When asked about his poverty stricken life in Appalachia in the 1930s, a dirt-poor mountain man was heard to say “I ain’t never had to feel bad about no missed opportunities. None ever come my way.” There may be some truth to that in some places, but in reality if you look hard for it, opportunity is everywhere. Indeed there are world class, once in a lifetime opportunities coming up in White Springs!

But, wherever they occur, opportunities can be fleeting, and sometimes we really, deeply regret missing the ones we missed. These things can be serious! Why, I once missed an opportunity to go backstage and meet the band members at a Who concert in Jacksonville. I still regret it to this day, and I’m sure Peter Townsend and Roger Daltrey feel the same way.

Having a nice visit with Lyle Lovett and friends on his tour bus offered some considerable relief to that regret, but it was a backstage visit with Gamble Rogers several years before he died that assured me I had not been shortchanged in the “backstage visits” department of my life, Who concert or no Who concert! Gamble was the best and a backstage visit with him could make you feel like you were his instant friend, and that memory still burns bright for me. After that visit, which was chock full of insightful intellect and humor, I, knowing that any future encounter with him had the potential of being another unforgettable memory, never missed the opportunity to see him perform.

And now, 28 years after his heroic death, he is a legend. But he is gone, and the opportunity to ever see him perform in person is gone too. Festivals and State Parks and Schools are named in his honor, a documentary film about his life is being released, and tributes to the man and his giant but humble talent continue to this day, but the opportunity to see him and meet him and talk to him in the flesh is lost forever. But the good news is that his disciples live on, and the opportunity to be touched by Gamble’s magic lives on with them. They are men who walked and talked and performed with him and shared in his joys and sorrows. Their numbers are shrinking now, but still they preserve his memory, his stories, his mythical Ocklawaha County, his songs and his style, and they bring to you, this Sunday, a once in a lifetime opportunity in White Springs to hear their talented tribute to Gamble Rogers. Don’t miss it!

Yes, this Sunday, Nov. 10, at 4 p.m., the Stephen Foster Citizen Support Organization (CSO) will be hosting another “Save Our Bells” benefit concert in the park auditorium. The featured act will be Florida’s Troubadours, Bob Patterson, Jim Carrick, Charley Simmons, and Larry Mangum. Their performance is dedicated to the memory of Gamble Rogers. They are extraordinary performers in their own right and they are donating their time and talent for free to restore our treasured carillon. Bob Patterson has earned the title of Florida's premier storyteller and in St. Augustine he is a local living legend, as well as hometown hero. Jim Carrick, a tried and true troubadour, is a master of the fingerstyle guitar. Charley Simmons hits impossible licks on his guitar, influenced by the likes of Gamble Rogers, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Bob Dylan and Dave Mallett. Larry Mangum is a Florida Folk Festival Favorite and he will hit you where you live with the power of his original songwriting and insightful lyrics.

Tickets for this good cause can be purchased from our CSO and will be $20. Limited seating is available so get your tickets early! Please call the park for more details at 386-397-2733.

You might even have an opportunity to “Save the World” coming up in White Springs at the White Springs Library. On Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. the Library presents, “Native Pollinators.” Constantly we see headlines lamenting the decline of the bee population, and warnings of how we will all suffer if the decline continues. Many of the foods that we depend on for nourishment depend on bees for pollination and regeneration. Without bees, no doubt about it, the world will be in trouble.

Not convinced? Here is a real wake-up call for you. Without bees there will be no coffee! C’mon people! You can do something! At “Native Pollinators” Lila Rissman, our Seed Library Master Gardener, will teach us about the importance of native bees and give us information on how to keep them around. Come and find out how you can encourage native bees to increase the quality and quantity of crops. It’s another White Springs opportunity that can make a difference in all of our lives!

Well, once again I’ve said enough, perhaps more than enough, but, as always, I do want to remind you that if you have news you want to share, you should let “Life in White Springs” help. We’re always glad to hear about goings on in the community and will be glad to share anything that is appropriate for this column. I am thankful that we can depend on each other, and I hope that we can continue to feel proud of who we are and where we’re headed, and that we all appreciate how White Springs and its surrounding region is a very special place, to be honored and protected. As always, I look forward to seeing you out and about, finding opportunities and enjoying your community and your life in White Springs.

Walter McKenzie



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