mother followed to escape the cold Pennsylvania winters. Ironically, they all moved within blocks of Jim's old neighborhood.
They live in what is now referred to as the “historic district” of town. This sounds a lot nicer than when Jim rode his bike through those same streets as a kid! In the summers, he used to mow half of those lawns. Now the whole town is back to life, better than it was when he was a child. Jim loves to visit, taking the one-mile walk down the old brick streets, shaded by century-old oaks, to the downtown Farmer's Market, or picking up soul food from “Angels Restaurant” on Sanford Avenue or taking a run along the lakefront where his parents took a Sunday drive each week.
Funny how life works!